Friday, December 31, 2010

...And They Lived Happily Ever After

Well, I guess it's not that simple. But 2010 was a big year for the B household, and I'm looking forward to a pretty sweet 2011. I just printed my work calendar for next year and circled all the company holidays, planned vacations, and Jackson's birthday. Let's rumble.

What New Year's Eve post would be complete without resolutions?
  • Live -- really live -- in the moment. As in, not think ahead two steps and plan for the worst case scenario all the time. I owe it to Jackson, KB, and not least of all myself to enjoy the company and love of/for my husband and watching my son grow up each and every day, and to just be.
  • Get back into fighting shape. This will involve a personal trainer, some sweat, a fair amount of excruciating pain, and a whole lot of ass-kicking. Eye of the tiger, bitches.
  • Stay positive at work. I wish I could conjure up some magical unicorn farts that, when huffed in a paper bag, would make me lurve my job or make me a more competent stay-at-home mom. Alas. I duz not haz unicorn. So, I am committed to making the most of work, trying hard to achieve job satisfaction by speaking up and being assertive about my work-life balance, and staving off the guilt of being at home, working, while my little boy is away, in daycare. At least he's in a kickass daycare. He gets to learn espaƱol.
  • Continue and permanently extend my lifetime boycott on Ed Hardy everything. Also, avoid Ralph Lauren because the new logo is supersized douche. And no Chico's. So much bedazzled leopard print, so little time.
  • Stop. playing. angry. birds. Addicted. Need help.
Happy New Year to everyone is Bloggyland, O Interweb Friends!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

With Teeth

I suspect that Jackson has begun teething at 3.5 months of age. Yay. I mean, yay! I'm trying to be excited about this milestone except that I have read (thank you, O! Interwebs!) that teething can last for months before the tooth actually cuts through. Oh dearsweetbabyjesusno. I'm just not sure if he is, but I present to you, Great Citizens of Blogland, the evidence, Your Honors:
  1. Exhibit A: buckets o'drool. We call him Droolio (or Droolie Andrews or Droolia Droolie Dreyfuss) because in the past several weeks, he has produced enough drool to to generate hydropower. This, of course, leads to lots of chin-wiping which leads to irritated and dry skin which leads to lotioning which leads to anger which leads to hate which leads to suffering. And then he becomes Darth Vader, the end.
  2. Exhibit B: biting. Mainly his own mighty FIST! and fingers. (Side note: up until last week he only believed he had one FIST! but he now recognizes the existence of two FISTS! and brings them together, or punches one with the other, marveling at their feats of strength. Just in time for Festivus.) He bites and sucks and noshes his hands not only when he's hungry, but in between feedings. This effectively spreads the aforementioned drool everywhere. Often focused with laser-like intensity on my sleeves and shoulder.
  3. Exhibit C: the return of nighttime fussiness. We thought the end of The Colic by 3 months meant easy-going nights ahead...and there were several. Now we have seen the resurgence of pre-bedtime fussiness that, according to the worldwide Series of Tubes, may be due to increased awareness of gum pain when the distractions of the day are over. Or, maybe he's just being an asshole. Could be a little of Column A and a little of Column B.
  4. Exhibit D: agitation when eating. One thing this boy has never concerned himself with is being finicky about getting some food into his milkhole. Once our nursing struggles were more or less over after the first few weeks, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way (as long as we don't count my periodic re-engorgement when he goes through a growth spurt and coincident feeding frenzy, sore nipples, a recent bout of mastitis accompanied or perhaps caused by a milk blister, and total empathy for cooped up dairy cattle every time I pump). We've even had great success with the bottle since around 1 month (he would sometimes fight it at first, and we sorted out that I needed to be out of the room so that the feedbags weren't within his sphere of want, 'cause boobie>bottle). Once or twice in the past week, he has gotten upset while taking a bottle and tried to stick a fist (excuse me, FIST!) in his mouth instead of the bottle (despite being hungry), and has even been a little fussy while nursing a couple of times (my aching nipples -- hey, what a great name for a band -- My Aching Nipples suggest he's nom-noming on me while nursing.) Again, the sage internets say this could all be due to gum soreness.
My question to you, Blogmistresses and mamas, is when and how did your kiddos start teething? As in, what signs did you notice and when, how long did it last, and how did you cope with the agony of it all? I'm not looking for stories about outer fringe limits of normal, as in, "my cousin's friend's daughter's babysitter's niece was born with a full set of teeth" or, "I saw this article on the interwebs about a kid who grew, like, four sets of teeth like a shark." I'm pretty sure my son, despite being created by evil mad scientists in a petrie dish, is all human, so only within-normal-range stories about human babies, please. Because, and I hope I'm not being insulting here, those tales of dramaz are not helpful and only believable/applicable to inbred hill people. Who have no teeth, anyway.

P.S. I should add that for the past 1.5 weeks, the little man and I have been battling a head cold, so it's entirely possible that the bulk of these symptoms are attributable to that. But, the drooling and FIST! noming started several weeks ago, before any cold symptoms had appeared. Methinks they are independent.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Abby

