Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reminder!

Hello! This is just a reminder for anyone who missed the memo:

I moved!!

Please come visit me at my new home: http://thewildrumpus12.wordpress.com/

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Moved!

This is a friendly reminder that I have moved to wordpress!

http://thewildrumpus12.wordpress.com/

Please follow me over there. It's the same me, same smartassery, same self-deprecating humor, etc, just at a new location. : )

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A new home

Dear loyal readers-

I am moving to wordpress, effective immediately! I don't want to lose any of you, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE re-bookmark me, re-subscribe in your reader, etc. The new location is

http://thewildrumpus12.wordpress.com/

Also, a reminder that you can always reach me by email: luluslaments (at) gmail (dot) com, or on twitter, @wildrumpus15.


Monday, September 24, 2012

One year later: first positive pregnancy test

It was a grueling, yet successful, weekend of Ferberizing/sleep training at our house, which I’ll write more about later.

It was also one of those weekends full of emotions. Do you know what I mean? Do you have times when you are raw, fragile, and things feel more real than they should?

It was a year ago that I got my first ever positive pregnancy test. I remember it so well. The quiet, dark bedroom early in the morning. I woke up my husband to look at the test.

We were supposed to clean out the garage that day, but my husband cut his hand open on some glass. We abandoned the garage project and raced to Walgreen’s for first aid supplies.

I was so excited to buy some brand-name tests so I could see if I was imagining it.

One year ago. I tend to overreact to these sorts of anniversaries. I become very reflective. Couple this tendency with a weekend where I move my son to his crib and pack away his bassinet, and it was all just a little much.

The beast of infertility robs me of the confidence that I’ll ever pull that bassinet out again. I wish I could fold it up and think “until the next baby”, but instead I have a heavy heart. A broken piece of me whispers “what if there’s never another?”

One year later, and the baby I worked so hard for is here. Am I a bad mom for already wanting another? When part of me screams “not enough!”, am I ungrateful?  

One year later, and that faint second line is a person.

One year later, and we still need to clean out the garage.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Four month checkup/CIO

First, the good things. Alex weighs 12 pounds, 15 ounces! He has more than doubled his birth weight of 6lb, 3oz. Go little peanut, go! He is healthy in every way and has such good upper body strength that she cleared us for stomach sleeping even though he’s not rolling over. She felt around in his mouth and exclaimed that he’s getting a tooth! I can’t really feel it, but she was confident.

Then we talked about sleep. This appointment was perfectly timed because this has been our worst week ever with sleep; as in, he’s been waking up every hour or hour and a half consistently all week. We explained what’s been going on and here were her points:

  • He obviously can’t get back to sleep without us. That needs to change.
  • Every night that he gets a bad night’s sleep (so, every night of his life so far), he is more tired the next day and a bit more sleep-deprived than before.
  • Thus, “waiting it out” is not an option because he’s going to start sleeping less and less, not more and more. We know this is true because he used to sleep 7-11 like clockwork and for a good 5 weeks it’s been 7-9:30 or 7-10. It’s not getting better on its own.
  • She was adamant that teething is not causing this sleep disruption.
  • She was also adamant that giving him solids or formula will not help. I knew that, but I get this advice so often that it was nice to be validated. He is not waking up because he’s hungry. He’s waking up at the end of every sleep cycle. It’s different.
  • She was 100% confident that if we used the Ferber method and stuck with it, followed it exactly, it would work. She said he is capable of sleeping at the VERY MINIMUM, 8 hours a night, if not 10-12.
This, about a child who has slept MAYBE five hours ONCE.

I read Ferber last night. It’s so much gentler than I thought it would be. And maybe I’m just drinking the kool-aid here, but it makes sense to me. Here’s where my brain is now:

  • His crying has changed in the past couple of weeks. He no longer has a newborn cry. He whines to be picked up, etc. He knows how to get a response from me. That’s fine, I’m happy to respond to his needs…during the day. NOT every 75 minutes all night long. To me, this change in crying signals he’s ready for CIO.
  • I wanted to wait till 6 months, anyway. The pediatrician urged us not to do that. She said he’s ready now. I believe her.
  • I still don’t like the idea of letting him cry, but at this point I truly have no choice and I do think it’s the right thing for us to do.
  • I cannot function like this. In the past month, a two-hour stretch of sleep has become something to celebrate. I make stupid mistakes while I’m driving. I’m worthless at work. I feel sick to my stomach most of the time from sleep deprivation. I’m getting sick (which very rarely happens, usually). My marriage is suffering.
  • Maybe there are moms out there who could live this way without letting their child CIO. I am not one of them.
  • I’m really effing tired of everyone telling me their baby doesn’t sleep well either. Then you find out, maybe they don’t sleep well THAT WEEK, or maybe they “only” sleep three hours at a time, or maybe they’ve slept 8 hours a night since they were 6 weeks old and are now having a sleep regression. None of that is our case. My baby has never learned to sleep without me. I have gotten no breaks and it feels, at night, like I am still caring for a newborn.
  • I’m also tired of issuing the standard disclaimer. I DO love my son. I love him more than anything in this world. I have never once gotten angry with him for waking me up (I direct the anger at my husband, though, which is also bad). I’d rather deal with this than with infertility. But, I shouldn’t have to keep saying this. No matter how much you love someone, being woken up every 75 minutes for multiple days in a row is a slow form of torture.
One more night of constant night nursing, and then Friday night we start Ferber.

I’m going to be so flipping engorged.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One year ago today: Transfer


One year ago today, my sweet baby was a tiny embryo, and I was high on valium. He, and another embryo we'll never get to meet, came home to my uterus via a catheter in a doctor's office in another state.

I spent the drive home from that appointment repeating a positive mantra in my head. "We want you, we love you, we can't wait to meet you." I concentrated all of my energy on getting those little ones to implant.

