Monday, March 31, 2008

Best. Birthday. Ever.

You'd think I'd be grumpy. I told my mom as much when she called me this morning to sing to me.

I woke up much, much earlier than I wanted to. I was stiff and sore from sleeping (and not sleeping) in an awkward position.

I began my day by heading down to the basement in search of yesterday's laundry only to find that I had forgotten to put it in the dryer. I set it to wash again and put today's two baskets on the floor. They'd have to wait.

I picked up a shirt that P had left on the dresser and saw that it had a hole in it. Must be why it's there. I'll bring that downstairs to sew it up if I can.

I looked around the kitchen and saw quite a mess. P tries, but isn't the best at cleaning up. I filled the dishwasher and ran it, then filled up the sink to wash the things that wouldn't fit. I cleaned the countertops.

Outside it is raining.

I had plans for the day, places I wanted to go and things I hoped to get done, but I knew I'd need to wait. I'll be lucky if I get to do one thing this afternoon.

But none of that makes me grumpy today.

Today I'm sore and stiff from sleeping with a baby on my arm.

Today I have extra laundry because I forgot yesterday's while I was holding a little girl who was feeling awful from teething.

Today I'll sew up a hole in a shirt that, if it was mine, would be in the garbage, but because my husband loves it will be saved (again.)

It's ok that I won't go for a walk outside today because when I do get to my errands, they'll be with a baby in a stroller or carrier who is happy just to be hanging out with me. When I have to get home for someone else's nap, I'll be just a bit jealous that it's not my nap, but I know I'm the lucky one. I have a baby sleeping peacefully (ok, possibly doped up on tylenol and baby oragel) in her crib.

I didn't mind cleaning up the kitchen because when I did it, I had a baby Birdie observing me from her bumbo seat on the counter. I handed her one teething ring after another and in my mind, flashed back to yesterday.

The kitchen was a disaster because P baked me a cake from scratch as Birdie looked on (in amazement at the wonder that is a KitchenAid mixer.)

When I think of this birthday, I'll always remember how full my heart felt as I watched her watching him.

My thoughtful husband and my beautiful daughter baked me a cake and for the first time in years, it really is a happy birthday.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Joke, by Birdie

(At age 6 weeks)
(middle of the night. best time of day for a good joke.)

"I was changing Birdie and she peed on a new diaper as soon as I was putting it on. I got pee on my hand and I looked down to see why I was wet and then she was pooping too. She looked at me with a huge grin like she just told the best joke ever. I laughed and I think if she could have laughed, she would have too. Birdie looked so happy with herself!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Back in time: Six weeks

"We're doing better this week with sleeping. I double swaddled her (she breaks out of one blanket) and put her in the carseat next to the bed and she stays there for at least part of the night. I love sleeping with her, but I worry I'll cover her with blankets on accident so I sleep with my covers low which is COLD! I get sore staying still for hours but it's worth it.

She smiles all the time now and I adore every gummy grin.

I got a carrier so we could do more things together. She's only been in it a few times so far, but she loves it. I was able to take her outside (bundled, of course) with P and the puppies and it was great to get out.

She's getting better at finding her fingers and sometimes as she wakes up from a nap I hear her sucking frantically. She's not able to really soothe herself yet, but maybe soon (HA! little did I know...) We think she's going to be a thumb sucker."

  • We can see her eyelashes now that her eyes have lost the swelling.
  • 0-3 clothes are sometimes too big and she hates it when I dress her only to take something off because it doesn't fit.
  • At my doctor's appointment, the doctor said that holding her was the best part of his day. Everyone loves her, and it makes me so happy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

sleep update

Naps are going better. I've been making an effort to get us up in the morning a bit earlier (we were lazing in my bed too long, I think) and having Birdie get up and play a little has made a big difference in getting the naps started for the day. She still cries a bit going down, but it's not usually for too long and she seems better rested when she wakes up, even if she is just like me in that she seems grumpy for a few minutes until she's ready to interact and then she's her usual happy self. She's also doing most/some naps in her crib, which is a huge change.

Night sleeping still not going well, even with the earlier bed time. I'm hoping that it'll settle out when whatever the problem is is resolved (is she overtired? teething? growing? working on brain/physical development?) She's been spending the bulk of the night in our bed and I'm accepting it for now. I put her down alone and then at some point I bring her with me. I just don't have the energy or clarity to do anything else yet.


