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


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.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7 weeks

- Reflux continues to be frustrating. I'm not sure if the baby Zantac ever really helped as much as it should have, and if it did he has already outgrown his dosage. We are back to the fussy feedings and I just hate knowing he's in pain. : ( I have a call into the pediatrician about it.

- I keep remembering little details about my birth experience (like the blood pressure cuff being stuck around my elbow and the anesthesiologist trying to move it for me during surgery) that I never recorded anywhere. I get really panicky when this happens. I want to remember every second of that day. Even now I look at photos from the hospital and it seems a world away, not just 7 weeks.

- I have given up trying to use the bassinet at all and now we're just straight-up co-sleeping. I'm going to try to talk to the pediatrician about this next week at his 8 week checkup. I'm wondering if the reflux isn't a prime reason he's so comfortable on my chest, or sleeping next to me, which keeps him just slightly angled toward my body.

- One thing I never wrote on here is that we did go through with our decision not to circumcise Alex. And holy hell, was there a backlash for that. My parents were very upset, especially my dad, and my mom had a "talk" with me in the hospital to make sure I was "thinking clearly". Pretty much every single person who visited us asked when he'd be circumcised and if he'd had it done yet, so we had to explain that no, he hadn't been and he wouldn't be. It wasn't very fun being immediately put on the defensive when my baby was 72 hours old!

- We have been using the cloth diapers for a week and a half now. It's going very well. We started out with the shorter inserts and have since switched to the longer ones, and we haven't had any more leaks. Full disclosure - we are using disposables at night for more absorbency, because we still have NB size left and didn't want them to go to waste, and also to stretch my stash a bit right now. I have 25 BG 4.0s and can go three days if we use the disposables at night. I also have 5 Fuzzibunz but I haven't used those and I'm thinking of selling them - not sure yet. The cloth is a lot of laundry, but it's actually easier than I anticipated.

- I go back to work in 5 weeks and have no pants that button.

- Sunday night, Alex went 4.5 hours and then 4 hours between feedings. It was amazing. Last night he had a 4 hr 45 min stretch, and then went back to 2.5 hours. Let's hope he continues to have these 4ish hour stretches, because they're amazing!