Getting Used to Life with a Newborn Again

Photo by Jenna Norman. From www.unsplash.com

Baby Oscar is now six weeks old. I love having him lay all scrunched up in a ball on my chest. His smell and soft fuzzy head is intoxicating. This week he has even given me several early smiles (I swear they weren’t gassy ones!) It has been wonderful staying home and snuggling with him each day, but I am still trying to get used to having a newborn.

I had forgotten how many noises a newborn makes. Like his sister did, he sleeps in a Pack and Play in our bedroom at the foot of our bed. All night long I find myself sitting up and hurriedly grabbing my eyeglasses from my nightstand so I can check on him after being woken by a strange sound. In my already sleep-deprived state, I have often resorted to sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed, glasses on, positioned so that I can see over the footboard and side of the Pack and Play. He makes lip smacking sounds when hungry, grunts when trying to pass gas or poop, dinosaur-like noises when stretching, kittenish mews, sweet yawns, and pissed off crying screams.

Unlike Abby, who can generally tell me what is wrong or what she needs, I have been plunged back into “what does baby need?” I feel a little more skilled this time around, but it is still hard to assess when Oscar is screaming for no apparent reason. Is it gas? Is he hungry again, so soon? Is something really wrong? Is he over-tired? Too hot? Too cold? Did his sister do something? Was it a spider in his bed? A sleep-deprived brain can come up with anything.

Maybe it is just my anxiety, but I feel the need to check on him whenever I hear something odd, so I don’t get much sleep, even though he sleeps way more than his sister did at this age. You would think that since this is my second child I would be a little more relaxed, but I can’t seem to be. It doesn’t help that a trillion articles about SIDS seem to show up in my Facebook newsfeed each day, making me paranoid.

Another thing I have had to get used to is diaper changes. I must admit I have been peed on quite a few times. I was not prepared for the speed and accuracy at which my tiny baby boy is able to shoot urine. And the poop! This kid uses at least two clean diapers per diaper change because I swear it is his mission to poop as I am changing him or as I am dressing him.

He wants to nurse all the time, and as of yesterday, has gained almost six pounds since leaving the hospital. I don’t mind too much, now that we finally seem to have the nursing thing down pat. I have been trying to get him to take a pacifier, because I think that a lot of the time he acts like he wants to nurse he is just really using me as a pacifier. We’ve tried five different ones and finally found one he will take, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep it in, so unless someone holds it the pacifier pops out and he wakes or gets upset.

With Abby being older I had forgotten how restrictive it can be to have a young baby. He wants to be held all the time. Sometimes I don’t get to take a shower for a couple days. My coffee is constantly going cold before I can drink it. Often I am so busy I forget or don’t have time to eat. The cycle of nurse, change diaper, clean up spit up, seems never-ending. I am waking up every hour and a half again to nurse at night.

I am so relieved that Abby hasn’t shown any signs of jealousy towards her brother. I am sad because I feel like I have to pay so much attention to the baby that I don’t get to spend as much time focusing on and interacting with her. I try to give her extra attention when I can, but it is not always possible. Whereas she always wanted to sit on my lap, have only me get her a drink, snuggle with me at bedtime, etc., now it is “Daddy, come snuggle me!” that comes over the baby monitor at night. I must admit that I can’t help feeling like the third wheel now. I know how my husband must have felt when Abby was in the difficult stage where she only wanted Mommy.

I am so tired that I want to check out at 8:00 p.m. every night. I usually go to bed at 9:00. I feel bad doing that because it means I get little to no time to spend with my husband. No more Netflix in the evenings together. We barely get to have a conversation at dinner time between Abby talking or the baby crying. I hate it because I don’t want him to feel neglected. I miss spending time together.

