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Month: June 2008

6 weeks – half way there

Z is six weeks old today, and to celebrate this mini-milestone, he treated us to an all out fit of hysteria for most of the afternoon and evening. Now, I certainly don’t believe that in another six weeks, when Z hits three months, he will miraculously turn into an easy baby. But I have to hope that we are at least at the halfway point of what we’ve been told is the hardest part of this experience.

In the interest of staying positive, I will add that we gave Zeke a bottle for the first time today and he took it without a single complaint. This is very good news for him and me, as I have a date to go out with some girlfriends next week. I am really, REALLY looking forward to that (along with a couple glasses of wine…)


you will not cry until I finish peeling this egg

My reasoning with the baby via my hard-boiled egg this afternoon is just one of the many signs that we are fighting a losing battle. I was all alone with Zeke for the first time this morning (Dave has class from 8-11am through July) and I swear, that little boy knew it and decided to test me.

I have a vague memory of Dave putting Z in bed with me and leaving for class, and the next thing I remember is Zeke kicking me awake, fussing and threatening to cry. I was totally disoriented and while I tried to gather myself and keep him from a complete meltdown, he somehow managed to poop outside of his diaper. I got him to the changing table and while trying to undress him, I managed to get poop along his entire back and in his hair. Then – cue the circus music – he peed on me. Twenty minutes later I finally had us both excrement-free. (This includes five minutes where I left him strapped to the changing table so I could brush my teeth and get dressed. I know this was a reasonable thing to do under the circumstances, and he loves his changing table, but I still felt guilty.)

I just got a kangaroo carrier and I had visions of putting Z in it so I could make breakfast and get a few things done around the house, but as soon as I put him in it he started fussing. Scratch breakfast. I zoned out on the couch while I fed Z and made some mental notes about the things I would get done later. Ha.

I somehow got Z into his stroller with minimal drama and made it (on time!) to meet some other new moms for a walk around the lake. This was great, actually, and Z slept the entire time. (He didn’t even noticed when I spilled tea all over his stroller and blanket.) Dave was back when I got home and I looked forward to a relatively relaxing and possibly productive afternoon. (I have an ever growing pile of stuff to deal with including some bills that should probably be paid soon.) But once again, Z had other ideas.

We had a normal post-nap feeding followed by some very nice play time which is generally followed by another nap. It’s now about six hours later and we have yet to get him to sleep for more than 15 minutes – which makes for a very, very cranky baby (and some cranky parents as well – parents who give ultimatums to hard-boiled eggs).

We’ve read that a six-week growth spurt could be the cause of this lack of sleeping and extra fussiness. And he has seemed hungrier than normal though it’s hard to believe he’s actually getting any more food from me at this point – I feel pretty empty. But I have to trust that somehow my body will give Zeke what he needs, and that this phase too will pass.

PS: My mom has been gone two days and already the apartment is a mess and we’re eating chocolate covered pretzels for dinner. And the bird is totally rebelling and chewed on Dave’s $100 physics textbook that he’s hoping to return when he gets a cheaper copy from Amazon. And we’ve lost one of our phones.


thank you, Omi

My mom left today, after three weeks of cooking, cleaning, rocking, diaper changing, laundering, organizing, reorganizing, addressing thank you note envelopes, and just generally taking care of me, Dave, and Zeke in every possible way. I, especially, am not so easy to take care of (resistant to every suggestion) and these were not easy weeks. But she was eternally patient – even on the day I wouldn’t come out of my room and screamed at her when she tried to comfort me.

In these three weeks, she’s witnessed some of Zeke’s most miraculous changes. He’s gained almost 2 pounds and grown nearly 2 inches. His little belly is expanding and he’s getting chubby dimples in his arms and thighs. When she arrived, Z was barely opening his eyes. Now, he’s spending a number of hours each day wide-eyed, starting to connect with the people around him. He’s starting to enjoy bath time. And he’s just beginning to smile and coo.

My mom is an adoring Omi, clearly in love with our little guy. And Zeke clearly loves her too – her gentle touch and soothing voice, her ability to hold him for hours without getting tired.

