Tag Archives: babies

Gummy Grins and Growth Spurts: A 3-Month Update

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NOTE: He’s 4 months old now — I’m playing catch-up!

You’re 3 months, bub — no longer a newborn, but a full-fledged kiddo. This month was even more exciting than the last (though I have a feeling I’ll be saying that every month).

You took your 2-month shots like a champ, as hard as it was to watch you cry. You slept like a log the whole next day, but then we were back to your regularly scheduled programming of 30-minute naps and frequent night wakings.

Your smiles became our favorite part of every single day. Your whole face lights up; the delight you feel is palpable. It’s hard not to smile in return. You used to wake hungry and cranky, inconsolable until fed. Now, while you may fuss or cry to tell us you’re all done sleeping, you smile when we appear to lift you from your cradle. A frustrating side effect of this joy are the coy smiles you flash as we attempt to rock you to sleep. You seem more interested in flirting or gazing up at the artwork on the walls than sleeping, and it’s impossible not to smile ourselves and interact with you even though we must remain focused on getting you to close your eyes for just a bit. But how could we possibly get mad at that gummy, gregarious grin? Your smiles took over this month and you became a thoroughly happy baby who left behind the wailing scream-fests of your second month.

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This month, you started grabbing at objects with more zest and purposefulness, succeeding on many occasions at wrapping your fingers around the tentacles of your Captain Calamari toy, the wings of the owl hanging from your activity gym, the spokes of the colorful Winkel we wave in your face during chill sessions on our bed. Your hand-eye coordination took a giant leap and you purposely began swatting at things instead of swatting near them.

You love to look in the mirror, so that’s entered our daily rotation of activities. You smile and laugh at the “other baby” in the mirror, and shyly turn your head from your reflection. You delight at seeing me there, even as I inexplicably hold you in my arms. We also discovered that you love to gaze at the phot0s hanging on the hallway walls, so we take you there daily, explaining who is in each photo. Your favorites are the shot of daddy and me kissing in a gazebo on our wedding day, and a snapshot of Zoe, grandpa’s Boston terrier.

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We started to add a nighttime read to your bedtime routine, and though you’re sometimes a bit too cranky to finish the story, you have started to pay more attention to the book we hold in front of you, occasionally quieting down long enough for us to finish. You especially love “Little Blue and Little Yellow” and “Oh! The Places You’ll Go.” If you’re in a good enough mood, I’ll cradle you in my arms and softly sing “Hush Little Baby” or “Hey There, Delilah” until you yawn and start the slow blink. It’s so sweet to watch you entranced, gazing into my face, and growing drowsy. Truth be told, though, you more often than not prefer to be held in a sitting position or vertically looking over our shoulders, so you can look at the sights surrounding you, rather than cradled like a baby.

This month, you started to really notice Rosie and Andy, our dog and cat. You’re especially fond of Andy, probably because of his high-contrast black-and-white fur. In true Andy style, he’ll settle himself near you while you’re chilling out or eating, but as soon as I turn him to you and stretch your hand out to stroke his head, he bounds away. Rosie has become your constant companion, however, following you around the house and lying next to you as you play in your activity gym, as if to guard you from intruders.

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We’ve started taking you out more since you received your first round of shots, to restaurants and a few stores. You are so good while out, and while you often end up skipping a nap, you don’t cry or fuss at all. We even took you out for an early dinner with the grandpas and Grandma P, to our favorite Mexican restaurant downtown (incidentally, I had my last pregnant meal at its sister restaurant the night I went into labor with you). You just played with your Captain Calamari, dozed off a bit, then gained a second wind as you gazed and smiled at the light filtering in through the mesh on your car seat canopy.

You’ve found your voice, as well, shouting joyfully at the toys in your gym and the Tiny Love mobile that you dance along to in your crib. I am convinced you’re going to be either a dancer or a soccer player, the way you kick your legs so vigorously. When you really get going, you point your toes and your arms pump up and down in unison with your feet, and you pant and coo. This is so much fun to watch — though not as fun to experience while trying to change your clothes and your diaper! You’ve even started smiling in the bathttub, and especially love it when I narrate what we’re doing. I’ve added a few moves to our nighttime post-bath massage, which you really seem to enjoy. I love this time with you to get quiet and connect before bedtime.

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As my maternity leave comes to an end, I find myself gripped with fear at leaving you somewhere else all day long. I dread the time away from you, your face, your smile, your laugh, your little legs and arms, your chunky hands and feet, your cheeks, your hair, and your soft, hot breathing. Although I feel a sense of relief at connecting with the world as a working adult once again, at not having to struggle multiple times each day with your naps, and at gaining back some of my time to do some solo shopping and errands at lunch or to enjoy a hot meal (or a trip to the bathroom) without interruption, I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt and sadness at the span of time we’ll spend apart for 40+ hours each week. Daddy is getting a little misty, too, even though he chided me for feeling this way in the past. We made a quick visit to your daycare the week before you started, to get acquainted with your teachers and bring by some of your stuff. I think that’s when it really hit Daddy that you’ll no longer be the only baby around, that you’ll be one of eight other kids competing for attention. But we both do feel secure in knowing that your teachers are kind and loving, experienced and dedicated to making sure that you have the best day and continue to develop and grow as you have at home. In a way, a part of me is even envious that you have this social experience that I did not — not having spent much time with other children until I entered preschool at 4 years old, I know that you’ll benefit from seeing others achieve milestones you’re coming up on, and from interacting with those your age, learning how to play, share, and more.

