Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sociable Baby

Limelet is beginning to show more signs of sociability.

Yesterday he laughed when I imitated this noise he makes (I call it his brachiosaur noise). Since the operative emotion in laughter is surprise, this shows he was surprised to hear a noise like that coming from me instead of my usual speaking or singing tones. Which he's also been imitating like crazy the past couple of weeks.

And today he started holding his arms in my general direction when he wanted to be picked up. It was heart-wrenchingly cute.

I finally got another ring sling on eBay as our primary one was shrunk in the dryer--without naming any names--and also any time he poops in it we are slingless for however long it takes to wash and dry it. I wish I had thought of eBay before, but then I didn't even have the baby yet, let alone know anything about what kind of sling I might want.

This new (used) eBay one is handmade, so the fabric is thinner and doesn't have certain features of the manufactured ones. I think I like it better, actually. He doesn't seem quite as scrunched. Of course, this one is a size L/XL. I can't dry it in the dryer since the rings are actually heavier. I tried to dry it and it sounded like someone was trying to break out of the dryer with a big wrench. Or spanner.

I also finally took his little footyprints today. I've been meaning to, as TheLimey has been wanting a shirt with his footprints on. Limelet didn't like the footprinting process, so I don't think we'll be doing any direct-to-shirt printing. I have to look at cafepress and see if I can do it there without the prints being teeny tiny and lost on the shirtfront.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shocking Nap Success!

I've been up more or less since 4am today, the time of Limelet's last nighttime feeding. Yesterday I got up at 5am. Today I'm so overtired that I'm strangely dizzy and nauseated. I had to cancel two appointments today because I don't think I should drive when I'm this dizzy. (Probably would fall asleep behind the wheel anyway, you know?)

Yesterday I googled "baby won't nap" and read a number of the 400+ (!) reader replies to one related plea on Babycenter. About two-thirds of those replies were people saying "Me too--help!" Common advice responses included "Don't worry, it'll get better when she's 8 months old," (!) "Take control, be firm, be the boss, let her cry it out," and "Get her on a nap schedule."

It's good to know that this is pretty normal for his age. I forget that after all, he's only two months old.

But after reading all those entries, I decided today that the evening sleep schedule has been working so well, that I will in fact institute a daytime schedule--flexible, of course, and there won't be a lot of crying anything out. But first I have to figure out when his normal sleeping hours are tending toward. If I first institute a standard getting-up time, I think it will help to stabilize his naptimes, too. Currently I/we get up when-the-heck-ever, kind of depending on how the night went.

The other day he actually went to sleep completely on his own when I just laid him down at a time when he was looking sleepy and rubbing his eyes. So it is possible. I guess I hit the sweet spot of just-tired-enough, not-too-tired.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Limbo - Still Bad, Still Not Banned on Earth

The hardest thing about trying to work on my research at home with the baby is this "never quite asleep, never quite awake" thing.

When he's experiencing this, I can (and usually do) spend most hours of the day trying to get him to sleep or trying to do awake things with him, neither of which he wants to do. I feed him because he's kind of hungry, but he fusses about it because he's bored. I try to do the mommy/baby yoga DVD because he's awake, but it lasts 6 minutes and then he starts fussing because he's tired (and probably hungry). So for half an hour or forty-five minutes I feed him and he falls asleep, then I put him down and of course he wakes up before he even hits the bed (or boppy). Not quite full and not quite refreshed, so he's fussy.

I try to do something else with him because he's awake, but he wants to go to sleep and nurse. So I nurse him again and wait to try to put him down after he falls asleep and goes floppy, but he wakes up. Maybe he falls asleep at some point (like two in the afternoon, at this point, so 6 hours after we got up) and I put him down, and he does stay asleep for 15 minutes, but is twitchy and only lightly asleep, so I can't even start to concentrate because I know he's about to wake up any second.

He wakes up, I try putting him in the sarong, but he wants to nurse. So I put him in the sling, but he hates lying down and also hates if I'm not standing up and walking around while carrying him in it, so I'm basically forced to walk around steadily while he nurses, and I still have to use one hand to steady his head. Might as well sit down!

