Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Genes of Giant, Appetite of Hobbit

My sister and her boyfriend just left, after a long-weekend visit. I am feeling that disheartening, when-will-I-see-you-again? feeling... You know, when you're going to see someone and so look forward to it, then suddenly it's over, they're gone again, and you don't know when you'll see each other again? Having a baby seems to amplify that feeling, because they grow up so quickly; it's possible that my family won't see Robert again until we meet up in December-- he'll be seven months old! Essentially a totally different baby than this flailing little newborn, by then he'll be a sitting, crawling, babbling creature.

We had Robert's one-month doctor visit yesterday, and it actually went really well. We didn't have to wait at all: not in the waiting room, and not in the exam room either, surprising after our last experience there. He now weighs a whopping twelve pounds, twelve ounces (up two and three-quarters pounds from his birth weight of ten pounds) and is 22.5 inches long (up an inch). He is not actually on the growth chart but hovering above it, over the "95%" line. The doctor assured me that he is "proportionate": big, but not fat. I guess my "growth spurt" hunch last week wasn't wrong. Speaking of which, I realized the other day that I have this creature who enjoys twelve meals a day when he can get them, who has a lot of hair that has a tendency to curl... it seems I gave birth to a hobbit. Except that he's giant. A giant hobbit?

His crying/ screaming/ fussiness/ gas is getting mostly worse. The doc wrote us a prescription for baby Zantac, since it sounds like reflux, so we'll see if that helps at all. I'm trying again to eliminate dairy from my diet, too, to see if that helps. Last night he cried for over an hour, and it was awful. He just sounded like he was in so much pain, and there was nothing we could do to help him... I hope either the medicine or the diet works. He still sleeps well, thank goodness, as I imagine that if he were sleep deprived it would have everything else feel worse for him.

The breastfeeding is getting marginally better. We have been off the pump for three whole days now--no training wheels!-- my supply seems to be evening out somewhat (as long as I keep feeding him frequently, if I go more than a few hours I'll get engorged still); and although my nipples still hurt when he nurses it's more of a normal-feeling, breaking-in kind of pain, less of an intense, hit-the-ceiling sensation. We're about half-way through the thrush prescription and it does seem to be helping; Robert's diaper rash is gone, his poops look more normal, and my breasts hurt less.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I get a lot of approval of Robert's name from a certain generation: it seems that anybody over sixty or so is just thrilled to see 'Robert' still in use. "How lovely, my husband's/ father's name is Robert"-- we hear this a lot from older women. My dad, who I suppose falls into this category, was very pleased to hear our choice, as was the pediatrician who finally released Robert from the hospital (although he was young)-- but he was a Robert, himself*. This is balanced by the reaction we get from pretty much anyone under sixty, which is subtle dismay. "You're not going to call him Robert, are you? Such an old name for a newborn. Does he have a nickname yet-- Rob? Bobby?" To be honest, I felt that way myself, a little, and it took me several days to get used to calling him Robert. Part of that, probably, is that it isn't a name I would have chosen were it not for the circumstances. It wasn't even on the list, being verboten as the name of such a close relative**. But when I think Robert, I think of Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost. It's a good, strong, simple name. Incidentally, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley were both Roberts.

Robert is four weeks old, today. I'm waiting for my medal for keeping him alive for one whole moon, but it doesn't seem to be forthcoming. His one-month doctor visit is on Monday, and I am interested in finding out his official weight/height. He just seems so big to me. Speaking of which, how do they measure length in the hospital? Newborns are so balled-up... does it take two nurses, one to unroll the infant to full length, the other to hold the tape measure?

He seems to be going through a growth spurt or something. He's been on a pretty regular, every-three-hours-or-so eating schedule since coming home from the hospital... until about forty-eight hours ago, when he decided that he was going to be hungry all the time. I didn't even realize it, because it didn't occur to me that he might be hungry before Feeding Time. Poor guy. I finally tried a bottle (ahead of schedule) and he gulped it down, burped richly, and fell asleep. He's eaten a lot since then, and slept a lot. So I think he's either growing suddenly, or entering a new phase, or something. Who knows?

Robert is not just big, he seems to be pretty physically advanced for his age. His neck strength and control astounded me in the hour after he was born, and now he can hold his head up purposefully, for quite some time. The way he uses his hands, and his arms and legs, seems like the movements of an older baby, and I think he's going to be an early roller. This morning, when Don was giving him a bottle, Robert actually grabbed the bottle and held it in both hands as he ate. Don and I joke about having an athlete on our hands, wonder what we'll do if he turns out to be a football player or something. I just can't handle having a dumb jock, Don says. I assure him that neither is likely in what is, for now, the scion of my family. We don't tend towards either the dumb or the athletic. Besides, who says it has to be football? He could play rugby, lacrosse, soccer. Ballet, if he falls off the growth chart a little. Anything, or nothing at all. This age is so much fun, when everything is conjecture.