So here's how tired I am. It was something like 2am (I'm not sure, my eyes were too blurred to tell) and Birdie wouldn't fall asleep. I made her stop "comfort nursing" and she couldn't seem to settle down for sleep without sucking.

The idea popped in my head that I could somehow "love" her to sleep. I gave her a hug and cuddled her close (not smother-y close, promise) and just willed her to sleep with the sheer power of my brain and mommy love.

For the record, this does not work.

Monday, March 24, 2008

product endorsements

There aren't many things we couldn't live without, but these are a few that we found particularly useful in Birdie's first four months:

Ergo baby carrier

I am in LOVE with this and so is Birdie. I know some people prefer slings or wraps, but I like the structured soft carrier style. It feels secure and truly hands-free. The belt area is wide enough that I could use it easily even without losing all the baby weight and it didn't bother my c-section scar even though it is designed to distribute the weight over the hips. My back and neck never hurt wearing this (and I have sprained my neck before and am a bit sensitive in that area) even when I have it on for hours. I use it for shopping because I believe sitting the carseat on the cart top is unsafe. I get lots of questions when I wear this because Birdie is nearly always sleeping in it and she seems so happy and comfy. Now that she's getting a little older, she sometimes uses the straps for chewing.

The carrier can be used for front, hip, and back carrying. I like that the baby faces in and not out in the front carry because 1) she's cuddled close to me and I can feel her breathing and she's not accessible to others and 2) she's not dangling by her crotch. Finally, it's not too girly for a dad to use.

A million (at least) thanks to
Cat for the recommendation.

Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe

This was the only swaddler that I found that fit bigger babies. Birdie outgrew her first swaddler about a month before she outgrew the need for swaddled sleep. Her little arms would flail and she would hit herself in her sleep. Often, she wasn't able to fall asleep at all without being swaddled.

The large size goes from 15-22 pounds (though I used it starting at 11-12 (ish)(I think) because it seemed to fit better.) The microfleece was so soft and warm for my winter baby and I never felt like she was too cold to sleep without a blanket. As part of our bedtime routine, Birdie really seemed to respond to me putting her in her swaddler. She would settle down quickly once she was wrapped tight. Maybe she was comfy, or maybe she just knew it was time to eat, but either way, it worked. I'm sad that she doesn't seem to want to be swaddled (though I think she'd sleep better) any more because she always looked so snug and secure and happy.

Bumbo seat

Birdie is one of those babies who feels trapped in a baby body when she's sure she ought to be doing something. She had really good neck control from early on, and has always loved to sit (or stand!) upright. This gave her a whole new perspective on the world and she loves it. I had tried letting her sit in her carseat but that didn't really fly. She knew I was cheaping out on her and she just wasn't happy. So I went on craigslist and scored a bumbo and play tray for half price. And I got yellow, which I really wanted.

I sit this on my bathroom counter (gasp) when I'm getting myself ready and she gazes adoringly at herself in the mirror. She's also been on the kitchen counter (also a no-no, but I'm never even an arm's length away, so whatever) and on the raised area of the shower (seat) while I'm in the shower. This has eliminated so much crying/screaming. I can make myself a sandwich or wash my hair without a screaming baby because she's right there and she can watch me. Plus, watching a baby smile at herself in the mirror is pure gold. Birdie would rather look at her dangling playmat toys from her bumbo than from on her back. When she grabs them, she's at a height that she can actually get them into her mouth for a good inspection. She seems proud and happy to be sitting, so I'm happy.

Especially for Baby Deluxe Sleep Positioner

This is what I was trying to describe in my sleep post, but I'm sure I came up short. Though Birdie settled well being swaddled, she was still a wiggler. The sides of this gave her the feeling of being held and she didn't wiggle so much. The head portion can be elevated a bit and that seemed to help with gas.

Some of the reviewers on the TRU site gave this poor marks, but I have no idea what they're talking about. I didn't swaddle with blankets (or I put the blanket under the velcro-tabbed swaddler if she needed warmth) so I never had to worry about the baby being trapped under blankets. I have a big baby who is a restless, wiggly sleeper and I never had an issue with her flipping the thing over or rolling off of it even though I was using it after Birdie learned to roll (she can go from stomach to back. sometimes) and the instructions say not to. I knew it was time to retire it though, when she was able to inch off of it with her legs even swaddled. I think this is a function of my baby outgrowing it, rather than a flaw in the product.