I was certain that you hadn’t changed at all since your 2-month shot, but as usual, your 3-month picture side-by-side with the one taken 4 weeks ago has disabused me of that notion! You are far chunkier — you must weigh 15 pounds by now, if not more — and taller, able to support your head and sit propped up rather than toppling over like you did last month. While you’re still far from sitting on your own, you can spend some time in your Bumbo or on our lap without collapsing onto yourself in a pile of jelly bones.

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Growing Up So Fast: A 2-Month Update

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Note: He’s 4 months old now… playing catch up!

Happy 2 months, buddy! Grandma came to visit you all the way from New York when you were just 4 weeks old — a visit that was timed with your very first social smiles. Tentative but soul-lifting, you flashed a gummy smirk when we gazed into your face and spoke to you — and the smirks turned into grins over the next few weeks as you clearly started demonstrating a precious preferences for us, your parents. You also started laughing this month — the first time at me as I took you out of your rock n play when you wouldn’t sleep, to try reswaddling you. You giggled as if to say, “Haha mommy, that won’t work! Sleep is for the weak!” While they’re still just little chuckles, you’re such a  happy baby that they’ll surely turn into hearty belly laughs in no time. You’re happiest in the morning, unlike your mommy and daddy.

You also started grabbing for things — our faces, toys we showed you. It warms my heart that you might recognize us and be grabbing to say hello. One morning, lying in bed while nursing, you locked eyes with me, and I said, “Hi.” Up came your hand, flailing but aiming right for my lower lip, and you gently tugged. Were you saying “hi” back? I think so.

By the end of the month, your smiles came even more frequently and became so much more special. When I would come up to you after any sort of separation, your face would light up just for me. And your eyes began following your daddy and me around a room. When your daddy handed you over to me, your head remained turned, your eyes on him.

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You went from 9 pounds, 7 ounces at your 4-week appointment to 12 pounds at 8 weeks, and shot up to 22.5 inches. We retired footsie pajamas you’d suddenly grown too long for, but are still shoving you into the footless Carter’s sleepers that have now shrunk into highwaters on your lengthening frame. You started officially outgrowing your newborn clothes and fitting into some of your 3-month stuff, and I said goodbye to your newborn wardrobe at around 6 weeks. We adjusted your car seat straps when you shot up and inch, and then again when you suddenly grew by another inch. I can hardly believe how much and how quickly you’re growing, not just physically, but mentally, as well. Comparing your 1-month and 2-month photos, you barely look like the same kid at all.

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You also started sleeping for longer stretches of up to five hours at a time at night, and naps began emerging during the day — but only because we started putting you down at regular intervals. You are not the baby who will sleep anywhere, on or in anything! You will push yourself to stay up longer and longer — unfortunately, growing fussier and fussier as time passes. Aside from the nighttime, you’re not the greatest sleeper in the world. We tried transitioning you to your crib, an experiment that lasted three days before you found yourself back within the comforting confines of the rock n play beside our bed. Hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

We introduced you to your activity mat at the beginning of the month, which you took to right away. You love to swat and kick at the dangling toys and seem delighted when you achieve the tinkling bell noise (though you still don’t realize the cause and effect of your motion and that sound). You started trying to flip over to your back during tummy time, and sometimes you get so frustrated you start crying, but you will get there! You managed to roll over at just 4 weeks, a fluke that sadly has not been repeated, yet thrilled us to the core.

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You make the most adorable noises, like a kitten. Your favorite face of ours is the DeNiro face, followed closely by “fish face.”

Daddy started taking over your baths this month, which quickly became his favorite task, even though he was at first afraid of accidentally drowning or dropping you. It’s so special to watch the two of you bonding and to hear him chattering away to you. Of course, I still retain the rights to your pre-bed foot massage, which you love so much.

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It’s been an amazing month, kid, but the best is yet to come. You’re no longer that bleary-eyed, feeding, sleeping lump we brought home from the hospital, but rather a child with a clearly emerging personality. “You can tell he’s going to be a good kid,” your daddy commented this month.

And I agree.

rosie

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Lies They Told Me About My Newborn

Parenting books. Childcare classes. Internet forums. Blogs. Baby websites. Developmental milestone emails. Nurses. Doctors. There is a plethora of sources from which baby facts and advice spout, and as an avid Googler and incessant researcher, I gobbled them all up like they were manna from heaven.

In the end, however, I realized that some key points were just total garbage. While I had hopeful thoughts of our baby sleeping nonstop, dropping off wherever he may lay, and establishing a reasonably spaced-out feeding schedule, the harsh reality was anything but.

I thought I’d take a moment to log some of the most outrageous lies I was fed. Not to burst your bubble, but just to let you know that we, too, were fed the party line – and choked on it.

Spoiler: Most of them have to do with sleep.

1.       They consolidate their sleep around 6 weeks, nap for upwards of 2 hours at a time throughout the day, and can sleep through the night!

First off, “sleep through the night” in and of itself is an awful, terrible misdirection on the part of the medical community. It turns out that when they say “sleep through the night,” they mean, “sleep five hours in a row.”

