Thursday, October 30, 2008

High Roller

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a milestone.

Nate rolled from tummy to back tonight.

He had only been able to make it about halfway up until this point, landing on his side and becoming too discouraged to manuever further. So, when I laid him on his belly for his nightly tummy time, I wasn't expecting him to twist his torso and push off with his legs like he had been training for this Olympic moment. I barely had enough time to call out to DH to witness the main event.

As he swiftly rolled onto his back and the cheers erupted, the shock set in and Nate's bottom lip puckered out. The inevitable tears followed. But after some comfort in the arms of his Daddy, he smiled proudly. It was as if he knew what feat he had just accomplished.

My baby boy really is growing up right before my eyes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: 3 Month Celebration at Longwood Gardens

Come and Gone

The "newborn phase" is officially over. My baby is 3 months old. I guess the proper classification is now "infant".

*insert pout here*

I opened up his drawer of newborn clothes yesterday with every intention to pack them away and make room for the larger sizes, along with the 0-3 month collection that is now much too snug for comfort. I held up the articles of clothing, reminiscing about a time when my current roly-poly fit into them with room to spare. So tiny. Fragile. Like doll clothes. I fingered the felt adornment on the front of a onesie and brought it to my face, breathing in the intoxicating baby aroma that still lingered. The floodgates opened. I hurried and threw the disheveled onesie back into the drawer as if it were about to infect me with the Black Plague and rapidly shut the drawer. I'm just not ready to close that chapter. Not yet. The drawers are going to have to overflow to the point that my dire need to organize overrides my resistance to change.

With each milestone we reach, I think about how far we've come. I remember the early days when every peep Nate made would send me into a panic. When the mere thought of breastfeeding made me wince. When the moonlight would perpetuate howling from not only werewolves but my colicky boy. Everything was a guessing game. I may still rely on trial and error but I have my bearings. I don't know why it took me 3 months to realize this - perhaps I'm a slow learner in this arena - but the bottom line is babies cry. It's inevitable. It's no reason to feel like a failure. It is Nate's sole method of communication. Even adults - who have mastered the art of language - can't smile 24/7. So, how can I expect that of a baby? All I can do is equip myself with tools for success (a.k.a read and research) and strive for happiness.

I can now identify when he's crying from tiredness ("ooh" or "eww"), overstimulated/overtired ("waah"), hunger ("geh" or "neh") or gas pain ( sudden bursts of "eh", with legs drawing up to chest). Similar to the Dunstan system but not exact. I can recognize his patterns. Now we have the "educated guess"-ing game.

Around 9 weeks, it was as if someone flipped a switch. I think it is finally safe to say that the colic is kaput. Nate is still fussy around dinnertime - forget about a hot meal for the foreseeable future - but it is nowhere close to the nights we endured just over a month ago. Cluster feeding still rules around this time, as he builds up his caloric intake for the night. My arse is still firmly planted in the glider as the sun goes down. But no more incessant wailing. I'm sure our neighbors are just as grateful as we are.

For as difficult as those first few weeks were as we were both schooled in breastfeeding, it is now a completely natural routine. My nipples must have toughened up from their time in the penitentiary because they can even stand up to the rigors of near-constant suckling without slathering on the Lanolin. I am pleased as punch for making it to 3 months of exclusive breastmilk. It hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination but when my baby looks up from my breast and flashes a winning smile, that is all the reward I need.

Everyone - and I mean everyone, even strangers at the mall - told us that 3 months was the magic number. Things would get easier. And while it was hard to believe at the time, I can see the fog giving way to brighter days. It may be hard to admit when we're in the middle of an all-nighter - thank you, f*&^ing growth spurts! - but all it takes is one look back to see how good we really have it.

We may have a long way to go but I can't disregard the great progress we've made. And that we continue to make.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Punkin Amidst Pumpkins

I had every intention to post these photos for Wordless Wednesday but with the recent events, I was delayed. I think I owe you all some baby goodness after all of my tenacious ranting.

We took Nate to the Pumpkin Patch last Sunday. It was a blast. There was a chill in the air but he didn't seem to mind. He was so calm and content, observing all the colorful gourds and passers-by.

And, of course, I had to dress him up for the occasion while he is too young to protest. I figure I have a few years in which I can inflict embarrassment before he insists on dressing up as the latest superhero.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seeing the Light

First of all, a great big virtual bear hug to everyone who left comments and words of encouragement. Life is a series of peaks and valleys and well...Wednesday was a low point emotionally. While it's comforting to know I'm not alone, I'm saddened that others are suffering from similar atrocities.

Luckily, it looks like the rainclouds are retreating.

DH had his fateful meeting with his boss yesterday. While we were were hesitant to set expectations prior to the meeting, the resulting occurrences proved to be fortuitous.

