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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things and Stuff

It seems like we're in the midst of a super-growth-spurt (so named because Mal's been growing pretty much since he was born, judging from the constant nursing for the past 5 weeks). Mal was in a really fussy mood (read: crying any time he was awake and I was not holding him) from Sunday night until this morning.

And, actually, I think Sunday afternoon's might have been my fault: I ate shrimp scampi AND garlic Parmesan shrimp scampi at Red Lobster as part of their never-ending shrimp promotion. I also had hand-breaded, coconut, and skewered grilled shrimp. The good news is that Mal made it 2 hours awake in a restaurant, only petering out at the very end (although he did, of course, want to eat most of the time). But the dairy I consumed... ugh. I thought it wasn't very much, but Mal was a mess that evening.

Last night, I got my first shower since Saturday morning because James held Mal while he screamed during that 6.2 minute ordeal. Today, I was prepared to sit on the couch nursing all day, and I did to that A LOT. But Mal's been asleep now long enough for me to put a shopping list together and start this blog post, so that's been nice.

While he was awake, we vacuumed and put clothes away from the dryer. I also started dinner (in several stages) and dusted. While he was nursing, I read all of this month's Clubhouse Magazine (Focus on the Family) and read most of "Stuff You Should Know About Stuff." I highly recommend that book; it's very funny.

Today, we also spent some time in Mal's room getting some exercise, and we have talked a lot. Malcolm is starting to make some very sweet noises, so we'll end with this video of him talking to his diaper-changing monkey.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Month of Mal! (As of Saturday, but goodness knows if I'll get a chance to post again, so here goes...)

And now for what everyone really wants to know: How's Mal doing?

Malcolm is great. He's a generally easy-going baby. He seems to have some issue we don't understand with feeding fussiness certain times of the day, but he's starting to eat more at one time and less frequently (as in, I don't have to have a mammary in his face every moment he's awake; only about 40% of the time). He is gaining weight and has normal digestive processes, so that's not a worry.

Mal seems to think that the day is over around 8 PM, and so if we're out at that time, he makes us come home... which is putting a kink in our small group relationships. However, everything gets incrementally easier every day, so I have high hopes for this to resolve in the near future.

The boy is still sleeping with James and me; as long as he's noshing half a dozen times during the night, it's just the easiest thing. We plan to bring his bed into our room this weekend, because now that he's sleeping longer stretches at a time, it should be easier to transition him to sleeping on his own. I need him in his own space because I managed to roll over facing away from him in the middle of one night, and fortunately at that time he was between James and me. When he's on the outside, I feel safer with my arm around him so he doesn't roll away. Maybe a cat would catch him, anyway.

Mal is starting to smile a lot, but it's often right before he cries, so I'm not sure he understands what a smile is supposed to be. Still super cute. He's also trying to vocalize in ways that aren't crying. Sometimes, he brays or bleats, sounding vaguely like a goat, and other times, it's clear that he's just testing out what sounds he can make. He's approached something sounding like a halting "coo" a couple of times, and it's precious.

Today, we went to Trader Joe's for the first time, and Mal was great most of the way. He was awake, looking around, and only decided he was finished after about half an hour. I still couldn't go to the store, but it beat the visit to Target when he screamed the whole time, even though I was holding him. At TJ's, I left him in his car seat, then my sister carried him while we checked out. He fell asleep and waited to wake up until I put the groceries away. What a good boy.

Yes, Daphne has held him and helps me out a lot. No, she's not head over heels in love. But I think she has the makings of a great big sister, and I'm glad she's at home during the day to give me someone else to talk to (when she's not listening to music). She doesn't mind that I pack it up around 9 PM every day; she enjoys having her late nights to herself, and draws a lot at that time.