What? What kind of honky tonk BS is that? Whose night is five hours long? I mean, yeah, I’d love to sleep five hours in a row, don’t get me wrong. But when the baby goes to bed at 7 p.m., not only am I not at all tired, I still have to make and/or eat dinner, take a shower, pump, and get everything ready for work the next day — not to mention converse with my husband ab0ut more than diaper output and neck cheese (as in, “Make sure to clean his neck really well during bathtime, he has some major neck cheese and I don’t want him to be the smelly baby at daycare”) and have some small amount of downtime to play Candy Crush and catch up on “Mad Men”. So, by the time I crawl into bed way later than I should, this “sleeping through the night” kid only has about two more hours of sleep in him. Therefore, sleeping five hours in a row, while nice and all, is pretty much useless to me.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you what a great, white beacon of hope the daytime “sleep consolidation” lie was to me in those first four or so weeks. Sure, it got me through some of my darkest moments, allowing me to look forward to the mythical day when he’d turn six weeks, the sleep gods would flip a switch, and he’d stop taking 45 minutes to fall asleep for a 20-minute nap. Seriously, I think I have PTSD from those early days when I’d breathe a sigh of relief, sneak out of the room, make myself a hot lunch or start cleaning up or take a shower or just lay on the couch and watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” only to hear a tiny cough and a piercing wail within five minutes. Nowadays, even though he’s 15 weeks and usually naps for more than 30 minutes at a time, I rarely leave the room after putting him down, instead lolling on the bed playing on my iPhone or napping myself. I’m scarred from those days of hopefully leaving the room only to be called back within minutes. Scarred, I tell you.

And those two-hour naps that Babycenter claimed I’d start seeing? Sure, he had a couple last week. But he was also sick. So, you tell me – was he just so tired because he was sick?

By the way, Murphy’s Law dictates that, if you do leave the room, it’ll be a 15-minute nap. If you stay, he’ll sleep for three hours. Of course, you will have chosen not to nap yourself, and will instead of whiled away the time shopping on Amazon, thinking he’d wake any minute. And then when you finally get so tired you decide, “OK, he’s slept for a while, I can probably catch a few myself”… he wakes his ass up.

2.       They eat every two to three hours!

This sounded pretty reasonable to me. I breastfeed, and when we were in the hospital, the nurses would declare his next feeding time as three hours from when he’d last begun eating. So if he’d start eating at 1, he’d be due to eat at 4. Totally doable. And since he was so sleepy in those first few days out of the womb, I’d be the one waking him to eat. By the time we got home, I was told to feed every two hours to stimulate my milk production. OK, still doable – eat for, what, 15 minutes, then nap or whatever? And I can still get tons done, or nap myself. Deal.

Except, wait. He’s not exactly eating for 15 minutes. It’s more like 45 minutes. Per side. And then we’re done, and he’s still crying. Or rooting, or whatever. He’s still hungry? I mean, it works… he’s gulping it down… And hey, he’s “stimulating my supply.” But then, all of a sudden, he’s hungry every hour. And it takes an hour for him to eat. So it’s Boobfest 2013 and I’m the main act. Well, actually, I’m the only act.

This two-to-three-hour BS was one of the hardest to toss aside, by far. Not only did feeding him take forever, but it hurt like the dickens, so it wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to spending my entire day doing. I could also not master breastfeeding with one hand until he was about 12 weeks old, so it took both my hands. That meant that, short of setting up Netflix to play nonstop “Grey’s Anatomy,” I couldn’t do anything while he ate – like, oh, eat myself. Or drink water. Or let the whining dog out into the back yard. Or pee (seriously, there were days I didn’t pee all day long). This was especially difficult once my Mister Mister returned to work at two weeks postpartum.

3.       Baby won’t nap? The swing ALWAYS works!

Thank goodness we didn’t buy a swing ourselves – it was a hand-me-down – because this kid does NOT, nor has he ever, slept in or even enjoyed the swing. At all.

See, when you have a baby who will not nap, you run all sorts of frenzied Internet searches while frantically rocking him in his bassinet with one hand and loudly shushing. “4-week-old baby won’t sleep.” “4-week old 15-minute naps.” “Newborn sleep deprived.” “Infant sleep schedule.” And then you find these promising sleep experts and their books and blogs and 8-step low, low-priced personalized sleep programs, and you see there’s hope. Because there are things that work! Like shushing, and swaying, and swaddling, and sucking. And the swing.

Ah, the infant swing. All over the place, there were parents extolling its virtues, proclaiming that their crappy nappers would log one, two, even three-hour naps in these things.

So I’d pop him in there, turn the swing on, maybe even switch on some white noise, and he’d chill for a few minutes… And then he’d start crying. Powerfully.

Then I started searching for things like, “Baby won’t nap in swing.” Because everybody promised me he would. And I’d get an entire blog series about how to get your baby who won’t nap in the swing, to nap in the swing. And I do all of the stuff. ALL of it. I swaddle him, and I put the swing in a dark, quiet room, and I stick the pacifier in his mouth, and I turn on the white noise machine, and I turn the swing on high, and I strap him in, and I leave the room, and I wait 10 minutes.

And he wails. And wails. And does not nap.