Oh, the things I wish I'd known. Well, wonder no more...
  • Sleep: white noise, man. We leave it on all night (not on a timer) so if he wakes he can put himself back to sleep (babies need consistent conditions to do this). Music might work, too, but the musical stylings of Fisher Price through the monitor all night might get old. We try to put Jackson down for bedtime and naps while he's still a little awake so he gets used to putting himself to sleep. So far, it's been successful. Also, we chose a bedtime we liked (early enough to have adult time) but that coincides with his sleepy/hungry patterns. We picked 8PM and usually get him in the bedtime routine between 7-8PM without any shenanigans. We had 2-3 hour wakings like clockwork until recently, when we worked very hard to "sleep train" him to skip a nighttime feeding. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't a cry-it-out experience (that I am leery of) and he picked it up quickly. So, the first stretch is 5-8 hours (variable) and then he usually sleeps 2-3 hour stretches until morning. Not bad. I'm still getting up at least once, and sometimes as many as 4 times, each night, but he's not hard to put back down after feeding and changing. Yay for that.
  • Food: you won't scar your child for life if you refuse to wait until he's, like, 10 years old to introduce a bottle. We had to supplement with formula his first week to treat jaundice and weight loss, and he's had no problems with nipple confusion. He seems to correctly identify mine as the ones attached to me, every time! If you pump and bottle feed once or twice a day, you also get a much-needed break. We include a bottle from Daddy in our bedtime routine, which was a good starter for transitioning to more bottles (as full-time daycare looms).
  • Bathing: I love, love, love the Puj tub. It has no bells or whistles, but fits perfectly in the kitchen sink and hangs flat to dry. We don't bathe more often than once per week, since it's bone dry in the winter here in Michigan and the little man has delicate skin. If you have to deal with dry skin or rashes, I have seen miracles performed before my very eyes by using calendula cream (sold under the brand name California Baby) -- the heat rash rearranged to form the image of the blessed Virgin Mary on his chest. It cleared up his infant acne, dry patches on elbows and in creases, and any signs of heat rash from sweating. Miracle cream. Amen.
  • Medicine: no matter what benign medical terms you enter into the search field, Dr. Google will return the following results -- "your behbeh is on fire and dying and ohmahgawd go to the ER." It's hard coming away from years of infertility searches on The Google (which always returned the result -- "your uterus is a feral cave of doom and on fire and ohmahgawd you are barren") and going cold turkey with the pediatric concerns. But seriously, just call your pediatrician instead or find a single, solitary trusted site to consult for minor stuff. I searched for info on infant colds (because my little man and me, we haz it) and started to wonder if we should both be put in an iron lung to treat our raging consumption. Turns out, only time and Kleenex will heal.
  • Clothing: people love to gift "outfits," and you'll be tempted to buy some yourself, but there's no practical reason to dress the baby in anything besides footie onesies for at least the first 7 years of life. I plan to send Jackson off to college with them. Pants and socks are stupid, and baby sweatshirts and sweaters (with all those tiny stupid buttons) are crazy. Zip-up footie pajamas (also called sleep-and-plays) are handy for frequent diaper changes, but I actually prefer snap-ups for nighttime. If you swaddle, I have found that the velcro cheater-swaddles, as we call them (from Kidopotamus), allow for diaper changes without unraveling most of the swaddle -- just slip his feet out of the middle "pocket" to unsnap/change/re-snap, and leave his arms velcroed together like an asylum patient. A groggy, freshly diapered asylum patient. I don't know if that description adequately distinguishes a baby from an actual asylum patient.
  • Diapering: this may fall into the "Pure Coincidence" bucket, but I use sensitive skin versions of everything for laundering, lotioning, and diapering and we have not had any episodes of diaper rash to date. I also use diaper ointment (Aquaphor, Desitin, etc.; nothing special) with every dirty diaper change. Oh, and as your sweet sugar-scented baby gets older, his poops will become more ripe and foul, so consider abandoning all hope of using the diaper pail for those diapers and instead remove them from the living spaces of your home tout de suite. We take the shitbombs to the garbage in the garage and use the diaper pail for wet diapers only. (The poop rate seems to slow down as the digestive tract and the baby it lives in matures, so you won't necessarily be making a dozen daily pilgrimages to the garage.)
  • Assvice: notwithstanding my own here, I just hum a little tune in my head as relatives, neighbors, random strangers, and grocery store clerks tell me how to raise my behbeh. Yankee Doodle Dandy is a fine song.
Naturally, I am speaking from personal experience only with a three-month-old, so as for what comes after this, shit, search me. Also, I will concede that I have a relatively (not always, but usually) easy baby and so -- despite the standard issue struggles with breastfeeding, napping, nighttime feedings, and now our first cold -- well, my greatest assvice is to experiment and do whatever seems to work. That's what I credit for our good fortune with Jackson thus far. Also, if you try any of this and your baby is still an asshole, it's because my baby is just that much more super awesome. Heh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Baby

To Have My Cake and Eat it, Too

Okay, so I've said repeatedly that I don't think I would survive as a stay-at-home mom. But I didn't think sending my little boy off to daycare would be so hard, either. Shit, shit, shit.

We're transitioning him in this week, adding a few more hours each day. This morning was supposed to be a trial run of the "usual" morning drop-off time, with me picking him up around 1PM (so, a half-day). Well, he decided to sleep for 8 consecutive hours last night (!) after his 8PM bedtime, which I refuse to complain about (because, awesome) but it threw off his early morning schedule a little and then I slept in too late...and we didn't get to daycare until almost 9AM. My target had been 7:45AM. Hahahahahahaha. Hahaha. Ha. How dopey am I for thinking I could pull it off? So after feeding and cleaning and changing and spewing and cleaning again and getting in the car, we made it with him in a great mood (which makes me feel tremendously better, dropping him off and seeing him happy and playful). And by the time I got home, I just wanted to cry. My house is quiet. Still. Sure, I can do leisurely things like the laundry without rushing to feed a waking baby. Right, I have the glorious luxury of going to the bathroom whenever I want (wheee!!!! look at me, having a carefree pee!). Yeah, I can spend a little more quality time with the poor neglected dog. But I miss my baby. I don't want to drop him off with someone else all day, regardless of what I can get done when he's gone. I don't want to go back to work. I don't want to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I want to live in a universe where this is reconciled nicely.

If I insisted, we could be a one-income family. I am not insisting. I (mostly) like having a job and the second income, and we couldn't economically justify (or afford) the expense of daycare or a nanny if I'm not working. And if work is beastly and doesn't get better within a few months of my return (and when you work for a shitty manager, who knows?), I can leave and freelance instead of or until finding another job, if I feel compelled. I am watching and waiting to see how this shapes up. I just wish I was returning to a job I loved and missed terribly, so that leaving my son in the care of others every weekday felt like a necessity worth having, but...I dunno. It does get tiring to care for him all day, every day, with only a few hours of reprieve while KB puts him to bed and he sleeps until his nighttime feedings begin, but when he's not with me I just miss him. Does. not. compute.

I am going to have to Ferberize myself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Odds and Ends

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time: We hosted the annual family Christmas party again this year. It was kind of a lot of work, to drag extra tables and chairs and decorations and food from the basement or wherever to accommodate around 30 people (with a baby in tow), but we did it. I even made time to make these:
That's right. Gourmet cupcakes (homemade! fondant!) and cake pops (thank you, bakerella). I mean -- cake pops, bitches. My sister made the fondant and decorated my cupcakes, and I made the cake pops and decorated with her help. I had to make them in stages, step by step, around Jackson's schedule. Step 1: bake cupcakes (in between 8AM feeding and pumping). Step 2: make cake balls and stash in fridge (during swing nap). Step 3: coat cake balls in white or chocolate candy and let dry (pausing to shush awake, crying baby after every 2-3 cake pops are coated). Step 4: add decorations to cake pops (this part takes an eternity, so my sister and I alternated between decorating and entertaining the boy who was wide awake at this point and uninterested in taking any sort of nap). Step 5: EAT. Nom. They're pretty tasty and not that hard once you get the hang of it. I can't wait for the next excuse to make them -- I have plans that'll BLOW YOUR MINDS. You'll see.