His boss apologized (!) for several of his actions, including reaming DH for sending an inaccurate spreadsheet to a client when he was not even responsible and for questioning DH's skills. After a lengthy discussion, his boss reinstated his Thursday remote day. I don't think I have to express how exonerated we felt upon receiving this news.

So, in short, his job is NOT in immediate danger as we previously suspected. As a matter of fact, his boss deemed it senseless that we interpreted his ill-tempered comments as a imperilment.

Yeah, I guess we did jump the gun when he handed DH his ass on a platter. After hearing that he had lost confidence in his abilities, I guess any other human being would have concluded that their job was infallible. Silly us.

While Dr. Jekyll appears to be substituting at the moment, it is only a matter of time before Mr. Hyde returns to instigate trouble. So, DH's employment search will continue. There just won't be the same sense of urgency that plagued us before. Taking the enormous pressure off may actually help DH to make a lucid, gratifying decision. He can be more selective about which direction he chooses. Relocation may still be a possibility but it can be done on our terms rather than as an act of desperation.

DH's malaise has receded. I am feeling much more whole again. Just in time for the weekend. We're toying with the idea of driving to PA to see the fall foliage. But even if we chicken out at the last minute and stay homebodies, it will be a retreat from this dreadful week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

State of Uncertainty

I wasn't planning on moving so suddenly but it seems I've been thrust into another state. An anxiety-ridden state of doubt and worry.

Things are not going so swell at DH's job. I've had an inkling for over a month that things were going downhill. But you know how it is. You ignore it. Or you push it to the back of your mind. You're too frightened of the possibility that the breadwinning career is now in jeopardy. You hope for the best and try to be optimistic. You convince yourself things will get better. So you wait until reality smacks you in the forehead and you are forced to take action.

That time is upon us.

I'd say it all started around the time Nate was born, coincidentally. Before our little man arrived, DH was easily working 60 hours a week. He would work his daily weekday shift but also here and there on weeknights and weekends. He's a software engineer by trade so naturally, I've gotten used to sharing my husband with another woman named Toshiba. I've known about the affair for years and have come to accept that it will never change. And surprisingly, I'm okay with the menage a trois.

In the latter days of my pregnancy, DH had asked for 2 weeks vacation upon Nate's birth, which was approved by his boss. He also negotiated telecommuniting 1 day a week. This was to be our insurance policy to supplement my WAH schedule. Together with my mother, we could alternate childcare responsibilities, thus avoiding daycare. He had no need to cash in on this day until Nate was born so we decided he would only start taking this day when my maternity leave ended and it was absolutely necessary.

We had it all planned out.

However, after less than 1 week into his paternity leave, his boss asked demanded him to come back. DH reluctantly agreed. I was not pleased, as I had counted on this parenthood thing to be a collaborative effort for those couple of weeks while I recovered physically. But in the interest of avoiding confrontation, I became a pacifist. Que sera sera.

As the end of my maternity leave drew closer, DH went to his boss to cash in on his telecommuting day. To his shock, his boss said they had implemented a new policy that did not encourage working from home. How convenient. His boss told him that he wasn't going to pay him to do "daddy day care". After DH politely reminded him that it was negotiated prior to this new, unwritten policy - and also duly noted that other employees worked remotely with no hassle - he agreed to honor their agreement.

My antenna went up but I didn't want to worry myself needlessly. Not to be cliche, but men aren't typically as sympathetic to childcare arrangements so I figured DH would just need to prove him it could work. I reasoned that even if DH lost a few hours of productivity on his day at home, he worked plenty of hours otherwise so it wouldn't be too detrimental.

When Nate was about 5 or 6 weeks old, the company underwent some changes to their processes and as a result, DH's title changed from Senior Software Engineer to Technical Manager. This was a fancy way of saying that instead of devoting himself solely to programming, which is his forte, he would have the bonus role of project manager. Two jobs in one with no pay increase. Yipee. Also, he would still have to complete his programming tasks in the same time frame as before, despite the added responsibilities.

Needless to say, DH started to slip. He had a mountain of work to do and he was already working as much as he could without going certifiably insane. He started missing deadlines and became short with co-workers who demanded even more of his precious time. Clients were adding more and more requirements to their list of needs and were getting angry when their projects were not as far along as they should have been. DH kept striding forward - always the "yes" man. He kept assuring everyone he could catch up, not realizing that he was in over his head. He's human after all and has his limits. But his masculinity perceived this limitation as weakness.

On Thursdays, DH's lone telecommuting day, he found it hard to balance fatherhood and his insurmountable workload. Nate would fuss as babies do and DH would take time to soothe him, only to come back to a shitstorm from his boss about how they tried to reach him via IM for an hour (you couldn't pick up the phone?) and if he is continually unavailable, this day would be torn away from him.

DH tried to finally speak up to his boss and let him know how burnt out he was, pleading with him to develop a solution. But his boss was basically too busy to deal with it and dismissed him with little more than "work it out".