Modern medicine is such a marvel. You take a young woman with PCOS and terrible eggs, who doesn't even ovulate - with a bajillion injections, tears, and sleepless nights: she's pregnant.

Alex and I have come so far in one year! From a nerve-wracking two week wait, to an anxiety-riddled pregnancy, an early delivery, and now a healthy, happy, gorgeous four-month-old.

I carried and delivered him; he made me a mom. It's hard to know who gave whom the more precious gift.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Four months


Dear Alexander-

My, oh my, you are four months old! You have learned so many things in the past month - it’s hard to choose my favorite.


First of all, you started giggling! Your first giggle was a few weeks ago, when I was tickling your face with my hair during a diaper change. Then you made us go weeks with no more laughter until recently, when you started doing it more often. It’s still pretty unpredictable what will make you laugh, but it fills my heart with joy every time you do.


You have also started pushing with your feet; this is huge! One day you were sitting in your bouncer chair when I realized you were practically doing a backbend! That’s when I pulled out your Jumperoo. After a few days you learned how to bounce around like crazy in that thing, and we have so much fun watching you.

Now that you push with your feet, you are sososososoclose to rolling over. We let you practice every night on your back, and you will be rolling within a week, I bet.


You’ve also gotten more coordinated with your hands. The first time I realized you had total control over your hands, you were rubbing your eyes because you were tired. It was adorable. You can grasp objects, although not intentionally, and you reach out and bat at toys now. You love to suck on your fingers, when last month you had just started bringing your fists to your mouth.



With fun “firsts” also come some less exciting milestones. This month, you had your first cold, and I’m learning how hard it is for babies to shake that nasal congestion, as your stuffiness lingers and lingers. We had our first out-of-town trip, for a sad reason, when we went to my hometown to say goodbye to your great-grandpa. You had your first dip in a swimming pool in the hotel, which you absolutely hated (hey, that water was frigid and I really can’t blame you).

You are a happy baby. You get fussy when you’re tired, and you still have the occasional reflux flare up. Every month when I write this letter I think “maybe next month I’ll be able to report that he’s started sleeping well at night!” Not the case for month four. : ) But I have hope, and we’ll keep working on it.



I think this past month has been the absolute CUTEST month of your life. We’ve gotten so many smiles, and you’ve become so much more alert and eager to look around at your surroundings. You like to sit in your high chair while your dad and I eat dinner, and you like to go on walks and stare at the sky and the leaves on the trees. You have such a gorgeous face that I get choked up sometimes, watching you take in the world around you. You’re perfect.

In a thousand tiny ways, you are growing more independent each day. It makes me so proud, and also a little sad. I love you to the moon and back.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, September 13, 2012

One year ago today: Retrieval

It’s been a year, today, since the worst day of my life, aka the retrieval that led to my son, the other embryo we transferred along with him, and the frozen embryo we will use someday.

I’m emotional on the anniversary of this day, knowing that my Alex, the bouncing almost-four-month-old I dropped off at daycare this morning, was conceived right about this time, one year ago, in a different state, in a lab.

Until that moment, there was no Alexander. He was one of 17 eggs and one lucky sperm of millions. It’s blowing my mind to think about it, even now.

When I think about that awful day, I remember some things with crystal clarity:

1) the pain. The pain was so intense. It was far worse than anything I experienced with my c-section.

2) waking up in my husband’s arms on the floor of my parents’ house, feeling weaker and sicker than I’d ever felt

3) squeezing the nurse’s hand and crying “I just want to have a baby” over and over

4) the feeling of lightness I finally experienced, after hours in the ER, when they gave me some pain medicine that actually worked (I think it was toradol?)

It was a horrible day, but it was so worth it. My little boy is the most yearned for sort of miracle.

No matter how much he cries, how little he sleeps, or how much I have to sacrifice for him, I will never forget the longing I felt in my bones before I got to meet him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Please, dear god, help me help him sleep.

My son still doesn’t sleep well at night. He’s 4 months on Saturday and everything I’ve read on the subject says he should be sleeping at least six hours at a time by now. We celebrate when we get three.

I have tried everything. I have changed his reflux medicine. His mattress is on an incline. There is a humidifier. There is swaddling. There is white noise. There is darkness. There is frequent nursing.

I’m out of ideas.

He goes to bed around 7. We do our bedtime routine and I put him down in his bassinet, awake, and he puts himself to sleep. It’s just that he doesn’t stay asleep very long, and he can’t put himself back to sleep.

Maybe 5% of the time I can get him back to sleep with a re-swaddle and a pacifier, but 95% of the time I have to nurse him.

An important distinction: he does not “nurse to sleep”. He’s awake when I put him back down. It’s just that nursing is the only thing that relaxes him enough to get back to sleep.

I’m so torn on what to do next. His four month appointment is next week and I know the pediatrician will encourage me to do CIO or controlled crying.

I go back and forth on this. Do I think my son will suffer long-term damage from CIO? Most likely, no. Do I think I can be there, hearing him scream for his mommy, and just ignore him? Absolutely not.

Do I think that the parents who are super judgmental about CIO are probably getting more sleep than I am, not waking up 5x a night (as if with a newborn), while still needing to appear professional and coherent the next day? Yes.

Part of me thinks that he will figure it out on his own if I’m just patient enough. Part of me thinks that I am seriously going to have a mental breakdown soon and in order for us all to be happier during the day, we need to do something drastic.

Lately I have been doing a dream feeding between 9:30-10:30, and after that he may sleep till 12:30-1 ish. Then he is awake in another two hours. Once we hit 3am, all hell breaks loose. He always wakes up at 3, 4, and 5, and somewhere in there I always give up and bring him into bed with me. My alarm goes off at 6.

He’s still in his bassinet, because I can’t imagine having to actually walk into another room all of those times in the night. That’s another thing – do I need to get him used to the crib before we start serious sleep training? It seems heartless to plunk him down somewhere totally alien and then let him scream.