The party was a hit, although one branch of the family tree has total monsters for children who are hard to manage (they LOOK sweet but they are hideous inside). They're mean, don't share, have never been told "no" in their tender young lives (7 and 4 years old, girl and boy) and are utterly impossible to leave unattended for 10 seconds lest your house get burnt to the ground. Except their parents totally leave them unattended at all times. I had to pull the 4-year-old out of our baby swing, off of the baby playmat, etc., etc. repeatedly (like, many, many times) because I would tell him so very nicely -- in my twee mommy voice -- to please not play with those things because they are for a tiny baby and he is such a big boy, and he would just stare at me with dead eyes and keep working with all his might to break whatever was in his cold, destructive little fists. Just, dude. It's not just a "kid thing" because the other kids at the party, whose parents apparently do believe in boundaries and respect for others, were pretty well-behaved and when told "no" would stop what they were doing without question and find something more productive to do. So, yeah, next year we have to process-improve and a) remove all things we don't want touched by little Damien out of the main floor of the house and completely out of sight and b) designate an attentive, responsible parent (so, not one of theirs) to be the Kid Wrangler and keep them busy with appropriate activities. I mean, the rest of the kids sat in the living room and colored on the coffee table (even Beelzebub's sister sat with the other kids and colored, although she was nasty to the other kids and generally annoyed the snot out of everyone). Our house will be kid-proofed by next Christmas because Jackson will be over a year old (!) and crawling or walking, so that may help minimize temptation. I can't make Thing One and Thing Two into better children just because they're in my house, and I doubt they'll improve with age. *le sigh* I guess it's useful for me to observe little Voldemort's behavior so I build up my arsenal of what-not-to-dos. Oh, and there was also an endless parade of assvice from the elders (we're spoooiiiillling him by holding him so much!) but generally everyone was in love with our little monkey and just wanted to hold him themselves. He slept through most of the party, pausing only for his usual 2PM and 5PM feedings and a couple of britches changes. I did have to change his cute party sweater in favor of footie pajamas after he failed the smell test from a bout of milk-spew. Or, he's just a diva and needs wardrobe changes during his special events. (For this appearance, he got paid in boob juice. But you should have seen his rider.)

Back-to-Work Blues: I start work in 2 weeks. We start the daycare transition this week. *sob* My boss apparently told one of my coworkers, "I can't wait until Jen is back from maternity leave, so I can load her up with tons of projects!" Fuck. I carried more projects than my colleagues when I was pregnant and sick as a dog, and I constantly requested and was denied appropriate support. Not because my employer, as an institution, is inattentive to its employees; just my manager. In fact, everyone uniformly dislikes him and thinks he's a total douchenozzle, except (inexplicably) his own boss. Part of the problem is that he has a team of talented writers who cover for his terrible management (or lack thereof), so senior management only sees the work getting done with him taking all the credit. But performance review time is upon us, so I hope that either he gets his ass handed to him for being a total twatwaffle (thank you, 360 reviews) and/or I get transferred to another team. Because, oh yeah, I got reassigned to a different type of work than I was hired to do without my consent while on leave, and the new designation forces me to take regulatory writing projects that are chaotic, urgent, scope-shifting, and generally a pain in my asshole. Uh, not cool. I wrote my manager an email reminding him of my return to work and spelling out my reasons for rejecting this new designation and the shitball assignments that come with it. No response. No surprise. The slippery slope started happening last March, when I was put on his team and agreed to pick up a few random projects, and I fought it unsuccessfully during pregnancy (I didn't want to rock the boat when I was about to be out on an extended leave)...but I'm baaaa-aaaack and I'm kicking ass and taking names. I like this job, but I am not so in lurve with it that I will do literally anything to keep it. And this problem can pretty much all be chalked up to a totally out-to-lunch manager. My best bet is to get transferred to another team where I can go back to writing manuscripts for a living, which is what I signed up to do.

I'm just in the midst of a priority shift that feels right to me -- I want and need to work, but I'm not okay with work taking over my life and at any point being more important to me than my son. I don't want to be the mom who's always running late to get him from daycare, or who can't go on the fieldtrip with his class because I have a deadline, etc. I grew up as a latchkey kid with no parental guidance (under totally different circumstances, but still...) and I want for Jackson to know that he comes first, always. So, I'm being as deliberate as I can, asserting myself at work so they know that if they value me, they need to meet me halfway. I want the original job back that I interviewed for and accepted, not this hot mess they're asking me to do now. I want to flex my schedule to get work done by Thursday evening or Friday morning, so I can pick my son up early (or keep him home) on Fridays and have special time with him. (I maintained this schedule for the past year and a half, as do a lot of folks who work from home, but it depends upon me getting assigned a reasonable amount of work -- that's in question right now with my current manager). I want to determine the right set-point for work-life balance and have that honored. Or else. Just because I am capable of working like a slave doesn't mean I am willing. I have made the mistake in the past (well, it made sense at the time), agreeing to pick up extra projects -- particularly difficult projects and urgent projects -- but I am not *that* girl anymore.

Holla Back!: Some birth announcements happening our there in happy for you girls! Nothing better than new babies.

Random, Gratuitous Cuteness: My monkey!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why SAHM is a Four-Letter Word

I would like to stay home for three, maybe even six or nine, more months. I would, however, not love to. I want to be the primary caregiver to Jackson for as long as possible, to be there for every milestone and every smile and every tear, but there are reasons why it just won't work. Why I am not actively trying to make it work.

First of all, but not most importantly because after the past two years we know the meaning of sacrifice, we are set up as a two-income home. It is possible for us to function with KB's income alone, but it would require a lot of financial juggling and plate-spinning and probably create plenty of stress along the way. After the economic mindfuck that infertility treatment was -- we just received another adjusted insurance claim/soon-to-be-bill this week; will we ever be done with the RE clinic? Or, more to the point, will they ever be done with us? -- we do not need any more money woes. Together, we make a very comfortable living that affords a nice vacation or two every year, and the ability to provide for our family and take care of our home without worrying about giving up necessities for the niceties. And we like it that way. Money isn't everything, but it does buy a lot of important things. Things we need, things we enjoy, and things that help make a happy home.

It's sort of a moot point from a job perspective, because my position cannot be reduced to part-time and cannot be held for even a few more months of unpaid leave. I'd have to develop a seizure disorder or lop off a limb to stay out of work on disability any longer than the 14 weeks I've had (a combo of FMLA and short-term disability plus the remainder of paid time off that I banked for the holidays). I am not so enamored of my current job that I couldn't bear the thought of quitting (indeed, I ponder it often and with zeal), but it wouldn't be waiting for me when I wanted to return. And though I am very marketable with my particular skillset and experience, the economy is still on life support and I can't trust that I'd be able to find a job when the time comes. Freelancing is always an option (contract medical writers are often in demand for one-off jobs or short-term pharmaceutical industry support to develop manuscripts, advisory board presentations, or get caught up on clinical study reports) but it's not guaranteed steady work. I also know from friends who do it that it can be stressful to find an equilibrium between accepting enough freelance work to make a living, but not saying "yes" (in order to keep the clients) to the point that you're basically working full-time or worse. It's an option I keep in my back pocket in case my career goes nuclear for one reason or another.

All logistics aside, the most compelling reason for me to go back to work rather than stay home is that being a full-time stay-at-home mom is hard fucking work. Grueling. Sometimes discouraging. At times, even depressing. I love being with my son. I love him to pieces. But my days at home with him can be very, very stressful. Don't get me wrong -- some days are better than others. Some days he naps well, eats well, fusses a little but settles down, and lets me put him down long enough to go the bathroom or eat lunch or finish the laundry. If every day was one of those days, I would be writing a very different post about how KB and I are going to make it work with one working parent for the next year or so. But not every day is like that. In fact, those kind of days are in the clear minority right now, although things are looking up all the time. As Jackson gets older and develops, he grows more independent and creates eating and sleeping patterns I can work with. But I still spend my days, even the good ones, on pins on needles, rushing to complete whatever menial tasks I can as fast as I can, counting down the minutes until the next feeding or watching for signs that he's about to wake up. If I take him with me to run errands, I rush in fear of him screaming in a public place or having to nurse him somewhere terribly inconvenient. And if I'm not working, we can't really justify the added expense of hired help, even part-time. And that leaves me...alone. I'm not cut out for that, no matter how hard I try. The Mommy and Me groups aren't for me, either, since I'm basically a social outcast with a carefully selected inner circle who does not mingle well or desire to make new Mommy friends (the few I already have are enough -- plus, I like my non-parent friends, too).

