Sunday, January 31, 2010

Well, Baby

Last weekend my girl Tanya and I went to the outlet mall in Woodburn for a little sweet, sweet discount shopping. It was the longest Zephyr and I have been away from the house (4 or 5 hours), and he behaved commendably. On the way, Tanya pumped milk using the power source from my car, and we joked about how it feels like we're cheating on our babies when we pump. It's true, right? I always hunker down and wait until he's napping before I get out the pump, lest he smell my milk from across the room and get offended that it's not directly for him. It is for him, though, just so Scott can feed him.

And on the other side of that coin, why do I get jealous when he's being fed from a bottle? Last week Scott took him in the morning so I could sleep in a bit, and when I came downstairs he was giving Zephyr a bottle. For some reason, my milk started to let down and I felt a little possessive of Zeph and took ownership over his sustenance, even though Scott is doing me a huge service by taking over for an hour and giving my tits a break. So weird.

We had his two-month Well Baby checkup last week, and turns out he's above the 99th percentile for weight (at 14.3 lbs) and length (at 25.25"). He got most of his vaccinations - I opted for all of the ones that prevent particularly virulent diseases that actually do still float around. His howls of pain broke my heart in two, especially after I had clipped his fingertip with the nail clippers when I tried to trim his nails earlier that day. Poor baby. I was happy that he comforted easily, but I still experience such a visceral response to his guttural cries. I can feel my blood pressure raise and my eyes mist up, and I feel desperate to protect him.

His herniated belly button had been bugging me ever since his cord fell off (at 5 weeks - very late, I think). We had taken him in and had it checked, but his regular doc (Christine Martin) wasn't working that day and the other one said to just apply hydrogen peroxide and keep an eye on it. I told her I thought it was a granuloma, and she said it wasn't (she said this since "it isn't red like a granuloma"). Well, Dr. Martin confirmed my suspicion and hit his belly with a little silver nitrate to dry it up. Thank goodness for that, because that oozy little flesh nubbin had been freaking me out for weeks.

His sleep cycles have been going through fits and starts, too. Tuesday, he slept pretty well from having had such a rough day at the pediatrician's office (and the vaccines really took it out of him). Thursday and Friday, he gave us two nights in a row of sleeping 5.5 and 5 hours, respectively. Last night he slept for 4 hours, but we went to bed later than normal and that mat have had something to do with it. We're still trying to figure out if there's any cause and effect there.

On Wednesday he was being such a pill - no nap all day, fussing all the way until 10:30pm - that we finally just gave him a squirt of baby Tylenol. I felt sort of guilty, like I was drugging him to get to sleep, but I figure he must've been fussy for a reason, like the shots the previous day, or because his lower gums are a little swollen. That's right. At two months, he's already showing the first signs of teething.

Speaking of guilt, does any ever find the time to be 100% engaged with their baby during those precious "quiet-alert" stages of consciousness? Sometimes I take that opportunity to interact with him, singing my favorite Grizzly Bear songs or giving him some tummy time or a bath, but sometimes I just take advantage of not needing to give him a boob (or other techniques for trying to get him down for a nap), and just park him in his Pack 'N Play to stare at his owl mobile. He seems happy enough, cracking up at them, and I always take him out again if he gets bored, but I feel like I'm being a terrible mother for needing a break. Like when I peruse the internet with one hand on my iPhone while I'm breastfeeding instead of gazing into his eyes. He won't remember such egregious acts of neglect, right?

I got an IUD inserted last week, too. I love this little guy so much, and would be devastated to let someone steal his thunder too soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Awesome for Real

Look out 4Chan, I think Zeph just whipped your smily's ass.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let Down and Hanging Around

Breastfeeding is kind of great. I mean, what's better than sustaining another human solely from your own body? It's free, and it means I can eat 2600 calories a day. Breastfeeding is pretty awesome.

Except for when it isn't.

