Monday, July 29, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Slow Goodbye

My milk is nearly all dried up now. There's still a bit left. Every time my breasts filled up (Taking much longer each time), I would feed Jack rather than let it go wherever milk goes when it doesn't get consumed. Seemed wasteful not to. So it's been a very slow process, but completely pain-free in its slowness and also it's giving me a chance to let go slowly.

My low milk supply, unfortunately, didn't allow me to keep the morning feed very well. At first I had plenty for one good feed, but slowly it decreased until it was nothing more than a snack. Apparently my normal output is a pittance. I'd had an inkling that all the pumping I did all day was necessary to have a good supply in the morning, giving my breasts a good eight hours to fill after a day of being emptied of their meagre offerings every 2-3 hours.

Well, I was right. Jack's feeds got shorter and shorter until he was no longer consuming enough to lull him back to sleep. It was a mere appetizer and nothing more. And since continuing to lactate has had some undesirable symptoms for me, I decided that the tiny amount he was getting was just not worth it.

Oh, a lactivist might tell me it's "liquid gold," but I really don't think it is, not in such tiny amounts. I can't see that it's so wildly superior to formula that several millilitres will do any real good, especially not at the cost of my physical comfort.

My teeth were getting sensitive. When I stopped pumping, it improved and when I stopped the morning feed, it mostly went away. I found other women online who experienced this, so I know I'm not alone. Having a decent sex life has been proving challenging. My body has not responded well to the hormones, and even hormone replacements haven't improved my situation much.

I have no idea why my body has been so adverse to breastfeeding. But it's slowly ending. I may have already done my last feed.

It's a hard thing for me. It's pleasant to nurse my baby. If I'd had enough milk to feed Jack each and every time, even if I needed to take meds and herbs, it would have been meaningful for us both. I still hurt sometimes when I think of the loss. Though when I see his excited little face when he sees his bottle-- his mouth makes this O shape and his eyes light up-- I feel at peace with this outcome. He never showed nearly as much enthusiasm for my breast and my milk as he has for formula in a bottle.

And speaking of which, it's bed time. But I have to wash the bottles before I go to sleep.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sleep Training

I decided this was the right call for me: Ferberizing. I was never anti-sleep training. I threw out my beliefs about one-size-fits-all sleep solutions when my baby spent the first couple weeks of life in bed with me. I was never intending to co-sleep, but when you pit your will against a newborn baby, the baby always wins. He transitioned out relatively soon, but I have remained flexible about sleep methods ever since. No ideology here except for: do what works.

So, last night the Dude was out at the movies with his brothers. They went to see The Conjuring, which is, if you ask me, not a good recipe for ever sleeping again. I love horror movies, but they linger in my mind at night and ruin my life, so I don't typically watch them. And while he was out, I was at home with Jack and a new sleep pattern that neither of us really wanted to deal with.

I started his bath routine early. He was rubbing his eyes and I wasn't going to make the mistake of pushing his bed time back if he was tired. No second wind tonight. So I gave him his bath and he pooped in the tub. Baby poop is not like adult poop. It turned the water a gross colour and I had to get Jack out, clean the tub, refill the tub and rinse him off and dry him with a new towel. Fun!

He fell asleep well enough, except he woke up after 30 or 40 minutes. Previous nights we had rocked him, but this was not a hole I wanted to dig. While we have some support in the city, the Dude and I are more or less alone in this with few breaks (Especially me) and I was not about to add a new exhausting sleep routine to our lives.

So I let him cry. I'd go in after a few minutes and stroke his belly and give him some comfort. He'd quiet and I'd leave. The crying would resume, I'd wait a little longer before going back and I'd do the same thing.

I learned something about myself. I found this much easier to do if I was alone. If someone else is there, my resolve breaks, like I feel worried the other person will think I'm being cruel. I've tried to let him cry a little in the past and this emotion has launched me out of bed or off the couch faster, or I've asked the Dude to do something. But when I was alone, and had a game to distract me from how long each dragging minute was taking (Time moves at a snail's pace when your baby is crying), things worked out quite well. I'd say he fell asleep after less than 30 minutes.

And he stayed asleep. He woke up at 6:30 in the morning, refreshed and smiling. I put him down for a nap today and he fell right to sleep. He's now rolling around on the play mat in front of me. And by rolling, I mean trying to roll. He was successful once, several days ago, and hasn't been able to do it since. Which is also when the new sleep issues began.