I also think I need to work for my own intellectual satisfaction and the adult interaction. It's funny to add that last part, because I work remotely from a home office, but I do meet up with nearby coworkers and friends for lunch every now and again while working, and I have telephone or web meetings almost every day with colleagues and clients. Basically, I don't think I'm ready to trade The New England Journal of Medicine for Mother Goose.

I roll this over and over in my mind, because part of me feels like I should want to stay home, after everything we had to do and how hard we fought to bring Jackson into our lives. But then I remind myself: I am not held to a higher standard of motherhood just because we're infertile and Jackson is an IVF baby.

I wish being a working mom was an easy, clean choice. But it's not, so I am choosing what seems to be, on balance, best for our family. In my head, I give returning to work around 3-6 months, tops. If I hate it, I can quit and start freelancing, and keep Jackson home with me a couple of days each week. And if I don't hate it, I'll just feel good about my original choice. Here's hoping it's a win-win.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No! Sleep! Til Brooklyn!

So, sleep training. Yikes, y'all. It sort of works. Mostly. The pediatrician gave me some pointers and suggestions at the 2-month check-up, advised that sleep habits become ingrained around 2 months, and so we started over the Thanksgiving holiday. First, we had to get him to eat a little more during the day and skip a feeding at night. Oh, that was fun. He did not respond to our logic and pleas and shushes and made-up silly songs and just wound up passing out from exhaustion after an hour or two. Fun times, for all. But it worked! He went for almost 6 hours without a feeding that first night, although only about two-thirds of that time was comprised of sleep. The second night, he slept from 8PM until about 2AM, which gave me my first major oh-mah-gawd-what-time-is-it-why-didn't-the-baby-wake-me-yet-is-he-still-alive-in-there moment. He's also stretching his second waking/feeding of the night out to around 3-4 hours after the first, so I am effectively getting up once a night (around 2AM) and then again around 5-5:30AM, ostensibly for the day. Although, in my sleep-deprived and poor-decision-making state, I usually try to cram another hour of poor-quality sleep in after the 5AM-ish feeding and that typically just leaves me feeling groggy and mildly annoyed that I didn't use the time to pump, finish laundry, make coffee, read the interwebs, or shower. Whatevs. I'm tired, yo.

We've had our share of setbacks even in the past week, and I'm confident there are more to come. I have to be careful to ensure Jackson nurses enough during the day so he won't be hungry when he goes to bed. Skipping that nighttime feeding means we have to work it in somewhere else. We've had a FAIL on this once already, when he woke up at midnight and I held a pacifier in his mouth for almost an hour, watching him suck on it greedily and wide awake, before concluding that feeding him off-schedule would be preferable to holding the binky in place for another hour to stay on schedule, ferchristsakes. And we've had a couple of mornings that began at 4AM-ish, which makes for a long day. But so far, KB and I declare the sleep training a preliminary success AND without any cry-it-out kind of torture. I'm not prepared to hang a banner on a battleship or anything, but we're feeling good about our progress.

So here's the problem: daytime naps, location of. The only place I can get Jackson to fall asleep and STAY asleep for a decent length of time (say, between half an hour to an hour and a half, ideally) is in a swing. That is, other than laying on me, which is his absolute preference any day, tiny hands down. My dilemma is this: he starts daycare at a Montessori school in a few weeks and they don't use swings and bouncers and whatnot. It's part of their philosophy of teaching, that kids should interact with and learn from each other, including older kids and adults, rather than be placed in confining/stationary "toys." (The principal actually told me that she thinks "positive peer pressure" may encourage Jackson to sleep in a crib -- serious? I hope my 3-month-old doesn't end up smoking behind the bleachers from all this infantile peer pressure that apparently influences babies.) Personally, I'm fine with the swing (he also has a musical playmat, a musical mobile, a jumperoo, etc., etc. that we'll use at home). But I like the gestalt of the Montessori classroom, so here we are. Must. teach. boy. to. nap. in. crib.

To all of you with baby-sleep experience of any kind (including babysitting, reading books, consulting Dr. Google, etc.) -- how can I encourage Jackson to sleep in his crib (or a bassinet, I'm not picky) for daytime naps instead of the swing? It seems obvious he doesn't require being held to sleep, although the swinging probably helps a lot, but when he's groggy or even fast asleep and I lay him down in the bassinet or the crib, he wails. And will NOT go back to sleep (or stop raging) until I pick him up. And I doubt this routine will work well in daycare, and frankly is not that awesome at home.

O, People of the Internets, Dear Bloggy Friends -- help?!?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Enjoy Your Baby"

That's what the pediatrician says at the end of every visit. It's what the nurse said when we left the hospital nine (!) weeks ago. It's what my OB said at my six-week postpartum check-up.

I can see how some people might need reminding. It's grueling work, caring for a newborn baby. Sleeping in fits and spurts, being spit-up upon and cleaning up piles of poo, endless shushing and throwing your hands up in despair when he won't sit happily in his swing long enough for you to go to the bathroom, the inconsolable crying. This is all part of the package deal. And my package took several years, dozens of procedures, a million tears, and nearly $25,000 to arrive. But all that matters is that he did arrive.

And that package also includes the way he clings to you when you pick him up, nuzzles into your neck, falls asleep in your arms with a smile on his face, grins at you when you come into his room early in the morning, greedily nom-noms and gazes at you when he nurses. It's a gift every time he laughs at the silly songs Mommy and Daddy sing to him (somehow they all eventually devolve into "Camptown Races," but the subjects vary -- from "Jackson, don'tcha cry no more" to "Jackson is a milk monster, even scarier than Mothra"). His smell, the way he kicks while you change his diaper, when he reaches for your finger with a tiny hand -- gifts.

It's hard work, and every day I wish I had more sleep, more time to do things I want to do; but I am also grateful every day that I was given this opportunity, this enormous responsibility and incredible gift, to change dirty diapers and soothe tears. I don't expect the work to get any easier, but the reward grows every day.

I don't need to be reminded to enjoy my baby. I can't imagine my life any other way now, tough times and all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Nanny, A Night Out, and Nonna

Our pediatrician said the fussing would get worse before it got better. Uh-huh. We're at the tail-end of a massive growth spurt and the nighttime fussing, crying, raging, and general disdain is at fever-pitch. A few nights, I think Jackson and I have unknowingly held a competition for sob volume. He always wins.