HoMedics SoundSpa Lullaby

P and I gave this to Birdie for Christmas. It has two parts: a picture projector and a sound maker.

The projector tilts and can shine on the ceiling or a wall. It has three discs and the first time I shined it on the ceiling Birdie tipped her head back and just stared at the sheep and the moon for several minutes. I think she'll love it even more as she gets bigger.

The feature we've used the most though, is the sound. It plays three songs (the cradle song, twinkle, twinkle, rockabye baby) and three other sounds (heartbeat, ocean, rain.) There's a timer on it too, but we never use it because the thing is on all night long. P and I have gotten used to sleeping with "Birdie's Rain" each night. I've started using the music for naps and it's possibly working. We'll see.

I like that it's small and portable. I regularly move it back and forth between my room and Birdie's, depending on where she's sleeping. I brought it with me when we went to CA (actually, now that I think about it, I brought all of the previous items with us to CA. It really made it easy to keep things constant and familiar while traveling.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

She (doesn't) sleep like a baby

In the hospital I slept with Birdie whenever I could (the policy is no rooming-in when both parents are sleeping. don't get me started.) She loved it. I loved it. I've never felt anything better in the world than having my newborn daughter sleeping on my chest.

When we came home, Birdie did pretty well sleeping in various spots. At first. By five weeks, she decided not to sleep in her crib, bassinet, or boppy. She would sleep only on me or in her carseat. Ok, fine. We all needed sleep so I let the carseat thing go even though I didn't really like the idea. Then she rejected the carseat too and would only sleep with me, on the boob. She was very tired from not sleeping (so was I!) and it made us both cranky. By the evening, she seemed very tired and would not be soothed (rejected pacifiers and our fingers and could not reliably find her own.)

At six weeks I decided to try double swaddling since she seemed to need to be swaddled but could break out of even the tightest hospital burrito. I put her all wrapped up in her carseat next to my bed and she slept a nice stretch.

In our experience, once we find something that works, it'll be all wrong very very soon. At two months, she would no longer sleep in the carseat, but would finally, for the love of the sandman, she'd take a short nap in her swing. But then she outgrew her swaddler.

So, I went to the big baby store and found a larger swaddler and all was right again. I also found a sleep positioner that worked wonders. The ones with the two movable blocks on the sides didn't seem very sturdy, but the one that worked for us was a one piece deal that has sides you can bend up and a headrest that can be inclined a little. It was like a little cup, and she lovesd it. She slept (once) from midnight until 7:15 am and I woke her up! That was a one-time thing, but overall, her sleep got much better with a good swaddle and being in her positioner.

Then we went to CA at three months. She was doing so well with night sleeping (waking to eat once or twice, then around six or seven she'd join me for a light rest and snuggle until we were ready to get up) that I thought maybe when we came home it would be time to transition her to her crib. No such luck. When we came home, Birdie seemed to have a hard time adjusting back. She was waking a little more. Then a lot more. Things went from bad to worse.

Now, at four months, she will not sleep. She wakes up after 45 minutes (or 8 minutes, 16, 30, 75, or as soon as you lay her down.) She has been fighting the swaddler, so I figured it was time to give it up. We went cold turkey, because the one-arm thing just frustrated her more. She doesn't take a pacifier and isn't good at soothing herself to sleep. She also doesn't settle with back patting/rubbing, soft talking, or pretty much anything I can do. I put her down, she cries. Period. When she's down, there's no making it better. So now I have a baby who's a challenge to nap, won't be swaddled, and won't sleep unless she's with me, on the boob.

I was looking back at my notes on sleep and at six weeks I wrote that although I loved sleeping with her, I was always worried about covering her with blankets. It's this exactly all over again. I'm getting cranky and feeling quite sleep-deprived. My head hurts.

Co-sleeping is not a long-term solution for us.
We do have a routine for bedtime.
I don't think it's hunger or gas.
There's no way to know if it's a tooth until one comes through.
I've read about the four month sleep regression, but I'm not sure what I think about it.
I have mixed feelings about CIO techniques (and their variants) for four-month-olds.

