Long time, no see

Sweet bejezus… It has been a while since my last update. Like many bloggers with babies, I find myself composing posts in my head all the time– but have little spare time to actually write them down. This will be a mixed bag. But that about sums up where I’m at these days.

A few weeks ago, we went in for Chick’s check post dairy elimination. Though he had a bloody diaper or two, it was so very much better.

Rather than the nitwit NP we saw last time, we met with Chick’s pediatrician. I like her tons. (Aside: I’m slightly embarrassed to say that we picked her because she went to my alma mater. At a certain point, choices become a bit arbitrary I suppose. And this seemed like as good a criteria as any.)

Any way, she weighed Chick and he came in at 8.7 pounds. That means he gained about 1.5 oz a day since his last check up. This is good for a term baby, let alone a premie.

With this news, the doctor allowed us to go off the fortifier. So now we’re breastfeeding at every feeding. I only pump two times a day, I suppose to make sure these boobies of mine get emptied. This is a VAST improvement over where we were before. Though I realize Chick will never be exclusively breastfed, I’ve made my peace with that. He gets the nutrition he needs, I get a smidge of my sanity back, and we both get to spend that quality time together. Everybody wins.

Things were going along swimmingly until about two weeks ago when Chick had another bloody diaper. Then another. Then another one that looks vague mucousy. Everyone tells you to be on the look out for “currant jelly stool” and I was convinced I’d found it. This was, obviously, on a Sunday. Obviously. So we schlep Chick into the doctor’s office AGAIN.

To make a long story short, Chick is apparently also allergic to soy. Wouldn’t you know it? I had three things the day before that had soy hidden in them, and something that had sneaky cow milk product in it as well. Now I have to make ev-er-y thing I eat from scratch. It’s a pain in the ass– The doctor we saw said that she admired me– according to her, most moms she knows quit breastfeeding if their kid gets the diary/soy elimination diet prescribed. Fundamentally, I believe that people do what is best for them and their family, so I’m not in a position to judge. I will say that this elimination thing isn’t terrible as much as it is annoying that I have to prepare all my food. There are no hunger quick fixes for me, but this hardly seems like a good enough reason. For me, anyway.

Let’s seeee… what else has happened… My early intervention resource coordinator has been assigned, and I really like her. She also loves Chick, but I can imagine he is easy to love compared to some of the tougher cases she must get. She comes by every week, and does some stealthy tests to see how he is progressing. It’s kind of wild to see Chick through her eyes. I see his development little by little, so the changes he is going through don’t seem too dramatic to me. Since she sees him once a week, she can really note where he is developing. This week, for example, he is just starting to learn that he can suck on his hand to soothe himself. He is learning, and I get a front row seat.

I’ve also officially decided to use all my vacation and sick time in order to stay home with Chick longer. To be honest, this is largely triggered by financial concerns. I had lined up daycare based on his August due date, so I have about a month long gap to fill.

Also… how to put this… Chick is just starting to get interesting. Let’s be honest, newborns are pretty freaking boring. They sleep, crying, eat, pee and poop. Because I basically brought home a Negative 3 week old, Chick has had a longer dormant phase, or what I call the “Meatloaf” phase. He is just starting to smile, show interest in anything other than food, and snuggle. I’d like a little more time with that baby if I could.

Today, Chick went in for his 2 month check up and had his shots. As you can imagine, this wasn’t his favorite. He cried until his tiny little face turned red. Mr. O was there and did the physical restraining. Though I don’t think of myself as a softie by any stretch, I don’t think I could have held his arms down while he cried like that. Very thankful that Mr. O was on the scene. So far he has been a little fussy and not eating as much, but nothing terribly alarming.

Since we’ve gone off the fortified formula regime, Chick has gained some weight, but not as much as he did before. (Not sure how this would have been a surprise really…) Anyway, we’re continuing with our plan of breastfeeding followed by bottle, only to encourage him to take a little more each day. We have a weight check at 3 months, then we’ll re-evaluate.

Okay then. It’s sleep time for me. Thanks for hanging in there with this laundry list of a post. You are real troopers…

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Anti-Mommy Strikes Again

So yesterday we had some people over for dinner. This, it turns out, is the best way for me to socialize these days. People come to me, and in exchange I feed them.