Everything inside me rejects the idea of CIO. But I also can’t keep functioning like this. And really, neither can he. He needs more rest than he’s getting.

I don’t know what my next step is.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Breastfeeding predicament

I’m in a predicament, because I am so damn stubborn.

When I felt like breastfeeding was established, I set myself a goal of 6 months. We booked a vacation for March, when Alexander will be 10 months old. Perfect, I thought, he’ll be weaned by then.

Now I cringe.

I can’t wean him at six months. That’s only two and a half months away! The thought of weaning makes me hurt inside. I’ve been given this gift – of breastfeeding going relatively smoothly – and I just can’t stop doing it without a good reason.

So now I’m in a predicament. Our vacation is four nights and we’ll be away from Alex for about seven days total. The internet indicates a 10 month old needs 20-25 ounces of breast milk each day. I’m being generous and estimating he’ll need 30 ounces a day.

This means, if I want to keep him on exclusively breast milk while I’m on vacation, I need 210 ounces in the freezer.

COMMENCE PANIC!!!!

Right now I have 120 ounces. If I don’t use any of it (yeah right), and if I can pump 4 oz every weekend and freeze it, then I can do it. But those are big Ifs.

Another big issue: I’m already adding a fourth pumping session in the evenings at home just to get what I feel he needs for the day, because I come up .75 oz total short at work. (I should stop, right? A quarter of an ounce less in each bottle isn’t going to leave him hungry, RIGHT?)

My plan for vacation means I literally won’t be able to go a day without pumping between now and March (gahhh). It also leaves no flexibility for me to have extra breast milk to mix with oatmeal, etc.

I know what you’re thinking. GIVE HIM FORMULA WHILE YOU’RE GONE. It does seem simple. But I’m so stubborn that if there’s a way to keep him exclusively on breast milk, then I’m going to do it, damnit.

I could use some input. Feel free to tell me I’m crazy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rest in peace, grandpa.

My grandpa passed on Monday morning and was laid to rest today (Friday). We just got home tonight, after getting to my hometown Wednesday afternoon and spending Wednesday and Thursday night in a hotel.

It was an exhausting, confusing, taxing, depressing, stressful, exhausting exhausting exhausting weekend. But also a tiny bit fun because I got to see so many family members. I got drunk, didn't sleep nearly enough, and pumped in both a closet at the funeral home and a men's restroom at the parish hall.

Traveling with a 15 week old is no joke - especially a 15 week old who has his first cold. Poor baby. He's had diarrhea and sounds like a little piglet when he tries to breathe. He also has a pathetic little cough. It breaks my heart.

He did not sleep well at all while we were gone, but did take some good naps because we packed up his swing, which was a pain in the ass but totally worth it. We co-slept in the hotel bed because I couldn't bear to listen to him snorting over in the crib.

I spent the better part of 6-7 hours preparing for this trip (packing, laundry, cleaning the house for our house sitter, etc), but luckily I think unpacking will go more smoothly.

Alex was my grandpa's first (and only) great-grandchild. There was a large flower arrangement on the casket: yellow roses, mums, and carnations, with white daisies. There were ribbons that said "dad", "husband", "grandfather", etc. And tucked in the corner of the casket, one tiny yellow rose with a "great-grandfather" ribbon. It went into the grave with him. He didn't get to know Alex very long, but he sure was special to him for three short months.

I look forward to the day I can take big boy Alex to grandpa's grave and tell him that there's a tiny rose from him resting with his great-grandpa.

I'm sad.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saying goodbye to my grandpa

Today I went to say goodbye to my grandpa.

It's all going much faster than anyone anticipated. He went home last week for hospice care, and I've talked to my mom every day since then. At first it was "He looks good, he's sitting up in bed eating egg salad." Then, early this week, she said "Dad had a rough night because he saw frustration in grandpa's eyes." A few days ago, it was "He's starting to sound a little confused." Sometime in the past 48 hours everyone came to understand that we were coming to say goodbye, not to visit.

He was nowhere near sitting up in bed eating egg salad. He has no mobility other than some jerky arm movements and a little bit of neck control. He speaks clearly, but so softly that it's very difficult to make out what he says. Last night, he had to repeat himself three times, until he finally said "Do I have a speech impediment?" Haha. Oh, grandpa.

He has started getting much less coherent. He would kind of fall asleep and then wake up. I'd smile at him and he'd say "Did you bring the baby?" even though he'd already seen the baby. Each time I said "Yes, we did!" and brought Alex in. He liked to touch Alex's soft skin and smile at him. Once he said "It was a long time coming", which I think was a reference to our infertility. These were good, clear moments.

At other moments he'd just look at my dad and say "Is the door locked?" "Yes, dad, the door's locked, don't worry about it." Or, he'd look around the room and say "We all have a lot of work to do." He kept acting like he was taking pills, even though the need for pills passed long ago. He'd look in his blankets for pills he thought he had dropped.

I liked to just sit there and hold his hand. Once, he woke up and looked at me, and I said "Is it okay if I hold your hand?" And he squeezed my hand in his. That meant a lot to me because he has so little strength.

When it was time for us to leave, I went in to say one final goodbye. I said "grandpa, I just wanted to say goodbye." I stroked his face and his arm. He said goodbye to me and kind of started mumbling. I said "You know that I love you, right?" and he looked at me with vacant eyes and asked "Who are you?"

My heart stopped. I said "I'm Lulu. I'm your granddaughter." The focus came back in his eyes and he said something about being embarrassed. I said don't worry grandpa, don't be embarrassed, just rest. He mumbled a little bit more. I told him again that I loved him and asked if I could give him a hug. He brought his arms around me which, again, I knew took a lot of strength.

