Monthly Archives: August 2010

Things They Are a Changin’ (Sort of)

I was on the phone with my college roommate the other day–it had been an embarrassingly long time since we had last talked–when she asked me what the biggest change was for me post baby. It seemed like such a simple question, but I really was at a loss for a good answer. Where do you even start to answer that?

Sure, there are a lot of things that are different. My pant size and my cup size for sure. But those are minor and (hopefully) temporary. But the other big changes are that we really can’t do things on a whim (sure, let’s swing by so-and-so’s barbecue on our way out) or change plans midstream (you want to meet at what bar instead?). We haven’t really had any big nights on the town or those days where you’re on the boat or at a baseball game at 1pm and then next thing you know it’s midnight and you’re in a bar and haven’t eaten dinner. (I’m ridiculously afraid of what I’ll feel like the morning after.)

But it’s not like we’ve been holed up in our house for the past three months either. We go out for coffee, lunch, and dinner several times a week (sometimes even all three in a day). We go out for walks, yoga class, and boat rides. We’ve visited friends, gone to happy hour, taken in a couple concerts, and also entertained at our house. So, in that way, we’re still pretty much the same.

Maybe the biggest change is that we’re just going a little slower day to day. Whereas maybe we used to do six activities a day (a walk, coffee, boat ride, happy hour, dinner, drinks), we now do one, two, or maybe three. (Some days just getting the baby and ourselves cleaned up seems like a big deal.) So maybe baby has just made us Sarah and Ian light.

My husband probably wouldn’t like to think of ourselves as slowing down–he’s a pedal-to-the-metal kind of guy–but we definitely are easing off the gas in a lot of ways. And I think it’s making us saner.

It’s impossible to rush with a baby. And consequently we overcommit and overextend ourselves less, which means less stress and craziness. The little things that seemed to get blown out of proportion (you forgot what? you didn’t take care of what?) remain more in perspective and more manageable when you’re not speeding through your life.

So, the answer I would really give my friend about what’s changed is: not much. We’re just taking a little more time to enjoy the things we already love to do.

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The Bottomless Pit of a Baby: Part II

As a newbie mom, I have not stopped worrying about whether baby is getting enough to eat. This is of course ironic because I’ve got a baby that qualifies as a chunker on my hands.

Tomorrow baby turns three months old, and although I don’t know exactly how much he weighs, I know he’s a load. At last check–his two-month check-up–baby was encroaching on the 15-pound mark. And judging by how tight some of his onesies are across his belly, he’s not slowing down. A week ago I was amusing myself by doing shoulder raises with him and the next day (sadly) I was sore.

Whereas during his first few weeks of life, I stressed about whether I would produce milk period, these days I’m worrying about whether I will be able to keep up with the eating machine that is my son. So far so good, but every time I’m in the formula aisle at Target, I wonder if I should pick up some formula just in case. And then I think, “Just in case of what?” At this point, nothing seems to be broken, so why am I trying to fix it?

But there’s this little fear in the back of my mind that I’m not going to be able to keep up with his rapacious appetite. All it takes to remind me is watching baby suck down a 4 oz. bottle in what feels like record time. Left up to him, he’d prefer to take it in one fell gulp. At three months of age, my baby actually gets annoyed with me when I try to remove a bottle from his lips before it’s empty and he’s sucking air.

An Impulse Buy

So, the other day, I did it. I actually bought formula basically out of fear. I bought four 8 oz. cans of Enfamil Premium Lipil. What that means, I don’t know. All I know is that these cans were the only ones on the shelf that didn’t list high fructose corn syrup (or solids, which is even freakier) in the ingredients. (Two mommy-friends warned me about this; otherwise, I wouldn’t have even bothered to look.)

And even though they’ve been sitting in my pantry for the past week–and probably will sit there for many more weeks to come–somehow I feel better. I have no intention of using them, but there’s security in knowing that I’ve got back-up.

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Shot Through the Heart (And Thigh)

Baby recently went in for his two-month shots. I think there were five of them all together. One three-in-one vaccination that went into one chubby thigh, two single-dose shots into the other chubby thigh, and then one kinder, gentler vaccination administered orally. As to be expected, there was a lot of crying and screaming. Fortunately none of it was from me.

I seriously worried that I might rain a few fat drops down the old cheeks watching the wee one scream bloody murder. Especially when the nurse started telling my husband that she used to be really bad at administering shots to babies. She used to work in geriatrics but then switched to pediatrics; but we weren’t supposed to worry because she was really good at it now. Wow, comforting.