While we’re happy to have some time to ourselves before the next guests arrive, I, for one, am feeling a little lost without her presence. We all are so grateful, and look forward to the next visit.

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3am, eating cantaloupe

It’s hot here. Really, really hot. And since it so rarely gets this hot in the Bay Area, no one has air conditioning. Or a fan. Or any way to deal with the heat except to sit and roast. In the past, I’ve been grateful for days like this when we can pretend we live in a place with a real summer. And Dave and I can take a rare evening walk along the lake without bundling up in sweaters and scarves. But with Zekey in our lives, all is changed.

He actually went to bed very nicely at 8:30pm – no screaming, hardly any fussing. And even though I know I should have gone to bed early, instead I took the opportunity to eat a leisurely dinner, take a long shower, do some much needed preening, and read for awhile. And of course, about five minutes after I finally fell asleep, the little guy woke up, around 12:30am. Fine. I sort of expected that. Generally, when Z wakes up in the night, Dave changes his diaper, I feed him, and he goes back to sleep relatively quickly. The whole process takes about an hour.

Not so last night. Dave changed his diaper and had to change his clothes as well since he was wet – either from pee or sweat – we’re not sure. He brought Zeke back into bed with eyes wide open, wriggling around like a lunatic. He ate like he’s never had the boob before – tearing and gnawing at me, arms and legs flailing. This was not entirely comfortable (plus I was sweating like crazy with that little furnace next to my skin), so as soon as I thought he was done, I took him off and put him back in the co-sleeper. (If I didn’t take him off he would just hang there for who knows how long.) Now the fun begins.

Little dude would not go back to sleep. For three hours, Dave and I took turns walking him, bouncing him, shushing him, feeding him, rocking him, swaddling him, unswaddling him, changing him, feeding him again. By 3am I was completely exhausted and wide awake at the same time. And I was starving. And it was still so hot. Not knowing what else to do, I plunked a still crying little Z on the bed (not hard enough to do him any harm but harder than I should have), went to the kitchen, and ate a cantaloupe.

I’m not quite sure what happened after that. Presumably either Dave or I finally got Z to sleep and we also slept until he woke again at 5:45am. Now, I understand there will be nights like this, but what I would like to know is whether it was the heat, or whether this is a lovely new pattern we’re trying out for awhile. If it’s the latter, I’m going to have to stock up on late night snacks.

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zeke at 5 weeks (and the state of my wardrobe)

Zeke had his one month pediatrician appointment today (even though he’s now 5 weeks) and he’s doing great. Despite my breastfeeding concerns, he’s gaining lots of weight and now weights 9 pounds 2 ounces. That means he’s gaining over an ounce a day which is pretty incredible. He’s also grown over two inches in length and his head has grown by a few centimeters. (Go little brain, go!) He has a little bit of diaper rash and lots of baby acne, but it’s all normal and should go away with time and a little bit of extra care in the diaper region.

Z gave the doctor a lovely demonstration of his incredible screaming abilities after being naked for just a bit too long, and she assured us that even that was normal. (She did call his nightly screaming “baby colic” which peaked my fears of having a colicky baby, but so far tonight he’s slept right through his regular fussy time and from what I’ve heard about other colicky babies, what we’re dealing with is nothing.)

I haven’t had myself weighed or measured since my last midwife appointment about 3 weeks ago, but I can say that my body is a bit out of whack. It didn’t really occur to me that I could get away with just a few maternity clothes, but that I would need a whole new wardrobe for my postpartum figure. I gained 30 pounds when I was pregnant, and I know I’ve lost at least half of that already. But my regular clothes definitely don’t fit and my maternity clothes are sagging. (Not to mention I’m sick to death of them.) I got a waist expander belt thingy so I can at least pretend to wear some of my regular pants, but they don’t make such a thing for tops and I can’t see how I’m ever going to be able to squeeze these giant bosoms into my regular clothes. I guess I’ll be making another trip to Old Navy to buy some cheap and expendable giant shirts.


