Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Upson Downs

At this point, I've been at this Motherhood thing long enough to know that there are peaks and valleys in one's confidence level. And to recognize that I am now in a valley.
That old cliche of "As soon as you think you've got them figured out, they go and change things on you" is laughing in my face this week. Ever since graduating from the phase of I-am-going-to-scream-my-head-off-unless-you-walk-me-around-the-house-from-six-to-ten-pm, she has been relatively easy to get to bed. Bath, PJs, cuddle, nurse, rock, crib. Somewhere between 9 and 10 pm.
No more.
Current theories include maybe-she's-teething, maybe-she's-congested, maybe-she-needs-more-food, and maybe-she-just-needs-sleep-training.
I'll keep you posted.
Oh, and eventually I'll explain my two month long absence. Hopefully I am back for good ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy November!

At the Harvest Festival

Whatchu talkin' bout Willis?

I love day care!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Day In The Life...

I would challenge all the other mother bloggers out there to do this exercise...it's highly amusing, if nothing else!

11pm Out running. About a mile or so only, up and down the bike path.

11:30pm Eva went down at 10:30, as is her custom. As is my custom, I am still up. Lately, though, instead of watching bad television or rereading Harry Potter, I am working for the office. They have me on part-time until I go back November 2nd.

2am I pump while reading the third book of the Harry Potter series.

2:30am I am finally asleep.

6:30am Holy cow she slept eight hours! You go girl! As usual, I am somehow magically awakened by her miniscule little peeps and hand-sucking sounds over the baby monitor. Last year it would have taken an act of God to wake me up at 6am. This year, it takes .005 decibels from the mouth of a 15-pounder. I throw on pajama pants, pee, and go into her room to nurse in the chair.

6:50am Back in bed.

9:30am BAM! She is cooing over the monitor, I am awake, and it feels like I just closed my eyes. I swear, I rolled over to look at the clock completely expecting it to say 6:51am. So even though I have had 7.5 hours of sleep, somehow I feel INCREDIBLY tired. I make my side of the bed, throw on my trusty pj pants, pee (again), and retrieve my gorgeous girl. I curse myself for buying Pampers instead of Huggies since the overnight diapers don't have this nifty pocket at the back to catch the pee. I'll have to change the crib sheet again later. After a quick diaper change, clothing change, and a dose of her baby Zantac, we lay down with our heads at the foot of the bed so I can nurse her from my right side, since I used the left at 6:30.

9:30am-11:30am We lie around in a semi-sleep state, nursing and dozing. Eventually she is pretty bright-eyed, cooing, and playing with her hands. I lie next to her, talking and playing.

12pm The family is all up now (how lazy!!!) After another diaper change we are sitting in the living room with Dad. I try to nurse her but she is not really interested. She plays on her quilt on the floor while Dave and I eat cereal and drink coffee.

1:30pm We are finally showered and ready to go. Dave needs a new battery in his car and I need the tinting on my front windows redone. This is our grand plan for the day. After jumping his car to start it, we set off for Sears. (I am following him in case he stalls). Alas, the automotive center there is no more. We head back home. On the way, Eva is fussy.

2:15pm I figure maybe she is hungry now. Near our house, I pull over in a residential neighborhood and get in the back seat to nurse her. Dave hops in the back seat too (with his car still running) and we discuss where to go next. Eva is still popping on and off and not nursing well. We decide to split up and Dave takes off for Pep Boys. While I am still trying to nurse in the backseat, I notice that a VERY crotchety-looking elderly woman is staring at my car. Then she walks over with a piece of paper and writes down my license plate number. She is too far away for me to yell "HEY! I am just NURSING MY FREAKIN' BABY HERE, not doing drug deals with my husband!" Then a UPS truck pulls up RIGHT NEXT TO MY CAR. When he leaves, a delivery van pulls up across the street. Every time someone gets within 5 feet of the car, I get nervous they are going to wonder why it is running when seemingly no one is in it. I imagine the UPS guy's reaction when he puts his face to the back window and sees me nursing. I imagine the Burbank Police surrounding my car and demanding that I come out immediately, and me trying to put my boob away before they draw their weapons.

I decide it is far too busy and aggravating trying to nurse here.