Although that conversation was less than assuring to my husband and me, I will say she was a pro. I couldn’t believe how unbelievable fast she had the shots over and done with. (Guess that comes with practice.) So fast, in fact, that baby almost didn’t know what happened. The shots went in and there was this second of pregnant silence before his little round face just crumpled in on itself and turned red and he let out a cry that pretty much said, “Moooommmm! Why did you do that to me?”

Music to Mommy's Ears

I probably will sound like a terrible mother to say that there was something so incredibly cute about the sheer shock on his face before he opened his mouth wide to let out that wail. I think I may have even smiled a secret little smile as I picked him up and hugged him tight to me.  (I can’t believe I’m even admitting to this on the Internet.)

Baby had only shed two real tears before that day. One was when I accidentally clipped the alligator clip that tethers his pacifier to him to the skin on his chest. (Oops.) Number two was when the dog jumped up on the bed as I was changing baby and in the way that 90-pound dogs can be sweet, accidentally smashed baby on the head. (Double oops.)

I hate saying it, but there is something about seeing baby cry his first tears that can bring a little smile to my face. Part of it is knowing that these moments are temporary; no permanent damage has been done. But the other part of it is seeing such raw, innocent emotion. When a baby cries, it’s a simple cause and effect. Baby got pinched, knocked, or pricked and it hurt, so that means there are tears. How simple and beautiful is that?

It’s no longer like that for adults. I can’t speak for all mommies or daddies, but I would venture a guess that the vast majority of things that make most adults cry at this point in life have nothing to do with physical pain. Tears come from four main sources: disappointment, frustration, humiliation, and sadness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back to just crying when you just hurt yourself?

So, I think that’s why I can smile as I hold my wee one when he wails, clinging on to my shoulder. At this point in his short life, I can kiss the boo-boos away. It won’t be like that for forever, so I better enjoy it now.

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The White Gold Rush

We’re nearing the end of World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, so I figured it’s probably an appropriate show of support to post an update on how my own babe-to-boob experience is going. If it’s any indication, we now refer to breastmilk as white gold.

I’ve passed the two-month mark and as you might guess from my lack of recent posts on the subject, no news is good news. It was a bit stressful in the beginning because quite simply I didn’t know what I was doing. But it wasn’t too long–maybe a couple weeks–before I hit a stride that I was comfortable with.

For me, that meant going against everything I’d read and introducing a bottle early–like within the first week of bringing baby home. I felt kind of guilty about it for some crazy reason, but it wasn’t too long before I realized that pumping and bottling totally enhanced the quality of life for me with the wee one. I felt more mobile–all I needed was my mini cooler pack full of breast milk and I was good to go. And it felt like I got more free time (if there is such a thing once you have a kid) in between feedings where I could get essential tasks like paying bills, doing laundry, and getting myself together done.

The best I can figure on that one is that baby eats more from a bottle in a single sitting than from the boob and, therefore, sleeps a bit longer. In fact, I credit the two 4 0z. bottles that baby downs around 9pm every night for getting him to sleeping through the night. (As an aside, that’s been so wonderful. So wonderful that I’m afraid that it’s too good to be true. The thought of going backwards is really depressing.)

Now, just to clarify, I’m not pumping exclusively, although I’m fascinated by the couple of mommies who I know who’ve gone that route. (Sometimes pumping  feels so time consuming.) I still nurse, but only for a few–usually two or three–feedings a day. The rest of baby’s feedings are given by bottle because they’re given on the go, anywhere from a park bench to a parking lot. (Turns out having a baby hasn’t slowed me down much; I just carry more luggage.)

But the one thing that comes with pumping is a heightened sense of how precious whatever expressed milk you have is. The first time you open up the mini cooler to find out the top to one of your bottles wasn’t screwed on tightly sucks, plain and simple. You feel so cheated because you worked so hard to produce that milk and it’s gone but baby didn’t benefit from it. (You get the same feeling when you have to pump and dump, only it’s worse because you feel intentionally wasteful.)

And there’s always this worry that you won’t have enough bottles to keep baby satisfied while you’re running around doing your thing. That’s a real concern if grandma is babysitting, but it’s really not that big of a deal if you’re busy with baby; after all, you can still nurse at any time, even if you’d prefer not to in public. In the case of a wailing baby emergency, it’s nice that you’ve got that option.