I think I jogged his memory because when my husband took Alex in to say goodbye, he called my husband by name and told him to take care of both of us.

The last time I had seen my grandpa was on the fourth of July. He wasn't feeling well, but was happy. He held Alex and fed him a bottle. In just a few weeks he's now bedridden, practically immobile, breathing with a lot of effort -- dying. On the fourth of July he was okay. Now, he's dying.

Last October, just 10 short months ago, we went to tell him and my grandma that we were pregnant. My grandpa got tears in his eyes and told me how happy he was. He wrote an advice card for me for my baby shower in March. Now, he wouldn't even be able to hold a pen.

I think some of my family members think I misunderstood, that he wasn't bad enough to forget who I was. But I heard him clearly, and saw the way he felt foolish afterwards. But I also felt his arms around me when I left and in that moment, I knew he knew who I was.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

mommyhood

Just logging in to say that I love being a mom. Yes, I’m exhausted all the time, and it’s difficult to pump at work (verging on impossible, some days), and there are a lot more chores and a hell of a lot more laundry, and a lot less sleep, and some strain on the marriage, and my schedule is not my own, and I feel rushed a lot of the time. All of that is very, very true. And I do still cry from time to time, thinking "I’m doing it wrong", "I’m bad at this", and recently "I think he loves the babysitter more than he loves me."

But I’m also much happier than I remember being before. I wasn’t this happy when I was pregnant, and I certainly wasn’t this happy with I was struggling to get pregnant. I feel like myself. A new, mom version of myself, but it’s working for me, overall.

Here’s what my days look like.

6am – wake up.
6-6:45 – my husband gets Alex ready for daycare and entertains him. I get ready for work (breaking records every day in the arenas of fast showering, makeup applying and breakfast eating), and manage to squeeze in some snuggles and smiles with the baby.
6:45 – nurse
7 –
leave the house with baby in car seat, diaper bag, pump, lunch box, and purse. It takes two trips to get everything to the car!
7:30 –
drop Alex off at the sitter. Lots of kisses.
7:45 –
get to work
8 –
work day starts
9:30, 12:30, 3:30 –
pump, as long as meetings don’t interfere (adjust as needed)
3:30 –
my husband gets home and tidies up the house a bit, because he’s amazing.
4:15 –
off work
4:30 –
pick up Alex
5 –
get home. Immediately throw diapers in the wash (every other day).
5-6:30 –
the three of us play, prepare and eat dinner (my husband does most of the cooking in our house), and catch up on each other’s days. Alex usually nurses somewhere in there, depending on when he had his last bottle. If I’m washing diapers, I make a few trips downstairs to switch the washer settings and move from washer to dryer.
6:30 –
bedtime routine begins with a bath, followed by jammies, reflux medicine, nursing, swaddling, a story, a snuggle. This is my favorite thirty minutes of the day.
7 –
down in the bassinet
7-8 –
I tidy up the house, unpack the diaper bag, pack it for the next day, unpack and wash my pump parts, wash bottles, make bottles for the next day, pack my pump back up, pack my lunch, bring dry diapers upstairs for husband to stuff.
8 –
ahhhhh, I have a glass of wine and two Milano cookies. I relax for a while, sometimes read, sometimes watch TV, sometimes play on facebook and twitter. This is my second favorite part of the day.
9 –
start winding down for the night – let the dogs out one last time, lock up, finish up any laundry
9:30* –
in bed!
*please don’t read this to mean I’m getting 8.5 hours of sleep every night. Hardly. I’m still up about 4 times with the baby every night. Things are slowly improving, though, cross your fingers that things continue to get better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Word vomit


Some random things that I just want to write down so I remember them, whether or not they pertain to this blog.

#1.  My grandpa is dying. He has been ill since Alex was born, and has been in and out of hospitals. Finally he was diagnosed with brain cancer and made a halfhearted attempt at radiation before choosing hospice. Yesterday he came home to a hospital bed where his old recliner was. The doctors say it could be another 3 months, 6 months, or a year, but gradually he will begin sleeping more and his heart rate will slow and the end will come, hopefully peacefully and with as much dignity as possible.

It’s all pretty sad for me, not because my grandpa is dying per se, but because I don’t love hearing or seeing my father cry, or thinking about my grandma being alone for the rest of her life. That said, there’s something beautiful about the two of them during this time of reflection, loving each other as much as ever.


I looked at my husband last night and realized that I would be honored to give him sponge baths and change his bedpan for him up until the very end. That’s love, the kind of love I knew nothing about when we met during college.


#2.  I’m vaguely annoyed by the unbaby plug-in for facebook. Even when I was a bitter infertile, I never begrudged moms posting photos of their kids. I really don’t think it’s all that annoying. It’s certainly not more annoying or redundant than my 28 year old friends posting 150 photos of ONE single night out at a bar. I promise I’m more tired of seeing you in your skanky clothes drinking glow-in-the-dark booze out of mason jars than you are of seeing my baby.


I mean isn’t that what facebook is for? Recycling the same old statuses about the weather and work and whatever you’re doing with your time? Babies are pretty much the least annoying part of facebook. (Pregnancy announcements are perhaps a different story)


#3.  My first week back at work, pumping was a disaster. Now I have settled into a rhythm. I need 10.5 ounces every day to make three 3.5 ounce bottles for Alex the next day. I average about 9.5 ounces a day, but I’ve learned that if I pump after feedings on the weekend, I can start the week ahead and it’s much less stressful. I bought a kindle fire and have been reading a book in the mother’s room. I only read while I pump, and it’s a good book, so it helps me to actually look forward to pumping. The kindle is great for hands-free reading!


#4.  This article from Jezebel made me really sad. Sad that she had such a bad experience, sad that her LC was rough, and sad that she went into breastfeeding expecting a negative experience and then got it. Isn't that how life works out? And now she wrote this piece, which will perpetuate the negative cycle.


