Archive for 00-03 Months

Toddlerism: Princess Obvious

Toddler: (climbing off her toddler bed; whump; falls on floor; cries a little)

Me: Are you okay, sweetie? What did you hit?

Toddler: The floor!


In other baby news, Junior started his swim “lessons.” They offer free lessons from two to six months’ so he goes in the pool when his sister has her lesson. It is so funny to watch them together. Who would have thought that the same parents and the same parenting could produce two such different children?

Junior just chills. Someone is holding me and it is not mommy? Oh, well…she seems nice. She’s lifting me up? Nice view. Now I’m under water? No problem.

He’s now three months’ and 18 POUNDS. Not sure how tall, but really tall. I’ll find out in a couple of weeks. Pictures coming soon.

Large and In Charge

Junior went to his one month appointment last week and he is large and in charge! He weighed in at 13 lbs, 10 oz and measured 24.25 inches.

The nurse asked if it was his three month appointment. Nope, one month. She jut looked at me funny and left the room.

The pediatrician, who calls Junior “Moose,” kept asking about my height (5’4″ and change) and Daddy’s height (5’8″ if we’re being generous). I told him that the rest of my family is quite tall but that did not seem to satisfy him. “How about the paternal grandfather?” About the same as Daddy.

Captain Dad joked that the next question was, “How tall is the milk man?”

Being big has its advantages. His neck control is already amazing. He’s a real content baby and just likes to spend time with his family. He already will sleep a 5-6 hour stretch at night. Before anyone says, “Lucky you!” let me just say I deserve an easy baby after Diva the Kid. I firmly believe that all babies are “good” babies, just some are more challenging than others. And they do not come much more challenging than my darling diva. Just know that she grew into a sweet, though still spirited, toddler so there is a light at the end of that tunnel!

Junior also loves his bath–especially his scalp massage at the end. He’s really cuddly and loves to hang out on someone’s lap. He’s a real charmer, smiling and cooing already.

We’re so Breastfeeding-Friendly, We Do Everything Except Let You Nurse Your Baby

Basking in the joy of the birth of my new, giant baby boy, I wanted to stay positive.

Still, I’d like to share my experience breastfeeding in the hospital in case it helps anyone.

Part of the reason I chose our hospital is because it is more open to a more natural birthing experience than other hospitals in the area. And, although I think this is probably true, that is unfortunately a sad commentary.

My baby and I are breastfeeding well and everyone is doing great–but I fear that if I had not already successfully breastfed my first or if I were less informed or less assertive, our breastfeeding would have been sabotaged.

Immediately following birth, barring any urgent medical needs, my baby was supposed to be placed immediately on me. Since he was so large and stuck during part of the labor, they wanted pediatrics to check him out (which I fully understand–although I suspect this could have been done with him on me, as was done with my first child). However, after they verified he had not been harmed at all during the labor, they continued with the routine, non-urgent procedures.

I kept telling them, “I want my baby! Give me my baby!” but they did not hand him over until they were done. Although in the grand scheme of it all, this is minor, I was sad that I missed that magical feeling I had with the first when she was exactly the same temperature as me and stepped her way to the breast.

After they handed him to me, I had a short time to breastfeed before they took me to repair the tear. I got him to latch on one side and just as he finished, I was placing him to the other breast when the nurse (not the Certified Nurse Midwife) came in an said, “I have to weigh him.”

I told her was breastfeeding and it could wait.

She replied that I was getting “crazy” with the breastfeeding (huh?).

I stood my ground and responded calmly (really, I swear) that he had just finished one side and I was going to feed him on the other and then she could take as many measurements as she liked.

She got very snotty and said that she was going to have to go tell the doctor that I was not allowing her to do her job.

That says a lot right there about her perception of her role and the hospital’s role in birthing babies.

Of course, she’s just one person, and my husband overheard some other nurses speaking of her in a negative way, but at the very least some retraining needs to be done.

Following the repair, I was placed in temporary Operating Room Recovery until the epidural wore off (they had given me more medication during the repair). As they wheeled me in, I saw my husband. I called out, “Why aren’t you with our son?” Perhaps not the most pleasant greeting, but I was starting to lose a bit of trust in the hospital.

“They want to give him a bottle,” he told me.

“What for?” Now I was starting to get a little nuts, “Is he okay?”

“Yes,” he reassured me, “But they said his blood sugar will start dropping because he is so big, so they want to give him a bottle. And they said if they wait too long, breastmilk won’t do it”

“But I’m breastfeeding! Bring him to me! And I’ll feed him!” I was in full on mother bear mode and unfortunately they had sent my husband and there was no target for my protective rage. My poor husband kept going back and forth to tell me the baby’s blood sugar level and to try to negotiate with the doctors to allow my son to come to me.