He still likes being swaddled. It calms him down when he's upset and helps him sleep, but I don't like seeing him all wrapped up. I understand why babies like it, why it helps, but it seems so confining to me-- I think I'm projecting my own mild claustrophobia onto him. I got the shivers thinking of him in utero in those last weeks, too, all cramped up and unable to move around.

He likes the movement of the stroller, and the car. I wish the air conditioning in my car worked, so that I could take him out more; right now being in the car after about ten in the morning, is unbearable. Don wants to get me a new car. With what money, I ask? Can we afford a monthly payment? No. Can we afford to pay cash and wipe out our savings? No. So stop dreaming about a four-door sedan that we could get the car seat into and out of without resorting to acrobatics, that has working a/c and possibly cruise control. Trading vehicles with Don isn't an option, as he drives a pick-up truck. I am not installing the car seat into the passenger side of the truck, it's just wrong.

Stupid new-mommy mistake: I didn't realize that our Diflucan prescriptions would be under our individual names: mine under my name and Robert's under his own. I guess I thought they'd be in the same bag or something. Don went to the pharmacy and returned with just mine... It's like Robert is a whole real person or something, with his own insurance card and prescriptions in his own name. Awww.

I pump at my computer desk. Since it takes at least one hand, I can't actually type while pumping, so I play solitaire, or FreeCell. Five or six "daytime" pumping sessions times at least fifteen minutes each-- usually more like half an hour-- and I've gotten really good at FreeCell. I don't think it's possible to get good at Solitaire, it's much more of a luck-based game.


*Dr. Rob. He declared our Robert to be the picture of health, said he looked "like a little surfer dude" due to the spiky blond hair, and that we could take him home any time. I think I loved Dr. Rob at that moment.

**Jewish tradition, at least the part of Jewish tradition that I descend from, forbids the naming of babies for living relatives, for spiritual reasons. Children tend to be named in honor of deceased relatives instead, although at least here in America, this is often reflected by a common initial rather than the whole name. (I'm not sure but I'm willing to guess that the original names were just too "old country" and recent immigrants wanted to compromise by giving their kids American-sounding names that still payed homage to great-grandma. I would do this, personally, because Robert is one thing, but to name a baby girl Bertha for my beloved grandmother would just be cruel.) If you look at my family tree, you'll see Milton, Michael, Michelle, and Mara all named for the same much-loved, M- ancestor. My newest cousin, born in March, is named Gabrielle in honor of my Aunt Gail, her grandmother. (I was trying to find a G-name too, in case we had a girl, for the same reason.) Because of this, you never get Juniors, or So-and-So the II, III, and IV in Jewish families; every kid gets his or her own name, which I like. So Robert wasn't even a possibility until March, when Don's father passed away, and it suddenly became not just possible but definite.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dread Pirate Robert takes no prisoners

Alternate title: Nothing goes as planned, does it?

Breastfeeding: simply the hardest thing I've ever done, after giving birth. We have the Murphy's Law version of a breastfeeding relationship: everything that can go wrong, will. It started with Robert's extra days in the hospital, the resultant use of the breast pump, WRONG use of breast pump (who knew?) combined with barracuda of a son leading to severe nipple damage, screaming FUCKING HELL every time he latched on (in front of my mom, no less), repeated trips to the lactation consultant, overactive letdown and too much milk, switching to pumping (the right way, this time) and giving bottles of expressed milk, and now a raging thrush infection. Because nothing says "bonding!" like matching anti-fungal prescriptions!

Pumping doesn't really hurt anymore, but it is so time consuming. Every three hours, pump. It takes at least fifteen minutes, usually more. It's hard to determine when to stop pumping. If I do too little, I risk Robert not getting "the good stuff"-- the high-fat, high-protein hind-milk, that comes at the end of a nursing session-- and also risk getting engorged again, or getting a blocked duct; because there is just SO MUCH MILK. If I pump too much or for too long, I risk overstimulating my supply again. I don't know how much the early pumping has to do with my supply problems, because there's no way to know what it would have been like had Robert and I had a normal, mouth-to-boob beginning, but I suspect it did a good deal of harm. So every three hours, pump; bottle-feed the baby; and wash or sanitize all of the pump equipment and bottles. It usually takes at least half an hour, generally longer, to do this. So if I start pumping at eleven at night, go to bed at 11:45, get up at 2:00, get up again at 5:00am. Never sleeping more than two hours at a time, and that's assuming that Robert falls asleep again shortly after being fed.