All too soon my maternity leave will be over and I will return to work. It is going to be so difficult to know someone else is taking care of my baby, to wonder how both kids are doing all day, to know I am missing seeing my baby’s milestones while I am sitting at my desk. For now, I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

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A Step in the Right Direction, a Weaning Update 

Photo: Ricardo Pilati/Unsplash

Initially, I took a slow and step-by-step approach to weaning Abby from breastfeeding.  When that sort of came to a standstill I decided to take a leap and quit cold turkey; while not offering to nurse, I would not refuse if she asked. 

Today is day twelve of my full time weaning efforts.  I am happy to report that Abby is doing fantastic!  I am really proud of how well she has done.  She has accepted drinking milk out of a cup at night if she asks for milk.  

Abby has not once asked to nurse, which really has surprised me, but just goes to prove my suspicion that she was wanting to breastfeed at night out of habit and for comfort rather out of necessity. 

It is so nice and so much more convenient to not have to pump each day.  Since I was taking certain medications I would have to pump before coming home to Abby or if I had a migraine I would have to pump if I took my migraine medicine.  

It feels very liberating to no longer be breastfeeding.  After so long it really began to feel like a chore.  I loved to do it, and I am happy I was able to do it for so long, but it wore on me after a certain point.  

I thought that perhaps my breasts would become engorged and I would feel uncomfortable,  but that has never happened.  I noticed when I became pregnant again that my nipples were constantly sore, no matter if I used ice, lanolin, or time without nursing pads or a bra, nothing I did made them feel better.  Now all the soreness has completely disappeared.  I think my body was as ready to quit as I was mentally.

I’m really happy with how we are progressing, but we’ll continue to take it one day, one step at a time.

Working on Weaning

Photo: Averie Woodar/Unsplash

I have slowly been working on weaning with Abby and I think we are almost done.  I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year and this week Abby will be turning 20 months old, so we’ve really surpassed my hopes and expectations.  Weaning hasn’t been something that I have really been looking forward to, in fact, the prospect of weaning has seemed overwhelming and made me hesitant to start.  A couple months ago I stopped her first nursing session when she wakes in the morning.  She didn’t like it too much but accepted drinking her morning milk from a cup without much difficulty.  Then I stopped her first evening nursing at 5:30 p.m., the time when we arrive home, so she jad been drinking whole milk from a cup from the time she awoke until going to bed at night.  

I thought that she would have a hard time when stopping breastfeeding before bed around 7:30-7:45 p.m., but she handled it like a champ after a couple days.  After this she got a cold and was teething, so I was hesitant to continue dropping another nursing session until she felt better. 

Finally this week I let the other shoe drop and decided to try and not breastfeed at night, if possible.  I hid the Boppy pillow in my room, thinking that if she saw it that it might trigger her to insist on getting Mommy’s milk.  I then made sure she had a sippy cup of water in the corner of her crib and also on my nightstand and the side table in the living room at night.  My goal was not to tell her no; if she asked I would let her nurse but I wasn’t going to offer it.  

The first night she wanted to be held and fell asleep quickly the first couple times she woke.  The third time she saw her sippy cup full of water next to me and asked for it instead for milk.  The time she woke up after that she again asked for the water, so I think that perhaps the last few weeks (or more) that she has continued to want to breastfeed at night she may have just been thirsty instead of actually hungry.  Last night she only got up three times.  She never asked for milk.  Once while I was holding her while sitting on the couch she patted my breast a couple times then lay her head in that spot and snuggled in before falling asleep.  Once she took a few swallows from a cup of milk but otherwise she just cuddled with me.

I am really surprised that it has been so easy this far, but we are only two days in.  Hopefully she will continue to do this good and doesn’t regress. I’m going to miss our special time spent together, but I know it had to happen sometime.  

Why Do Mealtimes Have to be so Difficult?

Photo by Providence Doucet. From: http://www.unsplash.com

Lately mealtimes have become a struggle at our house.  Abby used to be a fantastic eater but now I don’t know what happened.  She seems determined to see how much food she can get away with not eating.  Unless the meal is scrambled eggs and sausage or pancakes with syrup she is not guaranteed to eat a thing.  Now I love pancakes, eggs, and sausage,  but I can’t eat it every day to make sure that my kid eats as much as she should.

