Monday, August 20, 2012

Currently Reading

I am currently reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Michael's sleep pattern has been worse the last few days, causing me to be an zombiesque mess. Today was awful. What I've learned so far from the book is that his naps are right on target, one about 9am and the second around 1pm, each usually an hour and a half to 2 hours long. The problem is the nighttime.

I decided to put him to bed earlier last night, around 6:30 since that's what is emphasized in the early chapters of the book. He fell asleep but woke up shortly after ready to play and took a while to go back to sleep again. So that was a fail. Then he woke up too many times and was up for the day at 5:30am! Then he wouldn't fall asleep for a morning nap, so daddy took him out while I showered and that just made it worst because guess what? He fell asleep on the car ride home, so for about 15 minutes. Needless to say, he was a fussy pants all morning. I laid down with him in the bed with his Gentle Giraffe (which we use every night) on full blast. At this point, I decided to just put him down to let him know he had to sleep. He cried for about 5 minutes. I cried too because I was just as tired and frustrated. He finally stopped crying and flopped around for a bit until he finally fell asleep on the giraffe. He had one quick wake up, but I was able to get him back to sleep easily. He slept for about 90 minutes. I certainly didn't want him to have an evening nap so I kept him up and he showed signs of tiredness by 6. He kept resisting sleep with everything I did. Finally I laid down with him again and let him cry for a few minutes before nursing. He FINALLY fell asleep after 2 hours of trying everything. He's asleep next to me now. I have a lot more reading to do, but in the meantime, I plan to make sure he at the very least gets his naps consistently and a regular bedtime.

Has anybody read this book? Any feedback on it? So far it makes sense to me. I just hope it works.

EDIT: He just woke up at 8:45. All hell.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August is National Breastfeeding Month

Yes, I know, it's already the middle of the month and I'm just now finding out. The advertising for this campaign doesn't seem too great.

I only found out about it from this post by Catherine over at Cakewalk (a lovely blog to read btw!).

Here's the link to the US Breastfeeding Committee with all the information, as well as links to their facebook and twitter pages.

They have 20 "calls to action." Today's is to support paid maternity leave. I'm sure we've all heard the stats about how poorly the U.S. compares to other countries when it comes to maternity leave. I've personally known women to use up their disability leave or even vacation time just to get more time with maybe some kind of pay. Isn't that awful?? Considering we're the country that's always shouting about family values?? And if you just started a new job, well you're pretty much screwed.

Let's make some changes already! Visit the website and spread the word about National Breastfeeding Month!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Baby Kissies

Last month I taught Michael to give me kissies. He just puts his mouth on my cheek, no smacking--sometimes open wide and wet and sloppy, but usually just partiallt open. I would ask him to give me a kissy and he would! Recently, he has just leaned over and given me kissies, completely unsolicited, like 3 at a time! It's so freaking sweet and absolutely melts my heart. After I gush and say "awww, thank you," then he slaps my face as if to say "cut it out mom." I know someday he'll actually tell me to cut it out, but right now I'm going to steal as many baby kissies as I can!
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Defiance at 8 months

Defiance is becoming more apparent and frequent in my little 8 month old. He's always hated the carseat, but now he arches his back and straightens out his legs when we try to put him in, so he's basically just standing there. Sometimes he screams bloody murder, and sometimes that happens in the parking lot of Kroger or Target, right after the cashier or another customer inside commented on what a good baby I have. "Well gees, maybe you would like to put him in the carseat for me?" He has toys in the car, and I recently found these carseat buddies to cover the straps. I say "don't you want to sit with your monkey buddies?", at which point he slowly unlocks his knees and slides into the seat. So they help! Other times he just cries, but stops as soon as I get one buckle in place. He really hates being "buckled in" to anything. But he loves being in new places, he just can't stand the ride.

He's also scoot-crawling, so he heads for everything that is not a primary colored plastic cute thing, aka the dvr, outlets, doors, daddy's pile of video games or damn game controllers. Some days I feel like all I do is say "no," and I don't want to feel like such a bad guy! I know I have to be because it literally is for his safety. I'm setting up a baby-safe playroom for him with lots of padding and pillows. We spend most of our day in there. He still heads for the door and outlets. Lately, when I pick him up to relocate him, he will reach his hands up and squeeze and pull whatever he can get in his hands, meaning my face, neck, and/or hair. It really hurts. Twice now he has done that then leaned forward to try to bite my hands that are around his waist. Really?? Biting already?? He has both maxillary and mandibular central incisors, so he could cause some damage. I have been using the word "no" so that he will start to learn it. I have a sneaking suspicion he already knows it. Sometimes when I get tired of saying that mean little word, I instead try to redirect him away from whatever forbidden zone he's headed to and toward a hopefully more enticing activity. It works sometimes.