That is how my day so often goes: I spend probably 8 out of 10 minutes trying to get him to sleep or feeding him (often simultaneously, of course).

So when I do get a break (after two months solid of this, every single day) like him going to bed by 8:30, my brain is so completely fried that I can hardly even open my stats text, let alone try to sit there and re-learn the stuff that took me solid days to do last time, three years ago.

Besides, always I still have all the day's tasks that I've been repeatedly, desperately frustrated in trying to get to, like pouring out his bathwater that's still sitting on the counter, trying to answer urgent emails and phone calls that have built up, preparing and eating some kind of dinner (or maybe even lunch), going to the bathroom, washing his nappies, or registering for my education credits so we don't get my student loan bill yet, or whatever. All those 10- or 15-minute chores that take at least three hours to get done if I do them all.

So how can I blog? Well, it's one of those things that I can do in 5-minute increments, saving in between writing. And I really need to vent some days, and to brag on other days.

Now he's asleep for ??? amount of time: must call chiropractor and try to get money from them, dry his laundry, and maybe then if he's still asleep I can just begin the data screening for the analyses that I was supposedly going to have done over the holiday weekend for my meeting tomorrow at 9am.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is It Sarong? (Sorry) wear my baby using a simple piece of cloth?

I tried to blog this photo from Flick'r, but I think that since my free "Pro" account ran out I can't add any other blogs than those that were set up at the time.

Anyhow, it's a closer pic of the sarong sling and how comfy Limelet is in it. He went to sleep right away. He just prefers an upright posture, but still needs head support!

If I had known about the SPOC thing, I could have forborne to buy the commercial sling and gotten some used saris or shawls on eBay. Or I could have just used some cut-up bedsheets.

Except TheLimey made me throw out all my ol' unmatched but soft second-hand cotton sheets when I moved in, so now we only have the ones we actually use daily. Meaning there's just one set (that he had), and I wash them and then replace them on the bed the same day. If I say I wash them, it's because it's one of those household chores that I don't think he thinks to do unless someone actually points it out. Maybe physically, with gestures. Or threats.

Since we co-sleep, I put a waterproof mat under Limelet and me, with a receiving blanket on top of it so we won't sweat. If there are any leaks, I just toss the receiving blanket into the wash and put a clean one on. As far as leaks actually onto me, well...that just goes with the territory, right?

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Wearing Baby

Besides having a bedtime, another key to having some freedom (while not going into let-baby-cry mode) would seem to be being able to pop him in a sling and go about my business. I've had the Maya Wrap sling since he was born, mainly since it was the one our birth instructor promoted by using it with her children while teaching.

There was definitely a steep learning curve the first couple weeks of using it, but I persisted primarily out of desperation to use at least one hand some of the time. I think it was also harder because he was a newborn with no head control or neck muscle tone, and it often seemed like he was just wadded up in the bottom of the thing.

Therefore, I often felt I had to support him with one hand instead of its being hands-free. Lately he's better about that aspect of it (and so am I, most likely). However, now that he's getting a bit bigger, he also doesn't want to lie down as often, and he often doesn't want his head inside the sling, either, so I still end up having to support him with one hand.

He really likes the upright aspect of the front carrier (that some friends handed down to us), but a) it's a pretty low center of gravity; b) it still has no head support for still-small ones like Limelet; and c) carriers that let the legs dangle down like that are not so great for babies' spines, especially smaller babies. But that upright posture really puts him to sleep right away!

Thus I have begun experimenting with different sling holds, trying to find some (or just one) that he likes. First I tried a pretty standard upright sling posture, which he likes, and can nurse in and then just go to sleep, as you can see here. It's mostly hands-free, though nursing is always hard to do without a little extra support.

Next I tried making up my own sling position. If he's facing inward, his rooting reflex is activated and he thinks he has to nurse and go to sleep, and then he gets irritated and fussy if he's not hungry and sleepy. He's too young for the standard kangaroo position, since his head doesn't stay up entirely on its own. So I made up an outward-sideways facing position that partly supports his head, as the next picture shows. Also mostly hands-free (but I sure can't lean forward very far).