James... James is a great dad. Although Mal is getting increasingly okay with being put in the bouncy seat (which he can't use right now because the cover is in the wash due to the boy's Houdiniesque elimination) and the swing (thank goodness; it cost a small fortune and I'd hate to have wasted it), at first, James and I were constantly having to hand him off. We still do this a lot at night and in the mornings. It gives James time with Mal, and it gives me a chance to get dressed in the morning and get breakfast and lunch together, or to shower. Luxury, no? 

Now, if it's pictures that you want, you can check out my September and October Picasa albums. Links below. Special thanks to my sister Sarah and friend Jana for all of the awesome pictures that I didn't take. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Treasure Every Moment"??

Having a newborn baby is exhausting. You hear that, but you don't get it until you have one (although perhaps the first couple of weeks with a new puppy come close; at least Mal won't tear up the couch or poop behind the stove when I'm not paying attention). I don't mean that in a condescending way. It just is.

When Daphne was four days old, I wrote this: "The word 'mommy' means something different to me now. This is not a warm fuzzy term of endearment at this point; it is a hard, dirty, almost war-like appointment. I'm not sure I am mature enough for the task, but no one may ever be until it is forced upon them. I long to pay more attention to my dog. I ache to sing songs to Daphne and to show her things about the world around her. I would love to feel like my 'normal self' for a while. But there is too much to do and not enough time..."

You'll notice that I only had one baby... until love convinced me to have another. I adored D and I love Mal. But babies are DIFFICULT. I am not one who looked back at baby pictures of Daphne and thought nostalgically, "Awww, I miss that stage." I never did. The older Daphne got, the more I enjoyed her.

So... No one is obligated to listen to my complaints about bone-tired weariness. I know it's par for the course, and we're still surviving. But there are two things that people say that make me more than a little bit crazy.

THING NUMBER ONE: "Treasure every moment. It goes by too fast."

Well, I suppose that is two things. To address the first: No. I'm sorry, but we're human and although all of life is precious, none of us treasures EVERY moment. We squander. It happens. When you're with a sick kid in the E/R waiting room, do you treasure that moment? Or do you wish it'd be over with because you'd like to get to the solution? That's how I feel when Mal won't let me put him down, or when he's crying for reasons I can't discern, or when he wants to eat every second of his waking life.

When you have a teenager, if you tell a co-worker, "Last night, my daughter came in and asked her mom and me to turn the channel because she wanted to watch Teen Mom 6, but we since we were already watching NCIS, we told her no, but asked her to sit with us and watch. She screamed, 'You are a couple of fat-ass idiots, and if you really loved me, you would have put me up for adoption!' then she ran to her room, slammed the door, and cranked the radio," no one says, "Aww, well treasure every moment because she'll be moved out before you know it."

Can we please be honest and say that there are parts of parenting that aren't our favorites? Maybe your least favorite is the awkward tween thing. Maybe you hate potty-training. Maybe you really can't stand the terrible twos and have facetiously thought of selling your screaming brat on eBay (when that was a thing). Maybe the teen years make you question your decision to procreate. It's okay. We all have those moments.

For me, it happens to be early infancy. It's just not my favorite. That doesn't mean I don't love my boy, or that I'm resentful or not properly caring for him. For me, this is a means to an end. It gets me from Point A (not having a kid) to Point B (having a child and having the basis of a relationship with him).

Yes, there are many, MANY times in a day when I'm overwhelmed by my maternal affection for Mal. I just stare at his face in wonder. But there are also many times in a day when I'd really like to be able to use the restroom without feeling like there is a timer going. And that's okay.

By the way, a shout-out to a bunch of my friends who are expecting for the first time. Especially if you had to go through a lot to get pregnant or are in the process of adopting, you might be mystified when the time comes that, after you've gotten everything you ever wanted, you are troubled by a fleeting thought of, "Why did we want this so much?" or "Why did we think we could do this?" PLEASE don't let anyone make you feel guilty for being exhausted and being in the adjustment phase. It passes. But it's a real thing. And right now, it's my thing.

Even Mary, the very mother of our Lord, treasured up "these things" and not ALL things. She didn't even have a washing machine for her diapers. I can't imagine.