I've started to read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and think she may be overtired because of her crappy, irregular naps up until now. I don't agree with everything I've read, but I do think good sleep is crucial. Birdie may not be able to explain the problem to me, but I know that I am feeling the effects of not sleeping, so it only makes sense that my little baby is feeling it too. I can see that I may have missed some of her sleepy signs and have probably been keeping her up too long and too late.

We've started an earlier bedtime. So far, she's still in bed with me each night (and even though I don't want her to sleep with me, I also love snuggling with her,) but for the last two days at least she's had a decent morning nap (and in her crib!)

It's a good thing this doesn't have to make sense or be coherent, because my brainpower is seriously low right now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back in Time: Weeks 4-5

At four weeks she developed a deep love for the ceiling fan in our living room. She stared at it happily for minutes at a time. This was handy as her eyes were finally open more often.

FIVE: (things not related to sleep)
At five weeks she smiled. She was more alert in general, just in time for Christmas. We went to P's parents' house and she got to check out the lights on the tree.

Her other grandma (my mom) gave her a cow that hangs from her carseat and was the first toy she showed any interest in. She still loves Cow, just now he's for gumming.

Grandpa walked her to sleep. A lot. Good workout for him.

Birdie recieved five (5), yes FIVE "Baby's First Christmas" outfits.

She began to outgrow her newborn sized outfits (for some reason, they all seemed to fit past the weight limit) and I kept putting her in my favorites "one more time."

Her smiles became more frequent, and they just melted me. Gorgeous. I wrote, "In the middle of the night, when I want you to sleep and I'm changing you or feeding you again - you smile at me and I don't care if I ever sleep again." New baby smiles are a powerful drug, I tell ya.

I wondered if she was having a growth spurt (she was.) She had a very cranky/fussy week and didn't want to be held by anyone but me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More about my breasts than you need to know

Birdie bit me on the freaking nipple this morning with her gummy no-teeth. Damn, that hurt. Which reminded me of other times I felt pain in this area.

1. Bloody nipples. (Yeah, even if you're doing it right it can go this way.) Learning to breastfeed is rough even if you have a baby who needs little help. Even if you can rotate between each position. Even if the latch is correct.

2. At two weeks I got a milk blister. I swear that hurt more than the bloody nips (or maybe it's just that I was just on better painkillers in the hospital?) I tried heat, wet heat, frequent nursing on that side, and finally a sterile needle (gee, where would I come up with one of those?) Nothing helped. It just went away by itself in a couple days.

3. Mastitis. Yep, I got it. The week before Christmas, I was sitting on the couch and getting the chills a lot. Then I felt really cold. I woke up the next morning feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. And hey, whaddya know? My left breast is red and warm and very painful. Classic misery. I read somewhere that if a breastfeeding woman feels like she has the flu, it's probably mastitis. That's exactly what it felt like for me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

the ides of march

It's 9:23pm.

My zipper is down.

I can't remember the last time I was in the bathroom.

But I'm pretty sure it was sometime before we went out to eat tonight.

Friday, March 14, 2008

apology accepted

I had a dream where P cheated on me and was going to leave me but his sister convinced him not to and then he got two nipple rings. (I'm not sure which part is the most ridiculous.)

Usually when I tell him things he did in a dream, P laughs at me or tells me I'm nuts. This time he laughed and apologized. Finally, he answered correctly!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Getting to know Birdie

Weeks 0-3:

  • I love her milk breath.
  • I love when she does the "baby birdie."
  • She crosses her legs inside her sleeper (without using the leg area.)
  • She crosses her arms under her chin when she sleeps (like daddy.)
  • She smiles and cries in her sleep.
  • She snores.
  • She hates to be naked.
  • She hates to be dirty.
  • She hates to be put down.
  • Her favorite sleep position is in a ball on my chest.
  • Her cord stump fell off at 1w1d.
  • Her favorite thing is boob.
  • We go out (to eat, mostly) when she sleeps.
  • My mom declared her an heiress to a DVD collection (which, at the time, was hilarious and very painful for me, as laughing is misery post-c-section.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Good Luck

To the couple at the clinic:

I tried to come when the patient load was at its lightest. I really didn't want to parade my baby through the office, so that's why I hurried through (and declined your help through the door- nothing personal, I was just trying to be quick and not really thinking. Thank you though!) I know the nurses were a little loud gushing over the baby, and I have no way of knowing if this bothered you, and if it was hurtful, I'm really sorry.