This time, it was Mr. O’s friend from high school who recently moved back to town, along with said friend’s wife and toddler. If I am being honest, I was looking forward to it in part because I really like said friend’s wife. She has a similar sense of humor, reads the same kinds of books I do… and now we have that whole “I had a baby” thing in common. What I’ve really liked about her is that she has, in the past, expressed frustration with parenting. Not in the typical “Being a mom is so hard, but it’s great!” way. In the real “Sometimes my baby is a jerk” way. This isn’t schadenfreude– I appreciate the honesty. It’s a form of parenting I can get on board with.

I harbored fantasies that we would go out to lunch, join book clubs, and maybe even occasionally admit that we like our children.

Perhaps you’ve figured this out already, but this didn’t go exactly according to plan.

I’ll spare you a minute by minute recap. In general, the evening went well. Ish. Well-ish. I made a lasagna which came out nicely, and a berry almond cake. Tasty as hell, if I do say so myself. Our apartment was fairly clean– or at least as clean as having a newborn will allow.

We had a few funny exchanges about how I rarely leave the couch, and binge watching ALL THE THINGS is now completely acceptable. Their daughter is about a year old, and recently discovered walking. She tore through the apartment, picking up anything that wasn’t nailed down, spitting out peas on the floor– you know, acting like a toddler. I wasn’t bothered, but I could tell that my future-best-friend was a bit embarrassed. I kept telling her it was okay, because well, it WAS okay.

Anyway, there were a few times over the evening that clued me in to the fact that my future bestie may not be so bestie after all. For example, FBFF had exactly zero desire to return to work after her daughter was born. I can’t imagine feeling that way. I know it is still early, but I not only miss the adult contact, I also genuinely enjoy my work. When I mentioned this, she wasn’t so much judgey as she clearly couldn’t relate. That’s fine and all, I just wish I could find someone else who feels the same way. Strike one.

Later, she admitted that she has basically stopped paying attention to anything, like the news and current events type stuff, once her daughter was born. She is okay with this. I too have lost track of what’s going on in the world, but this makes me really sad. Like the GOP debates– I was soooo looking forward to watching the trainwreck known as Donald Trump, but I missed it. As in I completely forgot it was happening. I used to watch the Sunday morning news shows, and that crap… I don’t anymore, and I honestly miss it. Strike two.

But the final sign that our bestie status was not meant to be was when I put Chick down in his crib. He had been passed out through most of dinner in a Rock n’ Play, and I decided to put him in his crib. I scooped him up, put him down, and came back to the table.

FBFF: Wait… Did you just put him in his crib? And walk away?

Me: Um, yes. Is that a problem?

FBFF: No, I just could never do that with my kid. I couldn’t let her out of my sight.

To be clear, I don’t think she was trying to call me out or anything. I think she was genuinely surprised that someone could leave their kid’s side. But I did have this split second when I questioned if leaving a child asleep and unattended in his crib on his back with no blankets or stuffed animals around was in fact a reason to call child services.

I love Chick. I love love love him. But I do not need my hands on him at all times. Sometimes, I even let him cry– like if I’m on the toilet. I know he isn’t dying, and I need to finish peeing. Besides, he is okay on his own. FBFF and her tot want and need to be closer (physically.) That’s fine, but clearly not the direction Chick and I are headed in.

Striiiike three, and you’re outta here!

Other things: I made dinner and dessert. I sleep okay. I’m trying to resume normal activities– I’m REALLY hoping my doctor clears me for running at my 6 week check up tomorrow. All these things seemed like the exact opposite of her experience. She has become consumed by her kid.

It isn’t like I think she was being sanctimonious or anything. It was just a bit of a let down because I had so hoped I could find someone I could be frank about stuff with. I still like her tremendously, but there will be no matching tattoos in our future.

My baby smells like feet, and other firsts

Chick and I just finished our first full week together. Not without its ups and downs, this has been full of firsts for us both. When find myself getting frustrated, I try to remember that we are learning– Chick is learning things like how to hold his head up, and me how to summon unending amounts of patience on little to no sleep.