Today he completely pooped up the sling while sitting in it like this (a not-infrequent occurrence). We have no backup sling, so I had to do without it for a while to wash it.

In the meantime, I got out the sarongs I got in Hawa'ii (not too big; about 5' X 4') and tried some "Simple Piece Of Cloth" (SPOC) slings from a website I really like now (link on sidebar). I also like their grassroots approach.

I used the Heart-to-Heart hold and added another smaller sarong (5' X 2') so I didn't worry that he was about to fall out all the time. He loved this one and fell asleep in it right away. In many ways this hold was the best thing I've worn so far: simple, personalized fit for both of us, no difficult clunky rings to adjust, high center of gravity, really light, very hands-free, and very portable.

Now I think I'm going to be trying more wraps and SPOC slings with just pieces of random fabric, saris, sarongs, shawls. Or whatever. TheLimey suggested mesh for summer, which is a great idea (also a St. George's cross flag, of course--which actually would be the same size as my sarongs, so I could do it). I really want to get a 6-yard piece of fabric so I can try the standard cross-wrap in the hands-free nursing hold, if he'll tolerate lying down. The baby, not the husband.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nearly 10 Weeks

Bedtime seems firmly established at about 8:30 now after less than a week. Daytime naps seem to be more predictable now, too. Counterintuitively, it does seem that better nighttime sleep really does produce better napping. While he still spends a lot of time waking up and going to sleep, it seems that the naps are consolidating into about 4 naps per day.

On the other hand, his nighttime waking has also become more predictable (3:30 am) and solid (an hour or so). Nevertheless, once he became fussy, we were able to knock him back out in only 10 or 15 minutes by playing the "magic CD" and walking him around the bedroom. Thank goodness for classical conditioning!

Some of the wonderful and fun things going on now:

He attempts to "talk" to us in the most expressive tones of babbling, especially in the morning. I think he's figured out that the noises we make are communication and he wants to participate too, but he hasn't realized the specific sounds have meaning yet. Just the fact of the voice. His little toothless grins are heart-rendingly cute, especially now that he's been able to generate them socially for a while.

I love his little tiny warm feet kneading my leg, kitten-style, as he nurses in the nighttime. It's so funny. He also asks me, in his way, to say the Lovey phrase. The Lovey phrase is just something I started saying to him during his first week of life as he nursed: "Oh, you're such a good baby, you're my little sweetie, you're my sweet little Lovey."

I would say this every time he nursed, in a singsong descending tone. By a few weeks old he would roll his eyes back and flutter his eyelids and smile when I said it--I think he began to associate it with the milk-drunk sensation. And then he started to "ask" me to say it after a few more weeks. He'll start to coo in the same singsong tone that I use, as the nursing session draws to a close, and then appears most ecstatic when I tell him about his being my sweet Lovey.

This will all be so embarrassing to him when he's 16. (I can't wait!)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Indeed

To the patron saint or deity of sleeping babies. I know what to be thankful about for Thanksgiving...

Tonight, 45 minutes from bath to sound asleep, despite its being a holiday and us visiting relatives. I've been boinging around the house waving my arms, exclaiming "Lookitme! My arms are baby-free!" TheLimey didn't realize, I think, that these have been my first evenings walking around since Limelet was born. "What, you didn't notice my zombie-like state?!"

Bedtime's gotten progressively faster from beginning of the routine to the sleeping. If this carries on to its logical conclusion, he'll fall asleep whenever someone runs a bath. Bath-induced narcolepsy?

He'll also probably have a Velcro phobia from that first week when he was new at getting diaper changes and was wearing disposies with those Velcro tabs. Nothing like a chilly baby wipe to shock a new baby, and he apparently associated it with that vvviiiip sound.