He's so cute, just flopping his body from side to side, trying to roll successfully. Then he takes a break and grabs at some toys, regroups and tries again. Occasionally I hear a grunt of frustration. It's really something to see a little baby figure out how his body works.

Oh man, I just watched him roll onto his tummy, only his hand was trapped underneath him. He attempted to get some leverage by grabbing the mat. He's so close!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Four-Month Sleep Regression

I think Jack has begun what's known as the four-month sleep regression. Suddenly his naps are off and he fights falling asleep at night. Then he wakes up and hollers at varying intervals in the wee hours. I know this is temporary, but temporary can be as "fast" as two weeks. It can be much longer. It also makes it hard to leave the house because unless he's napped properly, it's anti-sleep to take him out as he doesn't rest much in the stroller. Ugh.

Now, he isn't four months yet; he's about a week and a half from that, but it's close enough. He does most things a little early, probably due to the extra time in utero if you ask me.

I feel like he's rubbing his eyes (A signal he's tired) all day long. He rolled over from back to front recently and hasn't done it since. And from that day his sleep has been off and bizarre. If I'm to understand the baby literature correctly, he's mulling over this new milestone in his head and his brain is undergoing changes, not allowing him to sleep properly.

So now my goal must be his sleep. Day time socializing has to be put on hold so that I can get us through this.

Admittedly, I have high hopes. My baby has never been overly cranky or high needs. He's generally a mellow and happy little guy who smiles at me in the morning and enjoys playing on his mat for up to an hour.

Then again, I could eat my words. We'll see.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mellow Baby

I'm home from my vacation, the first I've taken with a baby. It's nice to be home, although a little strange too. I was getting used to waking up to people to talk to and things to do. Now I'm alone with Jack again and I have to figure out on my own how to spend the day.

It was wild how fast the days went. It seemed like no time would pass before Jack would need another nap and then his naps didn't feel super short. I think the key to enjoying maternity leave, at least for me, is other people being around during the day. Since I have no friends with babies, I must find strangers with babies to talk to via mom meet-ups. So far I've not made a new friend, only acquaintances. Today I'm planning to go to a farmer's market and see who I can meet.

Last night before bed I again remembered my birth experience. I don't go there most of the time because it hurts me and I cry. So I decided to finally write Patient Relations at the hospital and tell them what happened to me. I felt very mismanaged and I want an apology. I would also feel gratified if I learned it lead to any changes in how they approach women in their care. It was therapeutic. I think it helped me sleep.

Jack spent the first night in his crib. We don't have a proper room for his nursery, per se, but we do have an alcove-like space in the basement near our bedroom. It means we have to walk by him at night and I'm unsure how much noise carries from upstairs. So it's not ideal, but this is Toronto and a lot of first-time parents have their babies stay in the bedroom with them at night for quite some time due to space constraints.

It was alright. With him out of the room it was easier to ignore the grumbles and complaints that didn't need attention and still hear the cries that did. I think this will make it easier to improve his already good sleep, allowing him to self settle even more.

One thing that's really been making me happy lately is waking up in the morning. He gets a bottle around 7:00 and after that I take him into bed with me until about 9:00, 9:30. We snooze the early morning hours away and when I look over to him when we wake he has the hugest smile for me. He always wakes in such a lovely mood, and since he lets me sleep a bit longer I'm also in a great mood, compounded by that delightful smile on his face. It's nothing but sunshine.

On the way home last night we got stuck in traffic and made it home an hour and a half later than planned. I eventually had to feed our crying baby in the car and couldn't burp him. He also pooped, and I couldn't change him. I kept telling him I was sorry. He eventually quieted down about 30 minutes away from the house and then fell asleep about 10 minutes before we arrived home. Full of gas and soiled. This kid is a champ. Of course we had to wake him to change his diaper, and then bathe him to help him back to sleep (In a strange bed) and other than a wee cry he did it.

My baby is so mellow, like literally my dream child.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Revelation

So I'm at my in-law's on the lake. This trip has been in the works for maybe a month and for the month I've been on the fence about it. I only really thought about how much I'd have to pack and getting Jack used to a new place and not having access to all my stuff.

But what a great day I've had, one of the best in a long time. Having people around, family members who can lend a hand or take an interest or talk to, makes a world of difference. I'm not lonely or isolated and I'm eating normal meals at normal times. I got dressed and brushed my teeth. I can enjoy my baby.