3pm I am up the block from the tinting place (mind you, it is 3 minutes from my house). Eva was STILL fussy back there, and I really thought I ought to give nursing ONE MORE TRY. After all, she really hasn't eaten since probably 11 or so. When I pull her out of the carseat, I realize she needs another diaper change. I pull the pedestrian seat as far forward as it will go and get her undressed on the floor of the backseat. My phone, which I had set on the center console in case Dave called, vibrates off the console and onto Eva's HEAD. She is now crying like I have cut off a limb. Tears are streaming down her face. After a very gruff phone interchange with Dave, I hang up, get the diaper on, and pick her up to comfort her. I get us in the back seat and try to nurse again. Still not interested. Still crying.

3:15pm I make it to the tint place. I extract my crying baby from the car, get her in the stroller and hand my keys over to the dude. I walk up the street to the sandwich shop, where Dave and I have planned to meet later. She's still crying. I order my sandwich. She's still crying. Luckily there is enough white noise and people noise in this place that no one much cares. The guy making my sandwich informs me he has seven children. I say "God bless your wife. Oh, and you too ;-)" I sit down at a short counter. She's still crying. My mom calls. I can't really hear her. I'm trying to rock the stroller with one hand while talking on the phone. I tell her I'll have to catch up later. Now I'm rocking the stroller with my foot while I eat my sandwich. Her eyes are REALLLLLYYY droopy. Come on kid, please...

3:20pm She's asleep. As further proof that God loves me, there is a Los Angeles Times next to my seat with the crossword puzzle intact. I actually finish it and enjoy my sandwich before she wakes up...at

4pm Okay, NOW she's hungry. If she sucked on her hands any harder, they would come out of her neck. I contemplate nursing in the sandwich shop (under a cover, of course). No one in here but me and the 3 teenagers behind the counter. Awkward. I decide to go see how my car has come along.

4:15pm They're done! I pay and race home to feed her. Comfortably, privately, in our new rocking chair. Yay.

4:30-6pm Dave handles Eva while I do more work for the office. My cousin had earlier invited me out to sushi, so...

6:30pm Sushi dinner. Yum. She still has not managed a nap since the one at 3 o'clock. As such, she's kind of fussy, but still not too bad. She takes a 3oz bottle but still seems hungry. I try to nurse under a cover in the booth, but not interested. Picky. I realize she is wet through her clothes. Dave and I do joint diaper duty and clothes changing on top of the toilet in the men's room (it's bigger than the women's but still has no counter space).

7:45pm She's super fussy. Dave takes her for a walk in the stroller around the strip mall and meets us at Menchie's for froyo. Eva is finally asleep!

8:40pm We are home. Bath time! PJ time! Book reading! Watching Jeopardy while nursing in rocking chair.

10pm Final nursing session in her room. Lots of cuddles, wait for her to fall asleep in my arms. Transfer her to crib. She wakes up. I decide to leave and see if she will put herself back to sleep.

10:30pm Success! A little fussing, but not a peep over the monitor anymore.

11pm Watch bad television.

11:30pm Blog.

12am Most likely, more work for the office. And...repeat. My big goals for tomorrow are to get flu shots and deposit some checks.

Should take about 4 hours, I figure.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good Stuff

Alright, alright. Enough whining. You all want to hear about how awesome it is to be a new mom, right? Right. So here is my familiar list-tastic breakdown of things that rock about being Eva's mommy.

1. She's freakin' adorable. I don't mean to brag here, but seriously...strangers stop me...ALL...THE...TIME. Eat your heart out.

2. Baby falling asleep on you. Can we say accomplishment? Sense of pride? Peacefulness, calmitudiny (it's a word) and love? There's nothing more awesome at this point in my life than going from free-for-all screamfest to calm, quiet babyness. Sure sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes she wakes up five minutes later, but sometimes it goes okay, and I can't even bring myself to put her down in her bassinet because, well, see number 1.

3. Her accomplishments. Like the day I set the rattle on top of her legs in her carseat, just so I wouldn't forget to bring it with us, turned around for a second and heard...a rattling noise! My baby, who will of course now forever be referred to as genius baby, PICKED IT UP AND RATTLED IT. Genius.

4. Baby clothes. They're cute. I like picking them out. I like dressing her. I can't believe it, but I do. It's like playing with barbies again or something. Disgusting, I know.