small miracles

After two of the hardest days of Zeke’s (and my) life (one of which I didn’t get out of bed for the entire day and was seriously thinking about giving Z to my parents), the little guy had a miracle sleep last night. After we finally got him to bed at 9:30pm, he slept soundly until 3am. This allowed Dave and I to watch two full episodes of Weeds and get a few solid hours of sleep. Then Z slept again from 4-7am. This was fantastic except that I was so stunned that he slept for so long, I was worried that something was wrong and I had a really hard time falling back to sleep myself… I kept staring at his tiny chest to make sure he was still breathing. Still, I’m very thankful for a very good night.


baby whispering

I just finished reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and I’m confused. Part of me thinks her ideas are totally genius, and part of me thinks it’s complete crap. Here’s the basic idea:

All babies give visual and verbal cues as to how they’re feeling and what they need – when they’re hungry, gassy, tired, overtired, etc.. You learn to read these signs and then give your baby what he/she needs at the appropriate time. Genius! I’ve found that the cues are right on, and being aware of them has made me feel more attuned to what Zekey needs and when. For example, what we’ve been referring to as “crazy eyes” actually means “I’m over-stimulated” which explains why crazy eyes generally leads to hysterical crying. So she suggests heading off the crying by responding to crazy eyes early and bringing him to a darkened room and putting him down for a nap. Fine. Good.

Except that Zekey doesn’t like to be put down for a nap. With all the guests in town, Z has been held and rocked to sleep for more than half his young life, and according to the Baby Whisperer, we’ve already trained him to not be able to sleep any other way. And it’s true, getting him into his co-sleeper has been a major challenge recently. The author says these bad habits start now (in early infancy) and continue for months and months, and that the way to create good habits is to put them on a three hour routine she calls E.A.S.Y. – Eat. Activity. Sleep. You. (The You part is baffling to me I’ve been miserable since trying to get into this routine. Or it might just be the lack of sleep finally catching up with me.)

I actually really like the Eat followed by Activity part. According to the book (and other sources) babies generally need to eat about every 2.5 to 3 hours (unless they’re going through a growth spurt or other developmental milestone (teething, etc.)). So if they’re acting fussy and you know you just fed them an hour earlier, you can be pretty sure they’re not hungry again. More likely they’re tired or over-stimulated and you can act accordingly. Also, if you always follow Eating with a period of Activity, you separate eating from sleeping so your baby doesn’t learn to depend on nursing to fall asleep.

In my two days of experimenting with this, I’ve found that Zeke eats really well on a 2.5 to 3 hours routine. He doesn’t fall asleep on the boob since he’s generally slept before he eats, and he has a good 15-2o minutes of very happy and alert “play time” after his meal. But once he starts showing signs of tired or over-stimulated, everything falls apart. If I follow the book’s recommendation and try to head off the crying by putting him to sleep in his co-sleeper, he goes nuts. If someone holds him and rocks him and cuddles him, he happily drifts right off, but the second you put him down, he wakes up. This is totally fine when there are at least 3 other people here to hold him for an hour or more while he naps, but this is not going to work when it’s just me. The book says if you have your baby nap in a sling or other carrier, he will develop similar bad sleep habits and months from now you’ll find yourself carrying around a 15-20 pound baby. Great.

I like when he sleeps on me or next to me in the moby, and it seems sad (and impractical) to give that up. It’s ridiculous to me that a one month old baby could have a bad habit already, but the Baby Whisperer makes pretty good argument for “starting the way you intend to go on” – meaning if you want to have baby nap time to yourself in the long run, teach baby to sleep on his own NOW. Which brings us back to hours of crying while we try to get Z to sleep. (Note – we are not letting him cry it out. According to the book you pick him up every time he starts to cry and put him down as soon as he’s calm again. You do this over and over and over again until he finally falls asleep. It’s exhausting.)

So here’s what I’m thinking. Screw the Baby Whisperer for daytime naps. Keep with the basic Eat Activity Sleep routine, but let him sleep wherever is comfortable and practical for both of us. Night time is a completely different story which I’ll save for another post. Suffice to say I’m handling the late night feedings and general lack of sleep much better than I’m handling the hours from 6-10pm when the screaming happens. Wow.

