12.20.2010

Once Upon a December 2010

This evening's routine was just one of those for which the stars aligned, the universe was set right for a few hours and everything fell into place.

First, despite being sickly (yes again! I don't want to talk about it), I came home during lunch and actually picked up my house. Then, I left work at a reasonable hour, cooked dinner while watching a flick on the ol' porta-player, which eats were done precisely 10 minutes after hub and baby arrived home from their commute in the carpool lane.

Then, we ate dinner. More specifically, the baby ate dinner! It's been a struggle getting him to eat, but triumph of all triumphs: tonight he ate salmon, long grain rice, peas, and butternut squash. Never underestimate the power of toddler forks, I tell you!

After dinner, I played ball with him in the living room. The kid has an arm. It runs in hubs' family, but even so, it's impressive. Plus, he gets all giddy and excited and clumsy with all the excitement of me chasing him and him chasing the ball. It's hilarious. Just ask M, who nearly spewed his mouthful of OJ when I threw that Thomas the Train ball and it rolled up C's body and caught him in the face.

C then had a lovely bath, held still the entire time I dressed him (and we traded all sorts of mouthy sounds back and forth til he was giggling up a storm at me breathing in and out like a dog through my nose). We read a book together, he kissed his Dada good night, pilfered a couple of red grapes from him, then off to bed he went.

As he tried to get settled, he tossed and turned, snuggled on my chest for a while and then I sang some children's hymns to him (in my nasally, crackly, off-key voice) and off to dreamland he went.

It only took 1/2 hour to get him to bed (relief after last night's 2 hour fiasco), and now my husband is standing in front of me resembling something of a David, so I really must go.

But, as for perfect nights, this one's pretty dang close, no?

~Nichole

11.17.2010

Unplugging: My Year of Pumping Exclusively

After he was born and we were both newbies at breastfeeding, each time I tried to breastfeed the Bug, he would get frustrated and refuse to latch and would cry and cry.

When he was just a day old, the hospital's lactation consultant came to see us. She took one look at him and one look at my breast and said "we need to get you a pump". Within 30 minutes, a hospital-grade Medela was sitting at my bedside and I was receiving instructions about how (and how often) to use it. And so, even with the Bug in the nursery overnight, I still was up every 2 hours pumping.

When I was pregnant, I had researched breast pumps, figuring I would most likely need one at some point. The day we went home from the hospital, we called a local dealer, who told us the Ameda I'd decided on would not be in until the next day. That stupid manual pump they gave me in the hospital was a pain in the neck (and arm) (and breast) to use. My dutiful husband went and bought my double electric up for me the next day.

In those early days, I was fighting against the clock. The baby needed to eat every 2 hours, which meant we fed him formula every 2 hours and I would pump every 2 hours. Sometimes, especially after M went back to work, I would feed the baby and then I would pump. That meant very little sleep for the momma, but I was trying to get my milk to come in and to establish a supply that would be enough to get him off the formula. It was completely exhausting!

I remember having to set the alarm on my cell phone to remind myself to pump every 2 or 3 hours. I remember getting up and feeding the babe in the middle of the night, then staying up to pump. I remember spoon-feeding the babe colostrum and finally (triumphantly!) making enough milk so that we didn't need formula any longer.

I remember the pride I felt when my doc told me that I was lucky that I could maintain a supply using only a pump because some women can't. I remember feeling grateful that I never knew in advance how hard it would be and just running into it headlong, completely stubborn and determined to make it work.

I remember leaking all over the first time we traveled away from home and I used a manual pump instead of my double electric. I remember learning all about why breasts start feeling less full after a couple of months of breastfeeding. I remember wondering if I should have called a lactation consultant to my house and given it another try. I remember trying anyway when he was about 4 months old and having him treat my boob like a pacifier. I remember regretting ever saying that it wouldn't bother me if I had to pump exclusively rather than breastfeed.

I remember how groping, pressing, and otherwise feeling my boobs in public became the norm. I remember crying over spilled milk, over milk left to ruin in a insulated pack, over milk leaking out of busted freezer bags, over bags that fell out of the fridge bursting all over the floor. I remember the feeling that my baby was protected from all sorts of illnesses by the bubble of the antibodies my milk provided him.

At the height of my establishing/maintaining a supply days, I was pumping 7-9 times a day. When he was little and could still be curled up on a boppy on my lap, I could pump while holding him. It took only one swift kick and the knocking of a flange and bottle onto the floor and milk thrown all over both of us, the couch, the armchair and the floor for that arrangement to come to an end. Then, there was a larger pillow with his feet turned away from important parts. Then the bouncer. Then the swing, then the walker. . . And as he got more and more active and alert, I kept getting the feeling that pumping was actually taking me away from him at the same time it was providing food for him.

Once my supply was steady, I went down to 6 sessions a day. When I went back to work, I dropped the middle of the night session and went down to 5 a day. The most I ever pumped in my first morning session was 15 ounces. I had a very good supply and I was able to establish quite a freezer stash all those months.

I kept pace pumping 5 times a day - before and after work, twice at work, and during lunch - until he was 8 months old and fully transitioned to solids. To say it was grueling at times is an understatement.

Then, finally (and with a great deal of relief), I gave up the lunch session. I held steady at 4 sessions a day for almost 3 months. I was getting between 30 and 34 ounces a day and able to keep stockpiling my freezer stash. In those months, the sense that pumping was taking me away from him increased and I basically had to reconcile that with myself every time I was home alone and unable to attend to him. More than once I had to disconnect from the pump and, holding flanges to me with one arm, go and retrieve a crying baby with the other.

My pumping schedule was easy enough, if not always convenient, to keep during the week when I was at work. But, inevitably, the weekends would find me disjointed and either skipping a session or trying to force that fourth one in somewhere, especially when I could no longer pump at church because I was trying to keep a crawling baby out of things.

And so it was by happenstance that I went from 4 sessions to 3. My supply decreased almost immediately, but as long as I was making my mark of around 26 ounces a day, I was happy. It also meant that I no longer had to pack my pump and take it (and all the accessories, ice packs, freezer bags and bottles) to work with me everyday. It was a lovely thing to only have to worry about grabbing my purse and heading out the door!

Eventually, my milk supply started doing battle with my monthly cycle and always came out on the losing end. Rather than pick up an extra session, every once in a while we used frozen milk to supplement what I pumped in order to meet all his needs.

When, exactly, to go from 3 sessions down to 2 was a matter of great internal debate. At issue? Timing. The Bug was getting ready to turn 1 and I wanted to time phasing out pumping with transitioning him to whole milk in such a way that all my frozen milk would be used and that his full transition didn't happen until after he was fully a year old and we could make sure he tolerated the switch well.

And so, about 2 weeks before his first birthday, I dropped down to 2 sessions a day. I was managing between 16-18 ounces a day and was regularly supplementing with frozen milk, which was helping me be less anxious about any of that frozen supply going to waste. Each and every bag of frozen milk represented time served at the pump!

The weekend of his very first birthday party, I went down to just one session a day. At the same time, I began making his bottles a mixture of 3/4 breast milk and 1/4 whole milk. The following Tuesday, I only pumped once in 24 hours and got only about 9 ounces, and he went to 1/2 breast milk and 1/2 whole. Then I waited for 36 hours and got about 8.5 ounces.

I waited until I was sore before pumping again, and about 52 hours after the previous session, I pumped 10 ounces and the pump chewed me up and spit me out (thank goodness for A&D ointment). Examining the tears on my sensitive parts and feeling the soreness . . . I was SO done!

Five days after that, I Googled to make sure I was on the right track. Reassured, I continued not to pump. On day six, I pumped only enough to relieve my growing discomfort. The freshly pumped milk sat while I pondered over what to do with it, knowing we were on a 1/4 to 3/4 mixture by this point, that I was down to a single bag of frozen milk in my freezer, and that I was wholly ready to go all the way to whole milk within a day or two.

Besides, gun-shy as I was about using the double electric after the last time, I used my manual pump, which had been relegated to the bottom of my breast pump bag and which I had not sterilized (or even cleaned, really) before using. For the first time since I began this journey, I purposely dumped those 3 ounces down the kitchen sink, and even premeditated, the loss still made me want to cry.

As I packed my double electric and all the sundry breastfeeding paraphernalia away “until next time”, I thought about the double edged sword I am walking like a tightrope: how freeing it feels to have huge chunks of time back, but how I’ll no longer have a ready excuse to just stop everything and sit down for a while; how I can just go the store and buy milk when we travel and not have to worry about running out, but how sad I was last week when the Bug was sick and I realized he’s not getting the bolstered protection of my antibodies anymore; how my boobs finally had a real purpose and had fulfilled that purpose and now they are just plain ol’ boobs with nothing worthwhile to do but sit (hang?) there while I do battle with the weather and desperately try to conceal my newly. . . . erm, pointier parts.

~Nichole

11.09.2010

And Then . . .

The Pitocin was increased, the contractions intensified, and before long I was fully dilated and ready to do the dirty work. I pushed for 53 minutes.