When DH came back to work Monday after his trip to Atlanta, his boss told him that calling out on Friday was unprofessional. Shame we didn't get his aunt to call a few weeks ago to give them advanced notice of her death.

All of these little things have snowballed into a huge point of contention. DH's boss took away his projects and put him on menial tasks, telling him that he is no longer confident in his abilities. He also told DH he can no longer work remotely on Thursdays - as if that is the reason behind DH's lackluster performance - and demanded a meeting with him to discuss his future with the company. His boss made it a point to say that there will be no bargaining and "it will not turn into an argument like you like to do." Granted, DH can be a little stubborn and defensive. He's an introvert and has to work with a variety of personalities. He blows up sometimes, despite his best efforts to keep his attitude in check. But who hasn't?

It just seems like they have unreal expectations of him and want to make his life unbearable so he will quit. After all, they're the kind of cheap bastards that would not fire someone just so they didn't have to pay unemployment.

DH is depressed and humiliated. He feels as if everyone there is pitying him. Secretly knowing he's about to get canned.

He's taken the initiative and sent out 12 resumes, a few of which called him back within 24 hours. I guess the M.S. from John's Hopkins really helps. So all hope is not lost. But our future is unclear. What if he does get let go? We only have enough of a safety net to make it 2 months, maybe 3, without his income. And that is supposed to be our savings for downpayment on a house. What if he gets a job offer in another state? What if we have to relocate? What will come of the career I've worked so hard to attain? What in the hell are we going to do on Thursdays now? Who will watch Nate? I can't ask my boss for one more day when I'm already at home more than I'm in the office.

I feel things spinning out of control. I see my DH hanging by a thread and I'm trying to hold him up while fulfilling my own job responsibilities and maintaining my own emotions. Not to mention trying to keep my son happy, which takes up the majority of my days as it is. I was spreading myself thin as it was with my time and attention and now I simply feel inadequate.

I know I have to be the strong one right now but it is so hard. I may look like a stone casing on the outside and that I have it all together. But I feel like a glass vase with a hairline crack - the slightest mishandling could break me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lonely So Lonely

DH's aunt passed away Thursday from lung cancer. We knew it was coming since she had been in grave condition for some time. But when we heard the news, it was still a surprise. Funny how that happens.

He flew out to Atlanta yesterday afternoon for the viewing, to be held tonight. He'll fly back tomorrow. I opted to stay at home with the boy - going on a plane with an infant, my infant, is beyond mind boggling to me - but sent my condolences.

So now I find myself quite lonely. Sure, DH pissed me off by playing video games for his final hours at home rather than cleaning the dirty dishes in the sink or taking out the trash. But I still miss the lovable ass.

Instead of going to the pumpkin patch like we had planned, I'm currently drinking a milkshake and subjecting Nate to Sex and The City reruns OnDemand. I've been too couped up recently, working from home. It is not as relaxing as one would think. I go stir crazy when I can only see sunlight through the slats of our Venetian blinds. I need to get out of the house and take in some fresh air. The brisk October weather would be a perfect retreat from the incendiary boredom.

At 12 weeks (!) Nate seems to be going through yet another growth spurt. He's been permanently attached to my boob for two days now, eating like a starving orphan. And on the rare instance that he isn't on the boob, he is chomping on his hands. Hasn't quite mastered the art of the thumb but instead gags himself with his entire fist. I often mistake this for a hunger cue and am quick to whip out the boob, but there are times he will act silly - smacking, unlatching, storing milk in his cheeks like a chipmunk until it all dribbles out of his mouth onto my side - and I know it's just his sucking reflex in full swing. He can't seem to soothe himself unless something is in his mouth but he's so stubborn that he will only accept a paci as an act of desperation. On the instances that he concedes to a paci, I've noticed a pattern. He'll suck quietly and gently for a few minutes and gradually get louder and angrier - grunting with every thrust of the tongue - until he becomes downright belligerent. I have tried two different types - the Soothie and Ortho-Pro - and while he prefers the Soothie, he's not really a fan of either. See for yourself:

I bought some Gerber Natural Flex pacis on a whim at BRU but when I came home and did some research, I found they possibly contained BPA. So, those were a complete waste of $5. I could have had a foot-long Cold Cut Trio from Subway, dammit. I hate the fact that I have to worry about toxic chemicals in baby products but that is an entire post in itself.

And Nate's been much more clingy than usual. He'll only tolerate being put down for about 5 minutes before the crank-fest kicks off and I can only keep him in his miracle swing if he is clearly about to doze off. Proof is in the pudding:

1 minute

3 minutes

5 minutes

He insists I spend the entire day standing or walking while bouncing him. Not that he cares if his limp 14 lb. body cuts off all circulation in Mommy's arms. Or if my knees buckle from under me due to sheer exhaustion.