They first lied and told us he was under the warming lights (he wasn’t and he was perfectly healthy so there was no reason to hold him there) and then admitted they just “did not have the personnel” to bring him to me from the nursery. Now this is not a huge hospital. It takes two minutes to walk from the nursery to where I was. And post-op had no problem with me feeding him in recovery. The staff in the nursery was creating a situation where they would need to give him a bottle because they would not let me breastfeed.

And there was no reason for him to be in the nursery, anyway, as I was rooming in with him and would be in the room as soon as the maternity ward would accept me–as soon as the medication wore off. The post-op staff again was very helpful. I asked them, “How mobile? Like walking or just some approximation thereof?” They told me that maternity liked people walking but they would start releasing me as soon as I could bend both knees. I had one leg already moving and was trying to get the other one working. Eventually they took pity on me and pretended not to notice as I grabbed one of my legs with my hand and said, “Look, it is moving!”

Finally, we were in maternity recovery and they brought me my son! With the delay, it took time and patience to get him to latch. Of course, as soon as he fed his blood sugar was fine and he was healthy and wonderful.

But they had one more curve ball to throw at me–the next day they came without any notice to take him for his circumcision. They said I could not feed him even though he was due right then for another feeding. I was concerned, but they assured me it would just be an hour and then he’d be back. Three hours later…it was now six hours since my son had fed and the poor thing had just been circumcised. He was upset and had difficulty latching.

Then they started harassing me because he had not urinated since the circumcision…again they wanted to give him formula. I told them to go away and leave us alone. Of course, once he fed a few times, he was fine.

The kicker was that the day we were checking out, after all this was over, the lactation consultant comes by, sees me nursing, says “good latch,” quizzes me (how do you know if the baby is getting enough?), and then leaves. Gee, that’s helpful.

While I’m complaining, on a completely unrelated note, I got the demonically possessed hospital bed. The bed is for patients who cannot move and it automatically adjusts as you move. So when I shifted my weight in my sleep, the bed moved, waking me. If I lowered it so I could get out to use the bathroom, it raised. And of course it was noisy, too.

As you can imagine, I could not wait to break out of that place!

To add one last final insult, they insisted I be pushed out in a wheelchair by a staff member. I would have protested, but I just wanted to leave.

I think if I have a third birth, I’m going to just make the absurdly long drive to the nearest birthing center or do it at home.

All of this is not to say you cannot breastfeed if medical need requires your child to have a bottle early on, nor is it to criticize those who choose to formula feed–but just to show how hospital policies that are not always rooted in actual medical need, can create problems during the crucial early stage of breastfeeding. This is why we need to promote breastfeeding and support nursing mamas!

Okay… end rant. Back to enjoying motherhood!

Random Thoughts

Kinda like “Deep Thoughts,” but not as funny.

Junior smells just like his Daddy. No, not the bottom half. The top of his head, specifically, smells just like my husband. And when I breathe in the scent, I’m just flooded with love for both of them.

One of the advantages of having a big baby is that you do not have to worry he was switched at birth…because, y’know, it isn’t like they switched him with the other ten and a quarter pound newborn at the hospital.

I guess the reason I looked like I was carrying twins is because I was carrying the equivalent of two healthy-sized twins.

Baby Activities Week 1: Healing and Bonding

This first week with baby I concentrated on healing and bonding with baby.

What do you feel is important in the first week? What tips do you have for postpartum healing? How do you bond with your newborn?

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping and eating the first week and I strongly encourage mama to do the same!

I’m a terrible sleeper and usually just cannot nap. However, this is the one week I’m just so pooped that I need and enjoy a quick daytime snooze.

I’m fortunate enough that my husband is around this time and able to use some of his vacation time to stay home with me. He is seriously a Superman and makes my life a gazillion times easier. His parents stayed with the toddler while I was in the hospital and my mom visited for a few days when we first got home. All four grandparents have pitched in with home repairs, babysitting, frozen meals, cleaning, etc. It is definitely nice to be living close to family this time around instead of halfway across the country.

Graciously accept any and all help offered during this time.

Be good to yourself because the quicker you heal, the better you’ll be able to care for your family!