The other time he likes to defy me is during feedings of solids. He tries to grab the spoon and when he gets a hold of it, he will actually grab with both hands, scrunch up his little face, and pull until his face turns red. And he's kinda strong. If his food is almost gone, I just let him have the spoon to make a giant mess with because I get tired of struggling with him. He did manage to scoop up a little applesauce and get some to his mouth yesterday, all while his left hand was digging around in the bowl. He wants to feed himself, but he's not ready yet. I discovered that pouring a little water on the tray helps distract him, but only for so long.

Oh my highly dependent yet defiant little boy! It's so funny to watch him try to assert himself and stand up to me and then other times be so clingy. How am I supposed to handle all this? I feel like this is a crucial period in his development, learning to assert himself and break from mommy a bit, and I don't want to screw it up! I want to find a good balance. It's only human nature to want to do something after you're told not to. Right now, most of the times I say no are to keep Michael from getting hurt, but he doesn't know that. I try to explain it, but I'm sure it's too early for him to understand that. Maybe if I keep saying that I'm only protecting him, he'll get it sooner rather than later.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Sleeping

Ahh sleep. That which teases me but never sticks around for long. Baby's sleep habits have been rough. In the hospital, we figured out that somebody didn't like being put on his back, which is kinda funny in hindsight since the nurses put him in a shirt that said "this side up" on his tummy. We had this plan when we got home to have him sleep in the pack n play next to our bed to make night feedings easier and just because I believe that's where baby should be in those early days, if not weeks (not in the pack n play but near the parents). I remember my parents doing that with my 2 youngest siblings (co-sleeping then room-sharing) so I guess that's the style of parenting I'm used to. Also, we just didn't have the space growing up for the baby to have his/her own room. Well, then I go and have a big baby who really messes me up, so rolling (literally) out of bed and walking down the hall multiple times per night was just not physically possible for me. Of course everybody warns against co-sleeping because of the risk of SIDS, so we really wanted to try the pack n play first before co-sleeping. No go-he was not having any of that. He would only sleep on us! He also hated the swaddle. Eventually I was able to put him in the bed next to me, no covers even though it was winter and on a towel to create a smoother, flatter surface than the sheets. He would mostly sleep on his side facing me. I was able to nurse fairly easily this way, which was great because sitting upright on a tempurpedic mattress that conforms to every contour of your injured bottom was not fun. I was also able to soothe him back to sleep by stroking his head. Sometimes we would both fall asleep while nursing. The first night though, I did not sleep at all. I watched him all night. I could sleep the next day. How could anyone not want to experience such sweet moments with their new baby?? Nursing, soothing, snuggling, watching him sleep, listening to him breathe--I loved it!

We continued co-sleeping for a few days or a couple weeks, I honestly don't remember, until I did some reading online and found that babies who don't want to sleep on their backs might have reflux and that sleeping on an incline might help. I looked into the options and decided that a sleep wedge sounded dangerous. I settled on the Fisher Price rock n play-it was angled but snug so baby couldn't roll. We started putting him in that during the day because we had to put him down somewhere! Then we set it up next to my side of the bed. We would wait until he fell asleep and gently put him in. If he awoke, we would pick him up, soothe him back to sleep, and put him down again. Eventually, I could just rock the sleeper to soothe him back to sleep--many times I would wake up as soon as he started to stir so I could rock him before he even woke up. Other times I would have to lean right over him and sing Twinkle, Twinkle. The rocker worked! We even had a few 6 and 8 hour stretches of sleep!

Until at about 4 months, he got too big for it. He was able to squirm more and tried to push out with his legs. Time to try the crib. We started with the same method we had used for the rocker--put him down after he fell asleep, pick up and soothe upon wake up. He would not stay asleep for very long. I think the longest was almost 2 hours. Too many wake-ups, none of us were getting sleep. We decided to try CIO and Ferber, even though those methods made me cringe and just didn't seem right to me. My baby can cry--for 2 hours at the same or greater level of intensity. Also, he started to hate bedtine, including his bedtime nursing. He would prantically panic, looking frantically around the room and whining and trying to avoid nursing because he knew he would fall asleep. This negative sleep association began to spill over into daytime nursings as well. Nursing makes him sleepy, so he started to dislike it because he thought it was going to lead to me leaving him in the crib. At this point, he had been mostly napping on me on the boppy after feedings. Well, we finally realized that the "conventional" methods were not going to work, so baby came to bed with us to try to erase those bad memories and negative associations. It took a while. One day I googled "how to get baby to sleep in the crib" and Dr. Sears' website came up at the top. I read through and came across the section on High Needs Babies. He pretty much described my baby. I read his book on Attachment Parenting, which I realized I was already doing, and am currently reading The Fussy Baby Book. (I will do a separate post on high needs babies.) I've also read The No Cry Sleep Solution, but feel like I've already done some of what's in there. Basically what I realized was that the conventional methods were not going to work on my baby because he was and is different than "normal" babies. During this time, we were getting ready to move into a new house, so we decided baby would just stay in bed with us until we got settled in the new house.