And then, at 11:57 a.m., there he was.
I cried. A delirious mixture of complete relief and all-encompassing joy.

Words stumble and fall weak in the knees, entirely daunted by the task of expressing the emergence of a body, the rushing forth of spirit, the creation of a whole new being, and how it is one becomes a mother.

The ability of language is eclipsed by the largesse and majesty of that moment.

And just when words fail you, love crawls into your being, sparks a primordial ember and sets fire to your heart, the urgency and ferocity of which both engulf and mesmerize you all at once.

As of this moment, my baby is one year old! He is an amazing little person, with such a fun personality! He grows more interesting and fascinating every single day. I am convinced I will spend the rest of my life completely in awe of him. I am so blessed to be his mother.

~Nichole

11.08.2010

Stage 1: 14 hours and 45 minutes (plus 5.5 hours at home)

We went to Walgreens to get cold and flu stuff for M's worsening sickness. I remember having to stop in Aisle 1 to breathe through a contraction. We picked up a burrito for M and two smoothies on the way to the hospital. The anticipation was a heady concoction of not wanting to rush to the hospital and be admitted too early and knowing my body was on the labor train and not wanting to wait overlong. We checked into the hospital at 8:00 that evening. I send out a dispatch: in labor, going to hospital.

I was 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced when I was admitted. My blood pressure was 139/89. So, on to magnesium I went, doctor's orders, which, of course, slowed my labor. One by one, my women gathered to me: mom and sisters and mother-in-law. I labored and they watched and we waited together as my contractions became less intense and farther apart even as I continued to dilate.

Because of the magnesium and its side effect of dizziness and drowsiness, I was not able to walk around or even be out of bed much, even though I asked at every opportunity/nurse change. Finally, I got an angel of a nurse who let me get out of bed and get on a birth ball and change positions to try to get the baby rotated. I'm convinced this is when my water broke (just before 6:00 a.m. the next morning) and before long I was at 7 cm.

To get my contractions back into a regular pattern, I was started on Pitocin around 6:45 a.m. The baby was still not descending, so they put a catheter in to measure the strength of my contractions, which were determined not strong enough to get the job done, even with the Pitocin. I was at 8 cm, water already broken, and having really hard back labor when the doc said we'd have to up the Pit to make the contractions stronger.

At 8:24, I got an epidural. It wasn't nearly as scary or painful as I expected. In fact, once it took effect, I think my exact words were "oh! that's like ice cream!" And it really was! I couldn't feel or move my legs for a while, but eventually that went away and I could feel both my legs and the pressure of my contractions.

~Nichole

How It Began . . .

There was no compelling clutch across my belly. No momentously rushing fluids, no thundering squeezes.

Sunday, November 8th, 2009 had started just like any other day, except I was largely pregnant and anxious for the end of that particular ailment.

I had been having early labor signs and I was already dilated 2cm and over 50% effaced. Still, the discomfort and fatigue I was feeling were pretty par for the course for a 40 week-plus pregnant lady.

By the early afternoon, I had started to notice a sort of pattern to my discomfort. My back ached and there was absolutely no comfortable way to sit. I found myself shifting positions every few minutes. I started tracking this pattern at 2:30 p.m. I visited with friends, got a blessing, and faithfully tracked the time, duration and frequency of my discomfort, which eventually gave way to full-fledged contractions that I had to breathe through and that were coming routinely every 4 minutes.

~Nichole

10.25.2010

The Awful (But True) Truth

Two weeks from tomorrow, to mark the first anniversary of the day I became a mother, as ceremoniously as I know how, I intend to regale you with my revised birth story. I did my research and got my medical records and everything, so just you wait! It’s sure to be as detailed as it is schmoopy.

So, why, might you ask, am I pre-empting that wonderful retelling with this frightful exposé? To that I say that my reasons are multi-fold.

First, above all things, I wish to tell it like it is. Second, I have one fleshy friend who is EIGHT days overdue and one bloggy friend who is 38-ish weeks along and is getting frustrated with waiting for her pot to boil, so to speak. Third, I really don’t understand the whole “you forget all the pain” stories being floated around and I wish to dispel that myth here and forever. So, if you’re squeamish about such things, you may wish to look away. . . oh, about right now.

Once upon a time, when I was gestating, I read my friend Caroline’s post about new mommy must haves. As I scrolled down her list, my horror grew and grew. Not a stitch of baby gear to be found. No sirree! Granted, I had watched all those stupid TLC and Discovery Health birth shows that would frighten even the most stoic of hope-to-be moms, and maybe a few veteran ones as well. But, calm, peaceful, zen births and deliveries do not good television make (my rationalization) and so, I discounted all the screaming, clutching, crazyladies from those shows as the outliers, the exceptions to the rule.

And then Miss Sunshine laid out the real-life nitty gritty, a “here’s how it really is” talking-to in blog-post form. My mouth dropped open as I scrolled down her list. “Surely she jests,” I reassured my roundly pregnant self. “Surely this is worst case scenario, nuclear fallout kind of stuff, right?”

And then, I gave birth. I have to say that the contractions weren’t too bad. I was able to breathe through them for the most part. Then came the pitocin-induced back labor. Then the pushing for 45 minutes. Not to mention roughly . . . oh, about 28 hours without sleeping. After delivery, I was wrecked. I was exhausted, hemorrhaging, swollen, sore, exhausted some more, torn to the third degree, oh, and laden with hemorrhoids. And so it was that my doc gave the strictest orders of “no visitors” and made my family take a rent-a-cop style oath and stand guard at the hospital door against any visiting well-wishers.

Now, I don’t pretend to know about most women. I can only speak for myself. And me? What I remember about those first few days and weeks after birth is that I was as exhausted as I was elated. I remember sending the babe to the hospital nursery at night so I could try and get some sleep. I remember during my very first post-delivery shower when I ventured a feel downstairs to make sure everything was intact and my fingers came upon something I was sure was gauze or padding but ended up being the reason I applied Tucks laced with Preparation H for the better part of two weeks. I remember standing in my shower under the hot water feeling stiff all over, tender and sore in places I didn’t know existed, and so tired that everything I had just been through could possibly have all been just a midwinter night’s dream.

I don’t know why it is that all this is freshly imprinted on my memory as if it was last month instead of last year. Perhaps it has something to do with that saying “an elephant never forgets”? Because that’s certainly how a saggy postpartum belly looks and feels after delivery – exactly like an elephant.

I have another friend – the same one who was pregnant at the same time as me - who is pregnant again. And she, with her youthful 25-year old body and her sensible perspective, tells me “but the end result is SO worth it”. She is, of course, completely right. Even so, when it comes right down to it, my 34-year old body really begs to differ. Which is why, when it comes right down to it, I’m pretty convinced the reason I remember all of this so vividly is because my body refuses to let my mind forget!

(By the way, in case you were wondering, to my utter surprise, I used everything on that list except items 9 and 10! And given my belly elephantiasis, I probably should have used #10.)

~Nichole

10.16.2010

B + T = C

in keeping with the thought process i poured all over here,
i made up a math equation to tell you exactly how it was that

our lives changed all over again 3 weeks ago
when the babe got really proficient at cruising
and suddenly the light switched on
and he realized there's a whole world out there to explore

since then, it's been taking clothes out of laundry baskets
and climbing up on furniture
and pulling things off of shelves and couches
and reorganizing my (finally alphabetized) dvd collection
into an unrecognizable heap on the floor

and not wanting to stay still for diaper changes
and trying to crawl off the bed head first
and getting bored with music dvds and toys and pureed foods
and learning to put things in other things and on other things and around other things
and getting really quiet so we know when he's up to no good

and laughing and making us laugh
and making hasty get aways or throwing things across the room
when we try to take no-nos away from him
and singing and humming
and understanding language
and giving kisses and hugs
and making funny sounds with his mouth
and being downright snuggly with his momma
(that's the payoff for being the momma)

and how, though the months seem to have been too fast and too short,
it's taken me all these 11 months to get to the point
where i fantasize about sleeping for an uninterrupted 7 hours
and where i am ridiculously excited to actually go on a proper date now and then
and where i'm plotting and planning when exactly to wean
so i can finally break free of the breast pump and horns

and how toys make a perma-litter on my floor,
nothing is never quite put away,
and my house is an ever-loving borderline-unholy mess
what, with heaps of dvds and abandoned infant seats and bases
and toys and books and the occasional baby sandal lying around
oh, and how we can't find the knob to our dvd player because
he's taken it and hidden it
in some parent-proof baby hiding place

the calmness of bonafide infant-hood
has passed
we are in the eye of the storm:
on the eve of the birthday first
on the eve of walking, then running
on the eve of the why fors

and then, our lives will change
and change again

but either way,
this topsy turvy
life with baby
is here to stay

and we're so lucky!

~Nichole

9.30.2010

The Mom-isode that Made Me Cry

I'm sitting here watching Project Runway on my DVR in the quiet of my house. The hub is in the bathroom, the baby's tucked into bed and tears are making streaks down my face. . .