He's also back in the habit of fighting sleep. But this time - instead of fighting bedtime - he's fighting his daytime naps. He'll yawn relentlessly and he can barely keep his rosy eyelids from closing, but he'll pout and cry until he's nearly unconscious. And when he wakes up from his coma, he does it with a vengeance. He's sure to let me know he's in need of some lunch and some afternoon delight cuddles.

I have to admit that while I miss the adult interaction and despite his recent cantankerousness , I am fond of our time together alone. Just us. Every smile reminds me that I'm doing something right. Each day we get through, I gain more confidence that maybe I'm not so clueless at this whole motherhood thing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Two R's

My dear blogmate, R&R, just wrote the most fabulous post and inspired my cheap, unoriginal self to do a spin-off.

In a popular film that you may very well know, one villain asks another how she feels now that her arch nemesis is dead. Multiple choice. 2 R's. Relief? Or regret?

When I look back at my pregnancy and subsequent defeat of my enemy, IF, I feel a bit of both. Relief that I made it through alive. That I have this sweet, healthy baby as a reward for all of the misery I endured. Relief that I no longer have to dread holidays, baby showers or family gatherings. That I no longer have to ponder if I'll ever be a mother to a living child. Because I am. That worry dissipated that magical moment I heard his first cry.

But more so, I feel regret.

Throughout the agony of TTC, I wished I could be a superhero. A caped crusader who could fast forward time. I lived my life in two-week increments. Waiting to ovulate. Waiting to test. Waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping. Wash, rinse, repeat. It felt as if I was confined in this cyclical trap. When AF would arrive, I would plot my temperatures on my chart, pop pills and vitamins and tap my foot as CD14 drew near. Each RE appointment was one step closer. As I saw the greatly anticipated temperature shift, I would stare at the calendar, anxiously awaiting test day. Every BFN made me that much more desperate and impatient.

Only it didn't end there. With my BFP, I again wished the time away. If I could only see a heartbeat. If I could only hear the heartbeat on doppler. If I could only get to the second trimester. If I could only get to my Level II and find out the gender. If I could only feel flutters of movement. If I could only make it to viability. If I could only make it to the third trimester. If I could only make it to term.

Against all odds, we made it through each milestone. Relatively easily. Before I knew it, Nate was here.

I look back and regret selling time short. I know it was a self-preservation mechanism and that my mini-milestones were a way to mentally challenge myself to trust in hope. It was too hard to see myself reaching the holy grail so I had to start small. I had to have faith that we could climb those stairsteps until we reached the top. But in doing so, I made it impossible to live in the moment. I wished so hard for the future that I failed to rest and feel the contentment of the present.

I did find joy with each milestone I met. But it was never enough. I only relished in happiness enough to push myself to the next hurdle. I couldn't let myself get too excited. So, when I look back on my pregnancy, it's a blur. Splashes of happiness amongst a foundation of angst.

The unfairness of it all is that now I wish I could slow time down. Now that I am no longer sullen, weeping over the seemingly unattainable. Now that my marriage isn't close to collapsing in shambles. Now that I can truly smile and mean it. Just when I want to live in the here and now, time speeds up. I'd give anything to go back to feeling like each day was infinity.

Nate is going to be 12 weeks old tomorrow and I find that incredibly fascinating. I love that he is less of a blob and more of a little human these days. He can coo and babble. He can blow spit bubbles and smile. He can suck on his hand and drool like an English Bulldog. With each new day, he changes before my very eyes. I wish I could trick time. Stall it so I don't miss any detail, no matter how minute it may be.

I think this is part of the reason we are still co-sleeping. DH has been urging me to transition Nate to the crib for weeks but I can't bring myself to do it yet. I've been procrastinating. Hardcore. Co-sleeping has its obvious advantages but the main reason I haven't attempted to move him is the most selfish of all. It's my shallow attempt to resist change and stop time in his tracks.

I hold my pint-sized cutie close, his faint breath tickling my chest. I inhale deeply, allowing his lavender scent to encompass my nostrils. The moonlight flows through our bedroom window. I take one more loving glance before I close my eyes. I know I must but I feel like I never want to let go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Remembrance

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

The two larger candles are for my babies who sleep in the arms of Jesus: Angel (born at 5 weeks gestation on August 27, 2005) and Snowflake (born at 11.5 weeks gestation on July 9, 2007). They watch over and protect the third candle which represents my Sunshine. My gift from above. My "third time's a Prince Charming". My Nate.

I lit the candles and brought Nate over to pay his respects. His eyes were fixated on the flames as they flickered to and fro. The shadows danced on the wall, as if his brother and sister were enticing him to join. He was captivated for one minute. One minute that felt like an eternity, as I observed my past and my present collide. I know it's most likely wishful thinking but I choose to believe he was spiritually connected to his siblings for that brief period.

When people look at me, they see I have a living child. A beautiful boy. They see I'm fairly young. They may even wonder if he was an "accident", unexpected. Or if he came easily to us. They do not see the emotional scars I carry along with the baby on my hip. They cannot see the wounds from my IF crusade. I guess I keep them hidden quite well.