Part B, the "it passes too quickly." Pppth. Some people look at their kids' baby pictures with semi-sadness, wishing those days back. I don't. I loved the toddler stage, and think pretty much everything preschool kids do is adorable. But I never wish those days back. I certainly don't feel like Daphne grew up "too fast." I mean, yes, I miss the days when she'd hold my hand in public and actually liked to go out with me. But that was when she was 10, and I know that this stage we're in now is a transition. I trust that we will be really great friends when she's an adult. I don't ever wish her younger, and have liked her as a person more and more as she has matured and become more independent.

Time passes exactly the same for everything. There is no "too quickly."

When people look ahead excitedly to their wedding, why aren't they chided, "Don't wish the time away! Enjoy today!" Because being abstinent with you're in the throes of passion is fun! Woo hoo! Well, that's a little silly, but you get what I'm saying.

THING NUMBER TWO: "Forget about chores..."

To the people who have suggested this, I'd like to know: What is your solution? What is the alternative to getting things done that genuinely need to be done?

Believe me, I'm not kicking my butt over the fact that I haven't dusted in more than a month (my sister did a couple of weeks ago, though!). I don't need to wash the windows or sweep the patio or anything like that.

But we only have a limited number of clothes, and when they're all dirty... what? I can only "ignore" laundry so long before we suffer. Same with doing dishes, cooking meals, and going to the grocery store.

I understand that these people probably mean not to obsess over the small things, and to get people to help. I've done both of those things, but there are still things that need to be done. Having an infant doesn't mean I'm not a wife anymore, even temporarily. Or that I can just ignore my older child. This is the first year I've ordered her a cake because I don't have time to make one for her. It's cool, and she'll love it, but I could have made the cake she wanted this year. It wasn't a big deal. I just know I won't have time. (P.S. "But you had time to write this blog post!" Yes, in sentence fragments over days and days; cakes don't work like that when you don't have ample refrigerated storage or ways to keep it from cats.)

So if you say to forget about the chores and by that mean that you are going to take care of them for us, then, by all means, come on over! Bring food (and many thanks to the friends who have; it's been awesome!)! Feel free to vacuum because even that genuinely needs to be done on a daily basis or we end up with cat litter all over the place. (I already did it today, though.)

IN SUMMARY, while I appreciate people's concern for me, advice that is tantamount to "Buck up, sweetheart," isn't very encouraging. I get that parenting is difficult; I've been though this once and lived (and the kid lived! Bonus points!). I get that kids are only the age they are the moment they're that age, and then never again. Well, then, let me say I'm looking forward to the first birthday when, if it's like it was with Daphne (and so far, almost nothing has been, except for Mal's yawn face), I'll have time to make a cake. If you don't like that attitude, then be glad you don't have it. I'm pressing on, loving my baby and trusting that the time investment today will result in relationship soon. But that doesn't mean I have to be in drunklove with every single second. Some of it is tedious and exhausting and I'm just keeping it real, yo.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Seven Reasons Why Formula-Feeding Totally ROCKS!

Shortly after Daphne was born, we realized she was tongue-tied and I wouldn't be able to breast-feed. I'd tried (stressfully, for the both of us) for three days and then found out I'd basically been starving her. The first formula I offered her, she slurped up greedily, and after the lactation consultant from the hospital stopped calling me, I never looked back.

I'd wanted to breast-feed, and I was temporarily disappointed that I'd be unable to do that, but I jettisoned that plan relentlessly when I realized my daughter's well-being was at stake.

This time, with Mal, breast-feeding seems to be going "well." By "well," I mean that my milk has come in successfully and that he drinks it. However, after only three short weeks, there are glaring advantages to formula-feeding that have me thinking back nostalgically on those days of bottles. I will detail these advantages below.