5. SMILES. They're...um...awesome. Seriously. Like looking in the face of god or something. I can't explain it. They always seem to come out right when you really need one, too.

6. Being a grown-up. I think you could also label this one "sense of purpose." I've been kind of...floating around for a while. Questioning things. Never really feeling "old enough" for my life. My house. My job. Now I'm completely responsible for A LIFE. Kind of snaps you to attention...like, hey, you're the adult. Get over yourself, dig deep, find some goddamn patience and rock this kid to sleep for the fiftieth time. And while you're at it, ignore the spit-up dribbling down your back and into your shorts.

7. Loving my husband. Never before have we been partners in something so difficult. Before Eva, we had renovated almost every square inch of our house together (an activity inherently fraught with conflict), fought about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, thrown things, yelled, cursed, stormed off, driven off, you name it. Since Eva, even small fights are easily diffused with...I'm so goddamn stressed out by this kid I can't afford to be mad at you. Let's just work together, ask nicely, give each other lots of hugs, and tackle it. I can't tell you how helpless I felt in the weeks after giving birth, and I must say Dave truly stepped into high gear. He is my lifesaver and my rock, and I don't know what I would do without him.

8. Nursing. I know, I know, the "breastfeeding sucks" post. Well, it's better. Yes, sometimes it's still a little overwhelming (especially when I suspect another growth spurt and we're nursing every hour again). But the majority of the time now, it feels natural, calming, and easy. I guess there are hormones involved that are determined to make you feel motherly and peaceful. Well, sometimes they work. I just wish there were a private room with a comfy rocking chair everywhere I went in the world, then life would be perfect.

9. Looking forward to stuff. As unfathomable as it is to me at times, someday she'll walk, and talk, and ask for help on homework, and cry about boys, and graduate college, and get married, and have babies. She'll always be my girl, and I look forward to all of it.

10. Ricky Gervais has this really funny standup routine about a postcard with 10 suggestions on it, and how ridiculous #10 is just so it would have an even number of things. I can't explain it in mixed company, but trust me, it's hilarious. Anyway, there is no #10, I just wanted to type it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Time?

Remembering back to when I was pregnant, I think about the questions people would ask when they ventured to talk to me about the impending contents of my belly. It usually started with "Boy or girl?" and then continued to "When are you due?" I realize now that when the questions came from people who had kids of their own, the conversation almost always ended with..."First one?"

I think I now realize why.

I hope those people saw the beaming pride on my face when I answered "Yes," turned around and said a silent prayer for me (and Dave, if he was with me). But more likely, I think they walked off with their toddler or young child or children and thought, "She has no idea what she's in for..." And it's true, I didn't. The truth is, no one does.

No matter how many books you read, moms you talk to, newborns you've babysat, NOTHING prepares you for parenthood. Not really. I think it would have been helpful, though, if people had opened up about some hard truths that come with the job. Maybe people are too polite. Maybe they are afraid to admit some of this. Maybe they are afraid of scaring already-stressed-out pregnant women. Or maybe they truly don't remember.

Here's my random account of actual thoughts I have had (some I still have) while learning to be Eva's mom.

I wish I could just drop her off at the fire station and get back to my "normal" life. Too bad everyone would judge me so harshly.

I hate 90% of what it means to be a Mom. It's the most boring, annoying, ungratifying job I've ever had in my life.

I am a worthless, worthless human being who desperately wanted to bring this person into the world and now wishes she hadn't, and I am about to permanently screw up her life.

EVERYTHING is my fault.

I CANNOT WAIT to go back to work/give her over to daycare.

She will never grow up. She will always be this uncommunicative, demanding, whiny, sleepless, annoying creature who only occasionally smiles at me to make up for all of it. Oh, but when she smiles...

I could come up with more, but you get the idea. THIS IS HARD. Not so much physically, although that is part of it, and I do wish I got more deep sleep. (Even when she sleeps well, I do not.) This is perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I have run marathons, sailed through South America in a small boat with no bathroom, and spent many many sleepless nights in pursuit of my college degree.