They do not see the other children I held in my womb. The children who were born too soon. Their memories live on through bittersweet anniversaries that only I recall.

Tonight, I remember the babies we can't hold in our arms. But we forever hold them in our hearts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Figure 8

It looks like it's time to bid farewell to maternity wear and say hello to my old friend, size 8. We had been apart for quite some time - about 10 months - but we meet again. I can now manage to zip and button with minimal suck-inage. Sure, I'm sporting the ever-fashionable muffin top but I just gave birth less than 3 months ago so you can cut me some slack, right? I have about 8-10 more pounds to shed to reach my pre-pregnancy weight, according to my fickle digital scale. I'd actually already be down to said weight if my pregnancy hadn't amounted to this:

Uterus: 3 lbs.

Boobs: 1.5 lbs.

Blood: 3 lbs.

Water: 5 lbs.

Fetus: 7.11 lbs.

Placenta: 2 lbs.

Amniotic Fluid: 2 lbs.

Ben & Jerry's: 24 lbs.

Total weight gain: 48 lbs.

But I'm still in a celebratory mood considering my exercise schedule has been nonexistent but for two routines: carrying Nate and his cumbersome carseat up and down 3 flights of apartment stairs or suspending him above my head in a game of Airplane while simultaneously attempting to dodge spit-up bombs. Dieting is a no-no right now so I've made it this far from breastfeeding alone. Amazing. The hormones can actually work FOR me and not AGAINST me for once.

I admit there is sweet sorrow as I say goodbye to the Bella Bands and Secret Fit Belly. One more thing that distances myself from those pot belly days. Those days where I could feel my little man stirring and kicking inside of me. It was our little secret. Now, the secret is out and I have to share him with the world. While I love the life I now share with this little person and love showing him off like the proud momma I am, I do miss those intimate, romantic moments. It will be hard to pack away the skirt I wore to my baby shower. Or the jeans and striped polo tee I wore to the ultrasound that revealed we were on Team Blue. Or the bathing suit that transformed me into a beached whale. Okay, maybe not the bathing suit so much. But I will miss all of the sweet memories evoked by these articles of clothing.

While my bottom appears to be shrinking, my boobs are quite comfortable in their behemoth state. I've gone up a band size and almost two cup sizes since conception. I started out as a member of the itty-bitty titty committee so I'm pleased with my newfound plumpness. Advertisements for breast augmentation surgery no longer peak my curiosity. However, the milk melons are impossible to squeeze into my old, A-cup friendly tops without looking like I'm at home on the Bunny Ranch. I'm a mom now. I can't have the girls flaunting themselves seductively. Besides, the obvious road maps across the continent of my chest are not exactly attractive. So, sad as it may be, I need to harness them. I've found the tops that fit best are the stretch cotton camisoles with the shelf bra. Those are no-fuss for nursing - which is a requirement at the present time - and can be paired with a sweater or a business suit. It's funny how a baby makes you much more simplistic and decisive. If it fits and matches, it's a go. No more modeling in front of the mirror for an hour.

While we're on the subject of growth, at 11 weeks old, Nate has officially shifted from 0-3 to 3-6 month apparel and has been in size 2 diapers for about a week. His toes now frightfully stick over the edge of his cradle swing. I just can't get over how big he's getting. Sigh. Before I know it, he'll be rolling over and sitting up on his own.

Can someone please hit the pause button?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Instance Where I Love Being Wrong

I want to thank all of you for your well wishes, thoughts and/or prayers. It seems to have paid off.

I DO NOT have a uterine prolapse. All of my pelvic organs are intact. That sound you hear is me exhaling with relief. The nightmares of surgery, pessaries and hysterectomy that beleaguered me for approximately 28 hours can now subside.

However, I DO DID have a ton of scar tissue built up in my love cavern. No wonder Vadge was so perturbed.

The doctor first tried to cauterize the tissue. Yes, you heard right. That means he burned my girly bits with a device that resembled a large matchstick. Upon further examination - and perhaps the influence of a grown woman brought to tears - he decided that the cauterization probably wouldn't be a permanent fix. So, he gave me local anesthesia - yes, a needle in the hoohaa - and cut it out.

Can you tell it was a fun day?

The kicker was that my DH had to work, as did my mom, so I had to bring Nate solo. He wouldn't sit in his carseat without crying incessantly so I had to hold him on my chest while I lay spreadeagle on the exam table in purgatory, grimacing. I tried to hide my excruciating expressions from him but I've always been a pretty bad liar. Apprehension was written all over Nate's little face.

These are the days of my life, I lamented. Tuesday, I watched helplessly as my little guy got his first round of shots and now on Friday, the tables were turned and he got to watch Mommy suffer from the sidelines.