Things we have learned thus far:

– leaning in to kiss my sleeping baby only to realize he smells like feet

– realizing that although he may have spent the last several months in amniotic fluid, Chick hates baths 

– dubbing him Houdini after artfully escaping every damn swaddle

– dubbing him Pooh-dini after discovering he has managed to take the tiniest of shits and smear it all up his back, through his pjs, crib sheet, and liner. At 3:00 am.

– having the most absurd argument with Mr. O which went something like “Can’t you see I’m trying to take out the trash?” “Can’t you see I’m trying to make dinner?” “But can’t you see I’m trying to take out the trash?”

– pumping out breast milk while going 70 miles on the interstate  (Hint: a car adaptor helps.)

– pumping out breast milk at 2:00 am while simultaneously feeding chick from a bottle containing my breast milk 

-calling the 24 hour hotline because I found blood in his stool

– hearing this is normal… Only after I googled it and found the same thing

– dashing into his room to make sure he is still breathing 

– learning the difference between his hangry cry, his diaper cry, his comfort cry, and his “taking a crap is hard work” cry

– debating if he is the most beautiful baby ever or if he looks more like a Minoan death mask  

 – wrestling a tiny human who absolutely refuses to breast feed 

– crying after getting kicked in the nipple 

– experiencing the revelation of a good latch

– discovering the wonders of a white noise machine

– feeling the sweet relief when you’ve successfully changed, fed, burped and put your kid to bed

This isn’t easy. No one said it would be. Is it strange to say I’m enjoying the challenge? (Call me after a few weeks like this, and I’m sure my tune will have changed.) I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is a struggle. But unlike others I’ve wrestled with (IF, mom dying, soul crushing grief, etc.) this one feels like the good kind. I feel exhausted by the end of the day, but not devastated.

Week two, here we come.

ARTICLE: Time to rethink our social construct of motherhood

When I spoke with my benefits coordinator a few weeks ago about maternity leave, it was a bit of an eye opener. Not in terms of my benefits– I had those practically memorized. What struck me as nuts was the tone.

You see, I am one of the few employed Americans who works for someone who does offer some kind of paid parental leave. (And by paid, I mean 60% of my pay for 6 weeks.) During my conversation, I was reminded repeatedly how “fortunate” I was, and how “generous” this policy was. It was mentioned more than once that my employer isn’t required to extend this benefit– it is a choice the company makes to better support its employees.

Sadly, I am aware how fortunate I am. The vast majority of Americans do not receive any paid paternity leave because as a country we do not prioritize the needs of working parents. I don’t believe this has to be an issue of gender– dads are parents too. I’ve always believed this is more an issue of economic policy than anything else. As I recently learned, paying for childcare can cost as much as college tuition. Without paid family leave, working parents have to make hard choices that have real impact on their financial health and their family structures.

Which was why I was so happy to read this op-ed in the Boston Globe by Katherine McCartney, “Time to Rethink Our Social Construct of Motherhood.” She argues that our country’s stunted policies stem from deep seeded cultural beliefs about what role women should play within the family. Some of my favorite bits are:

When correspondent Meredith Vieira left her job at “60 Minutes” after the birth of her second child, commentators lauded her decision to put her children first. Employed mothers like me felt too guilty to publicly proclaim that we, too, put our children first.

For some, employment isn’t a choice but a necessity that allows them to financially support their children. Jobs are not always “optional.”

Our romanticized views about motherhood continue to sow division and guilt, undermining our energies to organize for the policies that employed mothers and fathers deserve.

As long as we hold on to an antiquated idea that all childcare must happen in the home and must be done exclusively by women, we will never be able to get policies we need.

Mother’s Day is a good day to double down on the work required to reconstruct our conception of motherhood. An essential step is to make the invisible visible, helping young mothers and their partners realize that social constructions of motherhood are just that — constructions.

This Sunday, as you celebrate all the awesome moms you know (yourself include, if applicable), take time to re-evaluate what motherhood means. It isn’t about fitting into one model of parenting. It is about making the best possible choices for your children, and advocating for policies that give all parents the freedom to do so.

(Aaaand I step down off my soap box.)