Sibling Note:
We have a toddler girl, too, so she also needs a lot of attention during this time. We are trying to maintain her routine as much as possible, allow her to help in age appropriate ways (picking out clothing for baby, counting his toes while he nurses, getting his diaper), and also give her some individual time with Mommy and Daddy. She has a doll and she enjoys feeding, burping, changing, and swaddling her dolly (and assorted stuffed animals).

Bonding with baby begins even before birth and it is never too soon to start enjoying your baby.

In the first week, one of the biggest bonding activities is eating! I breastfeed so we spend a lot of baby’s waking time in this activity. If you do not breastfeed, feeding time is still a perfect time to relate to baby. Breast or bottle, baby should be held during feedings. And, if baby’s awake, you can also rub baby, talk to baby, and gaze at baby.

This is the beginning of the bond of trust for me and baby. He expresses hunger; I meet his need by feeding him.

Although it is tempting to “get stuff done,” I try to really enjoy this time and remember that feeding my baby is one of the most important activities I can do this first week. So many vital things happen during mealtime and baby learns that eating is a social activity that nourishes the soul as well as the body.

I am up and about so I am also wearing baby in a sling. If you are still in bed, then another caretaker can do this (a great opportunity to bond with another parent or grandparent) or it can certainly wait until you are feeling stronger!

In baby’s sling, he can eat, hear my heart beat, feel the familiar rhythm of my walk, enjoy a swaddled feeling, and gaze into my eyes. For me, I get to keep baby close and comfy while having my hands free. And it is much better for my back, too, then carrying him in my arms all the time.

The cradle hold is ideal for newborns, so I’m using my favorite ring sling (and some mamas like pouches, too). Hard carriers have low weight limits, are usually limited to one position, and are not very ergonomic for baby or for the parent. If you like the idea of a front pack, try a wrap, a mei tai, or a soft structured carrier, instead.

Bath Time
Touch is so important for babies. I’m sure everyone’s heard about the studies of babies who were fed, but never touched. Without touch, a baby may die or suffer serious developmental delays.

Besides, who can resist touching that silky soft baby skin?

During baby’s first week, he also gets his first sponge bath at home. Babies don’t need to be bathed everyday, but keeping baby clean is important for his healing and it is another good time to bond. I love washing and rinsing each part carefully and then wrapping him up in a soft, warm towel. It is also his first massage! Some people are suckers for baby shoes…me, I can’t resist a funny hooded towel.

Next Week:

The first week can establish the pattern for bonding. At the same time, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, so try not to dwell on missed opportunities and instead focus on the joys ahead.

There are other activities you can do with your baby right from the start–like reading, singing, and dancing–but if you are not feeling up for much activity, just take a break and cuddle. Your love and food are the real essentials. I’ll focus more on these sorts of additional activities in week two.

Houston, We Have Achieved Birth Weight

This morning we had Diva the Toddler’s two year well-baby (a month late) and brought along her sidekick, Junior the Jotunn (aka Bruiser). After waiting for an hour or so to see the doctor, we found out that Diva is indeed EXTREMELY TALL (35.5 inches, 90th percentile) and SKINNY (36 lbs, 50th percentile) and generally a healthy little toddler.

The doctor asked how many words she could say. The child can identify at least five different species of duck (Hooded Merganser, Teal, Buffalo Head, Mallard, and Red Breasted Merganser) and speaks in complete sentences. Seriously, I couldn’t even count the number of words she knows.

For the first time, she had absolutely no problem at the doctor’s office, a step up from at least staying quiet long enough at the cardiologist. No more doctor phobia! We let her bring her duck and her pillow and her “bops.” The doctor asked if we were planning on ditching the paci soon. We only give it to her when she is sleeping or at the doctor’s…and I’m not ready to take it away at night yet. I am so happy she sleeps 11 hours straight, and now is not the time for me to have a few sleepless nights. So the paci at night stays for the meantime. Diva barely flinched during her shots, and so we gave her ice cream at home (and didn’t even have to bribe her in advance).

Since we were already there, we asked if they could weigh Junior so he would not have to come back in two days and wait another hour just for a weigh-in. I was fairly confident he had gained weight and would be at least close to his birth weight. Earlier that morning I got on the scale and weighed a freakin’ ton 25 pounds less than my full pregnancy weight. Then, I picked up Junior and weighed still way too much ten and a half pounds more. At the office, Junior clocked in at 10 lbs 6 oz, two ounces over his birth weight at only eight days old!

Not surprising since he’s been breastfeeding almost every waking moment. And, if his sister’s growth is any indication, I make some fatty breastmilk.