After you read this list, you might wonder why I'm breast-feeding at all, so I'll tell you -- and, no, it's not because it's "healthier," because science and time have not borne that out; if it were a cut-and-dried issue, we could tell bottle-fed adults from breast-fed adults, and you just can't. My daughter has averaged one doctor's visit every three years of her life since she was a year old, and she's pretty dang smart, and we bonded, so none of those "arguments" have anything to do with my current choice to breast-feed.

Why I Breast-Feed: 1) It's cheaper. 2) I don't have to get up in the night to make a bottle. (Or suffer the consequences of forgetting a bottle when I leave the house.) 3) Allegedly, it burns 300-500 calories a day, and Momma needs all of the help she can get. 4) Poop don't stink.

Seriously, that's it. We've actually tried two or three times to give Mal a bottle, and he's ticked off about the whole notion. But here's why the bottle rocks my socks off, in no particular order:

1) Anyone can give the baby a bottle! Right now, Mal wants to eat. ALL OF THE TIME. And although the midwife, in an inspirational talk, assured me that things would be different "a week from now, and two weeks from now, and next month" when he was a week old, not too much has changed. He constantly wants to eat. And it's ALL on me. I can't go in the bedroom and talk to James privately, much less leave Mal with anyone and walk to dinner for an hour. People want to come over to visit the baby and hold him, but he wants to eat. ALL OF THE TIME. And I'm the only person who can give him food.

No, I haven't pumped yet so I don't have any milk supplies in the freezer or anything. Remember that whole thing about how he wants to eat ALL OF THE TIME? He does sleep for two- to three-hour stretches occasionally, but they're so random, I can't count on them and don't want to start pumping, have him wake up from a doze-off "famished," and then not have any milk.

Yes, he also sleeps for stretches at night, but I'm tired, too, and I choose to sleep.

2) When you formula-feed, you don't have to worry that if your husband had an internal monologue like mine, made up of Tweets and Facebook status updates, it would currently be, "I never thought I'd be tired of seeing my wife's breasts." (P.S. Daphne was tired of it the first time I whipped that puppy out.) (P.P.S. James said his internal monologue has only one line: "Farts are funny." That could be a Tweet.)

3) Formula-feeding is a lot less awkward in public and mixed-company situations. And, I know, some of you think it's not awkward at all, and bless your hearts. I'm not there. I feel self-conscious pulling out a boob in a restaurant or at church.

And forget about the grocery store. I might never be able to go to the store again, as it takes me 1 1/2 to 2 hours to shop, and this child wants to eat ALL OF THE TIME. Now, I know, also, that some of you can strap your baby on and nurse them while you shop, OR sit them in the child seat of the buggy and they'll just lean over and nurse, and nobody even notices. Again, you've reached a mom level I'll probably never hit.

Being in a room full of family and friends, I am super aware that even if I cover the majority of my ample bosom with a blanket, Mal is going to back off, leaving my glistening nipple visible until I notice and cover it. And I've lost enough sensitivity in that area (thank goodness!) that sometimes, I don't notice that I'm *not* covered. So I apologize in absentia and in advance in case this happens to any of you dudes. (And, no, I can't keep his head covered while I'm feeding; it's Austin, it's hot and muggy, and it's SUPER uncomfortable in there... we've tried.)

4) When you breast-feed, you second-guess EVERYTHING. Do I have enough milk? Now that I have enough milk, did I eat something that is making him cry like that? Is it dairy? Nuts? Nut butter? Chocolate? Onions? Tomatoes? Caffeine? Am I torturing my child with my old lady curdled non-sustaining boob cheese? ARE BABIES SUPPOSED TO CRY THIS MUCH?! I'm pretty sure that by the end of this week, my diet will consist solely of bananas and avocados.

5) When you formula feed, your nipples don't permanently look like you decided to visit Alaska in the dead of winter and forgot your coat. Or any clothes at all. (Sorry; was that TMI?)

6) Formula-feeding supporters don't feel motivated to create condescending infographics like this one.