So, I’m not saying the swing doesn’t work. But it certainly doesn’t work for every baby, because for us, it was a bust.

Plus, it’s a space-sucking monstrosity.

4.       Baby still won’t nap? Put him in the carrier! That poor kid just wants to be held! 

OK, so even if the swing doesn’t work, the infant carrier should, right? I mean, it totally makes sense that he was held 24/7 while I was pregnant with him, so he should be totally comforted by being held so close to me, and just nap the day away while I actually get some housework done. Or pee.

Thankfully, there are approximately 84 different infant carriers. So I bought a soft structured one, for shopping trips. And a long fabric one, for around the house. And a Mei Tai-style one, because it was cute.

And he hated them all.

Seriously.

OK, he dug the soft structured carrier occasionally, and mostly in the first few weeks of his life. I could got a couple of trips to Target and an outdoor gender-reveal party out of it. But the Moby Wrap? Ugh, awful. I used it 1.5 times – once to try it out, and once to actually carry him around in, until he fussed so powerfully I thought he would snap himself in two from arching backwards. And the Mei Tai? Oh, God. Hated it so much I thought he would melt into a poof of hate.

My theory is that, when held so close to me, he was right there in Boobland, but there was no access. He just wanted to eat, but instead I was cooking and emptying a dishwasher. And no, breastfeeding while carrying was not going to work out for us. Just trust me.

So these useless infant carriers sit on our closet shelf, and while I’ll probably trot out the soft structured one once he’s old enough to be carried on my back, the other two are officially wastes of money and wastes of space.

5.       They’re so great at this age! You can take them anywhere, and they just sleep!

If I had a nickel for every person that told me this, I’d be able to buy a pair of brass knuckles and punch them all in the face.

 

I could go on and on, with countless lies told to me about ways to get him to calm down, and ways to get him to nap. But in the end, what worked for him – and us – was time. It was hell, and I threw a pacifier across the room once or twice at my lowest moments, and even packed a bag and told my husband I was leaving at my very lowest, around six weeks postpartum. But then he got a little older, and breastfeeding didn’t hurt as much, and he became more efficient and ate for less time but got more so he went longer between feeds, and he started napping nominally longer and at least more frequently, mostly because we actually took the time to physically put him down in a sleeping structure instead of using a swing or a carrier or waiting for him to just flop over while playing on his activity mat and snooze for a couple of hours.

If I knew then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time wondering why he wasn’t doing what the books and blogs and sites and emails and forums told me he should be. Or wondering why all this stuff was working for them, but not for us.

Or, as my friend JB says, “If we knew then, what we knew now, we’d be $1,000 richer.”

Because today, while it’s not perfect, he’s healthy and happy and growing like a weed, and learning something new seriously every minute of every day.

The greatest truth of all is “this, too, shall pass” – and that’s no lie.

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Bean Becomes a Little Man: A Belated Birth Story

How can I update this blog weekly on my pregnancy and go more than an entire month without even telling you that Bean was born? Oh, that’s right — diapers, breastfeeding, nap attempts, sleepless nights, and trying to squeeze a shower in there somewhere. Well, here’s Bean’s birth story, once and for all.

Little D was born at 8:27 a.m. on February 2, one day before his due date. He was 7 pounds even and 20.5 inches and healthy as can be — so the gestational diabetes apparently didn’t do any sort of number on him. After weeks of wishing and hoping and worrying and waiting, he came rather abruptly (at least compared with what I was afraid of — a long, protracted birth followed by an emergency c-section) and without too much fanfare.

I had been having some false labor for about a week before he arrived. The first couple of bouts, I knew it was nothing — it wasn’t timeable or terribly strong, just some cramping and general ickiness — but I kept hoping it would turn into something. My mucus plug had fallen out at 35 weeks, and I’d been having lots of discharge since, so I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to tell when my water broke. I’d also been having cramps, so I was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to tell a contraction from a cramp. All I could do was time my cramps and see if that told me anything. At 39w3d, I was having timeable cramps 10 minutes apart for an hour while at work, then they went away. They came back later that evening — not strong or really even very painful — 10 minutes apart, then went away.
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My last belly shot, 2 days before I went into labor.
At my doctor’s appointment the next day, I mentioned the regularity of the cramping and how crappy in general I had been feeling. To be honest, I was hoping he’d do something to speed things along, so I tried to look as dejected and exhausted as possibly — which wasn’t too much of a stretch. We had a biophysical profile ultrasound to check on the baby’s size and development, and everything looked fine, as usual. The doctor said he was hoping I would give birth sooner rather than later because of the diabetes. I had an induction date scheduled for the day after I turned 41 weeks, but after he examined me, he reported I was 2 cm and almost completely effaced, so he didn’t expect me to last that long. He also stripped my membranes, which was so, so painful. I bled quite a bit that day and had some strong cramps, but nothing regular, and by that evening, it had subsided.

That was also my surprise last day at work. My boss had told me earlier that week that, while Friday was supposed to be my last day before maternity leave, she wanted me to go a couple of days early to rest. I stayed for the lunch they had brought in, and went home for a really uneventful day. I was exhausted, so I napped in the afternoon, then for five hours at night before turning in for good  — my body must have sensed I’d need the rest. But otherwise, I didn’t feel like any progress was being made.