I feel like I've given birth all over again. I had to take two Tylenol 3's just to be able to sit on my a$$ without jumping out of my skin. I'm sore and bleeding a shade of mauve that would be somewhat pretty if I was ignorant to its origin. I'm back to spraying Dermoplast on myself in order to pee comfortably. The cauterized tissue even leaves behind an odd smell, not unlike that of lochia after delivery. It exhausts me just to recount this experience.

All this just to be able to have sex again. It had better be worth it. With the way I feel right now, I'd be perfectly content if no one touched me down there ever again.

I'm seriously considering a scheduled c-section if we happen to be blessed with another baby. I know it sounds like I have a flair for the dramatic and maybe I am underestimating the whole 'major abdominal surgery' aspect. But I am dead serious. I think the recovery period would be about the same, since it is now 11 weeks PP and I'm still dealing with issues down below. And it looks like I have at least another week before I heal from this most recent debacle. I'm sure I would have been able to DTD by now if I had a c-section. Life would probably be back to normal. Well, as close to normal as you can get with a newborn.

I never expected postpartum to be a breeze but this has really caught me off guard. They certainly didn't prepare me for this in my childbirth class. As a matter of fact, I think a partial refund is in order.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peek-A-Boo *UPDATE*

WARNING: You can file this one under TMI and WTF. If you are uncomfortable reading graphic content regarding a fellow blogger's hoohoodilly, I urge you not to read further.

I woke up this morning to go pee, as usual. As I wiped, I noticed specs of blood. Hmmmm. Tell me I'm not already getting PPAF, I bemoaned. It's only been 10+ weeks and I'm exclusively breastfeeding for cripes sake.

Upon further inspection, I noticed a pointy piece of tissue hanging from the bottom of my vajayjay. I thought it could be bloody discharge and tried to wipe it away only to realize it was firm - almost gummy in texture. I did not have the courage to excavate the trenches so I shuffled myself into some panties and headed off to work.

I feel like I've been accosted and am being asked to describe the perpetrator that exposed himself to me. It happened so suddenly that it is hard to illustrate the finer details.

My first thought is uterine prolapse.

I am scared.

I have a call into the OB and will keep you all posted. Any prayers or thoughts you could muster would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: They can't fit me in until tomorrow at 1:30pm. Apparently, this is the only "emergency" spot they have available. Hopefully, my uterus doesn't fall into the toilet in the meantime. If, in fact, it is what I suspect.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vexed About Vax

Yesterday was Nate's 2-month pediatric appointment. Yes, he's over 10 weeks old so we are a little delayed. I guess my subconscious mind allowed me to procrastinate because I knew what was coming. That's right - vaccinations. FOUR of them.

For the life of me, I can't understand why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends administering four shots all at once. I realize there is no solid research or evidence that today's vaccinations cause developmental disorders such as autism. Many questionable ingredients in vaccines, such as thiomersal, have been removed but are still used in third world countries. To my knowledge, the prevalence of autism is not higher in those countries. And neither DH nor I have ever had any adverse reactions to vaccines. Common sense just tells me it is too much for a little baby to take. Hell, I had an MMR booster last year and it left a painful knot on my arm for days. I wanted to split up the vaccines so that Nate could get two shots each in two separate visits. However, my unsympathetic insurance company would not cover both visits. Nice to know they have my baby's comfort in mind when they approve these preposterous policies.

Needless to say, I was dreading this day.

He was in such a good mood in the morning, smiling and cooing. Blissfully unaware of what lie ahead. He slept on the way to the doctor's office and only woke when I had to undress him for the weigh-in. My chunky monkey is now 13 lbs. 2 oz. and 24.25 inches long. I admit I smile smugly when they tell me he's in the 70-80th percentiles for height and weight. It makes me feel good to know my very own boobs are making all that cute little baby fat possible. At least one (make that two) of my body parts can perform their inherent function without the assistance of medication.

Even after the intrusive rectal thermometer dance that squashed any rumors of constipation, Nate was still in good spirits. I spoke to the doctor about some recent incidents in which a projectile milk missle has unexpectedly shot out of his nose cannon, causing gagging, gasping, choking and congestion as well as a raise in Mommy's blood pressure. She officially diagnosed him with reflux - which I've assumed since he was born - but said that since he is gaining like a champ, there really is no reason to introduce medications. I agreed and said I'd call if it worsened or caused him more discomfort than usual. She said it would go away as his digestive system matured and his esophageal sphincter strengthened.

Then came the shots. I initialed the consent form hesitantly as if I were signing a declaration of war. As he laid on the exam table, I grit my teeth in anticipation, watching intently as the nurse prepped his left leg. I stuck my finger in his tiny palm and gently rubbed his bald head. I watched the first needle go in and after a pout of sheer horror, he cried out in pain. Second shot went same as the first. I spoke to him softly, telling him it would all be over soon. Over to the right leg. Third shot. His crying became shrill and torturous. I apologized as warm, wet tears ran down my cheeks. I felt so helpless and horrible as I watched his little body turn red with fury and disbelief. Fourth shot same as the one before it. I could barely wait for the syringe to exit his chubby thigh before I scooped him up in my arms. His repugnant look stung my heart, as if to say, "how could you do this to me, Mommy?" I knew that vaccinations were a necessary evil but I couldn't help feeling like a bad guy. He never knew the throes of pain before this and yet I had to be the one to inflict it upon him.