It's not that I think breastfeeding is the best thing in the world, and I understand it doesn't work for everyone, and I support a woman's right to choose...in every regard. But this post is so dismissive of breastfeeding. And that makes me sad because it's been a very positive experience for me, overall. Plus, the writer just turns me off with her bitchy digs on her LC's hair, makeup, jewelry, perfume, I mean seriously. That's just petty. End of rant.


#5.  I remember other things that used to make me feel like a badass. In college I was a badass because I got awesome grades and still partied and had a boyfriend and had tons of friends, all while looking super hot. (Seriously, I was hot. Sigh.)


TODAY I was a badass because my husband left at 5am and I got myself and the baby up and ready, and dropped him off at daycare for the first time ever, and made it to work on time with my hair and makeup looking decent. And no tears! I was so proud of myself!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Three months


Dear Alexander-

Well, unlike your one month and two month letters, which I wrote in the recliner while you were sleeping on my chest, I am writing this one at work. That’s probably our biggest change this month. I went back to work and you stayed home with dad for a week. Your dad made me so proud, taking care of you all day! We are so lucky to have him.
The best thing that has happened in the past month is that you started talking up a storm! You say all sorts of baby nonsense words. Your dad talks back to you in English (“Oh really? What happened next? No way!”), but I talk back to you in Baby (“ahhhhk? gaaaah? gluuuuuuuw!”). It’s the best part of my day when you start in on one of your stories.

  
Your favorite part of every day is bedtime. You may be cranky one evening, but once we get you in that bathtub you’re all smiles. You love your bedtime routine, right down to getting dried off in your shark towel, getting dressed in your pajamas, and reading your book. We’ve been reading Roald Dahl’s The BFG for several weeks (we only read about three pages at a time). You love to stare at the book and smile at it, talking back to me while I’m reading.
 

It’s been fun watching your personality emerge. Now you get real tears in your eyes when you cry, and as a tragic preamble, you’ve started sticking out your bottom lip. You love sucking on your little fists, but you get frustrated because you’re still not quite coordinated enough to get particular fingers in your mouth. You get mad at me when I use the blue bulb to suck out your boogers, but smile as soon as it’s over. You’re annoyed when I swaddle you, but if I don’t, you look like you’re trying to conduct an orchestra with your chubby baby hands. As soon as I unswaddle you, you stick both arms straight up over your head, like a superbaby flying through the air.
You still aren’t sleeping much at night, and at about 3:30 am you get a serious case of the wiggles and try to start a dance party in bed. Silly boy. We have kind of given up on teaching you to sleep for the time being. You’ll probably figure it out one of these days, and your dad and I will sleep when we’re dead. Or retired.

from his three month photo session
This time last year I wasn’t even pregnant with you yet. Now you’re three months old, and I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!
Love,
Mom

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sleep update

Well, sleep training is officially off for a while. Remember how, at eight weeks, I started trying to get Alex back to sleep without feeding him? It worked great for a while. I could shhh him back to sleep with his pacifier, or pick him up and snuggle him back to sleep. The thought was that if I stopped feeding him every time, he’d learn to sleep through those wakeups.

Hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Four weeks of that and things just got worse. He started waking up more often. He would stay awake for an hour at a time, at which point it actually was time for him to eat again so I would feed him. Guess what? I’m back at work now and we can’t be having battles of will from 3-4 in the morning every night. Baby wins.

We have slid back into our old habits. Instead of trying to soothe him when he wakes, I just nurse him. It works like a charm and when I put him back in his bassinet with a full belly, he doesn’t protest a bit and he doesn’t even need a pacifier.

We are back to co-sleeping from about 3am on, whereas he used to be in his bassinet all night.

Whatevs. I don’t care at this point. Would I like to follow all the sleeping rules? Don’t nurse to sleep, don’t co-sleep? Um, don’t give up on something that you’ve started because it makes you an inconsistent terrible parent? Yes, it would be great to follow those rules but I’m not perfect.

And truth be told, I love nursing my little man in the middle of the night. I don’t get to do much nursing anymore (but I do get to do a lot of PUMPING, which is a post in and of itself). Sometimes I nurse just because, hell, I miss him and I want to.

Nursing at night might not be good for his sleep habits, but we can fix those later, right? In the meantime, it helps me feel closer to him, helps my supply, and helps me feel like I actually get to do some parenting even though I’m at work all day. And I get way more sleep myself this way.

It’s becoming clear that this kid will have to be Ferberized. I’m thinking at 5-6 months. So I’m going to enjoy the snuggly co-sleeping mornings while I can. He’s only little once.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to work.

Well, I did it. I woke up this morning and left my baby at home with his daddy and I came to work. And I didn’t die. And I think I can do it again tomorrow.

I spent some time last weekend reflecting over why I was dreading the return to work so much. It occurred to me that I was experiencing grief – deep grief – over my maternity leave ending, my baby growing up, and time passing more quickly than I wanted it to. The level of heartache I felt was akin to Alex actually being taken away from me. That’s what it felt like: that today, someone was going to come to my house and take him away and I’d never see him again.


So I told myself how ridiculous that was. And I made myself get over it as much as possible, and it kind of worked. I miss him and I’m sure there will be very difficult days, but I can do this.


…I can do it, but damn am I going to be TIRED.

We have shifted bedtime to 7pm. We do bath at 6:30, then jammies, a nursing session, a story, and bed (bassinet). He’s such a gem at bedtime – I put him down awake (sometimes with the pacifier, sometimes not), and he puts himself to sleep. Sometimes I have to give him his pacifier one time. Then he sleeps for about four hours (until 11pm).


And then all hell breaks loose. Last night he was up at 11, 1:30, from 3-4 crying with a tummyache, and 5:30. I got up at 6:30. I’m not sure why he can put himself to sleep at 7pm but seems inconsolable when he wakes up at night. Also not sure why he can sleep four hours at a time early on and then only short increments.