So where are we now? We're in the new house, but not fully unpacked and settled yet. It seems the move may have messed with baby a bit. For a couple of weeks, he was waking up frequently (every 1-2 hours). Blagh. He's gotten better the last few days. Last night was a breakthrough! We've been putting him to bed anywhere between 7 and 8, depending on how tired he looks. Last night he didn't seem tired at 6:30, but he whined for the boob then conked out. I took him up to bed and he didn't wake up until 10:30! His next wake-ups were at 2:30, 4:30, and finally 7. 3 times! That was so great! I am still nursing at night even though doc said to stop. For a while we were able to soothe him back to sleep without nursing, but for some reason DH stopped getting up to "help" me (I put help in quotes because since when did night parenting become my responsibility for him to just occasionally help with?) and baby wouldn't respond to anything besides nursing. So basically, I've been extremely sleep-deprived the last few weeks. Hopefully last night was just a preview of things to come. We'll start the pack n play soon too because baby is a squirmy little flopper! Although, I will miss waking up to his toothy grin right next to me. :(

I would like to note that I have never forced a schedule on baby--I've pretty much just followed his cues. Early on he didn't really have a schedule because, well, newborns just sleep a lot. Bedtime was about 9 or 9:30 early on, basically when we went to bed, so bedtimes consisted of a lot if pacing and swinging and rocking because he didn't necessarily want to sleep when we did. As the number of naps decreased, his bedtime shifted to earlier times between 7 and 8. Last night he was ready to nurse and sleep at 6:30. We'll see how tonight goes! Wish me luck!

Any sleep advice for me? Especially non-conventional advice that doesn't involve ignoring my baby?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Birth Story

My son's birth day started early in the morning. My doctor decided to induce labor since I was not dilating on my own, we were running a few days past the due date, and it was obvious that I was having a big baby. 6am Monday morning, December 12. We took a couple of "before" photos to make sure we remembered my hugeness (and all my stretch marks) and then drove to the hospital. My doctor had 3 other inductions scheduled that morning as well. (The doula who taught my birthing class informed us that Richmond doctors have a high rate of inductions for some reason--control freaks??). The nurses were incredibly friendly and excellent at dispelling my worries about having an induction. I did too much reading over the weekend and started to worry, but I kept reminding myself of my doctor's confidence. She made it sound like it was fairly routine and so did the nurses.

So the pitocin started at 7am. I had had no significant contractions leading up to this day, but the monitors actually detected some minor ones before the pitocin even started. A couple of hours went by with not much action. I felt contractions but was able to breathe through them. Btw, since both my and DH's families are in other states, we were all by ourselves! No doula, no mothers, just us, which actually turned out kinda nice, to have this experience all to ourselves. My doc came in and decided to break my water to help move things along. By this time, we had a shift change from night nurses to day nurses and I'm pretty sure that every single nurse on staff that day made it a point to look at my belly and assure me that I was having a big baby. Thanks for scaring the crap out of me!

Soon after my water broke, the contractions increased in both frequency and intensity. I barely had a minute to relax between them! I'm not sure how long I endured them, but by 10:30 or 11am, I decided I had experienced enough contractions and wanted to relax. Epidural to the rescue! The thought of getting stabbed in the spine terrified me, but I could not handle those contractions at that frequency-plus they weren't helping me to dilate anyways, so why continue to suffer? Luckily the anesthesiologist was already on the floor administering another epidural when I asked for him. Yay for no long wait!

While having these frequent, intense contractions, I had to bend over while seated on the bed. One of the 2 nurses tending to me let me lean on her and invited me to squeeze if I needed to in order to stay still. It was a little weird to get so friendly, but I did what I had to do. Let me also remind you of my hugeness-I did gain the maximum (recommended?) 35 lbs and it was pretty much all in my belly-I also carried very low, so 1) sitting upright at all was highly uncomfortable, and 2) bending over while sitting was pretty painful. Add to this my contractions, and well, it was pretty awful! Fortunately, it did not take too long (great doctor found my spine quickly!), and sweet numbing (as well as cold) relief was on its way down to my pelvis and legs.