The next day (Friday February 1, two days before my due date), I felt discouraged because I’d had no timeable cramps or any other labor signs since the membrane sweep. I knew I was still two days away from my due date, but I was so consumed with the birth and so physically miserable that I was psyching myself out — and, I worried further, not relaxing enough for labor and potentially stressing the baby out.

My husband and I went for a walk around the block that afternoon, and then I napped a bit before we went out to dinner with my father-in-law, who’d come into town a few days earlier. I ordered the spiciest things I could on the menu in the hopes of jump starting something — I wanted to try all the tricks in the book. I’d also taken a warm bath earlier that day to try to force my body to relax.

When we got home that night, I complained some more about how much I wanted to go into labor right then and there, and how sick of pregnancy I was. Finally, I took the longest, hottest shower ever, just letting the water run over my back, and meditated and concentrated on the things in my life I was grateful for and the hopes I had for our unborn son. I tried to let go as much as I could and just enjoy the shower and the uninterrupted time with Mister Mister before Bean made his appearance.

After getting out of the shower, I put on underwear and a tank top and started to get into bed — that’s when I felt a pop and suddenly had what I thought was the strongest cramp known to man. I also let what I thought was a tremendous amount of discharge go into my underwear. I had to brace myself against the wall until the “cramp” passed. My husband popped up and asked, “What is it? A cramp?” I nodded, and then, when it passed, I sat on the toilet to check my underwear — which looked as if it had been soaked through with water, not discharge. And then I was leaking water into the toilet — not peeing. I looked up at my husband and said, “I think my water just broke!” He got nervous, I started laughing uncontrollably, he said, “Are you sure??”, and I stood up only to let a huge gush of clear liquid onto the floor with every laugh.

OK, so I think I know the difference between water breaking and discharge leaking.

I cleaned myself up, put on fresh underwear with a pad, and called the doctor’s answering service like they’d requested, just to tell them I was headed to the hospital because I thought my water had broken. We crazily packed up the rest of our hospital bag, all nerves and excitement tinged with a bit of fear and vague worry. Mister Mister called his dad to come over and watch the dog overnight, and then I sat on the couch and was treated to what I now know was my second true contraction, exactly 10 minutes after the first one. It was sickening, wrapped hard from my back to my front, and gripped me tight for up to a minute. For the next hour, I walked, I leaned against a wall, I had my husband press against my back. I tried getting on my hands and knees and bouncing on the yoga ball. Nothing pulled me through them except the breathing I learned in birthing class.

Well, I now know the difference between a cramp and a contraction.

By the time Mister Mister’s dad arrived an hour later, the contractions were  five minutes apart. By the time we got to the hospital, 10 minutes away, they were two minutes apart. They just kept crashing over me; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was 11 p.m.

>We checked in, they did a cervical check in triage, and I thrashed around on the bed and begged her to finish quickly.It was the longest minute or so of my life. “It hurts so bad!” I screamed. “That’s because you’re at 7 cm,” she said. Holy cow! My goal was to hit 5 cm before getting an epidural – this made that decision much easier. Two nurses arrived to set me up with an IV since I had requested an epidural and needed to be fully hydrated first. I had requested they tap a location that would be more convenient to breastfeeding than the inside of my elbow, but they had difficulties finding a good vein in my left hand and tried for a couple of minutes, digging around trying to catch a vein that kept moving and disappearing. It was sort of horrifying combined with the contractions, but they were finally able to get something on my right hand.

It’s funny how your priorities change in labor. I had been so afraid of the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to move around and I wanted freedom to labor in any position. Yet as they got ready to wheel me up to labor and deliver, they asked whether I wanted to walk or ride (in the bed) and my immediate answer was RIDE. I did not want to walk anywhere!

Over in L&D, I got my epidural at 1 a.m., and by 1:15, I was 8 cm but feeling very little pain — just basically low pressure  when I had a contraction. At 1:45, I was feeling more constant pressure in my butt, and they checked me and declared me a 9, 90% effaced, with baby at a 0 station —  just hanging out.

The epidural did slow things down, though, to where my contractions were spacing out and not strong enough to push the baby down much, which made any pushing less than effective. By my next check at 4 a.m., I was at 10 cm and fully effaced, but baby was still a 0 to -1 station. I practice pushed a bit around 5 a.m., but the nurses said if I started pushing then, I’d be pushing for two to three hours and they — nor I — didn’t want that. The nurses could see his head full of dark hair, though, which was incredible to hear.

Around 6 a.m., my midwife had them start me at Pitocin to help my contractions come stronger and closer together. They bumped that up a few times and I tried to relax and save my energy for pushing. Finally, at 7:30, my contractions were strong enough and close enough that I could effectively push. My midwife pushed with me for a bit while Mister Mister and nurse helped, then she left for a while and came back around 8:15 as I started to crown. I pushed through a few more contractions and finally he crowned – at which point the burning and pressure was so intense that I decided I couldn’t do it and said so. That, unfortunately, was not an option, and I pushed hard – and just when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, Mister Mister exclaimed, “Baby, look!” and I looked down to see our son coming out of me. He started crying almost immediately, I stopped pushing out of shock and started crying, the midwife reminded me to keep pushing, and I pushed him the rest of the way out of me. My midwife had Mister Mister delivery the shoulders, and then had him move our baby up to my stomach while they vigorously cleaned him off. Mister Mister then cut the cord, and they moved him up to my chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact. I was so amazed and overwhelmed — I have no words. I had been so worried I wouldn’t bond with him immediately, but reality could not have been further from my fears.