It makes for a very sleepy mommy. But I can do this. He will, eventually, sleep at night. I’m learning that it will not be on my schedule, or when all the books say he is capable of doing it, or when all of my friends claim their babies slept. I just need to be patient and wait it out, and be very tired in the meantime. But I’m totally willing to do it because, you know, he’s so flippin cute.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Crunchy

We usually go to a local nature preserve to celebrate our anniversary. Our dogs love to run around there and it's fun to walk as a family. It's beautiful, lots of prairie grass and flowers. Last year we didn't go because I was too depressed, but this year we resumed our tradition.

When we first got there, Alex needed to eat. I sat down in a shaded area to nurse before we got going. My husband looked at me and laughed. "Oh, just breastfeeding in a nature preserve. When did we become hippies?" he asked me. "One day we just woke up and we were crunchy."


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What a difference a year makes.

All summer I have been thoughtfully reflecting on the events of last summer.

On July 7, I turned 26. It was a long day with a fussy baby, but it beat the pants off of my 25th birthday, when I cried all the way home from the RE's office.

July 21 was one year from my first retrieval. July 24, one year from my first transfer. In the middle there was one of the hardest days of my life: our fertilization report. I can physically remember the pain I felt when I heard that all but one my eggs failed to fertilize normally. It cut right through me.

Tomorrow is our 4th anniversary. On our 3rd anniversary, I found out that our first IVF didn't work. I aptly described that day on this blog as full of "soul-crushing disappointment". A year later, I don't think that's at all dramatic. I remember walking around in a fog of horrible sadness that day, feeling like the past three years had been utterly fruitless.

I'd like to travel back in time and put my arms around that girl's shoulders on her 3rd anniversary. The pain of those difficult days is like a scar on my heart, just like the reminders of long ago burns and cuts on my skin.

A year later, and I have the sweetest baby anyone could ask for.

We have many more one year marks to reflect on, coming up. The anniversary of our retrieval and transfer that led to Alex. The day I first took a pregnancy test, the day we first saw Alex's heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, the day we found out we were having a boy.

I worked so hard to get here. But what did I do to deserve this new, beautiful life?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things no one told me about having a baby

I was reflecting on all the things I want to remember to tell my sister and friends when they get ready to have their first babies. I thought it would be worth writing them all down. Here is a quick collection of things I feel like I learned the hard way!

Visitors - just don't have them the first 2-3 weeks, if you can help it. People want to "help", but they don't really mean it. They want to hold the baby. I can hold my own baby, and very much enjoy doing so, thank you. When they're that little, they just sleep anyway. If you want to help, I need you to do the dishes, sweep the floor, clean the toilet, go grocery shopping, make me a meal, bring me a glass of water, listen to me while I cry....there are a million things you can do to help. I felt very possessive over Alex and I got so annoyed when people would come over to hold the baby, and I ended up feeling like I needed to offer them something to drink or entertain them.

Night sweats - gross. In the first few weeks, these were so disgusting I felt like washing the sheets every day. I would sweat all night and even when I snuck in a nap. I still have them occasionally, and I'll wake up with sweat literally dripping down my chest! When they first hit, I felt like maybe I was getting sick, since I didn't feel hot but I was so sweaty. I almost took my temperature one morning! I googled it and found out this was common, but I couldn't figure out why none of my pregnancy/childbirth books mentioned it.

Postpartum hormones - I guess people did prepare me, or tried to. I was warned vaguely about the baby blues and PPD, but no one told me how completely fragile I would feel, all the time, for days. Everything made me feel like I could just fall apart. I felt like an infant myself, a lot - wandering around and crying, incapable of pulling it together. The sleep deprivation didn't help.

Appetite - this has been all over the place since Alex arrived. Initially, I had no appetite at all. I had to force myself to eat because I knew I needed to for my milk supply. I remember gagging on a granola bar, just trying to choke it down. I wonder if this is some preservation thing that kicks in, because you don't have much time to prepare food for yourself? Now, though, I can't eat enough. For instance, it's 2pm and I've had the following to eat today: a bowl of cereal, cheeze its, two fried eggs, hashbrowns, and a frozen Amy's burrito. I'm still hungry.

Nursing - when you sit down to nurse, you need to have the following things, always: your cell phone, the remote for the TV, a glass of water, a snack. Also, pee before you start. Nursing a newborn takes a good 30 minutes and once you get them latched on I promise you won't want to go anywhere.

Going poo - I have a well documented problem with constipation. During pregnancy it was awful. The first few weeks of Alex's life I was constantly in the bathroom with the opposite problem. The weird thing was that nursing stimulated my bowels. Many times I was forced to choose between taking him off the breast so I could run to the restroom, or nursing on the toilet, which seemed really really gross to me.

Leaving the house by yourself - just do it. It won't get easier, even if you wait until he's six weeks old. Try to make yourself leave the house as soon as you can get 2 ounces pumped in a bottle for someone to give the baby. Even if you only go get your oil changed, you will feel better and more like a real person.

Leaving the house with the baby - just do it. The worst that will happen is that he will scream and it will stress you out and potentially embarrass you. That has happened to everyone! You may need to nurse him in the car in the parking lot. It will be worth it to get out into the world.

You're not doing it wrong - because you will feel like you are. If the baby is fed and doesn't have a poopy butt, you're not doing it wrong, period. This one is REALLY important, because I felt like I was doing it wrong for a long time.

Support system - make sure you have one. You will need advice and people to vent to. Make sure they have the same values as you do - you don't want to blow off steam to your mother about breastfeeding if she's going to ask "why don't you just give him formula?"