I don't remember much about the next few hours besides alot of flipping from side to side to redistribute the medicine and at some point being told that the 3 other women had their babies. Again, thanks nurses! Finally, by 6:30pm, I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.

I had just hit "the happy button" before the doc came in and checked me(btw, isn't it cool that they give you the button to dose yourself?), so I wasn't feeling much, but I told them I had a little sensation because they said if I was completely numb, the anesthesiologist would have to come back and basically undo my epidural. Uh, no thanks! So DH was given the task of holding up my left leg while a nurse held up the right. Not much happened for a while because I couldn't really feel enough to push well. Then we had a shift change back to the night nurses that I had met at 6am! Basically, that means I had a cheering section because remember, I was the only mommy left! Oh yes, DH also had a 2nd job-- to give me a puke bucket if needed and to give me fresh cold compresses between rounds of pushing. He did a great job-he even raised the bed when I did puke to keep me from choking on my own vomit. Thanks honey! The nurses commented that every time I heaved, the baby moved further down-they were actually scared he was going to flop out! Don't ask me why I puked- it was a combination of the pushing, the pain, the heat, just everything. I spent 2.5 hours pushing. Didn't they say 30 minutes to an hour in birthing class?? I did get to feel baby's fuzzy head a couple of times which was so weird! I did not use a mirror-feeling was plenty experience for me. I just remember toward the end that they kept telling me to push, with no breaks between their 1-10 counts which was a little rough. Eventually, I was able to feel the baby stretch out along my left side and he had a foot in my ribs which made curling upwards to push that much more difficult. I had regained quite a bit of feeling in my pelvis and abdomen, so I was no longer pain-free! I remember my doctor yelling at me to get mad and push harder! Finally, everybody was yelling "push! Push! Push!" Then I felt this massive fiery sensation through my pelvis and a flop on my belly. I barely had a chance to open my eyes and glimpse a foot on top of me before they whisked him away to get a cry response. Well, he definitely let them know that he did not want to be away from his momma! In all the confusion, I still had to remind DH to go take some pictures! They cleaned and weighed while DH snapped the first pictures of our new baby. A nurse yelled out that I had a 10 pound baby (9lb, 7.3oz to be exact). Somebody else commented on how broad his chest was. Another nurse chimed that the newborn diapers weren't going to fit. Okay already! I got it! I just had a big, loud baby! Now give him to me! I desperately wanted to hold him right away, but I had to lay there and watch (at least they never took him out of the room). I swear that baby looked at me from his incubator and he stopped crying. He turned his head backward toward me, and we just stared at each other. He was across the room, so I don't know how he knew it was me, but somehow he did. I lay there feeling like a character out of a Twilight Zone episode with a bright light overhead and a doctor and nurse between my legs, discussing my "injuries" as if I couldn't hear them! The whole thing at that point was very surreal. I was a little out of it because I was so exhausted, but I heard every word, all while locking eyes with my baby and telling him that it was okay. FI-NA-LLY, they brought him to me and let me nurse. My baby Michael had the chubbiest cheeks! And he just stared quietly at me and I at him with the biggest smile ever and tears rolling down my cheeks.

Introduction

Hi, I'm Terrie. I'm an anthropologist and, as of 7 and a half months ago, a new mommy. Honestly, I never thought I would have babies. I married late (34-gasp!) and figured I would be happy as a cool aunt. But it happened, at the ripe age of 36, and this little guy has changed my life, to say the least. I never thought it was possible to love someone so much and to have such overwhelming feelings of not only love but also of protectiveness and complete and utter devotion.

I found pregnancy and am finding motherhood to be fascinating. With a background in science, I am of course interested in the scientific aspect of everything. With my more recent education as an anthropologist, I feel like I have a better appreciation and understanding of my child's developmental milestones. Basically, I have a different perspective, different than I would have had several years ago and probably different from most people. I notice the tiniest details and find myself thinking back on something I learned in Primate Behavior or Human Evolution. So I want to document my observations, my thoughts, and just every fascinating thing about my baby. Some of my writings may be anthropological in nature but most will probably just be straight-up proud momma. Since I'm almost 8 months late in starting this endeavor, some posts will obviously not be chronological. I will post a birth story at some point because I find myself remembering some new detail every time I think of that day, and I certainly don't want to forget any of them. Hopefully, you will enjoy reading about my thoughts and experiences and feel compelled to contribute your own.