Everybody says, take naps during the day! Sleep when the baby sleeps! But not everybody can just lay down for a nap anytime, you know? Sometimes, I'm tired but I can't sleep. Sometimes there's just other stuff I have to do (like pump. Again. Or boil the bottles.)-- or want to do. Everybody says, let the house go! Let everything go, just concentrate on taking care of the baby! Nobody discusses whether seeing the same pile of dirty laundry on the floor for three days might be too much for the fragile, post-partum mental state to handle, and that it's honestly better to just run it through the wash than to look at it and cry.

It's funny, when Robert was in the hospital and I was bringing in milk (and pre-milk, at first), it seemed like such a precious commodity. I'd stayed up most of the night pumping, and carefully transported it to the Special Care nursery; "I brought him some milk, is this good? Is it enough?" Now, I see it more as a biological contaminate... whatever doesn't make it into a bottle or into my son just makes a mess: soaking towels, shirts, bras, pads (Don calls the breast pads "boob diapers"); dripping onto my pants, onto my desk where I keep the pump. And it's a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. I am no longer sleeping on a folded towel, for instance. Pity the fool that tells me, "At least you have enough! Too much is better than too little!" They have not seen my poor baby gag and choke at the breast, trying to deal with a flow that's like drinking from a fire hose, or felt him clamp down as hard as he can on the nipple, to momentarily stop the spray. They haven't seen the screaming, gassy stomachaches that follow a feeding, and that happen less often and less severely when he drinks from the bottle, a fact that makes me want to cry. Oversupply and forceful letdown are not "a blessing in disguise", they're a serious problem and a real pain in the ass.

We have not even put a cloth diaper on him, yet. I hardly ever carry him in the sling or front-pack. At first this was because he was so heavy, and I was so weak and tired. Now, it's because the thrush has made my breasts so sore that nothing can rest upon them, definitely not the straps of the Baby Bjorn. He does not look comfortable in the Hotsling, and seems so precariously perched in it that I wrap one arm around the sling anyway, defeating the purpose. I think what we need is one of those big wrap-type slings with lots of fabric, but I don't have one yet. So far, he's been in the stroller more than anything. He spends about equal time at night in his bassinet, and in our bed; I thought we'd co-sleep more. He sleeps better with Don than with me; Don thinks this is because I smell like food to Robert and make him hungry, but it's still slightly disheartening. I spend a lot of every day, just surviving.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

He's getting bigger...

The scale is freaking me out because nobody should be losing weight as quickly as I am unless on some kind of drugs. I haven't really tabulated before, but I guess I gained almost 50 pounds during the pregnancy. When I first thought to weigh myself again, about a week after the birth, I'd lost almost thirty pounds. That was OK, because it includes my gargantuan son, our placenta (which was correspondingly big), all the amniotic fluid, and what seemed to be a LOT of blood. Plus my appetite really mellowed out, (pretty much back to normal), about 48 hours after the delivery. But in the two weeks since then, I've lost another seven pounds. It's as though the 1/2-oz or more that Robert gains every day is reflected by a 1/2-lb loss in me. While I'm thrilled to be getting back to size, I feel like I'm fading away too fast, like one of those seals that loses half her body weight while nursing her offspring, who grow something like 1000 percent before the cold season comes again.

So I fried up some bacon to eat with breakfast. It should help.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fun with vocabulary words

Me: "Who's mommy's little kumquat, huh? Who's a little kumquat?"

Robert: (looks politely puzzled, as though he's not at all sure who my kumquat is, but hopes that I find out soon.)

Don: "Kumquat? Come on, honey, he has a lot of hair but he's not *that* hairy..."

Me: ???

..... (insert much longer conversation here).....

Me: KUMQUAT is a cute little orange citrus fruit. SASQUATCH is a hairy bigfoot. I wouldn't call our son that!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Breastfeeding Mother's Playlist

I'm Just a Milk Machine (and I won't work for nobody but you)-- I dunno, Wham or someone?

C'mon Baby, Finish What You Started-- Van Halen

Just Keep Sucking-- Dory, from Finding Nemo

Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love in My Tummy)*-- no idea

Love Bites, Love Bleeds-- Def Leppard

*Don's contribution, had to ask him to stop singing it every time we nursed. Gag me.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

One day old, right before he was moved to the Special Care nursery.

Two days old.

Three days old. Check out the chunky fat rolls! I'd say that he gets the double chin from Don, but after seeing myself in these pictures...

9 days old, at home.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Still here

It's not that I don't want to post, or even that I don't have the time or the energy... it's just that I have approximately ten gazillion stiches in a place that makes sitting at the computer almost impossible. But I'm still here, and everything is going well. Robert is home, and he's amazing; he seems a bit older to me, than just one week (today!).

I hope to be back on here soon, I've got so much to talk about!