PS: We just got the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD which will likely make me completely forget about the Baby Whisperer.

PPS: Is it really true that this gets easier after 3 months? Really?


things I worry about while breastfeeding

In no particular order:

  • am I doing this right?
  • is he actually getting any milk?
  • will he ever let go?
  • is he awake?
  • can he breathe?
  • is he too hot?
  • is he too cold?
  • will I ever get off of this couch?
  • will I spill hot tea on him?
  • will I ever get to sleep?
  • am I becoming a hunchback?
  • will I learn to tpye faaster wiyh one hand (and with fewer typos)
  • is he choking?
  • will I spill my breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack on him?
  • will I drop my water bottle on his head?
  • will he ever grow his hair back?
  • will my boobs ever return to a normal size?
  • why is this taking so long?
  • is he done already?
  • why does this side hurt so much?
  • are his nails too long?
  • when was the last time we gave him a bath?
  • when was the last time I took a bath?
  • will that chocolate/tea/spicy food/ice cream/salad/wine I just ate/drank make him fussy/hyper/sleepy/gassy/allergic/drunk?
  • is his arm falling asleep?
  • is my arm falling asleep?
  • does he need a diaper change?
  • ouch! can I take this anymore?
  • is his head a normal size?
  • will I ever have time to write thank you notes?
  • will he stay asleep after this?
  • will I fall asleep after this?
  • will he roll off the bed/couch if I fall asleep before he’s done?
  • am I really doing this right?

zeke at 4 weeks

The babe is 4 weeks today, and most of the milestones this week have been mine and Dave’s, not Z’s. We put him in the co-sleeper for the first time. Until this point he’s been sleeping in our full-sized bed – a bit cramped for three. So while he usually ends up in bed with us eventually anyway, he does now start his evening in the co-sleeper beside us.

We also put him in the stroller for the first time this week. Generally I like to have him snuggled up next to me in the moby when we walk, but it’s been so hot here that I thought we could both use some space. He fusses a little bit getting into it, but once we’re moving he falls right to sleep. And I have to admit I like the freedom of walking with him unencumbered. I can imagine returning to my daily walk around the lake with him in the stroller – a nice feeling of eventually returning to some kind of routine.

Zeke went to his first bookclub meeting this week. I nearly drove him there by myself (another first) but when Dave had to spend five minutes reminding me to be a safe driver even if Z is screaming his head off, and I realized that I had visions of trying to comfort him (including breastfeeding) while I was driving, I realized that I was not quite ready to go it alone. So at the last minute I begged Aunt Sarah to join us. We’ll try a solo drive during week five.

I was separated from Z for over an hour while I got my hair done this week and I did not freak out-though I missed him terribly. That’s progress. (Zeke thanked me for the time apart by somehow bypassing his diaper and pooping all over me in front of the hairdresser. Another first.)

Zeke and I went to our first mom’s group gathering at Cedar Rose Park with Ruby (7 weeks) and mom Janet, and Omri (9 weeks) and mom Rachel. It was really fun to laugh about how challenging daily tasks have become and get some tips on how to manage better. (Right now, the difference between 4 and 7 or 9 weeks feels like an eternity… those moms seem so much more experienced than me!) I definitely plan to make the mom’s group another part of the weekly routine.

I nearly managed a whole morning routine unassisted including teeth brushing, shower, contacts, and getting dressed and I nearly made it through breakfast when the phone rang as I was trying to pour granola into my yogurt while holding Z at the same time. I suppose that would have been a time to not answer the phone, but I panicked and handed off Z to his Omi for a few minutes.

For Z’s part, he’s making great progress holding his head up and he’s definitely growing though we won’t get another official measurement until next week. He’s got some male-patterned baldness and baby acne going on that somehow don’t make him any less cute. (It helps that he’s become even more expressive and alert over the past week and while I can’t yet be completely sure, he’s showing definite signs of at least one, maybe two dimples when he smiles.)

While I look forward to a time when I have a bit more of a fixed schedule, when I get a bit more consistent sleep, and when it doesn’t feel like I have to learn to do ordinary tasks all over again, all in all it was a pretty good week.

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