This must be what it's like when you raise a baby around family. I'm getting a taste of what that must be like, what sort of socializing and support I'd have if my mom were alive and around. The unnatural feeling I've been having, questioning my motherhood, it's gone. After one day, I feel great. I miss the Dude, who couldn't come due to work, but other than that I don't feel drained and exhausted. Rather I feel able to properly enjoy the evening rather than recover from the day.

With the weight of loneliness lifted from me, I could really appreciate Jack and all the little things he does, like gripping toys and his giggles. Today he started rolling onto his side. It was so sweet and amazing to me to see him struggle and finally succeed, and then fine tune it. Soon he'll get himself onto his tummy. Sharing this milestone with people around me who care felt good.

It's nice to know there's nothing wrong with me, only my living situation. Staying home with a baby isn't unpleasant. Doing it alone is.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

No Nap For You

Tomorrow I'm going to the lake with Jack. It'll be a week away from the Dude and I'm a little apprehensive about it. My Father-in-law is coming to get me late in the morning, less than 24 hours from now, and I still need to pack a suitcase and wash the cloth diapers. And here I am on the Internet.

Jack was off-schedule today. It's not a hard and fast thing that needs to be adhered to, but it's an excellent guideline as to what he should be doing, whether he needs to eat and his naps are predictable.

The Dude (Who'd kept me up all night with his flailing limbs), whose heart was in the right place, took him out of his bassinet early, then tried to put him down for a nap early, back in the bassinet with me beside him. This resulted in crying. He also didn't change the baby first, which is a must. So, back up they went to the living room for another hour. Of course I was wide awake from all the noise and had to lull myself back to sleep, which took an hour. At which point they were back down for Jack's nap.

I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. The Dude took the crying Jack back up, presumably to nap in the living room, which he does from time to time. I came up an hour later, having slept maybe 10 minutes, only to discover the baby was still awake, meaning he'd up been for four straight hours. Four hours may as well be forever.

It really is amazing the sort of things you learn by being home with a baby. Getting them to sleep reliably is the most important thing. Getting them fed and changed is easy enough, but sleep? No screwing around. It's gotta happen and there's a window of time it has to happen in otherwise you're all in for a world of suffering.

Keeping Jack up because he was overtired and not sleeping would never have occurred to me and I had to fight off some resentment of the Dude for making such a critical error. It's not like he's had the experience with him that I've had. I took Jack in hand and rocked his cranky ass to sleep. He fought the sleep, but the sleep won, as it always does eventually. However, the rest of the day has now been shot as we now must get him caught up so he'll sleep properly tonight. Getting a three-month-old baby to nap every hour is hard going.

So now I have this to-do list that's not been touched and I don't dare traipse into the bedroom to start. Jack's sleeping and, god willing, he'll go another half an hour. It's so amazing how entirely a baby can dictate your day with something as basic as sleep, and how quickly your day can fall apart over said sleep.

As for me, I wish I'd caught some Zs myself. It's kind of bitter trying to make a baby nap when you'd give your left ear for a nap, yourself.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Nature, thou foul beast

Yesterday was a comedy of errors. Well, not errors, exactly, but generalized nonsense. Nature is a menace.

I went to a mom meet-up group yesterday. Those things are lifelines for me. I get out of the house, meet women going through the same things I am, we tend to our babies without feeling apologetic to our companions and take it easy doing infant-friendly things. Yesterday it was a farmer's market. The women were nice, though I was the new one there, and being new is always a little hard. Well, not for everyone, but I do feel out of the loop whenever I meet new people.

It had rained in the morning and I thought the weather was done with that sort of thing, so I left the house in the muggy humidity without a rain cover for the stroller. I had a blanket to sit on for the market, so I didn't really have room for the cover. This was an error. More on that soon.

I was happy to get out, especially since the neighbours were replacing their share of the roof and hadn't thought to warn us. I'd woken up to bang-boom-thud. The disgusting thickness of the air seemed preferable. It wasn't a long walk to the market and on the way I passed a park with a wading pool. I was tempted to just run into it, stroller and all. It looked so inviting and I was already sweaty and heavy feeling. Note to self: go back later.