I'm sure there are some women who sail through these days with way more aplomb than I have. I know that more exposure to newborns could have prepared me, and lowered my expectations for what maternity leave could be like. Having talked to several moms after giving birth, however, I think there are ugly truths that all of us have come to hide. I think there is a fundamental breaking down of your personality, your relationships, and your life as you have come to know it. I think when you emerge from this newborn phase and start to rebuild all of that, it becomes something completely new...it becomes your life as a parent. And I think the only thing I have really learned and sincerely do believe after the last 10 weeks is...

The first one is the hardest.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ode To Eva

Trying on shorts in the mall. You let out one of your man-sized farts. I laugh maniacally and let the ladies in Ann Taylor Loft think it's me. Whatever.

You spit up while eating. This means baby barf on my boobs. Whatever.

Most of the time, I think I smell like a curdled goat. Whatever.

You left me with two stretchmarks and a wiggly tummy. Whatever.

For some reason, I now have acne like I did when I was 14. Whatever.

I haven't slept for longer than 4 hours at a time since...oh even a month before you were born. Whatever.

My car is dirty, my clothes are dirty, my house is dirty, my hair is dirty, yet I have the cleanest floors in the world because you like the sound of the vacuum. So whatever.

I miss you when you're sleeping.

Your smiles make me cry.

I wouldn't trade this torture for anything in the world.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pardon the Pun