. . . in this episode, the designers' moms are flown in for a visit. As the moms walk into the workroom and the designers see their mothers for the first time in months, they all start crying.

. . . it makes me realize that everyone, no matter who they are, has a mother and everyone, no matter who they are, has a soft spot for the woman they call "mom".

. . . it shows me how the sight of one's mother can evoke such strong emotions because your mother's arms is the safest place in all the world.

. . . it makes me remember when I came home sick from my mission and all I wanted was my mom.

. . . it makes me think how now I'm a mom, and how special a calling, title and job that is.

. . . it makes me want to be a force for all that is good and positive in my children's lives.

. . . it makes me hope that someday I can walk into a room and just the sight of me will provide my child with relief and comfort.

That's what mothers do.

{OK. Wiping my tears away and returning to my regularly scheduled program. . . }

~Nichole

9.25.2010

Texts from the Trenches

I can't believe it's been over a month since I've posted anything about this mothering gig. Here is a sampling of actual texts I've sent over the last month or so (which should give you an idea of where my mind has been):

"I forgot to send frozen milk this morning, so I get to make a trip to Mesa later this morning. Doh! Is it weird that I’m both excited about weaning and anxious at the same time? I’m excited to have my time/body back, but will miss the protection I know he gets against our illnesses."

"I go back and forth over the 2 or 3 question. Last week I had the door wide open. This week it’s almost closed. Tho, officially, my stance is let’s just have 2, see what that’s like and make the final decision once we’re in that place. Unless of course the next one is actually a twofer. In which case, the door will be closed forever!"

"I’m so excited for you! I almost had myself convinced the other day I was ready for another. Almost. Then I remembered morning sickness and fatigue and invasion of the body snatchers and I changed my mind."

"I hate menstrual migraines! Laying on the floor in my living room with C playing around me and popping Advil every 5-6 hours. Waiting for the MC repair guy to show up."

"I really hate how my milk production fluctuates now that my cycles have resumed! I continue to feel torn about weaning, but sometimes wonder if I'll even make it another 6 weeks or so."

[Wow. Reading back over those texts makes me think of my high school chemistry teacher's comment to me: "these are informal assignments. you don't have to write that way."]

Aaannywho, in other news, my kid is keeping me simultaneously amazed and busy. He's very mobile and very purposeful and determined. So, you can imagine. He's so fun to be around and I'm enjoying being his mother.

If you know me, you know I'm kind of weirded out by birthday parties and have sworn to keep my kids' parties extremely basic and simple. Even so, M and I have plotted out a simple 1st birthday party for the Bug - albeit bigger in scope than any other is sure to be until he's in double digits. I figure the kid was cheated out of Christmas last year, so why not. Besides which it's really a celebration for all of us making it out of the first year alive and well (actually, more that I made it a year pumping exclusively. . . longest year of my life has been comprised of 30-40 minute stints of pumping 4-8 times a day. . . )

~Nichole

8.24.2010

MomMe and the No Good Very Off Horrible Mommy Day

And so it begins.

When I arrived home from work yesterday, I looked my babe over as I kissed him within an inch of his short life.

Dada actually noticed it first. "Is that a bruise on his forehead?" And it was.

The day before, he had bonked his head against the tile. Twice. Front and back. Just when we thought we were past this stage, 'cause, you know, he learned how to "bend in the middle".

Then, I was in the livingroom talking to his Dad when we both heard the inhale and the breathless crying. He was standing by a kitchen chair and best we can figure, he bounced up and down and hit his jaw on the chair.

Then, Cheerios for dinner as I kissed him and apologized profusely for not watching closer.

Then, bath water so hot his bum turned red.

Needless to day, by the time I went crawled into bed, my Mom-ego was pretty freakin bruised and battered.

~Nichole

8.19.2010

We Are What We Are (Even If We Didn't Mean To Be)

After our son’s 9 month pediatric visit, I was a mess.

We had talked about feeding (don’t let him graze, he should be getting more iron), we talked about sleeping (he should be sleeping on his own and not waking for bottles), we talked about weaning from breast milk after he turns a year old (whole cow’s milk is best, but if you’d like to try almond or soy or another alternative, we can work with that).

About the sleeping, she said “I’ll give you some literature” she said. I've learned this doc’s not one to battle with parents over their choices. She briefly outlines her take and leaves it at that. It’s an indirect way of respecting that parents will do what they think is best. I like her approach. Still, reading through the “literature” with the bold headings of Nighttime Crier and Nighttime Feeder put me on the defensive.

Thinking about this for days, posting about it on FB, milling over the fact that I never intended to have a baby in my room, much less to co-sleep, and that I am panic-stricken over mental images of preschoolers piled in our bed, arms and legs akimbo, and us tired parents relegated to sleeping on the floor (after all, the only bed bigger than a king is. . . two kings?). These things tumbled for days, messing with my mother-certainty, interjecting mother-doubt that I’ve not been accustomed to.

I looked through the slips the grandparents keep of times and amounts he eats and sleeps while at their house. Patterns began to emerge and I said to M “this kid has a schedule. We just need to make sure we’re not feeding him all the time at our house and stretch his feedings out by a couple of hours. Otherwise he has a schedule.” Also? He’s a great baby. He doesn’t cry at shots (or hemoglobin tests), he sits quietly on my lap, he’s content to play and hang out without having to be entertained. He carries whole apples around and munches on them. He’s so much fun to be around.

Even so, I argued with my husband that perhaps we should let him “cry it out”. M calmly said “That won’t work. I’ve tried it during the day and he gets so upset that he poops his pants.” “He does!?” “Yes.”

The Friday night after the ped visit was particularly rough. When the baby woke up crying, I brought him to our bed. Only, he didn’t want to be held, didn’t want to be comforted, didn’t want a bottle. So, I placed him back in his crib thinking what he wanted was to be away from the clutches of his mother’s arms. His cry became frenzied, frustrated and panicky. I lay him back down, telling M perhaps we should let him cry it out. M said “I can’t let him cry like that” and hopped up to get him. Still, the babe could not settle. This was not our baby. We did what we do during such times: we broke out the Motrin. Within minutes, he was back asleep, and M was whispering over the sleeping body in our bed “We can’t let him cry like that!”

The following Saturday was another disastrous night. He wouldn’t even go to bed, despite adhering to our pre-bedtime routines and times. That night, M finally relented and took the baby to bed with him at 10:30. It was another rough night.

Then, on Sunday morning, a tired fussiness overwhelmed the babe, but alas he would not nap! So, I went and laid him down next to me in my bed until he slept, and when I transferred him to his crib, he woke up, realized where he was and started crying. I thought “here it is, my chance to try crying it out. M’s not home. Let’s just try this little experiment.” I tried to calm him down, give him his blankie, laid him back down. I left the room. He went from zero to hysterical in 10 seconds flat. He has his “tired” cry, his “hurt” cry, his “frustrated” cry. . . but this “panicked-my-whole-world-just-fell-apart-whyareyoudoingthistome” cry? There was a desperation in it that is unsettling. And wrong.

Even so, I tried to stay strong and tried to wait it out for a few minutes. I stood in the hall and tried to pray, but I could hear he was hysterical. I went back in, tried to soothe him, laid him down, gave him his blankie, stroked his back, said “shhh shhh shhh”. A couple of times, he tried to calm down, tried to go to sleep. But he was too upset and broke again into crying. He sounded broken hearted.

During a calm moment, I again walked away from the room. Cue hysterical crying, clinging to the crib rails, clumsy, fumbling walking on the mattress. I quickly consulted my two go-to books. What to Expect The First Year told me what I was hearing was a little “protest” crying and that I should go in every 5 to 10 minutes, but maybe every 5 minutes for a “sensitive” baby, but he’d eventually get tired enough and stop. Touchpoints (by Brazelton) said there’s no reason to ever let a baby cry it out; all it teaches them is that you won’t be there as they cry until they wear themselves out. That clinched it.

I ran to the room, snatched up my baby, kissed his wet, sobbing face repeatedly and promised over and over to never do that again. His just-changed diaper was soaked. His head was sweaty and hot. Though tired, he was way past the point of napping. As we readied for church, every time we walked back into that dim room for an outfit or a comb, he cried.

On Tuesday, I lunched with a girlfriend and fellow mommy. She shared with me her sleep experiences and recent “cry it out” experience with her 15 month old. I respected what she had to say. And knew it was something I just couldn’t try to do again anytime soon. She gets that we're pretty laid back, respected my position, didn't try to make me see things her way, and suggested I look at what Dr. Sears has to say about co-sleeping.

I took her advice, and here’s what I found. He says, among other things, “Your infant trusts that you, his parents, will continually be available during the night, as you are during the day. Sharing sleep in our culture also requires that you trust youdr intuition about parenting your individual baby instead of unquestionably accepting the norms of American society. Accepting and respecting your baby's needs can help you recognize that you are not spoiling your baby or letting him manipulate you when you welcome him into your bed.” This is US! I almost cried with relief.

Long story short: we’re (unintentional) co-sleepers. End of story (for now).

~Nichole

8.17.2010

PPP, The First

First postpartum period.