So much for my plan to make a Velcro hands-free nursing top to which one could simply adhere the (also Velcro-ed) baby in the desired position and go about one's tasks. It would probably be fine until he was sleeping and I had to vvviiiip him off to put him to bed, then he'd be pretty startled, which would be counterproductive.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Triumph! [Knocking Wood]

I am definitely feeling pretty triumphant tonight. Now it's true that Limelet has completely random napping/non-napping patterns during the day, which has driven me insane after 9 weeks of doing NOTHING else than holding him (as I currently perceive it.)

But he seems to be doing extremely well with this whole getting-to-bed at night thing, as per the No-Cry method. The idea is to get a routine in place and follow it so the baby begins to associate (and even look forward to) the sleeping part when the routine begins. So (by classical conditioning) his bath should eventually make him sleepy. I wanted to cut out the walking in the dim kitchen while nursing, and substitute a period of rocking in the bedroom instead.

In only three nights our routine went from this: bath in kitchen, nursing and rocking in bedroom, nursing in bed, walking (both me and Daddy, bedroom and kitchen) and playing the sleepy CD, etc., until he finally went to sleep nearly five hours later -- to this: bath, nursing in rocker while playing CD, nursing in bed with same CD -- for one and a half hours total. From bath to being asleep. Quite a show of progress, I'd say.

My arms are giddy with freedom!

I'm not saying there won't be setbacks, but this "routine" business kicks butt, and doesn't traumatize my baby.

Now, if he'd just reliably take a nap in the daytime...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Who's Crying Now?

Limelet has really been quite good as far as nighttime sleep. He's slept for most of the night pretty much since he was born. Most nights he's awoken only to eat a few times and go right back to sleep. But at about 4 weeks, he started fussing and crying at 9 or 10. We thought it might be digestive, some kind of colic-related thing, a dairy intolerance (via my milk), and so forth. We bought mylicon for him, and I even cut out dairy for 10 days just to see if it helped.

However, the clue as to what was really going on came when Daddy was gone for evening soccer on two occasions--then Limelet went right to sleep. Turns out that he was grown up enough to start being bothered by our nighttime routine: changing clothes, chatting, straightening the bedroom, reading out loud, and all our normal pre-bed bother.

So since then we have been getting him to sleep at night by doing something soothing right before bedtime, like around 8pm. The thing that has worked is if I turn out most of the lights in the kitchen and play his lullabies CD, and walk around with him in his sling. Usually nursing. This has not only worked pretty well, but the time spent walking him around before he falls asleep has diminished from 2 hours to 15 or 20 minutes.

So nighttime sleep has not been too bad. The problem has been daytime sleep. Supposedly, babies his age take approximately three naps for a total of approximately 4-6 hours. What he does, is to take about 20 10-minute naps. Unless I'm carrying him in the sling (and I generally have to be walking or at least standing up), in which case he may actually sleep 1 or 2 hours.

This may be great for some cultures, but it's really not working for me. There is really very little I can do that involves walking continually around the house for hours at a time, and I don't care what they say--the sling does kill my back after a while and I am wearing it right. (For nursing, anyway--it has to be a lot lower so he can actually reach the nursie with his mouth, and he nurses all the time when he's in the sling. My own fault, I'm sure.)

Sometimes when he falls asleep I can put him down for his nap--a few times he's slept 1 or even 2 hours, but only if I put him on the Boppy (within eyeshot, of course, so he doesn't slither down into the hole and smother himself with his own neck.) Usually the naps in the bed last about 20 minutes, maybe 45.

I've been reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and it says quite a few things that make a lot of sense. This includes that babies need a (flexible) routine so they can sleep better both at night and in the daytime, and that they generally get sleepy for night sleeping a lot earlier than many new parents think, like maybe 7pm or so instead of 8 or 9. And also that making sure he gets his naps will help his night sleeping, and vice versa.

Our own experience with keeping the baby up too late and then having him get overtired and fussy seems to bear this out. So I've been trying to implement a specific bedtime routine for him to associate with going to bed: bathtime, walking in the sling, rocking, and down to sleep. I want to reduce the "walking in the sling" time as a necessity for getting to sleep, because it's impractical and my back is killing me. But if he begins to associate other things with sleepytime, too, then it seems that we could reduce that.