P.S. Sometimes I feel like a pacifier. Also, sometimes I feel like a sadist. Anyone else had a sometimes-angry-feeder? Good gravy. I feel like I should apologize for supplying him that apparently venomous brine.

7) When you formula-feed and your husband comes to bed, telling you goodnight and stroking your breast, you don't leak. (Again, TMI?)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Citrus Lane, Month 3

I can't believe we're already 1/4 of the way through our year-long Citrus Lane subscription! And this month, we actually have a baby go to with the box! So here's what we received this month...

Mal yawns, only because he can't see this awesome stuff. (Yes, I know: "Do not use on elevated surface." I was standing there the whole time.)

First, there is a soft book called "Where I Live." Question: Why do soft books have crunchy paper in them now? Do babies not like turning quiet soft pages? Anyhoo, I do like the teether fish that goes into the pond with his baby. It's really cute. I think Mal will enjoy this when he's a little more fine-motor-developed.

A bell rattle! Only for use on special occasions or to bribe the kid to do something.

Doughnut rattle. Makes actual rattle noises. James tried it this morning and said it doesn't taste great. Adorable, though!

Rash ointment, put in a drawstring bag so... we'd feel better about getting two tablespoon-sized samples? Whatever.

Also, the box had these No-Shave November punch-outs on it... but they're pink, so it also covers breast cancer awareness. Umm. Again. Whatever. You're supposed to post pictures of your kids sporting the mustaches. And if you buy a gift subscription for a friend, Citrus Lane will donate $20 to breast cancer research. I don't know that I love any of my friends that much. :) I'd just write a check and make the donation myself.

To review... this is what came in (and on) the box this time. I'm again a lot more pleased with this stuff than I was the first month's box. Can't wait until next time!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do I Actually Have Time For an Update??

You might have noticed my commenting or "liking" something from a few weeks ago on your Facebook wall today. It's because my younger child has, for the second day in a row, been asleep for nearly three hours this afternoon. If this is the new "thing," I'll be super happy! It gave me time to fix breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, and to catch up with some people on social media. Oh, I also got to go to the restroom without hurrying, so that was quite the luxury.

Things have been good. Mal is a good-natured baby, and the biggest issue we have right now is just figuring out what it is that I eat that bothers him. About every other day, he has a one- to two-hour period where he's just inconsolable. I'm not going to post too much about it here, because as much as I appreciate everyone's concern, I've had a whole "too many cooks" thing going on several times during my pregnancy and we're addressing things, so I really don't need any advice... just making the point that other than those times, he's such a fun guy to have around.

We haven't said much about this, either, because I've been very scared to jinx it, especially as Mal sleeps longer during the day, but as much as I want that baby out of my bed sooner than later, I'm LOVING being able to sleep at night with a newborn. Someone at James' office said they didn't believe he had a new baby because he looked too well-rested. That's because Mal sleeps with us, wakes to nurse, and I fall back asleep once he's latched and loaded. He might be awake for half an hour, but is content to look around the darkened bedroom and go back to sleep. I typically head for bed with him around 9-10 PM and get up at 6:30. It's heavenly, even though it's interrupted sleep.

And I'm SO not a co-sleeper, you should know what a compromise this is. I just decided I was going to be a lot more chill with this kid than I was with Daphne. I apologized to her, explaining that the first kid is always the beta test and you do the best you can, and you learn a lot. Hopefully nothing I did with her broke her.

++ truncated due to wakey baby ++

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A couple of thoughts a couple of days later (weeks, actually)

I started this blog post on Friday, September 26. Now you can see how much time I've had both for organizing my thoughts and for writing. But I'll finish these thoughts as much as I have the time to do, then go on with some other stuff if I can. Clock's ticking!

I've been thinking about two things the past two days (again, this was the Friday after Wednesday's delivery), and thought I'd share them while I have a moment...