Egalitarian, non-gendered parenting - I am a huge believer in this. I swore up and down that my husband and I would be totally equal when it comes to parenting. And he is a great dad and loves Alex so much. But I still feel that parenting is primarily my responsibility. I can't shake that feeling no matter what I do. When A is holding the baby and he cries, I physically cannot resist trying to take him.

More babies - you will think about this way earlier than you think you will.

Resentment - no matter how much you yearned for, tried for, and ultimately love your child, you will have moments (or okay, days) when you miss your old life. You will get on facebook and hate all of your bitchy friends who are out drinking without you. That's okay. It doesn't mean you don't love your baby. Your old life is all you know, and now you are getting used to this one, which is a great life but it does mean you don't get to have a summer suntan because you're stuck inside with a baby all day.

Moms, what did I miss?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The blog question

I think every infertility blogger deals with it at some point: what to do once you complete your journey.

My infertility blog has become a mommy blog, and I don't know how I feel about it. This was never the plan. I have a new blog created, with an adorable new name and matching twitter handle to go along with it, that was supposed to be the mommy blog. The plan was to switch over once Alex was born. I also intended to stop being anonymous.

I don't know why I can't make the switch. I feel too much pressure. This space is so comfortable, I love all of the people who come to visit, and I know I can write anything and still be accepted, with no judgment.

If I become just a regular "mommy blogger", and my posts about my son are not linked in any way to my infertility background, I would feel like I'm not being completely honest. It's such a part of who I am.

So I'm going to keep blogging here, even though I feel a little squeamish about it. I need to give it a new name and a new look, update my bio and tagline, try to make it a new blog in a different way.

Someday I'll find something to do with that other blog...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breastfeeding update

Alex is ten weeks old tomorrow, which means I have been exclusively breastfeeding him for ten weeks. (Well, okay, he got about 25 ml formula on his fifth day of life due to jaundice. Can we not count that? I mean it was like three gulps.)

I never thought I would feel the way that I do about breastfeeding.

When I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone I knew struggled so much with it. I anticipated supply problems because why wouldn't I have them? I had so many problems getting pregnant, I didn't have any confidence that my body could do something so (seemingly) complicated.

I took the class and I felt a little better, but still nervous. I was annoyed by all the anti-formula rhetoric the LC spouted, and I thought I would probably just nurse until I went back to work and then switch to formula.

Alex was born, and the first month of nursing was super easy. It was exhausting, yes, and very very time-consuming. But I didn't have any nipple pain at all. The only pain I experienced was at the pump.

The only thing we struggled with was communication. I had a hard time knowing when he was hungry and when he was done eating, so I kind of assumed he was always hungry, which meant I was literally nursing the majority of the day. If he fussed after nursing, I'd latch him right back on. This persists - it's still tough for me to be 100% sure he's done eating.

Alex was a very sleepy baby and I had to spend a lot of time waking him up to continue eating. But he had a good latch, was gaining weight, and his jaundice went away.

Then weeks 5, 6, and 7 hit and things fell apart. Alex became more alert and realized maybe he'd rather cry than nurse. His reflux set in and he fussed at the breast, arching his back, shaking his head, refusing to eat because of his heartburn, but then crying because he was hungry.

I cried a lot over breastfeeding during those weeks. I was at my wit's end and ready to stop. I thought about switching to pumping exclusively, I thought about switching to formula. It was about this time that I also felt so.damn.tired every minute of the day, and I was very tempted by the thought that formula would help him sleep longer at night.

But already, I felt very attached to this breastfeeding thing, which I never, ever thought would be the case. So I (stubbornly) stuck it out and we got him some good reflux medicine and we got over that awful hump.

Now, I can honestly say that I love breastfeeding. It doesn't hurt, in fact, it feels pleasurable in many ways, the way it feels good to pee after you've been holding it. It's a good excuse for me (a go, go, go person) to lie or sit down and relax for a few minutes with my baby. Now, he looks at me while he eats and sometimes smiles.

A big part of my reluctance to go back to work is the amount of nursing sessions I'm going to miss every day. I will truly miss these special moments and look forward to them on the weekends. I also worry that I won't be able to pump enough to keep up with his hunger, as I have a well-documented struggle with pumping.

I started out ambivalent about breastfeeding, willing to try it, but not particularly interested in it. But now, the thought of weaning fills me with dread. I love the feeling when my breasts feel full, knowing that there is milk in there to feed my child, and then the soft feeling once he's emptied them, knowing that he's been well nourished by my body.

Barring any troubles keeping up with pumping, I plan to nurse to six months at the very least. Ideally, I would love to go the whole first year. The biggest thing stopping me from going a whole year will be a vacation we're planning during Alex's tenth month. But first I will set my sights on that six month mark.

I feel so fortunate, because although I have worked very hard to be successful at breastfeeding, I know a lot of it has been luck. I've been lucky to have a decent supply, a full-term, healthy baby who nurses well, and virtually no pain at all. I'm thankful that this one thing has gone smoothly for me, and I hope it continues to be enjoyable during this upcoming transition.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finally

Alex has been so cute lately. A lot of smiles, much less fussing, and cooing up a storm. I think his voice is the most precious thing I've ever heard.

Don't get me wrong, I love my son every day. But the past couple of days I have downright adored him.

Yesterday we spent all day at a big BBQ. A lot of my in-laws, a lot of people I'd never met before, a LOT of kids. It was the kind of day that would have sent me over the edge during IF treatments.

I was so proud of my Alex. In a group of kids and babies, he was the sweetest baby of them all, and he was all MINE.

Finally, I wasn't just the quiet infertile, aching to someday have a baby of her own.

Finally, my son is here with me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More sleep complaints

First, the positive: Alex will now sleep in his bassinet at night. He even puts himself to sleep at bedtime most nights! We do a bath, a story, and somewhere in there (usually before the bath) he eats. I set him down drowsy and (most nights) he falls asleep and sleeps for four hours.