Ever googled the words "breastfeeding sucks"? No? Then maybe you have never been a breastfeeding mom...or maybe you are one of the lucky few that has found it to be the most natural, beautiful experience imaginable--from the very beginning. My mom falls into this category. So either I was the easiest baby ever, or she just forgot how much this...well...sucks.
I have googled that combination many times in the last 6 weeks, and luckily found that I am not alone in this assertion. I actually wish I had managed to write posts while I was going through the agony that has brought me this far into the process. I remember thinking many times "Women need to be warned. They need to KNOW how much this (forgive me for repeating myself) SUUUUCCCKKS." I will do my best to recollect my experiences here, in the hopes that it can help someone out there who, like me, just cannot believe that something devised by nature, this supposedly perfect system that exists to nourish your baby, can be so infuriatingly UNnatural.
At first it didn't seem so bad. They put my baby girl on my chest after delivery, I aimed her head at my boob, she latched on, she looked happy. "Okay, here we go,"I thought "...breastfeeding."
My first inkling that things would not be quite so easy was maybe the...oh I don't know...fourth or fifth time I latched my baby on. This fricking hurt. Was this supposed to hurt? Well I remembered reading something about needing your nipples to 'toughen up'. Which sounds horrendous in and of itself, but, you know, I just gave birth for god's sake, what's a little nipple pain right? So really, even when day three rolled around in the hospital and I was gritting my teeth and holding my breath through every latch, I was still down with breastfeeding.
The fun part is, the literature all tells you that you need to wake your baby every 3 hours to feed, in order to successfully establish breastfeeding. So while all you want to do is sleep, and your tiny little drowsy baby is actually more than happy to comply at this point, here I am setting my cell phone to go off every three hours in order to stick my nipple into a jar of knives...oh I mean, to feed her. The other fun part...feedings take about an hour...and actually, if I didn't force her to unlatch, it seems like she would just live like a tumor permanently attached to my breast. Instead I listen to the nurses in the hospital and nurse her for 15-20 minutes on each side, then lay her back down.
Right around now is also the first time I think...this is natural? What did women do millions of years ago? Before there were lactation consultants and books and internet articles...I mean, here you are, prehistoric woman, you've just pushed out this baby, you know you need to feed it...but why on god's green earth would you wake it up when it's sleeping? Doesn't the baby know when it needs to eat? Won't it cry? What kind of system is this?
The second time I realized that breastfeeding sucked was the day I left the hospital. Here I am, dutifully waking this contented child every three hours, when suddenly she starts giving me major hunger cues. She's smacking her lips, turning her head, opening and closing her mouth, eating her hands, and, if I ignore it any longer than that, screaming her head off. She does this...all night long. I fed my baby, literally, from midnight to eight a.m. I watched TV, I surfed the internet, I ate (all clumsily and one-handed mind you.) I only stopped when I walked into the bedroom with the baby draped in my arms, tears and snot running down my face, and scared the crap out of Dave by screaming "Oh my god, I can't do this anymore!!!!"
I called my friend Lori (god bless you girlfriend). I called the lactation helpline at the hospital. Finally, Dave called the pediatrician. The nurse at the latter's office informed us that a feeding should take no longer than 3-5 minutes (warning...FALSE...even at 6 weeks) and that if she couldn't get what she needed in that time then I should supplement. Oh dear lord, did I cry. I had STARVED my baby. All night long. She probably nearly died. Where the hell is that sample of formula I received in the mail? Where's that bottle from the baby shower? How the hell do you do this? You see, I had never planned on giving my baby formula. But here I was now, first full day home from the hospital, and she SCARFED that bottle down. That's it. I have no milk. I am a TOTAL FAILURE as a mother.
The lactation consultant calls back. She really really wants me to go to a support group. Like, today. Now mind you, I...just got home. I've...been up all night. I...don't even know if I can dress myself, much less get the baby in the car and go somewhere. But Dave and I pack our new family up and trek out to mission hills for this lactation group where I learn the mantra of all lactation consultants..."THIS IS NORMAL." Every problem I have brought to any lactation consultant is always met with that response. It's normal. And in this case, the baby is trying to 'jumpstart my system', so to speak. She recommends we rent some movies, order pizza, and strap ourselves in for another night of the same. I am astonished that someone has actually told me to, essentially, just suck up and deal.
But, I am a stubborn b**ch. I remind myself of the 30-odd reasons breastfeeding is so rad for your child. And I do it again. All...night...long. We finally pack her in the car at 6am and drive around for two hours while she sleeps. And I sleep. We drive through starbucks and grab breakfast sandwiches. We get home, gently lift her out of the car, tiptoe into the house, set her oh so lightly down in the bedroom, crawl into bed, aaaannnddd...she wakes up.
The next few weeks were kind of a haze. Things eventually got better...although feedings were still painfully frequent and long. The nipple pain, on the other hand, *did* ease up. And it is true what you read, that a good latch really ensures that it doesn't hurt at all...*after* your nipples have indeed, 'toughened up'. Eva eventually figured out that night is night and day is day. I went to A LOT of lactation support groups. Sometimes 3 a week. I listened to most, but not all, of what they say.
Fast forward to today. Eva goes to sleep every night around 10 or 10:30. She sleeps until 3...a few times, she has slept until FIVE!! She wakes again at 6, then 8, then 10, and some days, I can get her to sleep until noon. I have only just now started to not sleep next to her in an exhausted heap. Now I can actually wake up and have mommy time (as you can see from my recent posting times, I also get some mommy time at night too). Once she's up, she feeds often. Almost every hour. Luckily, feedings only take about 10 minutes now. Then, around 7:30 or 8, she gets FUSSY. She wants to nurse constantly (oh the flashbacks to the early days) and even that does not satisfy her. She pulls off the breast and SCREAMS. I burp her, I latch her back on, she does okay for a while, and then...SCREAMS. At this point, we have learned enough tricks to get her (and us) through to about 9:45, when we bathe her, change her into her PJs, and she nurses herself to sleep.

Here's my advice to anyone considering breastfeeding:

See a lactation consultant. As soon as possible. Inquire if they have one at the hospital, and try to see them while you are in recovery. Listen to some, but not all, of what the lactation consultant says. You have to do what works for you, momma.

See your pediatrician. They will most likely tell you the complete opposite of what the LC tells you. I tend to listen more to the LC, but the pediatrician is also helpful.

Try to brace yourself for the amount of time you will spend feeding your child. It is unbelievable, at least in the early early days, how much of your life is dedicated to it.

Try to give up on your individuality for a time. This was a hard battle for me. As the LC once said to me, you're not really apart yet...you're a dyad...a two-sided system. Kind of like having your own little parasite. You may think you have your autonomy back after spending 9 months dedicated to this other little person. I am here to tell you...no.

Mentally tell everyone who tells you to "just enjoy this time with your baby" and "it will get better" to sit and spin. And then, enjoy your baby...because it really does get better. I am hoping it gets better still, but even now I have learned to enjoy lying around gazing into Eva's eyes as she nurses next to me on the bed and we fall asleep together.

Finally, if you know me, call me. I will totally understand, and I will happily vent with you about how much...breastfeeding sucks!!!