1) I've read a lot about different venues and philosophies when it comes to birthing babies. And I've read a lot about how ultimately, the way you give birth doesn't affect anyone or anything in the long term. What I've realized having now had two distinct birthing experiences is that it definitely does matter. I don't think it's too important whether you choose to go to the hospital or have lovely pain-blocking drugs or do it at home with no help except your family, just that you are heard. I wanted something very specific, and even when it looked like I might not get it, I knew, at the bare minimum, that I had a team who had listened to me and tried to make it happen. I walked away from that experience feeling hugely different than I did after fleeing the omniscient, condescending doctors with whom I dealt before, during, and after Daphne's birth.

That said, I am out of the business of having babies (James is having a medical procedure done this week to ensure that), but if I had to do it again, I'd definitely go with a midwife and birth center birth again. The only thing I had at the hospital was an epidural, and I LOVED it at the time. But I ended up feeling like it put a wall not only between me and my pain, but the actual delivery of my daughter. I don't think everyone is like me, so I don't hold what I experienced up as gospel. I am just not a "baby" person, and I think I needed all of the endorphins and hormones I could get in that moment, in order to start an early bond with the kiddo. And birthing naturally did that.

THAT said, if my true labor pains had lasted 4 hours or 18 hours or even one hour instead of 9 minutes, I might feel differently. But altogether, it was blissful. Not having to fight to go home was a plus, as well.

2) I don't remember the second one. Sorry.

But here are a few random things:

The first couple of nights, I'd wake up, see Mal's head, and think/say, "That's my sweet little girl." Then the night I was dozing off (due to no caffeine) and he was so fussy, I asked James to take him for a drive. James stood there while I dozed off and crept out of the room, not realizing that Mal was about to come back into full-screaming consciousness after three or four seconds. I called James back in and said, "So, is that a 'no'?" He said, "I thought you'd fallen asleep." I said, "I DID. But I need you to take her out for a few minutes, because even if she dozes off, she's uncomfortable... and I KNOW he's a boy. I know it's a 'he.'"

When James and I talked about it later, I think I decided that in that particular brand of exhaustion, my brain goes to the only other time I've felt that tired, and it was when Daphne was a baby.

Mal has had two non-meconium dirty diapers, both on Mondays. He might be a once-a-weeker, and as long as he's comfy, I'm all for it. Our cloth diaper laundry duty will be so much simpler.

I have had to stop dairy. I don't eat much, mostly cheese, but it seems to upset him a lot. I'd stopped caffeine, too, because I was worried it'd given him a lot of energy the night I was worried he might be colicky. I don't think it was affecting him like that, but now that I've been off of caffeine for 5 or 6 days (and, yes, I'm still sleepy but no more headache), I figure I might as well go with it. I like caffeine. I don't think it's harmful. But when you have to take caffeine gum with you to Haiti because you're afraid they won't have enough for you, you might have a problem!

James is awesome. He is doing everything that he can do, and being so gracious about the fact that I sit on my backside for hours on end. Mal has only in the past couple of days let me put him in the bassinet to nap for an hour or so; until then, I (or someone else) had to hold him or he wouldn't sleep. We're out of groceries; I'm making ridiculous things for breakfast and lunch. James is stepping up his chore level, and getting things for me, and dealing with a baby we didn't plan to have in our bed, and is just generally wonderful.

Also, my sister and my friend Jana have been invaluable. Sarah came over yesterday and cleaned, and today she's going to pick up some stuff for me at the grocery store (but don't worry, Nana, I'll have a FULL list for you next week!). Jana has brought us two meals and took pictures of a sleepy (therefore not-as-cooperative-as-ideally) Mal so we'd have some newborn shots while he's still a newborn.

When James' mom and Pat were here, Patsy held Mal a lot and I was able to get some things done (apparently overdoing it, according to the midwives). And Pat also picked up supplies a couple of times. But it was at Trader Joe's, and I don't think she considered it much of a chore. :) We loved having them here.

There's a lot more, but Mal is waking up. Gotta go hold that baby boy.