Unfortunately, this blessed four-hour stretch is from about 8-12, and no matter how tired I am I just can't wind down enough to go to sleep at 8.

Once he wakes up for his first night feeding, he wakes up every two hours. It used to be three, for some reason we're back to two.

A friend on twitter recommended this Sleep Lady book, which appears to be a nice middle road between CIO (which I'm not totally against, but he's still too young for) and attachment parenting (which is going to tell me to co sleep and nurse him to sleep, etc.) I'm trying to follow her advice of using all of my soothing skills to get him back to sleep, with nursing as a last resort. It sounds cruel, but if he's truly hungry, he won't go back to sleep, so I'm not withholding food from a hungry baby.

I had been feeding him every time he woke up, but last night I tried the Sleep Lady way. It worked one time.

Last night he woke up at 11:30, 1:15, 3, 5:30, 6, and 7 for the day. Every time he wakes up I put him back in his bassinet, but I'm awake for at least 30 minutes (usually more like an hour) through the course of it all. I just can't keep functioning on these 45 min-2 hour stretches of sleep! Especially when I go back to work. I would be so, so happy if he'd just switch to four hour sleep stretches all night long. I can wake up twice in one night, that would be super easy.

I keep hearing about other people's babies who slept 5-6 hours at 6 weeks, or sleep 9 hours at 9 weeks. It's hard not to feel like I'm failing in some dramatic way. 

The sleep lady also says to try to have the morning nap take place in the bassinet/crib. We're just not ready for that yet - I tried for 45 minutes to get him to nap in his bassinet this morning. It consisted of a lot of him falling asleep, dropping his pacifier, and crying until I replaced it. Then I brought him downstairs, put him in his swing, and he was out like a light. So we're going to be using the swing crutch for a while longer. (napping is really a whole separate blog post)

I love my baby with all of my heart. But I haven't slept longer than three hours at a time for two and a half months, and I have to admit it's starting to wear on me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birth control fail.

I think I mentioned on here that I went on the minipill for birth control, right? Because I didn't want the notion of a miracle unplanned pregnancy niggling at the back of my brain at all times, setting me up for constant heartbreak and disappointment. Also because I thought it would help my acne.

Well, the first concern isn't much of one, since we're now 9 weeks postpartum and have yet to have sex (TMI, sorry). I don't see it happening anytime soon, either, because honestly we'd both rather sleep.

And my dermatologist told me today that progesterone will actually make my acne worse, so I'm pretty much done with the minipill.

Here's the failure part. I got the rx on a Tuesday and my OB told me to start it right away. I was 5 weeks postpartum. I filled the rx, got home, and went to start the pill. Well the packaging was different than I was used to, and the baby was probably crying, and I was sleep deprived...

Long story short, I started the pill at "Tuesday" because, well, it was Tuesday! I was at least a week into it before I realized my mistake. So I said screw it and just kept taking them the way I had been. So, the last two pills I took ("Sunday" and "Monday) really should have been the first two pills I took.

The result being that it's been a week since I took a BCP and I still have no period.

Yeah, I'm pretty much done with birth control.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Going back to work.

I go back to work three weeks from tomorrow. I am dreading it so much that I don't know if I'll even be able to enjoy my last three weeks on maternity leave.

All I think about is how much I do not want to go back. I don't think I can do it.

When I go back, my husband will watch Alex Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and a dear, trusted babysitter will watch him Tuesday and Thursday. And that's great, it's really an ideal situation, except for the fact that it would be more ideal for me to be with him every day. I want to be with him every day. I want his every minute.

I want to be in charge of his routine. I want to see all of his smiles. I want to change all of his diapers.

I want to keep breastfeeding all day long. I don't want to switch to primarily pumping.

I don't want to go sit in corporate America in a cubicle all day long while other people raise my baby. I worked too hard for his little life.

The thing is, I'm our primary breadwinner. And my baby needs me to work so that he can have cars to ride around in, and a nice house with his own little nursery. He needs me to work so he can go to the doctor and have good health insurance.

In the next three weeks, I have to find a way to think about going back to work as something good I'm doing for my baby. I need to stop thinking of it as a death sentence. Because it feels like a death sentence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Two months

Dear Alexander-

Here we are on your two month birthday, sitting in the same recliner that I wrote your one month post in, with you sleeping on my chest just like a month ago. It may not sound like it, but a lot has actually changed in the past month.


The most exciting change is that you have learned to smile. At first we could coax a smile out of you with a lot of silly voices and tickles. Now, you smile at your toys, you smile at the ceiling fan, you smile when you see our faces or hear our voices for the first time in a while. You smile through your entire bath time with your dad every evening.

Nothing is more precious than your smile!


You have also gained a lot of head and neck control in the past month. You're still floppy sometimes, but when I put you on my shoulder to burp, you love to look around and see the world. When the pediatrician put you on your tummy at your 8 week appointment, she was so impressed by how strong you are!

You are still a tiny peanut - 9lb, 6oz, 5th percentile for height and weight. But someone has to be small, right? You are generally a very happy boy, except that you still struggle with reflux and some painful gas at times. It breaks my heart when I feel like you're in pain, but we have some new medicine and hopefully you'll outgrow it soon.


Our sleep situation has drastically improved in the past week. At night, we set you down in your bassinet, drowsy, and you put yourself to sleep for a few hours. You still wake up to eat just about every three hours, but I'm happy to feed you as often as you need until you're ready to stretch out those night feedings. You are content to sleep in your bassinet until about 3 or 4 am, when you just want to snuggle mommy.


As a family, your dad and I have started getting more confident. We've gone out on a few trips - to lunch, to a local arts festival, to the mall. You're pretty content in your Ergo carrier most times, unless you get hungry and have a meltdown, like in the middle of Kohl's yesterday. : )

You continue to be an absolute joy. Our lives quite literally revolve around you. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Love,
Mom