I like to think that you were there to discuss your upcoming cycle and that you will be the ones to make use of my donated drugs. I was blessed enough to receive some on my successful cycle, so maybe the trend will continue.

I meant it when I mouthed "good luck" and I wish you all the success I've had.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Feeding the Baby Birdie

When I first saw my daughter, I was so drugged that I couldn't speak or move. P had brought her to my head so I could have a look (he looked so happy, proud, and in awe. It was very cool.) She looked me right in the eye (yes, she did, I swear!) and thrust her tongue out at me. She knew just what she wanted from birth, and somehow, she knew that it was me who could give it to her.

It was hours before I was able to have the baby in my room, but eventually she was wheeled in (and you can bet your sweet bippy that I fought hard to keep her there after that!) and I finally got to hold my girl. Once again, she looked right at me and stuck her tongue out, this time slightly more earnestly and intently. She looked just like a little baby birdie waiting to be fed and it was then that she earned her very first nickname. The nurse offered to help me get Birdie latched on, though as it turned out, the baby must have spent her last week in the womb boning up on her breastfeeding skills because she already knew exactly what to do.


Before Birdie was born, I gave a lot of thought to breastfeeding. I knew women who had been very successful at nursing, (my best friend has three kids who were EBF for a year each) and I knew women who were not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons (my brother was actually allergic to my mom's milk!) It seemed that the emotions surrounding not breastfeeding could be very powerful. Guilt, for one, was a common feeling among moms who were unable to nurse.

I didn't have very strong feelings on the subject. Sure, breastfeeding was great, but formula was perfectly acceptable too. I have always felt that there are many ways to bond with a baby and that it's possible to bottle feed while gazing into a baby's eyes and feel wonderful about it. Still, breastmilk is free and I could make it myself, so I wanted to give it a shot. But I was not ever very attached to the idea and felt that if it didn't work out for whatever reason, oh well, and I wouldn't stress about it if I couldn't do it. Was I setting myself up for failure? Possibly, but it's how I felt.


Holy bloody stumps, can it hurt when you give birth to a hungry pirhana and have nothing to feed her! My milk was on the slow boat, and took over a week to come in. Unfortunately for both of us, I had not given birth to a sleepy baby who didn't know the difference. In the hospital, the plan was to breastfeed on demand, and that's just what I did. At any sign of hunger, I allowed Birdie to assume the position and she went to town. Sometimes she'd be too frustrated/angry/hungry to latch properly right away and it took a minute of bad latching to settle enough to latch properly. I figured this out fairly quickly and we were doing pretty well (lack of milk aside, that is.)

I had written on my paperwork that Birdie was to be breastfed, but that I did NOT want to be visited by a lactation consultant. I wrote that I'd ask if I needed help, but that I wanted to be left to try on my own. It might be surprising after all that I'd been through at that point, but I really was uncomfortable with the idea of being observed or handled by a stranger.

Lucky for me, Birdie was doing very well, and I didn't require assistance. In fact, a LC came into my room to check on us and commented that it obviously wasn't my first child. I corrected her, and she noted that we were successful and comfortable in our chart. The next day a second LC came into the room, slapped on a pair of gloves, told me who she was and headed for my boob. Birdie was upset and not latching perfectly, but as I had learned, it just took a minute to settle her down and then she'd be fine. But the woman wasn't listening to me and she moved my baby's head and grabbed at my breast.

Folks, it wasn't pretty.

I glared at her, removed her hand, and asked her to leave. I was pissed and everyone in the room knew it. You don't just grab someone's boob without permission. Ever. And that's exactly the kind of behavior that makes people uncomfortable with LCs. Luckily, that was the end of that and otherwise my nurses were pretty supportive.


When she was born (thurs), Birdie weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces. Her discharge weight (sun) was 7 pounds, 10 ounces. Not great, but like I said, my milk hadn't come in (despite 2 1/2 days of constant cluster feeding.) We had an appointment for a one week weight check where Birdie had only gained two ounces. We had an appointment at two weeks where Birdie had only gained three ounces.

Though she looked healthy, I knew the Ped was concerned about the failure to get back to her birth weight. I was instructed not to let Birdie go more than two hours without eating (she had been going about three at night, two or less during the day.) This was really, really unpleasant, but at the next weight check, she had finally hit her birth weight exactly. When I brought Birdie home that day, it was like coming from the hospital all over again. My daughter was healthy, home, and all ours.