Monday, February 22, 2010

Breast is Best

I sleep in some days when Zephyr wakes too early. On days when he wakes too early, after his dad tries in vain to sate and soothe with a bottle, I finally wake from my hurried sleep to rescue Zeph from the indignity of a rubber mother, and I arrive with my warm breast.

He latches on with greedy aplomb. After panicked panting "ohthankgod" through the first moment, my milk releases and his suckling slows to a slower, more gastronomical pace.

My little gourmand savors each sip, his free hand tracing an unknown pattern across my sternum, his tiny fingers lingering at the seam of my bra. He strums across my breast carefully, deliberately, with apparent specificity.

He sometimes pulls away suddenly gasping, arching his neck and back gracefully as he comes up for air (eyes closed tight, tiny lips still pursed), then he dives back in for another taste. He wobbles his head back and forth like a mad puppy playing with a bone - mouth agape, splashing his cheeks in buttery milk, and uttering a low grunt - and then settles back into a warm sigh, falling into comfortable slumber.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Every time we think we've got this parenting thing dialed in, something changes. I'm becoming convinced that a baby is nothing more than the universe's way of keeping you on your toes. I smell a developmental milestone coming up - after a couple weeks of good sleeping, including consistent, lengthy naps, as of Monday night he's back to waking up every two or three hours. He's outgrown almost all of his pjs - each time we put them on it seems like the last time they'll fit. Tonight I think he officially outgrew a favorite pair after wearing them for just a few hours.

In his 11th week, Zephyr has begun gnawing invisible chewing gum. His chin and anything it touches is sopping wet. Teething is right around the corner. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, I guess. And as you can see from this photo, his eye color is coming in. A big set of puppy dog browns like his old man, I'd hazard. I'm still holding out hope that the burnt umber stays around the pupil only, and the rest of his iris is bluish gray, that his eyes might continue to resemble a sky in solar eclipse.

Yesterday he had another first - he cried for more than 30 seconds. Was it because he was baking a turd all day (a day of no pooping at all in 24 hours - another first) and had a tummyache? Because he had crappy naps and was a Crabby McGrumperson? Who knows. It took two squirts of gripe water, his vibrating papasan chair set to stun and a squirt of Liquid Nap to calm him down enough to sleep.

Last Thursday I had an appointment to get a massage at Zenana. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have child care available, so I thought I'd take them up on it and get some work done on the fucked-up IT band that's been causing me a lot of knee, hip and leg pain since the delivery. Zephyr was asleep in his carrier, and I felt leery of leaving him in a room with three raging toddlers and a very pregnant child care provider. But I really wanted this massage, and I was just going to be in the next room if anything happened, right? Wrong. I never made it into the massage room before I broke down in tears at the thought of leaving my baby. I ended up bringing him into the room with me, where he slept quietly for most of my massage. When he woke up, I said hello to him, told him I loved him, and let the nice massage therapist take him to the child care room for the rest of my massage. The following Sunday, Scott and I left Zeph with his grandpa Jack for a couple hours while we had a Valentine's date.

Speaking of Zenana, I've been taking a few classes there that I really like. The Mamalates class is over now, but it felt good to start taking steps toward regaining some semblage of my pre-pregnancy figure (the one I had before the holidays that preceded my pregnancy, that is). I've been back to my pre-pregnancy shape since about two or three weeks postpartum, but I'd still like to drop a few of the saggy tummy pounds that were present in the form of winter girlchub a year ago.

The infant massage class is fun, too, and a nice way to connect with Zeph, but sometimes I really think the other moms Drank the Koolaid. They are really into their babies. When the teacher asked a question like, "What is something that you're proud of this week?" The moms all say shit like, "Peyton smiled at me when she pooped! Blessed be!" or "little Henry rolled over by himself!" I'm the only one who answers, "my food blog got linked on!" Maybe I'm being selfish or unrealistic that I still want to be Heather some of the time, and not just Mommy. But I'm pretty sure autonomy in motherhood is healthy. We're setting a good example for our kids when we make time to take care of ourselves and indulge our outside interests.

That said, though, I had my first bout of complete insomnia the other night, related to the prospect of going back to work. I still have six weeks of maternity leave, and boy do I need them. Being a mom is hard, especially in these post-women's lib times. Our aunts and mothers worked so hard for us to be able to go back to our hard-won careers, and I mean them no disrespect, but I just don't think anyone can do everything. Sure, we can try to juggle working inside and outside the home, and our relationships with our partner, family and friends, and then maybe take a millisecond to look after ourselves, but what kind of life is that? Why do anything at all if we can't do it with the attention, time and care that it deserves? Don't get me wrong - we can have it all, we just needn't have it all right now.

For now, all I want is to have is my time with my growing son. All I need is to be there to celebrate this remarkable little changeling and love him every day. I guess maybe I've gotten into a little of that Koolaid myself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tear the Roof Off the Mothersucker

Look at this little mothersucker (caught in an uncharacteristic fussy spell). To be fair, though, these days he's sucking more on his hands, blanket and pacifier, and less on his mother, thank god.

Zephyr's been prone to wee bouts of fussiness lately. We figure this has something to do with all of the drooling and sucking in which he's been engaging, but it's just as likely to be gas as far as we can tell. It's really anyone's guess. It passes very quickly though - I took all of these photos in a rapid succession that lasted less than ten seconds, then he was laughing again. Weird little baby bipolar disorder, innit.

In his tenth week, Zeph's becoming more a sentient little person and less an organic bundle of raw electricity and shaky reflexes. As his nervous system matures, his hand and arm movements are becoming more controlled and less Moro-spastic. His new trick is some awesome air guitar - I'll try to shoot some video to post soon.

Future babysitter, Connor

Zephyr does great in crowds, too. We brought him over to our friend Norm's place for Super Bowl Sunday, and aside from a couple of feedings, he really didn't need me at all. Our friends just passed him around, dumbstruck at the sheer proportions of the boy. I'm always a little worried that bringing him out just means I end up carrying him instead of getting to relax and enjoy my friends, but he's so good with other people. Hopefully this is a testament to an outgoing personality, or at least a healthy lack of xenophobia.

This week has also been a boon for all of the ridiculous equipment we bought for him months ago. Last month, this portable swing may as well have been a torture device as far as he was concerned, but now it's become a preferred place to put him down for his naps. I can set him in there drowsy but still awake, and he rocks to sleep instead of relying on my breast for sedation. I still nurse him down at night, but right now this makes life so much easier for me during the day, and it's helping him develop important self-soothing skills. We'll have to see if the standing swing has the same effect.

The coolest development thus far (besides smiling and laughing) is that Zephyr's been experimenting with vocalization. It's really funny to see him look us square in the eyes, serious as a fucking heart attack, and just jibber-jabber all of the sounds he can make with his little wordhole. Here's a little sample of the chitchat hilarity (including an epic shitgrunt - a household favorite):

...yes, we still always laugh at his farts.