At breakfast she will willingly eat one or two bites of yogurt or Honey Nut Cheerios (thanks, Grandma, for getting her hooked on Honey Nut Cheerios instead of regular) and then not have any interest in finishing her meal.  

Abby will take a bite of a food that she previously loved and then promptly spit them out.  Foods get pushed around her high chair tray or thrown on the floor.  No matter what she is given to eat she will repeat, “Cheesth!  Need cheesth!” asking for cheese. Last night I gave her some ketchup thinking that if she were to dip her meat in the ketchup she would eat more.  Wrong. She just wanted to eat ketchup using her fingers after that.

All hours of the day and night she will ask for a banana, “Nana!”  This happens she sees a banana on the kitchen counter or sees a banana in a book or on TV.  I usually give her one, figuring that since she barely ate anything else at least she’s eating a banana.  At first she would eat almost the whole banana but now she will just take a couple bites and be done, which is frustrating.  I end up finishing a bunch of bananas these days.

At first she would eat more if I allowed her to use the spoon or fork to feed herself.  I think it worked mainly because she was the one controlling the silverware, I wasn’t the one spooning it to her.  Now that it is no longer a challenge and she has figured out how to use the silverware skillfully, this is no longer anything she cares about.  

I’ve tried to expose her to all kinds of foods.  I don’t expect her to like or want to eat everything, but the list of foods she will willingly eat seems to be dwindling.  

Have your kids gone through a picky phase?  Was it just a phase?  How did you get through it?  I would love to hear from you!

The Beginning of the End

Photo by Sunset Girl. From http://www.unsplash.com 

The first request out of Abby’s mouth when she wakes in the morning is for milk.  She refuses a cup of cow’s milk and wants to be breastfed.  We have a routine when arriving home after I leave work and pick her up from daycare: before we even get the garage door shut she clamors, insists, nay- demands milk.  Not just any milk, mind you, but breast milk.  If her coat takes too long to unbutton, if I feel like taking off my shoes, or if there are any sort of distractions that postpone her getting milk she will hunt me down and find me, dragging the Boppy pillow along the way.

Today was different.  This morning she pointed toward the kitchen and at the refrigerator until I figured out that she wanted her sippy cup.  She sucked it dry in no time flat.  She didn’t ask for breast milk at all before we left the house.  Tonight when we arrived home she didn’t race towards the couch and pull down the Boppy pillow, instead she walked to the refrigerator and jumped for the door handle.  When I asked if she wanted milk she said yes and drank all that I gave her.  She only asked to breastfeed when she was upset after her bath right before bed.

I’ve always taken the approach of letting Abby self-wean when she was ready.  My goal was to breastfeed and to try to stick to it for at least a year.  We’ve made it almost nineteen months thus far.  Now it seems as though end is in sight.  

I’m not going to say that on a certain level it will be a relief to be able to stop breastfeeding and pumping…  It is a pain in the ass to pump at work and it sucks to get bit now that she has teeth.  Not all of my dresses or shirts easily accommodate nursing so I often have to try to change out of my dress or take off my shirt to do so.  I hate cleaning pump parts each day.  It would be nice if my huge boobs get a little smaller again.  But nursing is our special snuggle time where I get to cuddle with and admire my beautiful baby and I will miss it.  

 

Pumping Again

Photo by Angelina Litvin. From http://www.unsplash.com

Lately I have been having a lot of anxiety.  Most of it comes from my job and stress with some of my role as a supervisor, as well as beginning my part of an enormously big scary year long project.  I am still getting up around four times a night with Abby and don’t get as much sleep as I want and need.  Family issues and taking care of things around the house probably all play into it too. 

I have been trying to exercise at least five days a week over lunch but don’t always get to.  I wish I could work out in the morning or evening but I will take what I can get. Otherwise there is not much else I have found in the way of stress relief (other than stuffing my face and that has caused me to gain about fifteen pounds, unfortunately.)