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Mr. Grumpypants being weighed and measured

The first part of our hour of kangaroo care wasn’t all rainbows, though. I had to push out my placenta (no big deal) and then I was bleeding too much so my midwife had to manually help my uterus clamp down (slightly bigger deal). They were messing with the IV in my hand and gave me a shot of something in my leg. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, and the epidural helped only slightly with the stitch pain. But then the hub bub was over and I got to nurse Little D for the first time. After about an hour, the nurse took him and weighed him, got his footprints, and helped my husband take some pictures. She helped me up to go to the bathroom (I’d had a catheter but needed to be able to pee on my own, which I did) and get cleaned up and put on the mesh hospital panties and a pad (both of which I stocked up on when leaving the hospital — the mesh panties are amazing!). Then we were wheeled over to our mother/baby room and the grandpas got to visit their grandson for the first time, with my stepmom and a friend coming later.

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Our family

 Altogether, I am so grateful to have had a relatively easy birth. The nurses and staff at our hospital and our midwife made everything as easy and wonderful as possible. All my fears throughout pregnancy — an emergency c-section, an epidural bringing an avalanche of dangerous interventions, problems with the baby, complications — all proved unfounded, showing that I probably could have stood to relax a bit over the previous nine months. My body and my baby did exactly what nature intended, and now we have a beautiful, perfectly healthy son.

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Four weeks later
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How Much Have Babies Really Changed in 30 Years? Or, Do I Need Those Blackout Curtains?

Every day, I’m bombarded with yet another thing I haven’t done in preparation for our child.

I haven’t put up blackout curtains.

I haven’t decided on sleeping arrangements — our room, his room, other.

I haven’t washed the covers of the Rock N Play, the bouncer, the swing.

The parenting board I frequent is full of gear guides for stuff I HAVE TO BUY.

Thread upon thread of stuff that was a waste, things you wished you’d gotten, silly buys that turned out to be absolutely necessities.

I was reduced to paralysis more than once over the past nine months about whether we needed a baby monitor, and if so, video or audio, and which kind, and where to put it. I even bought a special nightstand — perfectly coordinated in color and style, of course — upon which to set said monitor, since it has to be no more than 3 feet away from the baby or else tragedy will strike us all. Or which kinds of diapers to stock up on — which brand, the sensitive or sensitive with dry technology or regular or what. Or even if we should stock up. And what kinds of wipes? And the perfect combination of diaper creams to have on hand. And whether our crib sheet really matches the rest of the room.

And sometimes, while all this stuff is a welcome distraction, it made me forget that I’m growing a human being inside of me, and really all he needs is food, something to poop and pee on, shelter from exposure, and love.

OK, that was a huge cliche. But you feel me, right?

The blackout curtain debate was especially fraught with tension, as experienced mommies have been clucking at me for over six months that of course we need blackout curtains — unless, of course, we absolutely crave our child waking us up screaming every morning at sunrise.

I’m pretty sure he’s going to wake us up screaming plenty even in the dark, so…

Thing is, I slept perfectly fine in a normally lit room with normal blinds when I was a child.

And I slept in my crib from day 1.

Granted, those were the days when it was recommended babies sleep on their stomachs, and parents simply sat their tots on their laps for car rides. And there was that one morning that I slept in until, like, 10 a.m. and my parents, wide awake and terrified and glued to the bed, argued for 15 minutes about who would go to check on me because they were certain they’d find me dead. And my mom smoked in my face, like, all the time.

But still.

I didn’t have a Sophie, and I wasn’t swaddled. I was *gasp* formula fed. I got a pacifier from the start. Everything I touched and ingested was probably teeming with BPA (I know, I know — I’m going to die of a million cancers by the time I’m 40, we have to give our kids a fighting chance, we know better, etc.). I was fed purees. Out of a jar.

The indignities.

I don’t want to sound like a mother-in-law or anything, and safety recommendations are safety recommendations. But when it comes to all the stuff, and the books, and the recommendations, and the guides, and the e-pinions, and everything else… it all matters about the same as it did 30 years ago, or 50, or 100.

Which is to say, not much.

And for the record, we’re not putting up blackout curtains. You’ll be the first to know if we end up regretting it, but there comes a point — and we’ve reached that point, 10 days before D-Day, 17 days before my scheduled induction should this little spawn decide he’s extra comfy for way too long — where money, time, and energy run out, and you just have to cut your losses and run. This is that point.

I’m prepared enough. I deleted all my spreadsheets. We have a ton of stuff we’ll never need, but damn, it looks cute.

Bring on the baby.

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Nursery Nesting

Since I’m an overachiever who’s made it my goal to set up the nursery by 30 weeks pregnant (which would be late November — or, yeah, pretty much Thanksgiving), I’ve been pushing myself — and my husband — to get furniture set up, artwork hung, and finishing touches put on.