However, it seems that this weekend he associates absolutely nothing with sleep. I don't know if it's because Daddy's home all day and it's too exciting, or what, but he only slept today when I was walking around Kroger with him in the sling. Well, scratch that--he fell asleep pretty quickly a whole lot of times throughout the day, but then didn't want to sleep any more than absolutely necessary, even though the entire day he was often sleepy and fussy. He woke up the second I put him down, or even the second I put him in Daddy's lap in the rocker.

Currently TheLimey has taken over walking him around in the carrier--which usually puts him to sleep instantly--as I just spent the past four hours trying to get him to stay asleep and I was getting really frustrated. That is counterproductive and not fun for either of us.

I just checked on them, and he's still awake despite lots of carrier walking. Usually he falls asleep by now, even though I may have to start the walking at 8 or 8:30. I really hope I can start to get somewhat of a routine established, but of course it's going to be a holiday week, which messes up all kinds of stuff.

I'm really thirsty, and haven't had dinner today, and it's already half an hour past my bedtime, let alone his.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Or Nursing At Keyboard, as often occurs, so I'm typing with one hand. This is slow.

I had a 12-minute walk, by myself, outside today. The first one since Limelet's birth, which was nearly 9 weeks ago now. Turns out the leaves are completely gone from the trees!

I've been trying to work on my dissertation today while daddy Limey takes over Limelet's care.This is very hard for me to do, because I can't help listening for him anyway. And some of the analyses I need to do are going to need a whole lot more attention than 2 spotty, interrupted hours.

Meanwhile, the sputtering and coughing of Limelet when my milk lets down is more and more clearly due to milk oversupply, especially on the right-side nursie.

Today when he pulled back from drinking, sputtering and drooling milk, several little continuous jets of milk sprayed out for a good ten seconds or so. I had to sop the milk up in the blanket until the spray calmed down to a drip so he could drink again. Poor little thing.

When he burped it sounded like he'd drunk a bottle of Coke! According to his father, anyway. (I thought beer.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time Pie

I've been feeling like I must be doing something wrong as far as time management. It seems that every day I wake up thinking, "okay, today I'll keep my goals simple--give the baby a bath, pay those bills and make that one phone call." And then I turn around and it's 5pm, and I haven't done any of it. (It really does feel like a time warp. I walk through the doorway when it's 9am and come out the other side and it's 5pm.)

So yesterday I kept track of what I was doing, when. And then put it into Excel and made a time pie chart. (Love that bar-of-pie option!) I did that when Limelet was sleeping this morning, which was an unusually long nap.

And here's what I came up with (click for larger view):

9.5 hours of nursing during waking hours! Note, that did not include the 4.25 hours of holding him while he was not nursing. No wonder the nursing alone feels like a full-time job. I wonder if this might be too much--am I allowing him to "graze" too much, and use me as a pacifier too much? But cue-feeding (as baby demands) is supposed to be much better for them, and today he seems a lot more sleepy and less...eaty.

He often seems to alternate sleepy days and eaty days. But on those eaty days, I sure end up with sore nipples. (Feels kind of like sunburn.) Maybe tomorrow I'll do a time pie of today and it'll be completely different.

How It's Been -- up to week 10ish

I've been adding bits to this entry as I remember them over the past couple weeks before I publish it, so it may be a bit choppy. I mainly want to remember later what happened to me physically postpartum. But I better get it published soon! This would definitely be one of those TMI posts, so be forewarned.

I expected, but have not (yet?) experienced, the 6-week (or whatever) postpartum loss of hair that some women experience known as telogen effluvium. (For some reason every time I try to call up this phrase in my mind what comes up is "telefloragenesis," which I would guess means "the manifestation of flowers at a distance.") In fact, my hormones seem to have stabilized when they were supposed to at the 2-week mark.

A good thing, too, because I was having fits of sentimental and/or melancholy weeping whenever my milk let down, that second week. Even my skin has remained clear, although I'm not on the pill and I'm not pregnant. Now the only mood swings I have are pretty much attributable to frustration, isolation, lack of exercise, and lack of personal care.