Some things they don't tell you about breastfeeding:
  • Your nipples will go from being fun playthings (pre-baby) to supersensitive, cracked and bleeding (early after delivery) to more-or-less purely functional devices.
  • When your milk lets down it feels like your tits suddenly filled up with hard water balloons studded with prickly needles. The only relief from this sensation is to feed or pump.
  • Speaking of pumping, your nipples look like sea cucumbers when they're being mechanically sucked by a plastic funnel. They sure as hell don't tell you that.
  • If you forget what side you nursed on last, or your baby has a tendency to fall asleep on the breast, or you produce so much milk that your newborn can't possibly empty a breast in one sitting, or even if you just don't periodically switch the way you hold your baby when you nurse, you can develop a fun inflammation of your milk ducts: mastitis.
This happened to me on Friday. I guess my milk has just been hanging around too long, since I backed off on pumping after every feeding (I've been a bit lazy about it lately and I've been interested in finding other ways to spend my time, frankly). I spent a rough Thursday night waking to feed Zephyr every couple of hours (my right breast was starting to get sore at this point), and at the second feeding or so, around 2:00 or 3:00am, I felt kinda crappy. I was really hot and sweaty, and pretty hungry. I got up after feeding him and went downstairs to get a glass of milk, and when I came back to bed I just could not warm back up, even though I had been so hot only a moment earlier. It took me about an hour to warm back up enough to go back to sleep.

When I woke the next day, I felt kind of tired and crummy, but chalked it up to a lousy night's sleep (plus my back and shoulders have been kind of achy from wearing Zeph everywhere). I think an hour or two passed where I just sat on the couch with Zephyr passed out at my breast, sitting in front of the television without actually watching it, staring helplessly at the glass of water on the table that, at 3 feet away, was impossibly out of reach. I felt powerless to reach for the water that beckoned to me to drink it. I was freezing cold and swaddled myself and Zephyr in a soft blanket.

It must've been 1:00 in the afternoon before I realized that I hadn't eaten anything and didn't feel like doing so. I got up to change Zephyr and crank up the heater, and try to rustle up some grub and my face felt flushed. I had a hunch to check my temperature and panicked when I saw that it was 101.1°F. For a second, I was terrified that I had the flu and that I'd get the baby sick (and tearily called Scott to come home), but then I calmed down and put two and two together. My tender right breast was the culprit. The tenderness, shooting pain during nursing, the firm lump near my sternum (it had only just appeared that day and hadn't been there during a breast exam only three days prior).

Anyways, long story short: I had mastitis. I treated it successfully without antibiotics by using a combination of hot compresses (the disposable heating pads made for wrists and necks work great), Tylenol, rest and fluids, coupled with keeping that breast completely empty. It was easier and less painful to pump that side and let Zephyr nurse on the left, but the pain subsided over the weekend and by Sunday night I felt completely fine. But I am back to pumping at least a couple times a day, and I figured out that I can empty different ducts by moving the pump to different parts of my nipple. I know it's working because I can always get another half ounce or so even after it seems like there's nothing left, simply by adjusting the position of the pump.

Over the past week or so, Zephyr has been attitude-challenged and is acting like a little Mr. Fussypants lately. He will quickly go from this:

To this:
We remembered from our newborn care class that fussiness is supposed to ramp up until around 8 weeks or so, then things mellow out a bit. I sure as hell hope so because I am TIRED. Zephyr evidently won't nap anymore except for when I'm wearing him while walking (hard on the back), or unless I just leave my boob out for him to use as a pacifier (another thing to avoid if you want to prevent mastitis). Today I'm cheating and gave him a (non-boob) pacifier so he can suck on something besides my breast, and it's actually keeping him pretty quiet (as I type this, I think he's just fallen asleep with it - win!).

He actually doesn't really cry much, but instead makes this kind of struggly, panting "heeheeheehee ENH!" sound, complete with pouty lower lip protrusion and kicky legs. When he's swaddled he likes to throw in the dramatic, back-and-forth thrashing head like a mini Houdini who, for his next trick, is attempting to escape from a baby straightjacket.

