Monday, March 29, 2010


We made it. All of us. We made it through the first year! We survived the lack of sleep and innumerable added responsibilities. Baby survived first-time parents without succumbing to SIDS, neglect, serious illness, or injury. We threw a big party. He wasn’t thrilled about all the strangers, but, let’s face it, the party was for us. To prove it we got a keg of beer.

Although the party was really for us and he won’t remember it, he was the star! Despite his newly-acquired stranger anxiety, we attempted to pass him around. He was pretty grumpy until cake time. We should have started with cake! My mom made him a whole wheat and honey (just old enough for honey now!) so there would at least be some nutritional value and let him have at it. What a mess!
I have chosen the one year milestone to wean off breastfeeding. I was most anxious to stop pumping during my work day. A week before his birthday I cut out one of the two times I pumped at work and had my husband supplement the feedings at home with whole, organic, vitamin-D fortified cow’s milk after checking with our doctor. We’re giving it in a bottle as he hasn’t quite mastered the sippy cup. The week after his birthday I cut out the other one. Now I am free to enjoy my lunch breaks again at the gym, with friends, or whatever I want!

I went through some debate as to whether to continue the other 3 feedings for a while. Even past a year, the added immunities of breastfeeding are beneficial. We have been trying to get him to eat more solid food though, and once I started doing the “dinner” feeding after solids instead of before, it sort of merged with the nighttime feeding. So I started giving him milk in a sippy cup with dinner and we are down to two breastfeedings a day. After Saturday night at the neighbor’s house when I had to say no to a second glass of wine, I started thinking twice is too much.

Last night, I began topping off the nighttime feeding with a bottle of warm cow’s milk afterwards. With my production going down, I wanted to be sure he got enough before bed to encourage sleep. By the end of the week we should be down to just the early morning feeding. I’m not sure how long we will continue that one as for us that will be the hardest to give up. The fact is cutting out that feeding will mean I have to get out of bed and make a bottle sometime between 4 and 5:30 am. He usually wakes to nurse (already in bed with us because of nighttime crying) and goes right back to sleep at this point and I sure don’t want to get up! And any wine the night before is out of my system by morning. We’ll see – I will keep posting as we go. For now I am taking the weaning process one feeding at a time, a week at a time, without thinking too much about the ones still left.

If my baby just turned 1, you can guess what I was doing at this time last year! I delivered 5 days late, which was my plan to get some extra time off work. On my due date, a Friday, I went to the gym and took and aerobic/weight class, keeping the weights light of course. On Monday, I went to the gym again and to a meeting with a business contact for my writing. I had been bugging my husband to go to Babies R Us to spend our gift cards and complete our baby necessities collection. He promised we would go Tuesday. Then our couple-friends showed up with their kid, planning to stay the evening and overnight. My husband wanted to cancel the Babies R Us trip, but I insisted we had to go that day. They joked about me going into labor, but I was adamant about it not happening when people were staying at my house. I’d rather we were alone all week just in case, but the man is my husband’s best friend and I have trouble saying “no.”

We were late getting on the road to Babies R Us, which isn’t very close to us, and got stuck in rush-hour traffic. It took us 45 minutes to get there, only to discover I had forgotten the gift cards. I was very upset with myself, but did the shopping anyway. We had the store hold the cart, drove all the way home to get the cards, and back out to get the merchandise. It was a long, stressful afternoon.

That night I fixed us each healthy chicken salads, with special toppings for each person. I was quite distraught after the meal when I realized I had mixed up the salads and the wrong person got the wrong topping, but they didn’t say anything and ate it anyway! I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all day, but then that had been going on for a couple of weeks. I finally made it to bed late and stressed.

About 1am I started having more regular contractions and as much as I hated to admit it I was in labor with guests in the next room. I dutifully followed the labor class instructions to continue trying to sleep. By 5am I was pretty sure they were coming every 10 minutes and toyed with getting up and around and trying to eat some breakfast. Not wanting to labor in front of friends combined with the coziness of bed kept me trying to sleep. By 7am I couldn’t sleep anymore, and got up to use the bathroom. When I sat up I felt water moisten my pajama pants, and when I went to toilet I lost the mucus plug. I didn’t see it, thank goodness for my blindness without contacts, but relied on hubby’s description. I promptly called Kaiser. When I described what I thought was the water breaking – wet with streaks of blood, the nurse said, no, your water didn’t break, it’s just the mucus plug. I told her I wasn’t sure about the contraction timing because I had been sleeping but I thought they were about 10 minutes apart for a few hours. Clock it for an hour, she said, and call back.

I never did this before, so I did what she said. The contractions immediately came 3 minutes apart from the moment I hung up with the nurse (aka after my water broke, because it did!), but I waited the hour anyway. I hid from our guests in my room, showering, attempting to eat cereal (I was really worried about them not letting me eat for days of hospital labor I’d read about), applying make-up seated at the floor length mirror because I couldn’t stand up. Even when I called back and she said come in, I wasn’t that rushed, letting my husband feed the cats and check in with the neighbors because all the classes said first babies come really slow.

By the time I got to the hospital, I was so disoriented from pain I could not walk or put on my own hospital gown. I immediately began inquiring about my planned epidural. When the nurses alluded to the possibility that I was too progressed and it might be too late, I freaked. I need it! I pleaded. One nurse was very reassuring. “We’ll work towards that,” she said. There was something profoundly calming in her soft brown eyes. She was the only one there who could get me to focus and breath through contractions. My husband asked about getting the bag and birthing ball out of the car. They laughed and told him not to worry; I was way past needing that. Oh my God.