I whipped out the one thing in this world that makes his boo-boos all better - the all-powerful, almighty boob. He suckled as though it were an oasis in the middle of the Sahara desert. After just a few minutes, the grueling experience was behind us. He passed out from sheer exhaustion and stayed asleep for almost 2 hours. When he woke up, I gave him a dropper-full of Tylenol (mmmm, grape) and held him close. His tear-stained eyes glanced up at me and as I whispered to him, he let out the slightest hint of a smile.

I interpreted that to be a sign of forgiveness.

Throughout the evening, he was a bit clingy and did not want to be put down for a second. He snuggled with me as we watched the presidential debate and fell asleep for good around 930pm. Just a few nursing sessions during the night and he woke up at 7am a new man baby. Are vaccinations a rite of passage? If not, they should be.

We're both looking forward to a new day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Picture Not-So-Perfect

You may have already gathered this from what I've shared here on this blog, but pictures are of paramount importance to me. Photographs are not only beautiful keepsakes but they are the tangible evidence of a memory. They are tokens to ride the time machine. I step back in time and remember what I was thinking or feeling at the time a particular photo was taken. It's this emotional element to pictures that makes them so special - at least to me.

As a matter of fact, when DH and I were I was planning our wedding - and arguing budgeting - I wanted the photographer to be top priority. I could scrimp on the invitations, the limo, the flowers and the deejay. But I could not - would not - sacrifice photography. Even if the dollar signs made DH's eyes bulge from his skull. After much negotiation, including finely veiled threats and crocodile tears, I won him over. Yes, we spent a somewhat exorbitant amount on the photos. But now that all is said and done, we don't regret it for one second. Our wedding photographs were, to me, the best investment we could have made. She captured every look, every smile, every tear, every touch. I look at them just about everyday and I feel the same sense of stupendous joy I felt on that day.

So, with that being said, it makes sense that something as awe-inspiring as having a baby would need to be documented in a similar fashion. The 1,400+ pictures I have personally taken on my Canon Powershot SD600 just weren't enough. I needed a professional. To capture those moments that I want to remember tomorrow and years from now when I'm old and gray. Besides, I'm always the one behind the lens and I wanted to have more than one photograph of me and my son to cherish forever and always.

Since I gave birth to Nate, I've had my heart set on getting our first family photos done. I had a vision. Traditional portraiture with a splash of contemporary. Soft, tender shots of Mommy and Daddy gazing adoringly into our baby's blue eyes. Caressing his smooth, nubile skin with my fingertips. Maybe even some discreet nekkid baby poses while he is too young to object. My Type-A side had it all planned out in my head and my heart.

Against my better judgement, DH and I decided to go to a studio at the mall, not only to be more fiscally responsible before the holidays (as I'm sure to run rampant with his first Christmas fast approaching) but because we could get more prints to share with family. I heard good reviews from friends so it seemed to be a no-brainer.

Well, I learned the hard way that you get what you pay for.

Our appointment time was noon, which was carefully planned to be directly after Nate's naptime when he's at his most loveable. We weren't seen by the faux-tographer until nearly 12:30pm. I say "faux-tographer" because she couldn't have been more than 18 or 19 years old and was obviously new and inexperienced but we gave her the benefit of the doubt. She asked us to choose backgrounds from a book and we happily obliged. We woke Nate from his peaceful sleep to get started but our faux-tographer moved at the pace of a slug setting up the background so by the time we took the first picture it was 1pm.

Little did we realize that the cameras they used only moved vertically - not horizontally - so we had to be perfectly posed in a specific spot for each photo. Needless to say, this does not bode well for a newborn who likes to be walked and bounced around. We got 3 shots in before a major meltdown ensued. Nate's fussing turned to full-fledged screaming. We were able to calm him down enough to take a few shots in between the howling episodes but our faux-tographer wasn't able to work the camera fast enough to capture anything without a tomato face. I found myself directing her and telling her which poses I thought would work. Remind me why I'm paying her again? Daddy finally got him to settle down to a slumbery state to take his solo pictures. We got him perfectly posed as he was asleep and the faux-tographer snapped the shot. We were so excited. We finally got the perfect picture! Wouldn't you know that she got a message on the computer that she had reached the maximum number of photos allowed (8) and the photo didn't take.