I got a call from the hospital where we delivered last week, from a nurse who serves as a detective on the Depression Squad. When I told her that Jackson only sleeps for about 2-3 hours at a time day or night, and sometimes wants to eat every hour for 2-3 hours (also day or night), she thought that was remarkable. Aren't these the same assholes who drilled the Breastfeeding Only Or Else message into my brain? What did they expect? I told her all was fine and spared her the details of days that are less than fine, lest the Postpartum Police come knocking on my door. Her offering if I need support? Come to meetings. So, pack up a baby who may or may not get fussy and require a million feedings and changes and lug him to the hospital, filthiest of places, and commiserate with other sleep-deprived people. Sure. Maybe not.

My friend-of-a-friend-who's-a-nanny started last week and is every kind of awesome. She's here Mondays and Wednesdays for just a few hours, but I can get SO MUCH done in that time, including pumping more and working out. Hallefuckinglujah. It's a small price to pay for a huge break, and is helping me and the bebe prepare for his transition into daycare.

My sister came to visit this weekend and babysat on Saturday night so we could play grown-up for a couple of hours with some friends. These friends also have kids, including a 3-month-old, so guess what we spent most of the night talking about? It sort of consumes your life, but in a good way. Jackson was a champ for my sister, who is really digging being an auntie. I am so, so happy that she is, and that our relationship is growing stronger, either because of or coincident with Jackson being born. She and I only have each other, since the rest of our family is batshit nuts and totally unreliable. I'm glad Jackson has her, too. The night out wasn't as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be, although I checked my phone every 5 minutes for messages. My sister was kind (and funny) enough to text me every time she gave him a bottle, or he burped, or she changed a diaper to let me know the play-by-play.

And then KB's mom came over Sunday. She and I get along just ducky, but my patience for the persistent assvice is wearing thin. Again, I was told:
  • You can't hold him all the time or he'll come to expect it. Whut?
  • You should let him cry instead of picking him up, so he can learn -- learn whuuuut? that his mother doesn't love him enough to pick him up when he needs it?
  • He is clearly not getting enough milk from breastfeeding if he has to be fed every 2-3 hours, since she only had to give her kids whopping amounts of formula (she thinks he should be taking 6 oz each feeding) and her kids slept for hours and hours and hours, on their stomachs, with piles of blankets, from day one. Thus, one may infer that formula is superior to breastmilk and I am clearly starving my baby and also a terrible mother who deprives her child of peaceful sleep.
  • We shouldn't be using white noise or bedtime music to put him to sleep because he'll rely on it for the rest of his life -- I can envision packing up his Sleep Sheep for college.
She also asked me ninety-seven more times why we can't give him water, and when we can start giving him rice cereal. And she reminded me, after telling me I must not be feeding him enough from the breast, that I shouldn't be afraid to give him formula. *sigh* And then she asked when she can babysit him. Um, when he learns on his own (via whatever method we deem appropriate) to self-soothe and is sleeping on a regular daytime nap and nighttime schedule and is taking solid foods, I'll consider it. Overnights are highly unlikely at this point. I'm not even okay with a brief daytime gig yet, since it's clear that she'll do what she thinks is best from her vague recollection of over 40 years ago, even if it's opposite what I want, because she's convinced I am misguided and she is right. So, no babysitting. Sorry. I feel awful for KB, because he's with me on this but still feels bad that his mom can't get on board to "earn" this privilege we'd love to grant her. He's going to quietly talk to his sister this week to find out how she handled it, as we think there were similar issues with our niece. But until I change my mind (?) she can visit with him while we are home and daycare, the nanny, my sister, and other select babysitters will handle the rest. The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You Down With OCD (Yeah, You Know Me)

I ponied up $4.99 to get the Total Baby app on my iPhone and am now obsessed with it. As in, I must record every baby-related thing that happens on time, every day. Feedings, pees and poos, naps, baths, immunizations, and extras like pumping and taking walks. Well, hello OCD, it's been too long. The last time we met it was a dark, crowded exam room and I was injecting my once-flat(ter) belly with so, so many needles full of baby-making drugs...I swear, it's crossed my mind to record my own, um, accomplishments for posterity given the rarity with which I can take a leisurely shower, eat a meal (or two bites of whatever I grab from the fridge first), or pee or poo without attempting to multi-task beyond human ability to get done before The Boy awakens with The Loneliness or The Hunger. A friend of a friend is a nanny and I'm meeting her Thursday to discuss part-time help a couple of days per week, so I can use my new Y membership and go buy diapers and maybe sneak in a shower and some more boob-pumping time without rushing or having to complete a task with a screaming baby in the background. On the one hand I'm super excited about having a few hours of free time, but on the other hand I kind of feel like I must be an epic Mommy Fail to need the help in the first place. Oh, well. I'm going to err on the side of sanity, I suppose. Jackson is still very much in need of hands-on care all day, and doesn't much like to nap anywhere but in my arms, so I can either remain paralyzed all day -- also slightly ripe from lack of daily hygiene as I once knew it -- or accept help. Happy Mommy, happy baby. So be it.

And there is no shortage of assvice on how to get him to take naps in the crib, bassinet, swing, or any other location that is not me. (Hell, if he would nap in the dog bed, I would be all for it.) My mother-in-law keeps reminding me that if only I could put him on his stomach to sleep, he would nap like a champ, like her kids did. If only. Hint, hint. (Also, if only I could give him water he wouldn't be so thirsty all the time. Cause I'm sure that's what he's rooting for, a nice bottle of crisp, refreshing Evian.) My only defense (as I've run out of patience explaining) is to show the assvice-givers that if you lay him down, half- or fully-asleep, in any bed-type contraption (crib, bassinet, swing, bouncer) during a daytime nap he A) immediately wakes up and B) commences raging. And he's way too young to cry it out -- the pediatrician recommended letting him fuss (not cry, just fuss) for up to 10 minutes before throwing in the towel and picking him up. It works on occasion, but only for about 20 minutes, tops, of napping time. So the assvice-givers have seen this with their assvice-having eyes, yet don't stop giving the assvice. So be it.

Lastly, Daylight Savings Time sucks. I thought it sucked before, but now it double extra sucks. It has thrown off what fledgling schedule we were developing by several hours (why not just 1 hour, I do not know). So suck it, DST, you filthy whore. I hate you and your ilk. *flips double birds*

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's the End of OB As We Know It...and I Feel Fine

I had my 6-week postpartum OB visit yesterday and have been officially released from the bonds of obstetrical care. It's back to regular ol' pap-smear-and-breast-exam appointments now. Ho hum.

Our conversation about birth control went like this:
OB: Have you thought about birth control?
Me: Yeah, I'm gonna pass since we have 0% normal sperm.
OB: Well...
Me: Look, it would just save us 2 years and $20,000.
OB: Yeah, your odds are pretty low, anyway.
Me: Uh-huh. So we're cool?
OB: Yep.