Colic: New Science, Old Nonsense

When the latest New Yorker arrived, I showed baby the cartoons and noticed an article on colic. I could hardly wait until baby’s nap to check it out, hoping to see some exciting new information about how parents can ease babies’ transitions and help themselves cope better with challenges.

The article is not available in its entirety online, yet, but here’s an abstract of The Colic Conundrum. I’ll save you the cover price: the main researcher with whom the author spoke advocates letting the baby cry, alone.

I’m not going to dispute the research itself. I’m no scientist and it actually seems more or less sound. However the conclusions drawn and the actions advocated just do not logically follow.

Researchers found that even in traditional societies, where crying is seen 50% less than with Western babies, colic is still found.

Barry Lester, the researcher, has found that many colicky children (about 75% in a limited study) end up having behavioral problems. He speculates that these children are overly sensitive.

He then goes on to argue that part of the problem is that while colic may not cause irreparable harm to the child, it can harm the family relationship, leading to problems down the road.

He goes on to say, “…the child doesn’t learn behavioral regulation and develops problems with impulse control…It starts out with crying, and then, when the child is older, he doesn’t control his emotions very well.”

So, his advice in all of this? Let the baby “learn” to “self-soothe” by leaving him to cry for five to ten minutes.

Like a colicky baby will stop after five to ten minutes? Haven’t we been here before? Didn’t Ferber even admit he had gone too far in his recommendations?

Now, one good thing the article examines is that crying can stress out the family, particularly the primary care giving parent, noting that many “shaken babies” were crying. This is pretty obvious stuff. Even Dr. Sears advises that it is better when overwhelmed to put the baby down for a few minutes in a safe place, rather than to act rashly (a fact not mentioned in this article that seems to almost sneer at him and the idea of attachment parenting in general).

However, allowing a baby to cry regularly, without comfort, as a matter of policy, is absurd.

Let’s start with the whole concept of colic.

Colic is pediatricianese for “I don’t know what’s wrong and I can’t help you.” Colic isn’t a diagnosis. It is a description of a symptom. Colic is defined by a rule of three. More than three hours, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks. Then it is called colic, but no cause is known and no advice is given. Imagine if a doctor diagnosed adult ailments that way! He’d be laughed off as a quack.

A doctor is supposed to help track down the cause of the problem and offer possible ways to solve the problem or alleviate the suffering if possible. Not offer meaningless words and send you on your way.

Now lets move onto the !Kung observation

The !Kung study is cited to show 50% less crying. Even if colic still exists in these societies, that still means that most babies would cry less if raised like !Kung babies: carried close to the body and nursed on demand.

So, right there, that should show that, while Lester is right in putting down expensive gadgets, it actually does make sense to try that sling and some attachment parenting before moving on.

My darling baby was colicky. Although I had planned to practice attachment parenting, anyway, I discovered I did not have a choice. Due to her heart condition, I had to keep her calm.

I am not saying it is easy to soothe a baby who is sensitive to the stimulation of her new world–but with this life and death motivation, I managed to do it.

Add that to the fact that SOME cases MAY have medical roots, such as reflux, and you can probably bring relief to a few more families.

We got most of the way there with swaddling and nursing and shushing and lots of babywearing…and then I got someone to believe me about the reflux. Once she was on Zantac, nursing became a huge comfort to her again and we did great.

I am still angry, though, when I think of that doctor who would repeat nothing but, “She has colic, there’s nothing you can do.” Her confidence in her “diagnosis” meant that it was another month before I was able to relive more of my baby’s discomfort and my stress.

So now we’re left with a handful of genuine “colic” cases…what to do?

I would guess one could still reduce the stress on colic babies, and therefore on their parents, with some attachment parenting measures. However, some babies will still be criers, despite the most attentive parents and most diligent doctors.

Lester’s idea is that leaving the baby to cry teaches him the skill of self-soothing. I suppose when his sixteen year old wants to learn to drive he’ll just hand over the keys and say have at it? Since when does a total beginner, let alone a four week old baby, learn to do something without any help?

“Lester concedes that most people who suffered from colic as infants and from temper tantrums as toddlers do not exhibit behavioral problems as adults, regardless of how their parents responded to their cries.”

He also says, “Because colic is ‘the first bump in the road for many parents, it will influence how you deal with the second, the third, and so on…”

True…so which “template” would you rather use? You have a problem, kid, so you’re on your own? Or, here, let’s solve this together?

Attachment isn’t doing things for your child, it is showing your baby how to calm himself–all the while reassuring him that this is what learning will be. Baby and parents working together through things.

So, you, like hate this guy, right?

Well, not exactly.