That was it. I almost lost it. (1) With all of the technology they have nowadays, how could their computer system only hold 8 photos? There are 8GB thumb drives out there that hold thousands upon thousands for cripes sake! (2) Shouldn't she have realized we were getting close to this ridiculous maximum and deleted some or notified us that we need to narrow them down? I could feel the steam coming out of my ears like in the cartoons. The one f#$%^*g picture I wanted and she didn't even get it. I told her I was extremely disappointed and she apologized but the damage had been done. She said she was disappointed too. Yeah, well, she wasn't the one paying over a hundred and fifty bucks for crappy a$$ pictures.

Sure enough, the wailing resumed and it took another half-hour to calm him down and get a decent solo shot. We didn't even attempt the unclad shots before cutting our losses and calling it a day.

I was thisclose to tears. My vision was toast. Nothing had worked out the way I had conceived. I was hoping for a photographer who was experienced with newborns, or who could at least work quickly and maneuver to get the good angles. I expected Nate to be a little fussy but I was hoping our photographer would be able to make the most of it and take a few pictures of us soothing him. Something. Instead, I got 7 marginal poses to choose from and a hefty bill. I left feeling defeated and regretful. I had waited to design his birth announcements because I wanted to use amazing professional photos. Now, I have to figure out which personal photos to use from our collection. Everytime I look at these pictures, I am plagued by what could've been. I wanted so much more for our first family photo experience.

This newborn phase goes by so quickly and now I feel I've lost a piece of that. I can't go back in time and I can't afford to have them redone elsewhere. I'm glad we at least got the shots we did but I'm bummed we spent so much money on something so ordinary. I could have probably done just as good of a job - if not better - myself with a tripod.

Anyway, here is a sampling of the ones that turned out okay:

Friday, October 3, 2008

In The Blue Corner...

...weighing in at approximately 13 lbs., all the way from Mother's Womb, the Birth Canal featherweight champion...Nathaaaaaniel Robert!

And in the red corner, weighing a combined total of 330 lbs., hailing from the Land of Sleep Deprivation...the Parentaaaaaal Units!

[in my best Michael Buffer impersonation] "Let's get ready to rumble!"

Are you placing bets yet? Who's your money on?

What a rumble it was. One for the history books. I never knew such a tiny being could put up such a huge fight when it came to bedtime. You would have thought we were attempting to solicit him as bait for mountain lions or something.

The funny thing is that Nate, for the most part, has always been a good sleeper. Well, as good as one can expect from a youngling of his stature. We can squeeze a couple of 3-4 hour stretches at night out of him. Sometimes even a 5 hour stretch if he cluster feeds all evening long. Normally, we retreat to bed around 10 or 11pm and after 15-20 minutes of side-laying nursing (which I call "cuddle time" even though it involves nipple play), he and I would slowly drift into co-sleeping dreamland. Easy peazy lemon squeezy. Or so I thought.

Like the flick of a switch, he did a 180 and decided he would protest bedtime. My itty bitty activist could no longer be lulled to sleep.

Round 1: Friday night

Nate came out strong, unyielding. He was "in the zone" and ready to show us who was boss (and no, Tony Danza was nowhere to be found). He was not going to sleep without a showdown. It was surprising. His tactics threw DH and I through a loop. We were knocked into a stupor. Was he hungry? In need of a clean diaper? A soothing glider? Was he overstimulated? Understimulated? Just plain pissed off? From 10pm to 1pm, we tried just about every trick in the book. My poor girls needed a break from their role as human pacifier so this was his retaliation, I thought. Finally, some alone time on the Bouncing Daddy ride helped to quiet him down enough to concede.

Rounds 2-5: Saturday through Tuesday

Or not. The fight continues. He was not ready to surrender to those heavy eyelids just yet. For four more straight nights, he left us in a perplexed daze. We wondered if this was going to be the new nightly routine. Brush teeth. Put on some moisturizer and eye cream. Pray for serenity while baby screams incessantly. Nate was clearly the victor. As DH and I scrambled for the energy to hit the snooze button each morning, he slept soundly. Even smiling in his sleep. What an ego on this kid.

Round 6: Wednesday

We had to make a comeback. We couldn't let him make a mockery of us. We needed a strategy. At 9pm, I decided to take preemptive strike - a bath, soaking him in lavender bath wash. I dried him off, dressed him in a onesie and swaddled him tight with one of his thick, yet soft and cozy blankets, being careful to leave his arms loose but his body tight. I turned off all the lights but turned on our oscillating fan. We crawled into bed, where I began to nurse him.

20 minutes later, ladies and gentlemen, we had a knockout. The parental units were triumphant. We're not sure what the secret weapon was or if he just snapped out of a phase. But there was a return to tranquility. Not just Wednesday but Thursday as well. We are grateful.

In other news, the cluster feeding has ceased. The girls are relieved and are no longer pleading for my sympathies. I thought I was going to have to invest in these, but it seems two may actually be enough.

His hands are still fair game, however. Those poor souls have not been able to save themselves from the slobber monster. I fear they may never escape. But alas, better them than my nips. I doubt they feel pain equally.

Let's just hope there's no relapse.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008