So I am now cleared to exercise and get my freak on. I expected KB to jump on me last night, but I suspect that exhaustion just won. I'll have to sleep with one eye open this weekend.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Survivor Guilt

I decided to spend two glorious hours last Saturday having a manicure and pedicure, a gift from a friend (who had the genius to send a spa gift for Mommy; not that I would deprive the baby of anything, but he has enough clothes and toys and stuffed animals to last the rest of his infancy and then some). So off I trotted, leaving KB with a bottle of boob-milk and a babysitting gig, and cruising through the Starbucks drive-through I used to frequent to pick up some Go-Go Juice (aka Mother's Little Helper, Liquid Nap, etc.). Then as I settled into the massage chair to have my feet worshiped for a while, the lovely woman unfortunate enough to have to address my long-overdue pedicure asked me about the gift certificate. "What's the occasion?" "Oh, it's a gift from a friend to me, for having a baby." And then....dun dun dun..."Oh, that's really nice. I have never been able to have children...." Shitshitshit. My pampered foot tasted, I dunno, not so good.

How many times have I been her? How many stories about kids have made me cringe? I quickly told her, almost apologetically, that it took us a long time to get pregnant and that we didn't think we'd be able to at all. That we got lucky. She asked if we used IVF, and I told her we did, multiple times, before we just plain (because I can't emphasize this enough) got lucky. We steered the convo toward more neutral subjects after that, but the awkwardness had already set in. I hope I made her knifing less painful by telling her it wasn't easy. But really, did it ever make me feel much better? Maybe a smidge, but never much. Because in the end, it's a yes or no question -- did you get the baby? Your score isn't affected by degree of difficulty, only by whether or not you stuck the landing.

People, infertility is everywhere. I am sure I will never leave it behind. Even as I ponder (only sometimes, and only for a moment) whether we will ever try to have a second child (the probability is a high "no" for now), when other people ask, or when I see other people's's there. And it always will be. The end.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"...Is This Thing On?"

Here it is, the lazy list o'bullets:
  • Jackson sleeps in his crib at night now, waking me about every 2-3 hours. Fortunately, I hear him on the monitor before the billy goat cry begins, so there's minimal fussing since I only have to climb out of bed and go next door to his room. For his long-lived claims of being a light sleeper, KB sure does seem to snooze through a lot. Including my cursing when a diaper explosion occurs, I stub my toe, or just generally emit an "Oh, for fuck's sake" for general purposes.
  • During the day, the kid is completely unpredictable. I think. I am not doing the greatest job of keeping track of diapers, feedings, naps, whatever so I'm not sure if there's an emerging pattern yet. I do know that he eats about every 1.5-2 hours and usually takes one super long nap in the afternoon. If I let him sleep on me (which confines me to the couch, parked in front of the tv, like the ultimate slob) he can nap for a few hours. My butt has, at times, gone numb. But he's so soft and cuddly and warm and smooshy when he sleeps on me that I can't help it. I'm a sucker for my baby.
  • We go on lots of neighborhood walks and have been to le Target and the zoo. I'm still leery of going to indoor crowded places with filthy humanity, what with flu season upon us. I also have not yet taken the step to nurse in public, which is limiting our travels a bit. I'm not super-self-conscious about it, but it just strikes me as awkward. I mean, I can't carry the Boppy with me wherever I go. I just bought a (I shit you not, this is the actual name) Hooter Hider which is designed for easy-access in public and I like the apron design much better than trying to manipulate a blanket. I'll test it out this weekend when we go to my sister-in-law's for Halloween.
  • Speaking of which...Jack is going to be my little monkey for Halloween. At least for as long as he'll tolerate wearing the costume, and hopefully long enough to get a picture of him not looking all ragey and stabby. KB and I considered pimping him out to get bags o'candy for ourselves ("Don't be stingy, neighbor-lady, the baby loves snack-size Snickers!") but are frankly too lazy to bother. So we'll hang out at the in-law's house for a while and then come home and resume our usual routine: feed, change, and burp the baby, then try to get him to sleep. It's exciting, y'all. Sometimes there's tummy time also. And the occasional, brief, nap.
  • I am frustrated with pumping. I can hardly find the time, and I don't get much. I feed him on demand all day and during the night, and pump to have bottled milk on hand so KB can feed him in the evening. We call that feeding the Milk Bomb. It is constructed to tame the Milk Monster and to induce the Milk Coma. These are the tools to make baby sleep at night. He gets ridiculously hungry around 9PM and no amount of nursing is enough. So, enter the Milk Bomb. We fortify it with some gripe water (which I assume has some magical properties, perhaps made from unicorn tears or something) and his daily vitamin drops, and down the hatch it goes. Then, he sleeps. Usually. I try not to count on our daily routines being too regular, since unpredictability is the only thing constant around here. It's a work in progress. But I do have to start saving some milk and transitioning a little more to bottles since I eventually have to go back to work. Which, boo-hoo. Although I will admit, at the risk of it making me a terrible person and a worse Mommy, that the anticipation of having him in the capable hands of his day school and being able to take a leisurely shower, go work out at lunch time, and have adult conversations (not to mention resume earning my salary) holds some appeal.* So, gotta pump.
  • It's so muthertrucking windy here this week that my front door blew open this morning, and was wide open for at least half an hour, before I realized it. I thought the wind sounded awfully *close* but had a baby on my teat, so couldn't check. When I did get up, I saw a wide-open door and an incredulous-looking dog sitting in the foyer, her eyes shifting back and forth between me and the path to freedom. What flashed through my mind was: shitshitshitshitshit how fast can I get the baby in the carseat and into the stroller to chase after the dog down the street? I told her to *sit* and *stay* and dammit if she didn't listen to me and NOT make a run for it. I thank all available gods that she is either too well-trained and/or stupid to flee. Even though a baby ranks much higher in the pecking order than a dog, I love my puppy. 
* I'm mentally writing a post on my genetic aversion to being a stay-at-home mom versus my social desire to do so. I will actually tap it out with my fingers soon. -ish. For realz.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My How You've Grown

Time(ing) Is Everything

Geez, I miss you guys. Gals. Homies. Bitches. Whatever.

Days and nights are measured out carefully (not with coffee spoons) with caring-for-Jackson activities. Some planned, many not. Like feeding. He wants what he wants when he wants it. And I can never guesstimate how that will go. Breastfeeding is hard work, and it crosses my mind every day to quit and feed a combo of pumped milk and formula. But if I am anything, it is stubborn. So he sometimes wants to eat every hour for half hour periods, leaving me no time to as much as take a piss for hours on end. Okay. So my nipples are a little sore. Okay. But mah behbeh is fed liquid gold. I have no issue with formula, and supplemented with it for a few days while I waited for The Milk to come (in my sleep-deprived state, I was deathly afraid for those days that I was waiting on a lactic Godot). We've used it a few times since when he still seemed hungry after exhausting The Boob and whatever pumped supply I still had handy in the fridge. I just want breastfeeding to work, maybe because it's one of the last few things under my control in this whole getting-pregnant-via-science-and-conceiving-and-gestating-and-birthing-the-baby-with-the-aid-of-drugs-etc process. I've been pumping twice a day every day and not getting much for my effort yet. I feed him approximately every 2 hours (give or take) around the clock. It's exhausting. If the schedule and effort required don't level off soon, say within a couple of weeks, I'm not sure if I can continue at this pace. He has easily demonstrated he can take The Boob and a bottle without getting confused (turns out babies are smart!). He clearly prefers The Boob, even though the bottle goes down the hatch a little quicker. I suppose it all comes down to what I can manage and not be an insane person who never sleeps or has more than 3 minutes to take a prison-quality shower or a relaxing dump without hurrying to go feed a baby who threatens to go nuclear with a hunger meltdown.