At the market I stayed for almost two hours and Jack behaved impeccably, as he usually does around others. He saves all his fussing and crying for home. But as I started to feed him, the sky darkened and the wind picked up. Ominous. I should have left immediately after he finished his bottle, but no. I lingered. Tactical error. By the time I left, the storm was imminent and within 7 minutes it was raining. I whipped out my umbrella and, shielding Jack and I as best I could, I hightailed it to a Starbucks. Depressingly, I was 5 minutes from my house and stuck so close yet so far away.

I figured the rain would let up eventually, so I grabbed a tall green tea latte and settled into a chair and tried to dry out the stroller a bit and tuck Jack in so he could nap. He fell asleep, I relaxed a bit and waited.

And I waited. And waited.

Taking pictures of my undesirable situation helped with the waiting.
I passed time on my cell phone, which I recently upgraded, periodically texting the Dude to ask if he was almost done work. I needed him to bring me the rain cover so I could get Jack home without thoroughly soaking him. Also, I worried for my pretty shoes.

Jack woke after a 40-minute snooze and slowly progressed into unhappy baby territory. I changed him, but had no more bottles to give. His bed time was fast approaching and he was getting hungry. Eventually the situation disolved into me dancing him around the coffee shop, continually plunking his soother back in his mouth to calm him while patrons looked on in varying degrees of sympathy and annoyance. I would have been out of there with my cranky baby in a heartbeat if I could have.

I got a call from the Dude saying that he and his boss were coming to get me in the car because there was flooding, both in Toronto generally and in our effing basement.

The Dude saw this on his way to get me.
I really couldn't handle that information. Home was to be my refuge from this madness, and now it was round two of my nightmare. I emailed my landlord with my baby crying in my ear a simple message: our basement is flooded. Call me.

When the Dude arrived I was immediately relieved. I couldn't have been happier to see him. We hauled ass out of there and took a winding way home to avoid flooded areas.

I had to leave Jack in his car seat upstairs while I ran down to assess the damage. There's a crack in the foundation and water had poured in through the stairs, which were wet and slippery and lightly coated in mud. I stepped onto the rug in the nursery and felt a sopping wet squish. I navigated the water to the bathroom, where it thankfully stopped spreading. The rug, no doubt, had absorbed massive amounts of leaking and spared us the agony of a total disaster.

When you have a baby whose bed time it is, a flood becomes a more complex situation. I had to feed him, first of all, while the Dude cleared out debris. Then he bathed Jack while I got out the ratty towels we had bought from Value Village for the home birth that wasn't. Turns out, not such a waste of money.

We had to plunk Jack in his bassinet, though, without the rest of his bedtime routine of allowing him to fall asleep beside us on the couch. I'd been fretting about when to make him learn to fall asleep alone, and turns out I'd reached that point out of necessity. And other than a few minutes of crying and one trip to calm him down, boom. Slept like a champ. I was almost conflicted about how I felt about the flooding after that since it forced sleep progress. I was still horrified, but less so.

Mopping up the rest of the water.

It could have been worse. Our landlord is coming by this week, the gutters should get fixed to dump water away from the house as opposed to directly beside it, and, hell, the floors got a much needed mopping.

So many times before when it so much as looked like rain, I just stayed in. Well, I took a chance and was rewarded with the life-enriching experience of basement flooding. Lesson learned.

Nature: 1, Me: 0.

Friday, July 5, 2013


I think I've hit my stride.

The feelings of failure and being trapped and isolated have been dissipating. I have this quickly growing awareness about my baby and his needs. I can watch him as he discovers his hands and ponders the room, and allow him to direct his own attention. When he fusses I can talk to him and engage and give him comfort. When I attend to his changing and feeding needs it's calm and pleasant. His naps are predictable and have become increasingly lengthy and less interrupted.

And I feel a sense of calm and competence. My loneliness is easing. Being alone with a baby is not the same as being alone with a pump. Without it chaining me down to my bodily failures, I've managed to get out of the house and see movies, go to cafes, go on walks, talk to other people.

I've developed pleasure in watching my son play on his mat, trying his hand at grasping things and kicking his feet. He'll pump his legs in his bouncy chair to make it bounce on his own without the need for me to do it for him. Other than meet his physical needs and reading him some books and talking to him periodically through the day, I just let him be and he is so engaged with himself and his surroundings.