Eventually he succumbs to sleepiness, but not without protest.

Then when he wakes up, even if it's only been an hour, he's in an awesome mood and is an absolute joy to be around. That's when I get out the camera.

Last night I actually had to move him to the cosleeper because I could tell that Scott wasn't going to get any sleep with all of Zephyr's griping and moshing. I felt terrible to "punish" him by moving him out of our bed, but I have to admit it was nice to have our bed back, and I moved him back to cuddle after Scott got up to go to work.

New tricks: Zephyr figured that mirrors are a Thing this weekend. If he catches his reflection pouting or frowning, he's like a Siamese fighting fish and gets all pissed off like, "who the fuck are YOU looking at?" and it's a sudden downward mood-spiral. But if he's in a good mood, there's no stopping his flirting with himself. He actually makes the 4chan Awesome For Real face. For real.

Oh, and today he experienced his first fart in the bathtub. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Get Around

I have decided to really give babywearing a solid try, and as a result, I've finally been able to unchain myself from the couch! This enabled me to stop by New Seasons' new parents' group last Tuesday to try to meet other hip neighborhood moms (and happily met one Katie: fellow blogger and mother of Jasper, who is one day younger than Oosch). The group mediator, Gracie, showed me another way to wear Zephyr that is much more comfy and doesn't leave his head hanging out in danger's way (the vertical or upright cradle-type hold). This new discovery also enables me to breastfeed easily and discreetly in public - even while I'm walking - though I still feel a little National Geographic walking around with my tit in his mouth. But I'm getting used to it. I bought two other slings (another Kangaroo and a Maya) to complement my wardrobe.

Last week Zephyr and I got out of the house almost every day, which is awesome for my sanity. Lunch with Morgan on Wednesday (Good Taste Noodle House, followed by frozen custard at Tart), and Natasha on Thursday (Cafe Castagna, affording me the opportunity to say hi to Jack) after the Mamalates class I started attending. Zephyr behaved commendably at all events, giving me a new lease on mothering and redefining this "staying-at-home" business.

The boy nurses a lot, and my breasts are pretty tired as a result. Today we experimented with Scott feeding him a bottle of my breastmilk, and he took to it with great aplomb. He really loves milk, no matter where it comes from. And no surprise, then, that Zeph continues to grow at an alarming clip - he is officially 14lbs as of Friday, landing him squarely in the 95th percentile for weight. I love having a sturdy, chubby, happy baby. Even though he's technically still newborn, he doesn't feel fragile, and this gives me confidence as a new mother. I feel like a creamy German milkmaid that my breasts are so nourishing to him. My milk production is so abundant that I've been able to donate some of it to Tanya (to supplement her own milk while she and hearty-eating Sigga settle into their new digs). On the down side, he tends to gulp a lot of air when he eats, and since he often falls fast asleep while I'm trying to burp him, this air gets trapped in his little tummy and gives him gas pains. A gassy tummy is the only reason he ever cries, actually. His pained squalling is truly heart-wrenching, but usually turning him across my lap on his tummy and briskly rubbing his lower back helps soothe, and then he'll let out a loud fart (he often lets out a moan when this happens, which is always hilarious).

Exacerbating the problem is that during his 6-week growth spurt last week, he was eating every hour or so (when he wasn't sleeping in the sling). The gassiness has been temporally magnified such that ol' Toots McBoosh ended up with three blowouts yesterday. Just explosively shat right out the back and sides of his diaper (not to mention the multiple chunky milkbarfs - all in all, I think he ended up with no fewer than five wardrobe changes yesterday).

Following this morning's neck-drenching puke, we gave him a bath. I was getting ready for a shower anyway, so I drew the bath directly into the tub and got in with him. It was nice to be able to hold him up against me and let his little body really stretch out. I held up his head and shoulders so his face was above the water and his body and legs could float out, and he closed his eyes and just sort of checked out for a moment. It was eerie and sweet, as though he was remembering the womb.