So, here's the thing about breastfeeding and lactation consultants. Don't believe everything they say. Like, not much of it at all. They were super helpful with ensuring I knew what a proper latch looked and felt like and offered lots of tips for spotting hunger cues, but they drilled the anti-bottle, anti-formula, anti-pacifier message a little too deeply into my brain for my comfort. It had me in tears for the first couple of days because I was sure that by choosing formula over fruitless (milkless?) attempts at poorly-latched, pre-milk breastfeeding, I was ruining a natural and superior process over the convenience of shoving a bottle in his mouth. WRONG. I chose to ensure he was not dehydrated, and that I could chase his bilirubin down (he was jaundiced until about day 5 post-birth) and get his weight back up (he lost a little over 10% of his birth weight by day 4). And guess what? We've continued to use a bottle 1-2 times each day (now with pumped breast milk) and are trying to introduce a pacifier (he's not yet a fan) and he still happily breastfeeds approximately eight million time each day (see previous notes on frequency of feeding). So all those rules about waiting until 4-6 weeks to introduce a bottle or pacifier are arbitrary. As is any rule about supplementing with formula (although I will say, his poops are a little more foul with formula in the mix; a small but stinky price to pay). So, my assvice is to use lactation consultants for technique and general information, but listen to your own instincts and your pediatrician for everything else related to feeding the baby. I think the consultants are so hardcore because they know how many people give up in the early days when it's seemingly impossible. But if you are determined, you can make up your own routine and stick with it, any way you possibly can, without the pressure of specific and insanely restrictive rules. The first rule of Feed Club is: don't worry about how you feed the baby.

The copious seconds of spare time I have left when not feeding the bambino are spent on personal hygiene, feeding myself, and doing laundry. It's an exciting life, y'all. But I can't even describe to you how my entire heart melts when he smiles in his sleep, or curls up in a ball on my chest and nuzzles into my neck, or grabs my finger tight while I'm feeding him. Every challenging and painful moment, now and before and yet to come, is worth it in every possible way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

AWKWARD: [awk-werd] adj. uncomfortable; difficult to handle or manage

Two weeks! We've survived over two weeks!

The first night home was HARD. The afternoon and evening were a breeze, since Jack just slept like, well, a baby. But then came the night. He cried. And cried. And wouldn't latch for more than 5 minutes, and was obviously getting supercrazyhungry. His lips began to look dry and cracked. And on he raged. After a few hours of this, I was in tears and said, aloud actually, fuck it, I'm giving him formula. Given a choice between ruining breastfeeding from anywhere between one feeding and forever and starving my baby, I opted for the former. He gobbled it down and we both slept. At our first pediatrician's appointment two days later, the doctor applauded me for making that decision and reassured me that breastfeeding would be fine. And then my milk came in that VERY DAY, and once we got past the engorgement that lasted a day and a half (imagine trying to wrap a wee little mouth around an overfilled water balloon -- no-go), thanks entirely to KB making an emergency trip to the medical supply store to purchase a shiny new breast pump, all was well. Now he exclusively breastfeeds, like a champ. Amen.

I have a lot more to say about breastfeeding and formula, but I'll save it for another post. I want to give it its due. 

Last weekend my sister came to visit and was a delight. She's been really flaky in the past, and I had my doubts about whether she would be happy for me or bathe in a stew of schadenfreude. She was fantastic. It was a low-key visit and didn't disrupt our budding schedule at all. It was pleasant and, frankly, a relief. I'm hopeful this is a turned leaf for us. Go, Jackson, go! relationship savior!

And then. My dad and stepmother came to visit this past weekend. They wrote to me (via fb) two weeks ago and asked when they could visit; I told them any time after two weeks, but later would be better (I reminded them I am off work for three months to drive that point home). So they booked their trip for exactly two weeks later. Okay, fine. They also flew my sister in (not realizing she had just driven up from Chicago the weekend before) and she graciously agreed to come so she could, as she put it, be the buffer. And then I heard NOTHING from them about their arrival time, plans, where they were staying, whatever. NOTHING. I had to get this info from my sister. And she had only the minimal inkling, as they didn't share much with her, either. So they showed up Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we fed them lunch and dinner, and they sat around our family room for hours barely talking to us and just holding the baby. They took pictures of each other holding him, but none of my husband and me with him. They didn't let my sister hold him, either. The only conversations consisted of my stepmother telling us about her daughter's son (the one who celebrates birthdays at Hooters; some can't-miss stories: at three years old, he plays video games all day! he went to a gun show and got to "play" with a sniper rifle -- pictures up on fb! they're taking him to a monster truck show!). Exciting. If you're into shotgunning warm cans of PBR and NASCAR. They didn't change one diaper, never asked to see his nursery, and basically just loitered around our house so they could admire our baby for a couple of days, with no respect for our schedule. It was, in a word, awkward. Extremely. They even left without saying goodbye to me (I was just down the hall in the nursery feeding the baby). Then I got a text message later saying "thanks for having us." Yeah. Super. I found out from my sister that evening that they had bailed in a hurry to get to happy hour at their hotel. They were more interested in getting their drink on (mind you, they did the same thing the first night) than spending any more time with us, or even bothering to say a proper goodbye. I was actually pretty relieved the visit was over, though, abrupt as it was.

It makes me wish that I had never bothered to try and develop a relationship with my father. It's just so much effort for so little in return. *sigh* They were making cryptic suggestions that we should come visit them in Virginia so Jack can play with their other grandson (at Hooters? or the gun show? or the monster truck rally?), and about wanting to take the grandkids (not us, mind you) on a Caribbean vacation. Uh, no. While they are teaching their other grandson to play video games, we are interviewing at the Montessori school for daycare (where Jack will learn Spanish and music at the tender age of 3 months!). (I tried to explain the concept of Montessori schools to my stepmother, and eventually gave up and changed the subject. She also asked me outright, rather rudely I think, how much we will be spending on daycare. So I told her. The look on her face was priceless.) There's just an ocean of difference between how we live, what we believe, and how we intend to raise our child. It's a huge gap that can't be bridged.

It bums me out that my family is so batshitsuperfuckingcrazy. Not just for my sake anymore, but for Jackson's. But as KB likes to remind me, and I try often to remind myself, we have our own family now and it will be -- is -- exactly as we want it to be. Happy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day Laborer

Or, A Hard Day's Night

On Wednesday (9/22/10) I woke up with the nasty-named mucus plug still making its way out, only the nighttime cramps had produced the beginning of the bloody show. I didn't think it meant much, but I called my OB nurse hotline for a professional opinion. She agreed it was the baby cork and told me to go to L&D if it continued and became copious and/or clear (aka, amniotic fluid). So. I carried on with work and prepared for my 2PM "knowledge transfer" meeting to transition project work to my backup. I was planning to start my leave the following Monday.