  I went to my doctor yesterday and she recommended that I try Lexapro.  The thing that sucks is that I now have to add in a daily pump session after taking the medication so that I can still breastfeed.  I haven’t pumped since sometime in June, so as I sit here writing this attached to the good old Medela I feel like I have reattached the ball and chain.  Bessie the milk cow is back in action.

Every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining,  right?  Maybe the extra daily pumping session will help me lose weight… one can only hope.

Sleep Training

Four nights ago I made my mind up that it was time to start sleep training.  I have to admit that I came to this decision in the middle of a pity party for one.  I was somewhat reclining on the couch with a squirming, half asleep baby rolling around on top of me trying to get comfortable.  My lower back was aching and my right arm was numb.  I just started going back to the gym during lunch and my whole body was exausted.  I had had enough of sleeping on the couch, enough of nights not spent in bed next to my husband, enough of being uncomfortable.  I broke down and cried like a baby because all I wanted was a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. 
I decided then and there that the next night would be different.  Abby sleeps alone at daycare, without protest, so I know she can do it at home too.
So, Wednesday evening as I was feeding Abby I decided it was time for a heart to heart. 
“Tonight you are going to sleep in your own bed.  Mommy loves snuggling with you, but it’s time you slept alone like you do at daycare.  We are going to try tonight, and tomorrow, and every night until you can do it.”

Night 1
When it was time for bed I took her to her bedroom and put her in her crib.  She cried right away.  Then screamed.  She held on to the crib slats and jumped up and down.  I turned on her white noise machine and monitor, the closed the bedroom door.
Five minutes later she was still crying so I went to her room.  I bent over the rails and gave her a hug and told her everything was OK.  “You’re not being punished and not being ignored; you just need to learn to sleep in your own bed sweetie.” 
After ten minutes she was still going strong so I went back and repeated what I had just done.  Again she jumped uo and down and pulled at me as I gave her a hug.  At this point the sweet little face looking so upset made me doubt myself.  “I will be back in ten minutes if you are still awake,” I said and kissed the top of her head.
As I waited in the living room listening to her over the monitor I could hear her stop crying and lay down.  She whispered to herself and then started crying again, quieter this time.  When my timer went off I returned to her room and she got louder when she saw me.  I kissed and hugged her, got down on her level and told her that she needed to go to sleep.  I left the room and set my timer for fifteen minutes this time.  In less than five minutes she had fallen asleep and I could hear her snoring.
She woke up three hours later and wanted to nurse.  I placed her back in the crib afterwards.  She cried for about a minute but lay down and went back to sleep for another three hours.  She woke again and nursed. We snuggled for thirty minutes and then it was time to get up and begin our morning routine.
I was surprised at how well she had done the night before and praised her for it.

Night 2
After supper Abby had a bubble bath and nursed before bedtime.  I placed her in her crib and she cried but did not scream or jump up and down.  Almost immediately she lay down and went to sleep.  She slept for almost two hours and then wanted to nurse.  Again she went to sleep right away when put in her bed.  She woke three hours later to nurse again but then slept until 5:00.  I made sure to praise her for sleeping so well by herself.