After his bath, Scott was drying him off and I could feel my milk let down so I just went ahead and fed him in the tub before hopping in the shower. He snuggled up on Scott when he was getting burped and fell asleep (his M.O.). Whenever he is already asleep, swaddling is a tricky venture. If I try to use one of those velcro swaddlers (like the Kiddopotamus), I end up having to pull him out of his inviting naptime blanket, which is too small and rectangular for using as a swaddle on its own. And the last thing I want to do is attempt to wrangle him into a giant swaddle blanket, trying to finagle some origami on him (and he usually just kicks right out of these). My new trick for this situation is to simply tuck the soft, warm blanket in which he's blissfully slumbering and then tie a thin swaddle blanket around his upper body like a belt. Fast and easy, and this way his arms are restrained so he doesn't Moro himself awake.

Inevitably, though, he wakes up anyway...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Faces of Zeph

At five weeks old, last week Zephyr started making eye contact. Not just the odd cross-eyed drive-by, he actually looks at us and reacts, with adorable results. He smiles and laughs, too - a stuttered cackle that follows a rapid panting. His smiles aren't just for passing gas anymore, and he has an excellent sense of humor. These days he's thoroughly rapt with his friend The Light (any lamp, window or television) or his friends The Birds (the black-brown silhouettes of birds in flight that I painted across our sloped, attic bedroom ceiling). His friends The Owls (his mobile of heather-blue and brown raptors) also crack him up, but I'm leery of calling The Owls out separately from The Birds lest he think that owls are not birds. He also grins at the mounted insects that hang on the wall above the TV room couch. A budding Attenborough, he is.

That's not to say he's all smiles, all the time. Oh, no. His sleeping and eating schedules are slow to evolve, and though he occasionally makes it four hours between feedings (at night, this is a blessing), he usually sticks with his clockwork three hours and fuss for boobies. You can set your watch to it. And instead of sleeping on and off all day, now he will often only take one good, long nap and wake the minute we're about to sit down to dinner. Besides that, he just nurses every hour and falls asleep when I try to burp him. If I try to put him down in his crib at this point, he wakes after ten minutes or so. Repeat ad nauseum. Some days, though, I get lucky and he just needs to recharge his little battery, in which case I might be afforded enough quiet time to say, get a latte, finish making birth announcements, or go visit our friends Tanya and Sigga.

His birth announcements were fun to make. I had the negatives from Justine's photos converted to a CD of jpgs, and used a few of my own photos, and came up with a couple options that I really like. Here are a couple of my favorite of Justine's portraits of Zephyr:

Look at that tiny hand and chubby arm. Couldn't you just eat him up? He is such a handsome little baby! I know everyone thinks that about their baby, but I'm pretty sure mine really is particularly and uniquely attractive. I can't believe how much he's grown in the four weeks between these photos and the ones in the collage at the top of this post. He's been consistently putting on about 10% of his body weight every week, and now he's already up to about 14 pounds.

His belly button is also pretty well healed up. Enough so, anyways, that we gave him his first real bath in the sink (instead of just a sponge bath). Here's Zephyr, looking uncertain in fluorescent light (hence the poor white balance and unfortunate skin tone of the photos) and our tiny bathroom sink:

I love that last photo where he's holding onto my thumb for moral support. Once his little legs kick reflexively into the warm water, he gets this look on his face. That "oh, this is really something - this is a Thing" look. But when we immerse him in the soft suds, he looks like he's just not sure what to make of everything, and he wears this adorable little furrow on his brow. Then we pull him out to dry him off, and the rapid temperature change makes him pee all over the place. Yay!

He looks so much like Scott right now. It's wonderful (especially wonderful for reassuring Scott, whom I suspect is getting a bit frustrated with Zephyr's recent unwillingness or inability to be comforted by him). We have a picture of Scott being held by his dad at around this age, and I plan to recreate the image with Scott holding Oosch to make a diptych. Should be a fun project - I am completely in love with the subject matter.