On one hand:
~Ugh. I so wasn't ready for this!

On the other, at least it isn't too awful, or bloaty or crampy.

On one hand:
~I was really hoping to go another 3 or so months before having to deal with. . . all this.

On the other, it'll be nice to be able to track my cycles again.

On one hand:
~Man, I really hate this monthly visitation. M isn't too fond of it either.

On the other, at least we know my body's working properly!

On one hand:
~This'll make my beach vacation next month interesting.

On the other, at least I had supplies on hand.

Here we go. . . .

~Nichole

8.10.2010

The Sweetest Things

burblings of dadadadadada and eee eee eee
soft baby kisses
that little face
smiling eyes
busy legs
pointing arms and fingers
two tiny bottom teeth
kicking, standing feet
kissable cheeks
splashing hands
hand that reach for me and grasp at my legs and clothing and necklaces
downy ears that feel like Christmas against my lips
such concentration
such determination
a whole person
there you are
a revelation of your very own

~Nichole

7.30.2010

One More Thing . . .

Mother guilt.

I totally have it.

We bought the dogs a new pool today. It serves as their drinking trough. And something to dip their paws in on a hot day. Well, the one who doesn't hate water, any how.

The babe, as it turns out, loves the water. So, before the dogs utterly trash the new pool, we dipped his feet in. Then his legs, butt, body. He even put his face in a few times and blew bubbles.

Then, he decided he wanted to stand up and lean over the side and touch the grass.

Except, he's head-heavy. And the pool was situated on concrete. And I'm slightly paranoid about him getting injured. (He bumps his head a lot 'cause of all the head-heaviness.)

And so it was that as he slipped in the pool, leaning further over the side, I snatched him up. And he sucked in a big breath and howled his little o-shaped howl. And then, because I am SO awesome, I did it again not 5 seconds later. He was really hurt this time.

I took off his sopping, swollen diaper, then his sleeveless, white onesie. And held him in the towel on my lap. And inspected the damage.

Among scrapes on his other fingers, there was a little pink one on the inside bend of his left index finger, where the skin was peeled.

So sad!

Guilty as charged! :(

~Nichole

Postscripts

i forgot to say. . .

i love it the most when C giggles in his sleep. it makes me giggle. (albeit very very quietly.)

also, how weird is it that when the physician's assistant asked me about my last menstrual period and i said "february 2008," she didn't even blink. then, i corrected my tired mispeak and said "february 2009, yeah, that's right."

~Nichole

7.29.2010

Before I Go

i am doing a tech fast next week. i am also typing this post with one hand. either way, i make no promises. i just wanted to get a few things down.

right now my baby is singing "lalalalala" with his tongue sticking out and then he stops and i smile at him and he giggles with his whole being. so fun!

as i type i'm cramping low on my left side. it makes me wonder what this body of mine is doing.

the other day in a sickness-induced dream, i was giving birth and with just one push, the whole baby came out, calm and painless as can be. a fast, easy labor. i really hope that's what it's like next time. (just not anytime soon.)

i ordered my hospital records, but it turns out what i got were just the "pertinent records". there was nothing in there about when i was dilated to what, though i have pieced together the major events. i'd still like to know the whole picture, and since they are all pertinent to me, i have requested my entire chart. hopefully i'll get my birth story put together soon.

i've been off work for the past 2 days, and even sick, i could really get used to working only 2 days a week! not that i've accomplished much, other than vacuuming, washing sheets, resting and making lists in my head, but it's a right spot more than during a regular work week. besides, for me, vacuumed house = clean house.

one of my newly postpartum e-friends is going through the "will i ever feel normal again" phase. it's comforting to know that all new mothers go through that. and that the answer is usually "no" because it'll never be the old normal, but it will eventually be a new version of "normal".

what else?

oh yeah. i'm taking an antibiotic that my doc assured me is "compatible with breastfeeding" but warned me it might make my baby get a little diarrhea. that seems like somewhat of a paradox. and makes me feel weird about taking it.

anything else?

guess not.

catch you on the flip side!

~Nichole

7.20.2010

Recent Convo with a Prego

"I’m SO excited for you!

People used to say that to me and I didn’t know what to do with it. When I was first pregnant, it was exciting, but it was really more a means to an end. Pregnancy (and labor/delivery) was the only way for me to get a baby, so I put up with it.

But now, looking back on all of it, I’m kind of cuckoo about it. It’s such a pivotal time of life and I can totally see how women love to talk about their experience and how exciting it is and how some women really get “addicted” to having lots of babies.

I felt really strong while I was pregnant. I was determined not to let myself be a wimp, so I did more while I was pregnant than I probably would have otherwise. I know I hiked more while pregnant than I had in years.

It’s really weird, but I’m excited to do it all over again. (NOT too soon, of course.)
__________
I’ve been there, so I know what you are talking about. It feels like something foreign has taken over your body and nothing (NOTHING!) feels the same. It’s like invasion of the body snatchers!

My friend L had her baby 2 months before me and I was very pregnant when she said to me, just after giving birth, “I miss being pregnant!” I gave her the most disgusted look I could muster. I could not believe that she would miss such a trying condition! I don’t miss it, but I do think it was a special time.

OK. Thinking more about this. . . maybe not so much the pregnancy. More the birth. Yeah. Maybe that’s right.

Except, just the other day I was thinking about how freakin’ sore my body was after giving birth. With an epidural, sure you forget the pain of labor pretty easily. It’s afterward that no one warns you about. I remember standing in the shower, hardly being able to bend over because every muscle revolted.

Consider yourself warned.

OK. You’re right. I might be taking back what I said about it being a “special time”. . . for every 5 women who love everything about being pregnant, I can name at least one who hated it, but endured it only because that’s what you have to do to have a baby.
________
Unfortunately, there’s really no way to warn a person – because everyone’s experience is unique. Even “advice” is really sort of useless if it gets too specific. I do stand by my statement that it’s a pivotal event in life. That’s about all that you can be sure about.

Prepare for the worst, learn what you feel you need to know about the process, and trust that everything’s going to work out the way it should. When I say of my experience “everything worked out just like it should” I mean it, not because it was ideal or perfect, but because I was open to the experience and didn’t have any absolutes or expectations in mind. I think these crazy women who get an idea in their head of how things are going to go are the ones who end up disappointed.

Sadly, I think that when women (me included) talk about the experience, we tend to think of it as a whole and sum it up saying “it is great!” – like when someone asks you “how are you today” and you say “fine” automatically. Something gets lost in translation. If “fine” has the meaning of not dead/generally intact, then yes we’re all “fine”, but it’s really a cognitive shortcut. Same thing with “pregnancy/labor/giving birth is great”. It’s a cognitive shortcut, because the overall outcome is the great part, not the specific experiences you have to get there."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

~Nichole

7.19.2010

Hungry (but Full Up)

Here's how it happens.

My e-friend Jenn gave birth earlier this month. So did my e-turned-real-life friend Danielle. I see pictures of their fleshy newborn bundles of ooey gooey baby goodness and I go 'awwww'!

My e-friend Brittney is (over)due any day now. My friend H is 28 weeks pregnant (so is my e-friend Nat) and another friend is so freshly pregnant that ginger ale is her new best friend. Not to even mention all the prego bellies I see on Sundays. I think about that expectant state, awaiting a bundle of brand new, itty bitty fleshy goodness and I go 'awwww'! (except the ginger ale part, that is.)

Then, we watch videos from when C was just a tiny one-month old, what with his chubbery cheeks (!) and all that hair (!) and that little face (!). And I go 'awwww'!

And yet. . .

and yet,
2009 was the year of the baby
2010 is the year of the Masters
2011 will be the year of the start-up (not the fleshy newborn kind)

Besides. . .

technically, I have an 8-month old's squooshy face to munch all over and completely adore until the clock ticks and he suddenly decides he's tired of me.

Then maybe it'll be time for another one?

~Nichole

7.15.2010

For the Record

Tomorrow I am off from work.
And since my curiosity has been piqued for a while now
and has just been furthered by Jenn's birth story
I'm half tempted to take myself over to the hospital I gave birth at
and request a copy of my full hospital record.

Seeing as how I was delirious for most of the time,
there's not a lot I really remember,
so I'm thinking reading over my records might help piece it all together.

Who knows, maybe it'll fill in the glossy parts of my own birth story.

Has anyone else ever requested copies of their childbirth records??

~Nichole

7.14.2010

Tenuosity

There are days, much like today, when my position at the top of the hill feels tenuous at best. Why, you ask?

You know how on that movie “Mean Girls” the blonde played by Amanda Seyfried can “predict” the weather with her boobs? I can predict the weather with my head. When I awoke with a headache, after a restless night (in which the babe was in bed with us. . . again!), I should have known that the overcast, high pressure day is what pushed my sleepy head over into headachey territory.