I feel like I've hit my groove and I know what Jack needs from me. I feel connected to him at last. I was always fond of him and was proud of his hardy little self. But the bonding was hard and now I feel it sinking into my skin; he's becoming a part of my heart.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

No More Nursing: Day Five

I feel a number of things about nursing and my journey with it. I've been wondering what caused my issues. When it came to the delayed milk, was it the lengthy exhausting induction? The C section? My uterine infection? The separation from Jack while I was in the hospital? Did my hives signal a bad reaction to breastfeeding?

I think I may have actually been doomed from the start. When I was pregnant, my breasts barely changed. Oh, at first they got tender, but my large A cup only went up to a mid-sized B. This is a minor increase. And what I've been discovering, from extensive reading, this can signal a forthcoming production problem. I never became engorged. When my milk arrived, it only trickled in. I thought it was the result of health issues. But the lack of breast changes may actually have been the issue all along. I can't know for sure, but it's another consideration, and one that gives me strange comfort.

My body just plain screwed me, is all. And it's not the first time. I had four ear infections in my first year of life, then tonsillitis. Double pneumonia in childhood, followed my two bouts of kidney stones in my teens. In my early 20s I was treated to appendicitis and I developed IBS. My body simply does not give a shit, so I sort of wasn't shocked my body wouldn't go into labour. I mean, I was, but I can believe it. I had a nagging feeling it wouldn't happen around 42 weeks.

But I never doubted my ability to breastfeed. Pfft. Stupid me. Lactivists will tell you low supply is rare, that any woman can do it.

But I call shenanigans. My eyes don't need glasses, my pancreas produces all the insulin I need, my blood clots and my kidneys don't require dialysis. However, these bodily woes exist because the human body is not infallible. Why then believe the breast is perfect? Oh, when it works, it is. The perfect baby food.

But here's the thing: nature gives zero fucks about you. It is indiscriminate, it does not care. It will weed out the population at random, with no rhyme or reason, no matter how decent a person someone is, how much they're needed or loved, or how hard they try.

I was born in 1982 with access to modern medicine, born of a C section, myself. My body has nearly died a couple times now, but thanks to modern medicine I was treated unceremoniously and easily.

I can't feed my baby. Thank God he was born in 2013, where he could be born safely and be fed something nutritious when his mother's milk didn't come. And as for me, and all my health issues I've had? Actually, I was breastfed. You can't breastfeed a baby to a life of good health. Like so much else, it's luck of the draw.

I'm enjoying my maternity leave a lot more now, and I'm really starting to bond with my son. I hadn't realized just how much of a barrier that pump put between us. I was prioritizing bottled breast milk over our relationship.

Jack's started to grab things and he's giggling. He's sitting up with assistance and he's able to entertain himself for a little while at a time. My son is so amazing. He's very bright and a great little baby. I'm so lucky to have him.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

No More Nursing: Day Three

Engorgement is painful.  And my breasts look pornographic at the end of the day. That large, firm, full look? Nailed it. I'm usually an A cup and now at my fullest I'm a C. I don't much care for the look; it's almost too ridiculous. I had to "milk" myself last night to relieve some of the pressure and the longest stream of milk shot into the sink. I wore a night nursing bra with the pads to absorb the leaking, and still managed to have a rough night's sleep.

It's now the evening and I'm not engorged like I was last night. It seems like I'll be able to keep the morning feed, and I feel very gratified by that. Hopefully I don't develop low milk supply for that time of day like I've had throughout this past three months. Otherwise I'll just have to give up nursing entirely.

This was also my first day alone with Jack and not pumping. I had time to do things. Rather than sit for 20 minutes every two hours trying to squeeze out that extra half an ounce, I can do useful things around the house or enjoy Jack or have some personal time. I also can wear a lot more of my clothes, no longer needing things that offer boob access.

When you combination feed (Offering formula and pumped breast milk) you're literally having the worst of both worlds.

Cons of breastfeeding:
Annoying and often ugly nursing clothes
Takes a lot of time out of your day where you can't do anything else
Often coated in breast milk
Carrying around a little extra weight

Cons of formula feeding:
Costs money
You can feel guilty
Others sometimes shame you
You have to wash the bottles

And you get little of the benefits. Breastfeeding gives you free food, no dishes, and optimal nutrition. Formula gives you freedom from your baby and your wardrobe back. Pumping and supplementing offers you none of these things.

I'm feeling more and more comfortable with my choice. Screw you, pump.