We’ve purchased everything we need decor-wise, with the exception of the bobbleheads and the light switch plate (which I really just need to go ahead and order from Wal-Mart since it’s the only place I’ve found it in stock), so now it’s just a matter of putting together the rest of the furniture, and then finish up all the fun decorative stuff. Because it’s kind of hard to hang artwork and put up wall decals when you only have the roughest sense of how big the furniture under and around it will be.

Oh, and there’s that DIY mobile I’ve decided to make. At least I have all the supplies now, thanks to a craft store trip on Sunday afternoon.

But the thrilling thing is that it’s actually starting to look like a nice, pulled-together room. I just might make our deadline yet.

Want to take a peek?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(That last photo was taken at night, hence the odd discoloration.)

Then there’s the ever-expanding to-do list outside of the nursery, like:

  • Choose daycare Done, scheduled, deposit paid.
  • Finalize maternity leave details — I have 6 weeks paid short-term disability and received 8 weeks of paid maternity leave as a raise, so I need to somehow reconcile how that will work and whether that means they’re giving me 14 weeks, or still 12 weeks as discussed.
  • Figure out how short-term disability works — when do I file the claim? How? And more importantly, when does the chunk of money come?
  • Find out how much it will cost to put the baby on Mister Mister’s health insurance. I currently pay $0 for my health insurance. To add the baby, it would cost $170 per paycheck. We’re hoping it’s cheaper at Mister Mister’s job.
  • Tour the hospital — this is scheduled for November.
  • Register for childbirth classes — also scheduled for November.
  • Make freezer meals for after birth — because cooking will not sound good for quite some time.

And the non-baby-related list of to-do items that has somehow become baby-related, like:

  • Buy a real bed that isn’t sitting on the floor like a dorm room I’ve decided not to worry about this for now.
  • Please, God find some front porch and/or patio furniture from Craigslist, please. Done!

Isn’t being pregnant a miracle? And I don’t even think I’m even technically nesting yet.

P.S. I’m planning on doing a full nursery source list once everything is totally complete and I have better pictures for you, but if you really must know where something is from, just leave me a comment!

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25 Weeks: Birth of Preg-Zilla

Baby is the size of: A rutabaga

How far along are you: 25 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. His or her weight — a pound and a half — isn’t much more than an average rutabaga, but your baby is beginning to exchange that long, lean look for some baby fat. As this happens, wrinkled skin will smooth out and your baby will start to look more and more like a newborn. Your baby is also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you’d now be able to discern its color a and texture!”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: Still sleeping through the night for the most part, but last night it was near impossible for me to fall asleep. Actually, I fell asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. while watching “Se7en,” and got up for bed around 9. I discovered our ceiling fan was no longer working (the light works, and the fan spins while the light is on, but not anywhere near full speed, and with the light off, it doesn’t work at all) and had a Preg-zilla-caliber meltdown that rolled into a fight with Mister Mister. By the time I had finished Googling “Second trimester fighting with husband” and we’d made up, I was wide awake. I read for about 5 minutes before my eyes grew heavy. By now it was 10:30. Then I turned off the light and… tossed and turned. I was exhausted, and obviously ready for bed, but my body had other ideas. Also, have you heard that pregnant women are more prone to restless leg syndrome? I don’t know if this is exactly what’s going on, but for a couple of nights in a row now, I just cannot keep my left leg still. It feels so uncomfortable like I just need to… move it. Ahhh, better. No… move it again… and ugh, again.

Best moment this week: Our nursery furniture was all delivered by Saturday! We put together the crib (and had a fight, because I’m a Preg-zilla, but then made up and got it done), the dresser came assembled (the difference between paying $100 for something at IKEA and $700 for something at Land of Nod), and the gorgeous, amazingly comfortable glider just required us to screw in the swivel/gliding mechanism to the bottom. It’s starting to look like a real room now! I struggled with the insane IKEA picture frames yesterday and got the artwork framed, so now all that’s left is the bookcase assembly — and in a moment of unexpected serendipity, it looks like only one bookcase will fit in the space, which means we’re cutting our manpower in half and will possibly be able to recoup some of the money by selling a still-packaged Expedit on Craigslist. We’ll see how things look once we get the one case up. We also had a nice little date night on Saturday, when we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and then spontaneously decided to go see “Argo” at the nearby theater (It was amazing!). It felt great to have an adult outing since I know those days are numbered, and to know that I can still sit through a two-hour movie at a theater without dying of back pain and bladder failure. I just strategically planned my bathroom breaks — two pre-movie, no soda during movie, one post-movie.

Worst moment this week: The two meltdown fights I picked with Mister Mister. Not my finest moments. I feel terrible when I yell and scream at him, and I feel worse now that our little baby can actually hear  me loud and clear. Eff you, hormones. You’re a crazy bitch, hormones.

What are you looking forward to: Putting together the remaining bookcase so I can start decorating the nursery walls. We’re having a little party at our house next Sunday, so even though it’s not baby-related, it still gives me plenty to look forward to this week.

Food cravings: Chocolate McDonald’s milkshake. The BBQ beef I’m currently slow cooking for tonight’s dinner — despite the awful heartburn it will unleash (everything does, so it doesn’t matter)

What do you miss: Sitting for long periods of time without my back screaming obscenities at me.

Symptoms: Sciatica. Heartburn. Restless leg syndrome. Major fumble fingers (oh my sweet lord Jesus, if I dropped that Allen wrench one more time while assembling the IKEA crib, I was going to throw myself out the window). Back pain. Mood swings.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Still in but definitely cratering out at the top.