We went kayaking on Saturday last. When my friend’s baby fussed and squirmed her way to a shore day, I secretly prided myself on the fact that C did so very well in the kayak and that we could spend hours out on the water as a result. That was Saturday. Sunday, he was cranky, fitful, and has taken to tossing his head/entire body backwards and commencing a sort of mini-tantrum. The other day he did it, and when I tried to pick him up, he threw himself back again and knocked his head on the corner of the side table. Is this normal for an 8-month old?

Oh, and about co-sleeping? C is back in our bed most nights. Even on nights when I’m on baby duty, the daddyman has been hopping right up at C’s first cry to get him from his crib and bring him to me for a bottle. For me, utter exhaustion is why he’s not making it back to his crib. For M, he really does love that warm baby next to him. He says sometimes after his alarm goes off, he’ll lay where he can hear and feel C’s breath on his face. So, we might be sleepless and baggy-eyed, but the way I figure it, some day, there will be no more babies jumping in our bed (and I suspect we’ll miss it just a little). . . so might as well enjoy this stage while it’s here and now.

So, needless to say, not a top-of-the-hill kind of day. More like top-of-the-heap. Still, I’m looking forward to Friday. I’m off and we’re having our first real date since C was born: a morning movie matinee. . . Hooray for me us!

~Nichole

7.08.2010

Another Conundrum: Co-sleeping

I may or may not have mentioned the “plans” I had for sleeping arrangements in our house. When I was pregnant, I made a pronouncement that baby would sleep next to us in his bassinet for a few weeks, after which we’d move him out into the living room, and shortly thereafter, transition him to his crib in his own room.

Leave it to my husband to crack my resolve.

At first, he was all “he’s so little!” “He should be with us!” “But his room is all the way across the house!” For the first 4 months of our boy’s life, the bassinet was on M’s side of the bed, as close as he could get it without an engineering degree. When I grew tired (literally and figuratively) of going all the way to the other side of the bed for midnight feedings, I moved the bassinet to my side of the bed. Hub protested the distance (“but. . .” “but. . . .”) and I assured him in my most firm voice that since I was the one getting up for more of the feedings, I was pretty sure the two of them would survive a slightly greater distance between their sleeping heads.

Then, almost imperceptibly at first, it happened. We began placing our little sleepy baby in our bed, between our tired bodies. At first, it was only every once in a while, because we were tired; then, because he was so fun to stare at; then, because it was the only place he’d sleep during the early morning hours; then, because M liked the sound of a breathing baby next to him; then, because it was easier to feed his lengthening body when he was laying between us; then, because we were too tired to put him back in his bassinet after feeding him; then, because it was the only place he’d sleep during any hours; then. . . (“No ‘and then’!”) (please tell me you know what movie that’s from. . .)

So. The Books say baby should have already been sleeping through the night, self-soothing himself back to sleep, sleeping in his own bed, sleeping in his own room by now. Our baby headbutts himself into a corner and cries himself awake. . . Meanwhile, M (which may or may not stand for “Mother Hen” at this point) says “he’s a baby!” “His room is too far away!” “I like him in the room with us!” “He sleeps better in our bed!” “I like to hear him breathing!”

Hence, Baby in our bed more than I ever dreamed (sha right! dreams!? you have to sleep first!) possible or probable.

Then, a couple months ago, C started waking up more often. “Teething”, M surmised. “Growing,” I thought. “Cognitive development,” the books said. Then, the bassinet was downgraded to a pack n’ play and C began waking up every few hours and we were bringing him to our bed almost every (early!) morning. Since I don’t sleep well with a baby at my back (or side or front), his crib, in which he’s never slept for more than an hour total, started to look like a holy grail. Except, as you all know, it is all the way across the house !

Needless to say, the crib is the newest piece of furniture in our room. C slept his first night in it last night. And guess what? No waking up an hour after I laid him down. Or an hour after that. Or two more hours after that. Nope - he slept for almost 8 hours before waking for a bottle! Hooray and the stars and the moon be blessed!

Lesson learned? Books (and “plans”) (and stupid pack n’ plays) be damned, sometimes you gotta do what’s best for you. Who knows? I might just skip the bassinet next time and give in to a crib in our room right from the very start!

“Deal?” I say.
“Deal.” says M.

~Nichole

7.06.2010

Heart to Heart

This past weekend Jenn (of Babymakin(g) Machine) had her beautiful baby girl. Hearing her labor updates and seeing the announcement of the birth and the newborn baby photos made me reflect all over again about C’s birth and those first few moments and days with him. Her experience brought my own memories floating back to me, snippets of time I had left somewhere upriver. Thinking back on that time, I see now that it was one in which an entire rainbow of emotions was compressed down into a prism of light by which my entire existence became spectacularly clear. Those first moments of meeting the only stranger I’ll ever love more than my own life were really quite amazing. And very hard to describe. Yet, every time I see a picture of that tiny little minutes-old newborn face, I realize it’s still all there, stored away in my heart for safekeeping.

All these months later and I still can’t put it into words. I try. Each night I look into that face before laying him down, I try. I say a silent prayer and hope the feelings of my mother heart entwine the tendrils of his baby heart and that he knows how deeply he is loved. Last night, we laid there, eye to eye, staring at each other down the barrel of a bottle. I watched his eyes close and his body relax into sleep and as I picked him up, my heart whispered to him “I’ve loved you from the moment you were made. No. Even before that, I loved you. I have loved you forever and ever. I will love you forever and ever.”

~Nichole

6.18.2010

Aloha Friday - Smothered Edition


The baby was particularly fussy on Monday night. Apparently, he had a long day at Nana & Tata’s house and he just wanted to be held. Only. . . I had just gotten home and I had. to. pee! So, for the second (or third?) time in recent history, I held him while I peed. Baby happy, bladder happy? Mission accomplished.

Today's Aloha Friday question:

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done while holding a baby?

~Nichole

6.14.2010

Thoughts on mothering - 7 months' tenure

This mothering gig is really something else! I’m the type of person that takes each day as it comes. (I’ve worked long and hard at becoming that type of person, mind you.) So, when it came to being a mother, I tried not to have too many preconceived ideas. Even so, every day brings a new surprise.

I’m still surprised at just how many things are different than I thought they would be. Like the fact that, at 6 months of age, the baby is still in our room and has only slept in his “real crib” for naps on three occasions. Like the fact that, far from having a weekly date night (like we have time for that right now anyway), M alternates between not trusting anyone to leave the baby with and not wanting to leave the baby more than we have to for work, thus, no date nights to date. (No matter, really, since we don’t really do much more than school work. . . )

Because I have no idea how else to organize this. . . here you go:

Biggest surprises about the job: how awesome my kid’s personality is, and that I’m not nearly as anxious or neurotic about things as I feared (and everyone half-expected) I would be.

Biggest lie I was told: "Once that baby's in your arms, you forget all about the pain". Here's the truth of it: the only reason I don't remember the pain was because I had an epidural. But the pain I was in days after? The deep, muscular pain, not-to-mention-whoha-region pain? That I totally still remember!

Best shower gift I received: My Boppy has come in handy SO many times! There are things that I use daily that are really great, but the Boppy has served as a cushion for my aching postpartum tailbone, a feeding pillow for the baby, a sleep positioner when he couldn't breathe well in those winter/newborn months, a baby donut when he was learning how to sit up on his own, a cushion to keep him from bumping his head while changing his diaper in the truck, and currently is stowed around the leg of our coffee table so he doesn't bonk his noggin.

Best baby gear we bought ourselves: I'm gonna go with the pack n play. It has a bassinet, which he still sleeps in to this day. We've also used it while at Aunt T's house, on overnight trips, and while at the lake. We also bought a second one for Nana & Tata's house.

Strangest thing about motherness: the thought that he’s having a completely separate existence from me for so many hours of the day. This is really hitting home as he’s exploring his world more and becoming more aware. Something about seeing him scooting around in his walker clutched at me one day and hasn't quite let go.

His latest things: blowing raspberries and spitting (loudly. everywhere. including church.); a first tooth!; running his tongue back and forth between his lips, complete with awesome sound effects; yelling/screaming; lifting his butt up and putting his head down and bulldoze-scooting toward the tile so he can slap it; crying when one of us leaves the room- even if the other of us is right next to him

Favorite things: watching him learn new things, laughing with him, rocking him to sleep each night, studying his sleeping face, feeling his body relax into heaviness in my arms, that I'm lucky enough to get to be his mother.

~Nichole

6.01.2010

The Kind of Boy

Dear C,

It was an interesting holiday weekend, to say the least. First, we worried you were too cold. Then, maybe you were too hot. Then you slept for hours in the Moby, in your seat, in the hotel room. Then, you threw up. Twice on Saturday night and once Sunday afternoon. You almost never throw up.

"Was it the heat?" we wondered. "Was it the cold?" "Too much sun?" "Is he sick?" "Was it the milk?" "Was it because you dropped him on Friday?" asked your dad. (for the record, you were in your carseat, and it wasn't from very high up.)

By Sunday afternoon, I had settled that it was because you are teething. Sure enough: there are two little white bumps on your bottom gums.