And then. Just before I started the meeting, contractions began in earnest. Real ones. About 10 minutes apart. So I soldiered on and conducted the teleconference, pausing now and again to breathe through a contraction. That was seven shades of awesome. When I hung up at 3PM, I called KB to tell him I was packing my hospital bag and that he might want to consider maybe possibly perhaps coming home a smidge early since I thought we ought to go the hospital. Oh, and my supposed ute stopper/bloody show had turned to clear mini-gushes. Sweet. KB got home around 4-ish as I was throwing the last few things in my hospital bag, we packed up some things for the dog to drop her off at the kennel on our way, and off we went. And p.s. having contractions in the car SUCKS. If you can manage to have someone airlift you or be carried on a soft bed atop the shoulders of eunuchs or something, do it.

While in the car, we continued timing contractions to find that they were now 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute each. Perfect. I had ridden out the early stage of labor at home without much ado and felt pretty proud of that. We checked into OB triage at 5:30PM and waited. And waited. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart and STRONG. The midwife came to check on me and they confirmed I had a slow amniotic leak, even though they could see the bag o'waters with an internal exam (and here's some simple math for you: active labor + dilated and effaced + speculum exam + pelvic exam = excruciating pain => want to punch midwife in the face). I was dilated to 4 cm and 75% effaced. And I thought, naively, AWESOME. I will have this baby soon! Right. As in, no time soon.

So I was moved to an L&D room and asked if I wanted an epidural. Yes, please. The contractions were now about 1-2 minutes apart, and STRONG, and pain relief sounded pretty good. I had just put in a full day of work while laboring, goddammit. The anesthesiologist came within about half an hour and, three pokes later, I had a warm fuzzy feeling take the place of contractions. Oh, hells yes. I bathed in this miraculous relief for about an hour when they came back to break my water. Done. Then we continued waiting, the blissful numbness joined by fentanyl itchiness (crackhead Tyrone-style scratching ensued). Around 10PM or so, I was checked and was....wait for it....a 5. A mutherfucking 5. I had only progressed by 1 cm in all that time, even with my water broken. And so....

Pitocin. Dammit. I was hoping to progress on my own, but since we suspected my water had been leaking slowly all day (and possibly the night before), we were "on the clock" to get labor started and finished before infection became a worry. They were running three different antibiotics into my iv just to be on the safe side (also, my dirty whore vag tested positive for group B strep). The lower doses of pit didn't bother me much. The pressure of contractions increased, but I was still pretty comfortable. And then. We hit a higher dose that, like flipping a switch, sent contractions into rolling mode accompanied shortly by a desire to push (it feels like you need to shit an 8 lb turd, for your reference). I was in a physical tug-of-war between breathing through these constant overlapping and intense contractions and holding back the desire to push (since I didn't know whether I would tear myself a new asshole if I did, and still had a foley catheter in place that would surely destroy my future of urinary continence if too much pressure was applied). After who-knows-how-long of this, I told KB he had better get a nurse in here NOW because she was either going to turn the pit down or get an OB to check me and see if we were ready to push. Or find me a kitten to kick in the nuts. Something. Fortunately, I was checked about 20 minutes later and was fully dilated and ready to rumble. Fucking pitocin, man. It's brutal but effective.

And all I can say about being told you are fully dilated and ready to push is, don't get your hopes up that this means it's really time for anything to happen. At all. I got this news around 11:45PM or so, and we didn't have the table o'instruments and OB "team" (my doctor, a resident, and a third year med student -- don't get me started on this, as I was NOT thrilled to have a newbie staring down the barrel of my poor exhausted cooch, although he was helpful with holding up my left leg when called upon) assembled until 1AM. No one is in a hurry but YOU. So we started pushing a little after 1AM, and this went on for over an hour. At about this point, I had given up hope of ever having any shred of dignity ever again (having your vagina on display to a room full of people with your legs in the air, and knowing full well you are shitting while you are pushing, takes care of that, no problemo). I could tell how close we were (or weren't, as was the case) by how often my OB poked his head in the room. Not often. The resident even left for long periods of time. And then. Around 2AM, KB took a peek and everyone could see the tiniest patch of baby head. Just a little bit. I declined a mirror view since I worried that in my tired and weary state, it would just discourage me that that was ALL you could see. After each attempt at pushing, I collapsed and declared I was done. DONE. Can't do any more. Seriously. And then another contraction came and I pushed again. And again. At some point, the med student started some conversation with KB (practicing his bedside manner, I suppose, or just trying to distract himself from the contorted bleeding and pooing horror show in front of him). I said to them, sort of sternly, HEY! I hate to break up your party but I'm ready to try and push this baby out again. And so I kept pushing, with a room full of people cheering me on (each of them had a catch phrase: push!push!push!, you've got this!, get angry at it! -- that last one was the least effective, and frankly sort of bewildering).

And then. At 2:34 AM, Jackson was born. His head being delivered wasn't the least bit painful, or even that uncomfortable -- I had to be told it had happened. Getting the rest of his wee little body out was a different story. He was apparently turned slightly to the side, so his shoulders were stuck. What felt like eighty pairs of hands applied an insane amount of counter-pressure to my ladybits to try to create more space for him to be delivered and this led to the longest minute of my life. The OB and his crew were barking orders at me and each other, and I had no idea what anybody was saying, but I kept trying to push and yelled at them to STOP applying so much pressure JESUS CHRIST PLEASE, and then as soon as I thought I would pass out or die from the pressure, he was plopped on my chest and heaving and beautiful and I didn't care about anything else anymore. The baby was here. And pink. And crying.

I asked no one in particular whether I was holding a boy or a girl, and the OB said to KB, well, Dad, which is it? KB leaned over me (baby was facing the other way), lifted his leg like a newborn puppy, and announced rather proudly, it's a boy!

And then I was poked and prodded to deliver the placenta, stitched up (grade 2 tear, not that bad, already healing nicely), and given my son to hold. KB and I were completely stunned, in awe, exhausted, and in love with this little creature. He was, and is, perfect.

I can't quite believe he's here. I totally can't believe I delivered a baby. But he is. And I did. And I will never stop being grateful to the universe for this little boy. My little boy. My son.

And that is how Jackson Elliot, named for his Grandpa Jack, came into the world. Which is officially now a better place.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Got Milk?

To the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In":

Oh when the milk is coming in
When the milk is coming in
Oh Lord I think my tits are exploding
Cause the milk is coming in.

I have a post on labor and delivery, and another on the gauntlet that the last few nights at home have been, swirling in my head but this is all I have for today. Because my tatas are fucking ginormous.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday

Born at 2:34AM on September 23, 2010, Jackson Elliot B____ weighs 8 lbs 2 oz and is 20 in long. He has lots of brown hair and blue eyes and his main talents consist of sneezing, grimacing in his sleep, and freeing an arm from a swaddle. We think he's a keeper.