For newbie moms considering going this route, here are a few things that I’ve learned that have totally helped me out:

  • Start early. So-called nipple confusion, the idea that baby will never take the breast once the bottle is introduced, is largely a farce. However, there is now more evidence that mommies can wait too long to introduce an artificial nipple, making for a rough go down the road. For me, I introduced the bottle very early and have found that my wee one goes from breast to bottle seemlessly.
  • Go slow flow.Milk comes out faster from a bottle than the boob, so you probably want to go with a slow-flow nipple that’s made especially for newborns. The slower flow best simulates breastfeeding, forcing the wee one to suck pretty hard. Not only is this good for developing the mouth muscles and reducing dribbles, but it helps babies switch from breast to bottle a little easier. However, you really

    Baby's Favorite Bottles

    need to check out the packages to make sure you’ve got the right nipple. For example, I use Avent bottles. (I love them, by the way; they’re PBA free, reasonably priced, and you can buy a converter kit that works with just about any pump, allowing you to pump directly into the bottle from which you’ll feed.) The newborn nipple is labeled with a 0+ versus a stage 1 nipple, which is good for 0 to 3 months. I’ve noticed similar labeling issues with other bottle manufacturers.

  • Pump en primero. This is by far the best piece of advice I can give pumping mommies–pump before you nurse not after. I had started experimenting with this technique when a friend of mine mentioned it as a great way of building up a milk supply, especially when returning to work. When I pumped after a feeding, I was able to get out maybe a couple of ounces per boob after what felt like forever. When I pump before I nurse, I end up with double that stored up in about the same amount of time. And baby’s not suffering for it. Turns out that babies are impressive little suckers and are able to out milk a breast pump. And if I was ever in doubt, I could check for a mini milk moustache on baby when nursing. (He never disappointed.)

Those are by far the best tips I can give any mommies going for the bottle in the near term, but I saw a few more in the article “Breast & Bottle” in the August issue of Parenting. Check it out here.

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Bye, Bye, Baby

This summer has been one full of firsts for my husband and me. The latest first for us was leaving baby for the first time for an adult night out.

I don’t know when most newbie parents first have their first night away from baby–whether it be for a dinner and movie or a night on the town–but my impression is that we’re on the leading edge of that learning curve at two months into life with baby.

Our night out was exactly that–a night spent outside, sitting around a fire by lake with my brother and sister and their spouses. We had been at a family barbecue when my aunt out of the blue offered to take baby home so we could stay and hang out. (I have one of those patchwork divorced families where everyone is spread out all over the place and consequently it’s rare that so many of us siblings are all in the same place at the same time.)

Maybe it was the beautiful sunset that was brewing or the promise of a cooler full of cold beers, but I think it took maybe 30 seconds of deliberation between my husband and I before we had the car seat and kid strapped in the care with her, grandma, and my dad.

As they backed out of the driveway, my husband and I could see baby’s

You're Seriously Leaving Me?

round little face through the backseat window. He was giving us this look that made we want to open the door and run my finger down the side of his face. It looked similar to this photo. His little brow was furrowed, his mouth was in a pensive line, and his blue eyes were open wide, looking slightly confused. My heart tightened a little seeing that look.

We stood waving as they drove away.

“I didn’t like that at all,” my husband said.

As we grabbed our beverage of choice and picked our spots by the fire, my sister-in-law says, “I can’t believe you did that. I’m impressed.” My siblings had been watching the whole farewell scene, more or less in disbelief. Apparently we made it look easy.

I started to wonder if we were weird. Were we somehow deficient in the parenting department because we were able to let our two-month-old baby go in the name of a good fire and good conversation?

But I looked at this decision as the right one a few different ways. First, we weren’t leaving baby with a stranger; he was with family. Second, we weren’t going to be out all night. (Although I will say 2am came amazingly quick–too quick, in fact–when you’re having fun catching up.) Third, he wasn’t likely to be a pain. He had two full bottles, clean diapers, and a change of clothes, so chances were that he was just going to eat, poop, and pass out for the evening.

But there was something else that made me feel like it was okay to send baby packing for the evening. It was the feeling like I needed to share him. I find him so beautiful, so wonderful, so perfect that when someone offers to hold him, change him, feed him, or, in this case, watch him for a few hours, I have a hard time saying no. I want them to share in the wonderful feelings that I get when he’s close by experiencing those little moments–a snuggle against your neck or a little snooze on your chest–for themselves. And I figure the more I share him, the more he’ll be loved; that’s one of my biggest hopes for the wee one, that he’ll be as adored as he deserves.

But sometimes I wonder if my willingness to share will be confused for something else. My paranoia makes me hesitate for a second every time I give my wee one over to another pair of hands; I worry people think I’m a bad or negligent mother. But I’m not about to stop sharing–I think babies are good for the soul–but I wish every goodbye to baby didn’t feel like such a milestone.

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