I missed you today when I had to go back to work. Coming home, I saw two teenage boys walking down the street and I wondered what kind of boy you'll grow to be. Will you be a lumbering, thick-bodied boy or a tall, slender boy (like your dad)? Whichever it is, I thought to myself, I hope you're a kind sort of boy, even when no one is watching. I hope you're the sort of boy who gives hugs and can talk about his feelings. For your dad's sake, I hope you like going fishing and hiking. I hope you are funny and funloving. Dada says he hopes you're smart and that you like to learn about things.

But, really, I hope you're the sort of boy that grows into a wonderful man (like your dad). Boys will be boys, but those that grow into respectable men are my favorite kind.

So, as I rocked you to sleep tonight, I kissed your cheek and whispered "I love you", then I whispered a prayer to Heavenly Father, thanking him for the beauty of my life - for you and your dad - and asking that I will always remember to spend a little time each day in the small moments of life. Like putting a sleepy boy to bed, nuzzling against the warmth of his cheek, gazing at the profile of his sleeping face and thinking on the blessing that is mine for getting to be his mom.

See, whatever kind of boy you become, whatever kind of man you grow up to be, I can already tell you are fantastic. And watching you become that boy and helping you become that man will be one of the profoundest privileges of my life.

~Nichole

5.21.2010

A Letter

Dear Baby C,

You are 6 months old now. You weigh 18 lbs, 6 oz and are 27 inches long. You are a happy baby, always smiling and laughing. You are so easy going, but you pay attention to everything. You will walk if we hold you up and stand you on the floor. It’s so fun to see your little feet marching forward in tiny little steps. It’s your favorite activity when you have too much energy to sit still. Your next favorite thing is to be wherever we are, watching what we are doing. Lately, you’ve taken to laughing wildly if I do something funny that surprises you. I’ve started calling you “Bug”, though I can’t say exactly why.

You had a low-grade fever starting last Saturday night. The fever finally broke late Monday, but then on Tuesday you got a rash and started having cold sweats. Nana was worried it was the powder she put on you. I was worried it was from chlorine in Aunt T’s pool. Your dad was just worried. He took you to the pediatrician and it turns out you have roseola, which is a pretty common virus for babies to get. You’ve been a trooper, and only a little fussy, which we’re not used to because you’re so even tempered.

You don’t like solid foods much yet. We’ve tried butternut squash, peas, carrots, and bananas. We’ve also put grapes, apples and peaches in your fresh food feeder. There’s something about the texture of solid food you’re not very fond of yet. So, we’re taking it slowly. You munched on a pizza crust last weekend and you liked it. You like to gnaw on celery when we go to Chili’s. Dada gave you a piece of tortilla the other day, and showed you what to do with it (you were confused), but then he had to fish out pieces that broke off in your mouth so you wouldn’t choke.

Your dada is a Mother Hen (someday you’ll know what that means), way moreso than me, and he takes care of you on the days that he’s off during the week. He bathes you, reads to you, takes you for walks and shows you the food he’s growing for you in his garden. He loves you so very much. He can’t stand the thought of being away from you if not absolutely necessary. You’re so lucky to have such a dad!

You like going to Nana and Tata’s house three days a week. They love being with you and take such good care of you. They sit with you in their flower garden and you yell with the school kids on the playground across the way. Your Nana makes you hug her whenever you come or go and you happily oblige her.

I don’t like to be away from you more than work requires. Last weekend, I was helping your Aunt T with her house and Grandma was with you in the other room and you fussed a little and it was all I could do not to drop the paint roller in my hand and run to get you. I love being your mom and want to be with you every moment I can.

I put you to sleep every night. And every night I thank my Heavenly Father for sending you to me. I love you more than I can even say!

~Mommy

5.11.2010

Goosfraba

I’m being really hard on myself today.

Somewhat about a dusty house, mounting dirty laundry, and an office that looks like a filing cabinet exploded.

But, mostly about running. Or the lack thereof.

And so I start plotting to get up earlier to get out there and do it.

Then I realize this means I’ll miss time in the early morning with my baby.

Like today, when I moved him to our bed in the early hours of the morning and fed him a bottle and listened to his breathing and watched him smile in his sleep before changing his diaper and sending him off for the day.

I remind myself this is temporary. So temporary. “It won’t always be like this.

And I breathe in. And I breathe out.

Then I get on the scale. And view the profile of my naked self in the mirror for extra measure.

And it begins all over again. So I repeat it. Like a mantra.

As I readied myself for the day, I think to myself “there will be plenty of time for fitness later.”

Even so, I asked for an elliptical for Mother’s Day. We’re saving up for it. (Minus the freakin' cell phone bill!)

In the meantime, surely 10 minutes a day doing some planks or reverse crunches or lunges is something I could pull off, no? Maybe squats while I put on my makeup?

I am certainly going to try.

Meanwhile: “Goosfraba
(What? Didn’t I ever tell you I live in the movies?)

~Nichole

5.07.2010

And They All Rolled Over . . .

And one fell off. . .

The baby awoke around 1:00. I nudged M and when he said "what?" I pointed in the direction of the bassinet from under my sleep mask.

Then, suddenly, I heard a thwump and M exclaiming "oh my god!"

He had placed the sleepy baby on the bed next to me and went to pee "for two seconds".

As the baby cried, we checked him for lumps, bumps, or bruises. He calmed, settled back into a scary sleep, and we called the nurse line. While on the phone, we made an earnest attempt at waking the baby, with M checking his pupils for dilation. He looked at us, wondering why on earth he was awake at that hour, smiled and started chatting us up.

M sat on the floor, head hung low, beating himself up and said he felt like he would vomit. I assured him that it could have happened to me just as easily. It's a worst-case scenario I've imagined in my head many many times.

The nurse said "home care" should be fine, but to check him at regular intervals over the next 3 days.

The baby took a bottle and kicked around in the bed between us, finally going to sleep around 2:30.

His guardian angel was really looking out from him last night.~Nichole

4.26.2010

The Mother of all Conspiracies

One Sunday in the mother’s room at church, a friend and fellow-mommy asked, in a low, conspiring voice, if she was the only one who felt distracted most of the time. At the time I thought she meant “at church” and me and L, two who can regularly be found in the mother’s room on any given Sunday, were quick to tell her she wasn’t alone. Only lately have I questioned whether she may have meant something more. And only lately have I begun to desperately hope that she did.

Because lately I live in the state of Distraction. Don’t get me wrong. I have my days – days where the sun shines through and the stars align and the cosmos smile down on me and I sit the baby up on the bed and he plays and we “talk” while I hang clean laundry, still warm, in my closet. Then, as he gets fussy and I’m finishing up, I sing to him. A hymn, no less, which calms us both. Then, I dress him for church and feed him. And he goes down for a nap while I shower and he wakes up just as I’m finishing getting ready and M arrives home from his meeting and we’re only 2 minutes late to church. And later in the day, we take a family nap in our bed. Then I make dinner and we have good conversation. And it’s wonderful.

Then there are the same days where everything turns on its head and I get to bed too late and can’t sleep (darn that nap!) and then the baby wakes up eleventy times and when I finally get to sleep, M wakes me up and asks me to check on the baby because he thought he heard snarfling noises and I huff and I puff because I justgottosleep! and I’vealreadybeenupalot! and I throw back the sheet fiercely to show I’m mad and it turns out the baby isn’t suffocating so I go back to sleep, then wake up again in the wee hours because the baby’s awake again and I finally surrender to the fact that Monday will just be a day of exhaustion, and there will be take out for dinner and I will most certainly try to get to bed earlier.

I am one of 5 new moms in my ward. I am the oldest. I am the one who jokes that I wear glasses because the bottom rim hides the bags under my eyes. I feel like the only one of the 5 of us who is constantly tired, since the others all seem to have recovered from labor and childbirth and transition to new mommyhood really well.

My labor was not as traumatic as it sounds in the retelling of it. Still, it took its toll on me. I was worn out for a full 3 weeks afterward, I was sore for at least 8 weeks, and I stayed home from everywhere but the occasional lunch date for the first 12 weeks. The most recent new mommy made her postpartum appearance at 6 weeks, seemingly unzombified and unfazed. Then there’s the new mommy of an 11-week old who, when I showed up to visit one recent afternoon, had a spotless house and a folded up treadmill she had just used and the very sight of it made me want to fall onto her vacuumed floor and sob.

So, on my worst, utterly exhausted, hanging by a thread days, I start to wonder. Is age a factor here? Does the fact that I’m 5-10 years older than these girls play a role? Or is it just me? (Silently in my head, I plead: Please let it be my age and not an inherent character flaw.)

And before you say it, let me just tell you: I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others. I know. It’s just disturbing me that I’m almost 6 months into this gig and I’m tired all. the. time. I could enumerate the mitigating Whys: I work full time, I’m helping hub through grad school. . . wait, that’s it? (Oy.)

Either way, survey says I’m 33. 2010 will make me 34. I’ve begun to have the most grave doubts about my ability to carry, deliver, and mother more than 2 children, even if Time were not a factor. Which is why I’m sort of glad my ticking clock is winding down with no reset button in sight. There’s a sort of relief about the thought of only having to do this one more time.