While I am concerned that he is sending the wrong message to an audience that is way too broad, I do think he has good intentions.

The article notes that some doctors used to suggest that “nervous” mothers caused colic in their babies. (When the aforementioned doctor suggested this to me and I almost clocked her.)

Recent studies have shown this is not the case. However, colic can worsen depression and anxiety in the mother.

Lester is trying to find ways to minimize colic’s impact on the family.

So, what’s the answer?

I think that better suggestions may be found, within the article itself. You just have to look in the right place:

Lester, observing a rare crying baby in a traditional non-Western village. This was unusual, he explains, and so, he describes: “Everyone in the village would stop what they were doing to see what was wrong.”

I think a huge part of the issue is that we have moved so far from our support systems and isolated ourselves to the extent that the only help a parent usually has is the help that parent can afford. And if you can’t afford any help, you are often out of luck.

Most babies, even those who do not cry very much, will have the peak of their crying around the same time. Most will also see a reduction of crying around the same time.

So, given that even easy babies have some difficulty in their new environment, it makes sense to do the free and inexpensive things that make babies feel safe and help avoid overstimulating them–babywearing, swaddling, nursing if mom is able, etc.

Given that even with these efforts, some babies will still cry…a lot, the best thing is to develop support systems and to help one another out.

Believe me, I know it is tough. My husband was deployed while my baby was born and for most of her first three months of life. My family lived halfway across the country. My friends were afraid of getting my baby sick with colds and flus, given her condition.

Still, looking back on the experience, I needed to work those support systems more and ask for help where it was needed.

The article is also framed with a mama who was blessed with twins who were colicky and we learn that the twins eventually outgrew their difficulty adjusting to their world and mom is now giving advice over the Internet to another mom coping with colic:

“I urged her to get someone to spell her.”

Amen, sister.

Baby Diva Debuts

Baby Diva Hours OldBaby Diva knows how to make an entrance.

Warning: If you have never given birth before, you may want to skip this post.

At 2:30 am on the 8th, I awoke, feeling “kinda funny.” Then I felt “kinda wet.” Then I felt REALLY WET.

A week ago, I had found out Baby Diva was in the transverse lie position…meaning she was across my uterus instead of head down, or even butt down. Laboring in that position is unsafe, and having your water break in that position is downright dangerous, so I had an appointment to attempt to turn Baby Diva the following day.

Obviously I was never going to make that appointment.

Super Dad was still on his way home for leave from the Sandbox (Iraq) and my mom was not due in from New York for about 12 hours. So, my friend graciously picked me up at 2:30 am on the 8th.

Three doctors consulted because they were not sure if Baby Diva was still transverse or not. Meanwhile, a nurse tried to get an IV in me and I refused. I wanted a hep lock. She kept saying–but when you have a c-section…I kept saying, but that is not certain yet.

Finally, they decided Baby Diva was a little twisted, but head down enough to proceed.

They allowed me to labor for about 8 hours but I was not making any progress at all–in fact I went backwards. With the water broken they urged pictocin. They put it all the way up and I handled it for about 2 hrs. I tried to play my hypnobirthing tapes but they kept interrupting any relaxation I was able to achieve. When they said it was going to still be a long while, I went for the epidural.

My mom was delayed at the airport–she was due in that day at noon! She arrived just as they were prepping me for the epidural.

Then we started to make progress…but I developed an infection, and the contractions stopped really working. With the epidural wearing off and pushing past the 24 hour mark, I still managed to get her out. I told the midwife there was no way I was having a c-section after 24 hours of labor!!! (OF course if it had been life or death I would have–but other than that I was determined.)

Baby Diva was born on August 9, 2:38 am, and was 7 lbs, 2 oz, 19.5 in. I have never felt so perfectly warm and wonderful as when they placed her on my chest.

Over the next two days, the doctors came to me with increasingly worrisome reports about Baby Diva having a heart murmur. Finally, they decided to transfer her to San Antonio…but at the last minute decided it would be safe for me and my mother to drive her down so I could continue to breastfeed her along the way.

At San Antonio we discovered that she has a condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot, which will require surgery sometime between 3-6 mos. Later is better as she will be stronger.

In the meantime, Lilah is behaving like any newborn–I just have to keep her extra calm and take exra germ precautions.

Some of the scariest words I have heard now include:

“And she will require open-heart surgery.”

“Try your best to keep her calm. If she cries, she may turn blue.”

“Here is the 24 hour pager for when she turns blue.”

Super Dad was able to hear Baby Diva’s first cries on the phone and arrived back home for leave the day after our San Antonio trip.