I wrote a big rant in my everyday blog about having to leave the house with the baby for trivial reasons, which was spurred by a particularly trivial incident by a faculty member who should know better. I had to go along with it because I needed some things signed by them, but the whole in-person bit that they insisted on took only 15 minutes and could easily have been done by fax or email. After that entry I figured I better make a baby blog so's not to clog up the everyday one. Not that this isn't my everyday, now...

At any rate, my outer toes are nearly back to normal now. I'm not sure if that painful-but-numb sensation was from my shoes being too tight, or from my leg nerves being compressed by the weight of the baby as the literature discusses. I worried that my feet would never feel okay again, but it seems they will.

A lot of issues, like the feet thing, seemed to resolve by 6 weeks. I see why it's a milestone. I really thought that I'd heal faster than whatever the standard is, especially with an unmedicated birth, but it still does quite a number on your body.

My midwife told me that my uterus is now tilted sideways. Not really problematic, I guess, but...boy, does having a baby do a number on your body.

The thing that was worst (here's where it gets TMI), was not the perineal stitches or the weird flap that my emptied belly became. Nor was it the sore nipples of the newly-nursing mother, nor the uterine bleeding and afterpains, nor the crushed and bruised urethra and bladder. No, the worst part was the hemorrhoids. That's right, the hemorrhoids.

Now, there was little that prepared me for this torture. Texts mention it only in passing, as though it were a small, insignificant annoyance; an aside. "Oh yes, you might also get hemorrhoids. Use witch hazel or an OTC preparation to treat this condition." Television advertisements treat it like a joke, because it involves your butt. But I'll tell you what, if any other part of your body hurt this badly, they'd have the surgeon general talking about it in hushed tones.

Turns out other mothers know about it, too, but never let on. So in the interest of informed consent, I'm telling you now. If you look at postnatal message boards, you'll see things like "I cant belive how bad teh hemrids are! Their worst then th epistoimy." I'm ready to belive it myself.

I guess it makes sense: there's so much outward, downward pressure on all the tissues and fluids in your pelvis, especially during second stage when all that pushing is occurring. Imagine the most strainy bowel movement you ever had, then multiply that by about 1000. It's no wonder that veins balloon out your rectum.

Add to that perinatal constipation, and it got so I'd break out in a sweat just thinking about having to go to the bathroom those first couple weeks. It'd be like the worst raw scrape you ever got on your knee, and then picture rubbing driveway gravel over it. Only it's on your behind, the toilet bowl water is red with blood, and you're trying to go to the bathroom. While your new baby cries for you in the next room. Nightmare!

I'm still not healed, though it's better than those first few weeks. I hope it goes away at some point, because I'm really, really tired of it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Fur Mother Emerges

I launched this blog on Monday, my son Limelet's 8-week birthday. I meant to start one much earlier. However, I haven't had the time to write anything much so far, due to aforementioned 8-week-old. I wrote a bit of this Wednesday, and it's now Thursday. Perhaps I'll finally publish it today!

This is more or less a continuation of the blog I started when I found out I was pregnant, which I no longer am. Perhaps I'll have occasion to write in it again someday, but for now, here's the next level.

Why Fur Mother?

Have you heard of the (cruel, of course) experiment in which baby monkeys were offered wire mothers with milk feeders and furry mothers with no milk? Well, if not, read about it here.

I must admit I was inspired by this blogger's description, although I am not experiencing the nursing challenges she describes. I just subscribe to the similar idea that the best gift you can give your child is a happy, f#rry parent, so that is the ideal to which I aspire.

I'm doing my best to follow the basic premises of attachment parenting, though I hope that I can see my way to be flexible and take what I need rather than being slavish. It just seems like the parenting philosophy that most closely follows what I already believe.

I have to admit, some days the attachment parenting ideal and the happy parent ideal seem in direct conflict. However, most of life is a balancing act anyway, so why should this be any different? I will most likely complain and vent a lot here about this conflict--when I have time, that is. I pretty much only go online when my son is willing to nurse while I sit in the office chair.