In the meantime, if one of my fellow new mommies (and maybe a few of the “old” ones) would come up to me and say, in a low, conspiring voice, “am I the only one here that’s always exhausted?” I would feel SO much better. Still tired. But better.

~Nichole

4.10.2010

A Daddy's Lullabye

"Go to sleep

go to sleep

go to sleep my fat baby

Go to sleep

go to sleep

with a gigantic head

Go to sleep

go to sleep

you can whine all you want

Go to sleep

go to sleep

you will not win this fight!"

~Nichole

4.08.2010

Labor Train

I recently read a post by Jen over at Baby Makin(g) Machine. She is 28 weeks pregnant, and boy, do I remember walking in those (flat, unsexy, but fit-my-swollen-feet) shoes! (Ahem. Speaking of shoes. . . )

Before I was pregnant, I made much ado about labor. It freaked me the freak out! Then I actually became pregnant and became much more zen about it. Not completely, mind you. Just more.

Had I written a birth plan in those days, given all my reading and research, it would have demanded natural start of labor, laboring at home for as long as possible, no medications, no IVs or IV fluids, ability to move around and walk as desired, freedom to labor in a shower or tub, the ability to eat and drink something, no unnecessary medical interventions, adequate private time for my husband and I to make decisions if circumstances changed, the use of a birth ball, being able to labor in any position I wanted, no episiotomy, no cesaerean, immediate skin to skin contact with the baby, allowing the cord to stop pulsing before being clamped and cut, no tugging or pulling on the placenta to “help things along”, the introduction of breastfeeding as soon after birth as possible, complete rooming in of the baby, and absolutely no bottles or pacifiers.

But, the more pregnant I got, the more I read, the more I trusted my doctor, the more zen I became about all of it. I decided to do my best, to let things play out as they would, and to just go with it, relying on my knowledge to help me make good decisions along the way.

So, what I got was natural introduction of labor, laboring at home for as long as possible, immediate placement of IV, inability to move or walk because of magnesium for high blood pressure, restriction to IV fluids and ice chips only, pitocin to kick my labor in the pants and get it going again, a sick husband incapable of helping me make decisions, laboring in bed on my back and sides, (finally!) a birth ball, back labor, an epidural, more pitocin, no episiotomy, vaginal birth, a floppy baby who could not do skin to skin because the cord was wrapped x3 around his neck, near immediate cutting of the cord to get floppy baby some help, some tugging and pulling of the placenta due to hemorrhaging, a curettage due to retained placenta causing the hemorrhaging, a baby who needed bottle feeding due to low blood sugar, who wouldn’t breastfeed, and who was sent to the nursery so his mom could try and recover some much needed sleep.

I don’t know about all women, but labor and delivery really took its toll on me. I tolerated it well in terms of experience, but not in terms of how utterly tired I was afterward. Maybe it is age. Maybe it is that the totality of the experience was more harrowing than I realize. I don’t know. (I do know it was nice to have my doc play policeman and mandate that no visitors were allowed until I went home. I really needed that!)

I wouldn’t change much about what I did have control over. (Technically, I suppose I could have kicked and screamed and denied the magnesium, which was the proverbial fork in Labor Road, but really who wants to be that PITA?) I’m really proud of making it as long as I did without an epidural given the circumstances. I labored at home for almost 6 hours, then labored at the hospital until I was 8cm before getting an epidural. Above all, I took time to make decisions.

Although not in my original “plan”, I trusted my doctor’s advice and went ahead and got an IV and was started on fluids when I was admitted (which made getting an epidural very quick), and got the magnesium which meant I had to have pitocin, which ultimately led to my getting an epidural, but I was sure glad to have an epidural when my doc had to do a curettage and stitch up my 3rd degree tears. It all worked out just like it was supposed to, and while not technically a “natural” birth, it followed a naturally logistical process that worked for me.

I think that’s the point. Every woman, every pregnancy, every birth is different. And as much as women feel strongly about their own birth experience (though, for the life of me, I can’t understand why some are so vehement about all of it), telling someone else what type of birth they should have is like telling them to go out next week and win the lottery. There are just too many variables involved to set that kind of expectation of yourself, much less of others.

(Even so, when I have #2, the only thing I want to do differently is try and get more sleep during the early stages of labor. And I have forbidden my husband from getting sick next time.)

If solicited, my advice would be to not be afraid. And to go into it with as much knowledge as possible so you can make good decisions. And not to get hung up on a “plan”.

When it comes down to it, none of us can do very much about much of anything once we’re on the pregnancy train. We may get on when we want, but when and where and how we get off is not entirely up to us – no matter how many constraints we women want to put on that process. Still, the final destination, the good ol’ Town of Motherhood, is the same no matter what.

~Nichole

4.02.2010

Pump It Up

I was looking up something totally unrelated the other day about breastfeeding and happened on the answer to the Great Deflate (prolactin levels decrease as a breastfeeding mother's body finally figures out what is needed for production, so breasts feel less firm and full, but it has no effect on milk supply.)

I also found out that pumping exclusively can be really hard or nearly impossible for some women.

Other than the extra time and inconvenience involved, it wasn't that difficult for me. In truth, though, I was so eager to get him off of formula, I never considered whether it would be hard to pump exclusively. I just forged ahead and did it. I'm relieved I never knew about potential roadblocks before I started.

Even so, I am glad I found some helpful resources along the way.

Like this one about exclusively pumping. Or this pdf about how to establish a milk supply or wean while pumping. Or the site about, well, everything else you might want to know about breastfeeding.

~Nichole

3.31.2010

Time of His Life

"Oh, he's SO cute!"

Yeah we get that a lot.

But it's true: he's very cute.

It's very fun to see his budding personality and to begin to discover the complexities of this little person.

I sit with him in the back seat of the car wherever we go and whether sleeping or awake, I often stare at him and try to memorize these moments. It makes me verklempt to think that this time is so short, that he's growing every day and that, while there may be other babies in our future, there will only ever be ONE baby C. He'll only be 4 months once. (which is why I vowed this week to say his actual age from now on rather than "almost" the next age - even if he is 3/4 of the way to the next age).

It's amazing to see him learn. He stares at his hands to learn how to use them in new ways. Then, all the sudden he has a new skill. Like touching our still-sleeping faces in the morning or grabbing grocery receipts from our distracted hands. Or twirling his wrists round and round and round because it's his current fascination.

He's sitting up better. He holds himself up better. He reaches and grabs and knows what he wants. He loves grabbing his bare feet. He giggles when we kiss his tickle spot. He flirts with pretty receptionists at the dentist's office, giggling and talking to them like they're the best thing since warm milk. He's so much more social. He's beginning to recognize people. He's finding his voice and is increasingly loud. (He also gets really cranky when he's tired, but that's easily overlooked because he's such a good baby all the other times.)

He's beginning to watch us when we eat - so he may be ready for solids soon. He's starting to get those legs up under himself when he's on his belly - so before I know it he'll be rocking, then crawling, then (gulp!) walking.

My constant struggle is not to get ahead of myself and to really enjoy right now right now. After all, right now is the "right now" I envisioned a few months back. I'm trying my hardest to savor it.

~Nichole

3.30.2010

Ch-Ch-Changes

I’m feeling a change coming on. Maybe it’s that I’m missing firmness. Maybe it’s that my hair is falling out in smaller and smaller clumps. Maybe it’s that I’m overly emotional and am sent to tears pretty easily lately over silly things. (Want a for instance? The thought of putting away winter baby clothes that are barely worn and that he hasn’t quite outgrown and knowing that he’ll never wear them again. I think about it and the eyes brim over.) I’m telling you, something is up. Just want it on the record.

~Nichole

3.29.2010

Officially Different

The boy had his 4 month visit last week. He’s had a growth spurt, which we noticed by the fact that his car seat straps needed to be adjusted and a once too-big hat is now too small. He weighs 16 lbs, 12 oz (75th percentile for weight), is 26.5 inches tall (90th percentile for height) and his head is 45 cm around (17.7 inches - 97th percentile). They checked his head twice because “it looks like he’s had a growth spurt”. Yup.

I held my breath when she looked in his ears. Healthy! (Phew!) Somehow (breastmilk) he managed to escape the clutches of the sickness I’d had for the last 2 weeks. (Why is it that a pediatrician saying “wow he’s doing good! (developmentally)” simultaneously makes you beam with pride and happiness and becomes like gospel truth? “well the doctor said and if the doc said it, it must be true!”)

And so, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) decided to give the go ahead for a couple of vaccinations. We’re officially on an “alternative vaccination schedule”. He’s had 2 rounds of Hep B. He will not be getting the 3rd dose (baby #2 will not get any when that time comes). And he’ll only be getting Pc, HIB, and DTaP until he’s school age, when we’ll add MMR and maybe Polio and Chickenpox.

He tolerated the shots well.

We'll see if his dad does as well next time. Dad gets shot duty next time. My relation of the story of the shots nearly made him cry. The tiny bruise on C's left thigh from the needle didn't help either. Dad may cry more than the baby. . .