But God bless Kaiser, they put a rush on things and got my epidural in the nick of time! Once applied, it slowed down the labor and allowed me to relax for a couple of hours. This was a good thing, because I was strep B positive and would have had to stay in the hospital longer after delivery if antibiotics were not given time to work. It was also I good thing because I don’t think I could have handled a natural delivery. I’m into nature – I use cloth diapers for goodness sake – but forget that! I read up on it, and the risks sounded extremely minimal given the benefit. The only negative side effect I had was one of my legs got a little too numb and I had to be careful of it falling off the bed.

Once it was time to push, I was able to just focus on what I needed to do without worrying about pain. They were going to break my water, but surprise surprise, no water left to break. Told you so! I tried very hard to push exactly when told because I wanted it to go well and not risk a c-section. 25 minutes later they handed me my little bundle. I think my husband was overwhelmed but I was still on auto-pilot, a place I think I stayed for the first three months.

Overall, the labor went really well and I was happy with my decision to get the epidural, and to keep everyone but hubby and hospital staff out of the room until baby had arrived. I could have done without the small tear that needed stitches, but it healed quickly, leaving me none of the labor horror stories that had me scared the last 9 months. The hospital stay was a blur of learning to breastfeed and care for my newborn, with a flurry of nurses and paperwork and checkups. We went home the next evening to a clean house thanks to my mom, who was there to welcome us but left us to a peaceful house by nightfall.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sleeping arrangements at 11 months; Prego woes last year

We’re counting down the final month of babyhood, and I still have to keep reminding myself to listen to my baby and myself before the advice of books and friends or relatives. For the last 11 months, every time I go against my gut and try to do what I’m told I “should,” it bites me in the butt. Or my baby’s butt, as the case may be. Like last year, when I thought I “should” pump every day of my maternity leave even though I hated it, and ended up causing overproduction and a drop in my baby’s weight gain. Don’t get me wrong, listening to guidance can be crucially helpful, but it’s important to balance the influx of “advice” with your unique needs. Every baby and every parent is different. That’s why I’m trying not to stress about our current sleeping arrangements.

We have shared a room with our son since day 1. We have another bedroom that he will move into when the time is right. When is that time? I don’t know, but it’s not now. The room is on the opposite side of the house and we just aren’t comfortable with him being so far away at this point. Until recently, he always slept in his own bassinette or crib. Co-sleeping would have made my life easier in the beginning when he woke up a lot at night, but we were fearful of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – one possible cause being suffocation). Plus, I used to fall asleep if I tried to nurse him lying down. He started sleeping through the night at 5 months and there was no longer an issue. Even if he did wake up, I would pop a binky in his mouth and he’d go back out! It was bliss. Was.

Now, not so much bliss. Not only does he wake up screaming almost every night, but he won’t be consoled without cuddles. I need to sleep. He’s growing out of the riskiest SIDS stage. So in our bed with us he goes for the rest of the night. I was always opposed to letting him cry-it-out in his crib. Before now I was never tested on this opposition. Now I think that’s the only way he would stay in his bed all night, but I still don’t have the heart for it. We started to try one night and within minutes he was screaming so hard he threw up. Everyone tells me just to get through it. If we decide to try letting him cry, he would have to move into his own room first, that’s for sure. For my family, neither one of those things are happening anytime soon. (I feel obligated to note, since I brought up cry-it-out, that letting a baby cry himself to sleep is never appropriate for very young babies – under 4 or 6 months. During this stage you’re just going to have to deal with nighttime waking.)
For now, what’s working for my family is a hybrid co-sleeping arrangement. The baby will fall asleep in his own crib if he can see Mama. So he stays up, being held by Dad while Mom gets ready, until Mom goes to bed. If I leave his sight after laying him down the screaming begins and if it does, it may not stop and we may have to co-sleep all night. Then when he wakes up crying in the middle of the night, which happens at random times, he comes to bed with us so we can all keep sleeping. Makes the early morning feeding easier too, since I can stay awake during feedings lying down now. Once in a while we hit a fluke and he doesn’t wake until morning. I’m fine with the arrangement, baby’s fine, and hubby’s fine. We recognize that we may be setting our selves up for problems later, but sometimes you just have to do what works and let things work themselves out.


This time last year, I was finally on maternity leave. Being able to relax and sleep in alleviated much of the discomfort and fatigue I had been feeling for the last few months. I had already had my baby shower, which was fun though a bit stressful leading up to it as my family and friends are all hypersensitive manics and were trying to work together. I love them and am eternally grateful to all of them though! It was a great shower. I got so much great stuff, including all the money I needed for a set of cloth diapers. I had also already moved – yes, we had to move when I was 8 months pregnant. Our lease was up, and to our surprise the landlord wasn’t renewing because he was selling! Aggghhh! But it all worked out. I was watching TV in my new house and riding the light rail to the gym. It is possibly the most relaxing time in my life.

There was only one week I couldn’t relax. In my ninth month, the doctor became concerned about a lump that had developed under my arm. They had to do a biopsy, which they said had the risk of inducing labor, caused pain in my arm for a few days, and forced me not to move my arm around much and take it easy for several days. This was rather upsetting to me for several reasons. First, hello! What’s the lump? Do I have cancer? Am I going to orphan my new baby? Second, I already felt disabled by the pregnancy and being further in pain and inhibited from normal activity really got me down. I really freaked out when I couldn’t do my little workouts!

By the end of the week all was well, except for the ever-enlarging lump in my stomach.
(really, is it possible to BE that big?)

The lump under my arm turned out to be breast tissue that was enlarged due to the pregnancy. Everything was fine and I was back in the gym. I even worked out on my due date! The baby was 5 days late, and I was lifting light weights in the gym every other day until 2 days before he was born. I would have been in the gym that 5th day had I not been in the hospital delivering. But that’s a story for the next blog.