Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Year, Month Birthdays. Last Year, Maternity Clothes


Last Friday, we celebrated my baby’s 6 month birthday. I was on cloud 9 all day! I now feel as though I might just make it through the first year. I am half-way there! A friend at work who has small children asked me if I really thought the second year was going to be better. I said, well, yes I do! I won’t have to worry about breastfeeding or pumping anymore.

I love him being a baby. Never again in his life will he be so cute and cuddly. And as far as the baby-stages go, this is a pretty good one. He usually sleeps through the night, eats less frequently, hardly ever cries, and he’s not mobile yet so he’s generally pretty easy to keep up with. He’s lying in the pack-n-play next to me right now – very tired – but instead of crying he just coos a little, kicks his legs, and sucks on a pacifier he can now push back in his own mouth if it starts to fall out, drifting off to sleep. Very nice compared to 3 months ago. But I will be throwing a huge party when he turns 1, and weaning him from the breast and bottle!

Breastfeeding is easy. When it comes to nighttime or traveling, there’s nothing to pack, no water to sterilize, and no bottles to heat or clean. But trying to work and breastfeed is hard. I am tied to a pump for my lunch and coffee breaks and constantly struggle with keeping the amount I pump comparable to his consumption. For many women, this means trying to keep up with what baby is eating while she is away and anxiety over not having enough. For me, it is trying to avoid overproduction.

The women who can’t keep up are the ones with the most stories in the books. Determined not to let this happen to me, I pumped a large supply for the freezer while I was on maternity leave. After I went back to work, I was still getting about twice what he was eating. I had wasted all that time pumping. And on top of that, when he was about 4 months old I learned that my overproduction could have been contributing to his underweight problems as well as his colic between 6 and 12 weeks. Producing more milk at a time than your baby can handle can cause him to be getting too much foremilk. He doesn’t receive enough calories from rich hind milk, and can get an upset stomach from too much lactose in the foremilk. I felt terrible when I finally put the pieces together, having let the problem go on for months without being aware of it. But my doctor insists I not blame myself. It just means being more careful now. Not to mention, if I pump too much all week, it will be too uncomfortable not to pump on the weekend and the last thing I want to do is more pumping!

As much as I hate pumping, the benefits for the child of breastfeeding are so astronomical I wouldn’t think of stopping. And all the extra pumping wasn’t a total loss – I donated it to the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose. They supply hospitals for preemie babies too young for formula.
Happy 6-month birthday baby! We’ll get through the next 6 together.


A year ago today, I was 3 months pregnant and starting to think about maternity clothes. Some of my pants were getting snug, but the main problem was the pressure of a traditional waste band bothered my tummy. A friend of mine gave me a couple of jeans and a few shirts to get me started. One of the jeans had a large stretchy fabric portion for the tummy, and other a small elastic strip. Oh good, I thought, small waistband for now while my tummy is small, and a large one for latter. Nope! The small elastic strip hurt my tummy with pressure the same as regular jeans. So I went with the large ones. They gave me the feeling of granny-panties times 10, but they were comfy. At first I thought I had missed my window to wear the small-elastic-strip jeans, but my friend said they would sit under my belly later. She was right. Later on no amount of fabric would be able to fit over my belly! But I didn't know that at 3 months. I didn't even have a little bump yet.

I also needed clothes for work, so I hit up the consignment maternity store. There’s one in Sacramento called Another 9 Months. It’s great! I got everything I needed for $100, even some things that looked so big I thought I would never need them, but I did! I also picked up a “Bella band.” It’s like a tube-top for tummies that holds regular pants up without being buttoned. It worked out great for me because the maternity slacks were a bit saggy still at 3 months, and the Bella band just looked like a long tank-top on under my shirt.