~Nichole

3.22.2010

Postscript

P.S. My breast pump tried to swallow my nipple whole tonight. It did not feel good.

He's worth it, though!

~Nichole

The Great Deflate

I’ve been thinking lately about my breasts. Deep thoughts. About how they finally have a purpose. About how they are finally fulfilling their density. . . I mean their destiny. (Quick! What movie is that a reference to?) About how they've deflated. My husband's words, not mine (though he's right). *sigh*

In honor of the fact that “the girls” have filled the measure of their creation, I pass along this little gem recently sent to me by my mom:

Students in an advanced Biology class were taking their mid-term exam. The last question was, ‘Name seven advantages of Mother’s Milk’, worth 70 points or none at all.

One student in particular was hard put to think of seven advantages. He wrote:
1) It is perfect formula for the child.
2) It provides immunity against several diseases.
3) It is always the right temperature.
4) It is inexpensive.
5) It bonds the child to mother and vice versa.
6) It is always available as needed.
And then, the student was stuck. Finally in desperation just before the bell indicating the end of the test rang he wrote....
7) It comes in 2 cute containers.

He got an A.

~Nichole

3.17.2010

Wanna Hear It?

. . . Here it go:

~Apparently, we created quite a stir with our son’s name – at least in M’s family. My MIL has had her name for 70-something years, and I imagine that it’s strange for her to hear it and wonder whether they mean her or our son. Some of them call him C, others call him Ezzie, and still others call him Zeke – a nickname derivative of his middle name (‘cause “it’s cool”). Whatever.

~Sickness has made us lose our ability to reason this week. After getting our tax assessment statement and realizing that by next year our house will be “worth” almost half of what we owe on it, for about 2 seconds we considered foreclosing and walking away. Then, we eased off the trigger finger and took some deep breaths and came up a limp-along strategy. This same madness made me panic about my weight this week (that last 10 pounds! And then some. . . ). I’ve plateaued and I realize that I need to both sleep and exercise more (how oxymoronic, if you ask me). But, ultimately I backed off that ledge, too. I have, however, increased my water intake and am eating more fruits. Still working on the veggies.

~I cannot believe how big my boy is getting! Every time I turn around sleeves are suddenly too short and sleepers are too tight. “They grow up fast” sounds like a tired cliché until you’re going through it!

~One sick and rainy day this week all I wanted to do was stay home with him and cuddle. Instead, I cried, prayed, went to work, and thanked my MIL profusely for caring for him so that it’s easier to be away knowing he’s with people who love him so much. The very next day, I felt glad to be leaving the house and to have some measure of my former independence/life still preserved. I don’t know what this emotional juxtaposition means, exactly, but I know there’s not much I can do about it until M graduates, so I’m determined to remain happy with the way things are right now.

~L’s baby has a double ear infection and RSV. M and I have been sick, and I’m really hoping C has dodged the bullet and will stay healthy.

~I’m soooo tired! I fantasize about napping. I crave Saturdays because when C goes back to sleep for his morning nap, I can too.

~I may or may not have recently teared up after discovering I had accidentally left breastmilk to ruin in my cooler over the weekend.

~Nichole

3.03.2010

The Answer to My Quandary

Remember when I was wondering what women do when there’s no “next baby”? Having only just begun, but knowing my childbearing years probably won’t extend much past one more pregnancy, I obsess a bit much. The whole topic sends me into an anxious quandary.

I was in the mother’s room at church on a recent Sunday and asked one such woman what it’s like. With not a hint of panic, she said “it’ll just feel right” – though, admittedly, she worries about the day in the not-so-distant future when they will be forced to take down the crib of her 1-year old (her last) and transition him to a big boy bed. She worries she’ll cry on that day.

But, for the most part, according to her, it’ll end as it began – with an inner knowledge of what’s right for you and your family. Which makes sense to me.

So I make a promise to myself not to obsess so much. But I’m smothered here, remember? I have been 100% immersed by pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood – by all of it, the whole experience. And I want it all to last as long as possible and not let one drop of it slip through my fingers.

~Nichole

3.01.2010

Water is Magic

If I didn’t before, I do now: I swear by water. Oh how thankful I am for the creation of this wondrous liquid!

I credit water with lots of things. I recently told a friend, with all seriousness, that "water is my solution to everything". It keeps my skin clear. It keeps my system working properly. It’s the reason I don’t have stretch marks on my belly. (Not one!) It’s why I’m steadily dropping pregnancy pounds. And recently, now that I’m back up to 2-3 liters a day, it’s the reason my milk supply has been so healthy.

I love water!

~Nichole

2.20.2010

Childcare Conundrum

One of the major concerns I had before ever getting pregnant was about child care. Having worked at a day care center before starting college, I already knew that was not the ideal setting for us. Ideally, our baby would be in an in-home group care setting with a low infant to caregiver ratio, or, better yet, with someone who could provide one on one attention.

I asked for referrals from friends and associates, I researched care providers online, I even scoured Craigslist for providers with training in early childhood development. I called around to a few and wasn't feeling it. I even researched day care centers just in case, but was still freaked out about the potential of having him in a room with 9 other babies and only 2 care providers.

Then, I had a baby.

And immediately felt it impossible to leave him with anyone.

Fortunately for us, his grandparents agreed. They are in their 70s - albeit very healthy 70s -so when their offer to care for him was uttered, we were hesitant. We thought about it for weeks. Once we knew what M's part-time schedule would look like, we discussed our concerns with all of our options, and decided to have a sit down with M's folks and see if their offer still stood.

Of course it did.

Now we have 3 strollers, 2 pack in plays, 2 bouncers, 1 gym, double the books, double the toys, double the bottles. . .

We've just passed the 3 week mark and so far, so good. They talk to him, they walk with him, they dance with him, watch football with him, play with him, love him. Better than one on one, that boy gets two on one attention.

We think we're the lucky ones to have such loving care for our boy. They insist they are the lucky ones to have him in their home.

All I know is you have never seen 4 adults more anxious over the bowel habits of one little baby (who hasn't had a soiled diaper since Tuesday). . . tonight we called them to report that he did, indeed, "finally go". We all rejoiced together.

I've decided he's the lucky one.

~Nichole

2.17.2010

All the Difference

It’s been just over two weeks ago that I returned to work. I have to say that working is easier than taking care of a baby. Easier, but not better. It’s the missing him part that’s so incredibly hard. . . (that and not being able to sleep during the day when he’s napping). I’ve had fits of tear-blurred eyes at work, in the grocery store, but have come to find that the only safe place to cry is in the shower. I miss that little face so much some days that it hurts.

Yesterday I returned to work from a 4-day weekend of uninterrupted baby and daddy time. I held up better than I imagined I would. Only one episode of blurry, tear-filled vision all day. You can’t blame me, really. The boy’s grandparents took pictures of him and e-mailed them to me. It was a given that I should get verklempt.

This past weekend, when I was less emotional, I worked on his room. (I almost typed “nursery” but M said this past weekend how much he hates that reference, so I deleted it and said “room”.) It’s finally done. (It only took 3 months!) Last week, as I was going through the clothes he’s outgrown, I kept running in and interrupting M’s studies with a hurried whisper (so as not to wake the sleeping baby),“Look at how tiny this is! He fit into this! Can you believe it?”

There’s a comfort and a strange concoction of contentment, pride and anticipation in saying “I’ll put it away for the next baby!” followed by the underlying, nagging thought of “what happens when there’s no ‘next baby’?”

When I think of places we’ve been and things we’ve done and picture them in my head, I have a hard time realizing that it was “BC” – Before C. It feels like he’s always been here, and yet, there was a whole life before him. (Whole, certainly, but incomplete, no?)

On my first day back to work, people asked “how do you feel being back?” and my honest response came as both a shock and a revelation to me: “I feel like a different person.” How true that is: I am a different person.

Before C, I would look at pregnant women and think “ugh! That just doesn’t look like fun!” and then I got (and stayed) pregnant, had a baby and am now a card-carrying member of the mommy brigade. Recently, I gushingly congratulated someone on being pregnant for the second time and was a little surprised about how excited I really was for her. How excited I am for all those in my ward who are in the same poopy-pantsed-just-starting-our-childrearing-years boat as me. How I l-o-v-e LOVE to watch all these new moms with their babies, how touched I was to watch a mom with her 2-week old newborn and see how her face positively lit up as his dad handed him to her, and to know that I light up the same way when I’m with my boy.

It’s quite amazing how much one little person can change you. (There I go getting all verklempt again! )

(Give me moment while my eyes clear. .. .)

This past Saturday, C was blessed by his Tata in our home. I forgot that Tata gets all verklempt too, and when he does, he whispers. I had to ask M later what was said in the blessing. I was surprised to find that I already knew almost all of it, though it was tough to hear at the time. As his Tata pronounced the blessing, mostly in whispers, the Spirit whispered it to me. That boy is an incredibly special little spirit and it’s just mind boggling that I’m his mom.

On so many occasions lately, I find myself grateful.

~Nichole

"May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -Ray Bradbury