Night 3
I could tell Abby was very tired.  Her daycare had a get together for parents after 5:00 so we stayed about an hour and she got some extra play time in.  She is a very friendly and outgoing baby and had fun smiling and laughing for the other moms.  She happily jumped up and down for almost a whole hour while the other kids played Ring Around the Rosie and Simon Says and wore herself out.  After supper she wanted to cuddle instead of playing with her toys so it was obvious that she was sleepy. She nursed and then I took her to bed.  she cried for about a minute and then fell asleep.
An hour later she was awake and upset.  I nursed her and she fell asleep but woke as I placed her in the crib.  She cried and didn’t want me to let her go.  I told her I would be back in a few minutes to check on her if she was still awake.  She fell asleep in a few minutes.  Thirty minutes later she woke again.  I tried to comfort her and rub her back and she fell asleep.  Thirty minutes passed again and she woke up.  This time she would not lay back down so I nursed her again and then she slept.  Twenty minutes later she woke up.  I comforted her and went to bed myself.  Half an hour later she was awake again. I let her cry for a little while but she didn’t go back to sleep so I got out of bed and comforted her until she fell asleep while I rubbed her back.  Twenty minutes later she woke up.  My husband went in to check on her and she got very worked up.  It seemed that each time I finally fell asleep she would start to cry again.  By this time it was very late and I knew she would be awake and ready to play around 5:00 a.m.  I lost my resolve and did what I said I wasn’t going to do- I snuggled with her for the next three hours.   She slept a little longer than I expected and we got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Naps on the weekends have been a struggle lately.  Last weekend I tried to get her to nap alone and it was horrible.  Encouraged by our success thus far, I was hoping that she would nap as easily today.  After cleaning all the pancake off of her face and hands a little bit ago I noticed that she was rubbing her eyes and yawning.  I just took her back to her room.  She objected but after three minutes she quieted down and is now sleeping as I type this. 

I’m sure we have a ways to go yet, but I think we are off to a good start!

Bittersweet Breastfeeding

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I love nursing my daughter.  Once we got it all figured out it has been our special time together each day.
It used to be that she would want to hold my free hand while she nursed.  It was so sweet.  Now she can barely keep still and is often trying to wiggle into odd positions, once almost doing a handstand. Abby is such an active girl sometimes it is the only time she she is still except for sleep.  Everything is a distraction: my husband making a noise in the other room, a voice or music on TV, toys on the floor. 
I started thinking about plans for her first birthday party and was struck by how big she is getting.  Time seems to have passed so quickly. 
I’m happy that I have been able to breastfeed her for so long.  It hasn’t always been easy or convenient.  There have been times when it was painful and akward.  I have wanted to give up.  I am happy to have been able to breastfeed; I know some women aren’t able to.  Since Abby has been born I have had a lot of support from my family and at work.  Without that support, I don’t know that I would have stuck to it.
I am not one of those judgemental moms who will side eye you for using formula; no judgement here.  I know there are many reasons why breastfeeding may not be an option for other women and babies.  To me it only matters that a baby is getting fed and loved.
Now that she’s getting older it makes me sad that this special time is almost over and we’ll never have it back again.  She may be getting bigger, but she’ll always be my baby.

She’s on a Bottle Strike

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photo by Liane Metzler

The past four days my child has been on a bottle strike at daycare.   She will not drink almost any milk, only drinking about two ounces in three days.  This has been a slight issue for about a month, but not to this extreme.

Abby resisted the bottle initially when I began trying to introduce it to her close to the end of my maternity leave.  For a time she would only take it from me, the opposite of what most moms have told me happened to them.  We tried several types of bottles until she took to the MAM brand.  By the time I went back to work Abby would take the bottle from others.

Now that she is eating solids twice a day at daycare, a requirement of the state food program,  Abby seems to have completely turned up her nose at milk during the day.

My babysitter seems to think the current strike is due to the bottles I gave her to use.  I disagree, as Abby has been using these bottles for almost 7 months and for at least 6 months daily at daycare.  I tried introducing a faster flow nipple, thinking maybe she was just frustrated with not getting as much milk as she wanted fast enough, but that didn’t help.  I brought other bottles for the sitter to try, to no avail.  I have tried having Abby use a sippy cup instead of a bottle,  but she only wants to play with it and thinks it is fun letting all the milk dribble out of her mouth.

The last two evenings after arriving home from work and daycare I have had my husband give her a bottle, instead of me nursing her, which she has sucked down with out a problem.  I know she is getting some nutrition twice during the day, but not nearly as much as she should be.  I don’t know what else to do.

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you deal with it?