This month was probably the best one in my pregnancy. I wasn’t sick anymore, and I still didn’t look pregnant. I could walk around feeling like I blended in with the other humans, a feeling I would not have again until long after the baby was born.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From Pregnancy Nausea to Baby Rolling Over


Well, Sort of. He’s almost six months, and rolling over sometimes. First babies will turn you into an obsessive psychopath. The book said he should roll over at five months. Some babies even do it as early as two months. So of course I am convinced he has some sort of developmental problem. The doctor isn’t worried though, and just says “give him more tummy time.”
All my baby does when I put him on “tummy time” – that play time they’re supposed to have on their stomachs to build up muscles that will be used for rolling over and crawling – is get mad and cry. So right away he is at a disadvantage for rolling over because tummy time is not fun play time enjoyed for hours. But I try my best to help him. I play with him, distracting him with toys and even helping with a rollover or two. He likes when I rolled him sideways over and over from one end of my bed to another. Not sure that accomplishes much other than giggles, but giggles are important too. He lasts a bit longer with tummy time on his own (supervised, of course) if I prop him on the Boppy – I thought that magic pillow was just for nursing but it’s good for just about anything. He also gets plenty of tummy time on my chest, as I recline and we stare at each other with smiles.

Last month there were a couple of transitions from stomach to back that might have counted as rolling over. Both times I had just set him down, and in a matter of moments he had flipped to his side. Then after many minutes of squirming he was on his back. Was that a rollover or did I prop him at just the right angle for the transfer to occur on its own? My husband, whose world view contrasts my own, promptly began telling people our son was rolling over. I wasn’t convinced.

Then it happened. Last week on Wednesday evening he was playing on his stomach, fussing and struggling as usual. He wants to roll over, almost has it, but I thought like most time, including the time I busted out the video camera and ended up with 6 minutes of nothing, it would end in tears. Then, he pushed just right with his arm and boom! He was over. I tried not to react loudly, because last time I did I scared him. He had done it all on his own!

Although he is not suddenly mobile and rolling from one end of the house to another, he has two rollovers under his belt now, and is starting not to fuss so much on tummy time. He is also now pushing all the way up on his arms from his tummy! He’s small for his age, so I’ll just have to wait for him to take these things in his own time.


It’s hard to believe the little guy with a million smiles just learning to roll over was a pulsing dot on the ultrasound screen this time last year. By mid September I had been nauseous since the middle of July. I don’t know why they call it “morning sickness.” They should call it “morning, afternoon, evening, and worse-when-you-don’t-eat-but-you-can’t-eat sickness.” I suppose I am fortunate that I did not actually vomit, but most of the time I wished I could. Food always sounded terrible, but I had to eat regularly or the nausea would get worse. Some foods sounded worse than others. If anyone even talked about pancakes I’d practically double over. The smell of food cooking was my doom – especially that slightly burnt smell wafting through the outdoor air near restaurants. I live in downtown Sacramento – there’s a restaurant on every corner!

I remember the first day I felt sick. I was scheduled for volunteer work at Happy Tails cat shelter in the afternoon, and enjoyed a late breakfast on my patio in the morning. I made myself eggs and toast, but I was still hungry. I told myself I should listen to my hunger since I was pregnant. So I had some vanilla pudding. Bad combo. By the time I got to Happy Tails, I was feeling so sick I could hardly concentrate. One of the other volunteers gave me some saltines, which helped a little, but nothing made the feeling go away. Nothing would for at least a month.

I tried crackers before getting out of bed, ginger tea, and drinking more water… all the cures in the book. Nothing worked. When I broke the baby news to my coworkers in August, one told me she wasn’t surprised since I’d been looking a little pale and sick.

I’m not a soda drinker, so when I had a few sips of my husband’s root beer one evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find the carbonation eased the quease. Not about to add volumes of sugar and chemicals to my diet by making soda a regular thing though, I ran out and got a sparkling water. It worked! I stocked up and for the remainder of my nausea (through about the 12th week) I was able to take 30 to 60 minute vacations from sickness by downing a bit of sparking mineral water or club soda. It was like magical fairies sprinkling numbing bubbles in my tummy. The best part was the doctor said the sparkling water had hydrating qualities and counted for water intake – getting your 8-10 glasses a day is doubly important during pregnancy.

I’m glad that slice of my life is over, but I try keep the details at close recall in case the cute little smiles of my six-month-old fool me into thinking I’d want to do this again. Two months of nausea is enough for a lifetime. My sincerest sympathies to those women who have it all nine months.

Check back next week for more about six-month-olds as well as tips and stories for the forth month of pregnancy.