Rings: Still on! This is a major triumph.

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24 Weeks: Viability and Sore Sleeping

Hey look, it’s the first time I don’t have something solid and dark on. Branching out!

Baby is the size of: An ear of corn

How far along are you: 24 weeks, 1 day

What’s happening with baby: From Babycenter, “Your baby’s growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him at just over a pound. Since your baby is almost a foot long, he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point. But your baby’s body is filling out proportionally and it will soon start to plump up. His brain is growing quickly now, and taste buds are continuing to develop. Your baby’s lungs are developing ‘branches’ of the respiratory ‘tree’ as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help air sacs in the lungs inflate once your baby hits the outside world. His skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.”

Due date: February 3rd

Sleep: I’m not having any trouble falling asleep per se, nor staying asleep. There have been moments where I wake up suddenly wide awake around 4 or 5, but I drift off fairly quickly. My main issue has been getting comfortable while trying to go to sleep, and not waking up in searing pain. I have what my midwife said was sciatica, or what could be pelvic girdle pain, on my left side. Whatever it is, I call it “horrific,” especially considering that in the grand scheme of things, I’m not that big yet. Anyway, that means that the preferred preggo sleeping position is really not working for me right now. I had some mild success last night on my righthand side, though.

Best moment this week: We had one last surprise ultrasound, as my midwife wanted to make sure my cervical measurements were still looking good. While we were in there, the tech let us peek at the baby again. I know they say ultrasounds are terrible and that you’re subjecting your baby to loud noises or whatever. But I just love seeing him, and we were able to kind of make out his face! Also learned that after 4 weeks, he’s still head down (as evidenced as well by the kicks in the upper right and punches in the upper left — he’s a Kenpo star).

Worst moment this week: Definitely the butt, hip, and back pain that’s been going on. I landed upon a strange but really comfy sleep position Sunday night, but sadly it left me in near traction on Monday. It was hard to walk and made me break out in tears since we still have three-and-a-half more months to go.

What are you looking forward to: Our bookcase and crib have shipped, so we’re just waiting for a call from the local delivery service to scheduled a time. Our dresser is being delivered on Friday, and our glider should be in any day now. Our next doctor’s appointment is November 5 (incidentally, our one-year wedding anniversary), and my shower is scheduled for December 16. Lots of things to look forward to — but most of all, this baby’s due in three-and-a-half months!! That doesn’t sound like that long at ALL.

Food cravings: Ice cream. Tacos. Milano Melts (I picked up a bag as an impulse buy and ate 8 of them yesterday. EIGHT. That is DISGUSTING).

What do you miss: Pain-free sleeping, walking, sitting, lounging around. Being able to buy whatever clothes were cute instead of having to stick to maternity wear (although it is cute, as well).

Symptoms: Sciatica/pelvic pain/whatever. Heartburn. Mister Mister pointed out that I get sleep marks a lot more easily now when laying around, so that’s probably a byproduct of the fluid retention and extra blood volume I’ve got going on. Swollen ankles. Easily out of breath. Round ligament pain.

Gender: Boy

Belly button: Still in.

Rings: Still on, but looking kinda sad.

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Friday Five: Randoms on a Hot October Day

Seriously, does it seem like it should ever be 83 degrees on October 12? Florida makes me want to stab my eyes out and make ice cubes out of them.

But onto more inspiring things.

1. This list of the 100 books every English-speaking child should know

Termed the “kindergarten canon,” this list by Michael Petrelli, executive VP of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, created a list of books that must be known to every English-speaking child. Without it, they would miss myriad cultural references. I have to admit, I haven’t even heard of many of these! I must really be missing out. But since it’s important for Mister Mister and I to build up Bean’s library, since we’re both avid readers and have been since we were wee ones, this is a very good list to keep in mind.

2. This wallpaper

From Mr. Perswall’s “Expressions” collection of wallpaper, this drippy abstract print would be so stunning on an accent wall in a library, dining room, studio, bathroom… OK, really any room.

Image via Apartment Therapy

3. This sexy navy blue dining room

This is dead sexy. I may have a bit of an overdone crush on navy blue right now — seeing as how our master bedroom and reading room both boast dark blue walls and our nursery is using navy and white for an entire color scheme — but this is just so sophisticated, and the nailhead trim on the chairs and the wall is just… ugh. Love.

Image from Nuevo Estilo via Eclechic

4. These Restoration Hardware mirrors

Shut up. Just, shut up right now. These trompe l’oeil birdcage mirrors are a whopping $199 (for the small one) or $219 (for the bigger one), but are just amazing. They’re featured in Restoration Hardware’s Baby & Child collection, but I could see them anywhere, not just in a nursery or kid’s room.

5. This floor-to-ceiling gallery wall

Just a stunning a personal way to dress up those odd strips of vertical wall space in your house that typically house nothing but an odd arrangement of thermostat, light switch, and outlets. I love how they used different frames in all the same color and a consistent palette for best results. I would love to try something like this in our house, but I fear we might have too many gallery walls as it is. Is there such a thing?

So how hot is it where you are? Don’t even bother to respond if it’s cooler than 75 degrees.

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