Category Archives: Baby

It Gets Better

Dear Turia,

I thought of you yesterday, when I was watching E. help his Daddy fix a section of the fence. I was standing there, watching E. hold the tape measure, asking his father twenty-five questions with every breath, and I remembered the summer Q. built the fence, the summer E. was born.

You spent a lot of time watching Q. build that fence.  Partly it was because Q. was an adult and you were desperate for adult contact and conversation- when you weren’t watching him build the fence you spent a lot of time in the late afternoons loitering on the front porch waiting to see if any of the neighbours were around and up for a chat. Partly it was to show E. what his Daddy was doing, even though E. wouldn’t have appreciated the rarity of having a father who is a tenured academic but who can also build fences. E. had only recently discovered he had hands at the point Q. started work on it.

But mostly it was just an excuse to get out of the house, away from the overwhelming anxiety you were feeling when the baby you loved so much wasn’t eating or wasn’t sleeping or wasn’t doing any of the things you thought he was SUPPOSED to be doing at that particular moment. So you’d scoop E. up, often in floods of tears, and take him out to watch Q. build the fence, and you’d cry and rant at Q., and he would say something undeniably true but not particularly helpful like “Babies do crazy things”, and you’d be so full of frustration and fear that you weren’t doing this parenting thing RIGHT and E. would be hopelessly damaged because he wasn’t sleeping enough or nursing enough. But it would be sunny outside, and warm, and eventually you and E. would both be quiet and happy and calm, and you’d pull yourself together to struggle on.

And so it went.

I wish I could walk past that fence, look at you in your sleep-deprived haze, clutching that tiny, fractious baby, with an air that I would like to say was equal parts exhilaration and panic but was really mostly just panic, and catch your eye. I wish I could give you a smile and a big hug and tell you what I know now.

It gets better.

I know you were at the end of your rope. At this stage three years ago, you’d only just started to transition E. back into his crib for naps, rather than strapping him to your chest in a carrier and pacing around the house non-stop. E. responded by refusing to nap for more than forty-five (or, if you were very unlucky, thirty) minutes at a time.  Carrier naps? He’d happily sleep for two hours, nestled in nice and cozy. You’d only just started to get his bedtime back to an early enough hour that you didn’t feel you had to go to bed as soon as he did.

You didn’t know what was coming down the pipe. You knew that he had a really gassy tummy in the early hours of the morning, but you were still months away from figuring out the MSPI issue. You were thrilled to have achieved even some semblance of independent sleep during the day, but you had no idea he would be ten months old before you no longer had to stand in the room, holding him on his side in the crib until he fell asleep. You didn’t know that there’d be phases where he would wake up for the day, every day, at 5 a.m., or that he would sleep so lightly that going to bed would wake him up, even if you and Q. brushed your teeth downstairs and tried to sneak up the stairs. You didn’t know that you would still be nursing him, twice a night, until after his first birthday, even though he wouldn’t nurse during the day.

E.’s sleep in his first year, in a nutshell, sucked.

I remember when you read a post on a friend’s blog, where she commented on how amazing it was that her son (who was older than E. and had also been a totally shit sleeper as an infant) would now tell her that he was tired, how wonderful it was that she could go into his room to check on him at night before she went to bed herself.

You cried.

You never, ever, believed you would reach that point with E.

Turia, you did.

Your son has slept through the night consistently since he was sixteen months old. He usually sleeps twelve hours or a bit more. He tells you when he’s tired and sometimes asks to go to bed early. He goes to sleep with little or no fuss, and needs no further parental intervention after one round of being checked on when he’s first tucked in. (You always ask the same three questions: “And how are you? How’s your nightlight? And your animals?” and E. always gives the same three answers: “I’m fine. It’s working. My animals are fine and I’m fine and my nightlight is working and everything’s fine.”) The routine didn’t change when you switched him from a crib to his medium-sized guy bed last month. He stays in bed when you put him there (at least until he wakes up the following morning).

Here is what you can do when you go into his room to check on him before you go to bed. You can pull back and adjust the covers. You can lift him up if he is too close to the edge of the bed and resettle him. You can put his head back on the pillow, or give him back his best bunny or his newest best friend, his puppy. You can put away laundry. You can adjust the curtains if he’s opened them while falling asleep. To be honest, you could probably have a conversation in there with Q. while jumping up and down and E. wouldn’t wake up.

Most of all, you can smooth back his hair from his forehead. You can give him another kiss. You can tell him that you love him. You can stand there, in the dark, and watch him sleep and notice how long his legs are getting and marvel at the little boy that fractious baby became.

I’m not sure we’re ever going to get a “do-again”. No one gets a “do-over”- E.’s infancy is finished and his and your experiences of it are set. But you often think, standing there in the dark, that it would have been nice to have a chance at a “do-again”, to go into parenting knowing this time that things change, sometimes overnight, and that eventually, eventually there is a light at the end of the sleep tunnel.

It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, unfortunately. I can’t go back and find you watching that fence being built, so I’m writing this instead, hoping that someone else might find it one day and read it and feel, for a moment, maybe a little less alone and a little less frightened.

Because it gets better.

It does.

I promise.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Baby, Blink and you'll miss it, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the fourth year, MSPI, My addled brain, Nursing, Sleep

Where’d my baby go?

E. has made some huge developmental leap in the last couple of weeks.

It’s not surprising, as we’re in a wonder week right now. But I think he’s actually made the jump before the wonder week.

It’s just a whole combination of things that make him seem like a radically different baby from the one to whom I was writing a ten month letter less than three weeks ago.

1. He’s pushed back his bedtime. At first we blamed DST, but he’s never changed back, and his naps and morning wakings are all back to normal, so I think he just suddenly needs a bit less sleep at night. He now goes into the crib at 7 pm, and will grizzle and mutter to himself and suck his thumb for anywhere from five to twenty minutes before going to sleep. As a result we’ve started eating dinner at 6 pm, and eating with him, rather than feeding him at 5:30 and then having our dinner once he went to sleep. We were going to do this when he hit the year mark, since we figured at that stage he’d be old enough to survive having the later bedtime, but since he’s done it himself, we figured might as well start. The good side of things is we’re no longer trying to put together a separate meal for him. The downside is now we’re cooking full meals with him underfoot, which is going to require some adjustments and possibly the use of our travel crib as a containment device for when we’re trying to get things out of the oven without him, as Q. says, “french-kissing the baby in the mirror on the oven door”.

2. He stopped nursing during the day. This coincided with a whole bunch of the other changes, so I do wonder if it’s partly a developmental thing. It sucks, but we’re doing well with pumping and using his Rubbermaid flip-top to get him to drink breastmilk during the day, and he’s still usually up twice at night, so he’s definitely getting enough liquids. And I’m starting to see the positive side of having a baby who weans himself entirely by the year mark (I can go places- without him! I can eat whatever I want again!).

3. The babbling started up again with a vengeance. He is really trying to have a conversation with us now, and we think he’s got a sound that is attempting to be “hello”. Still no dadas, although I’m loving the return of mama.

4. He really really gets the idea of interacting with us and works hard to get our attention and make us laugh. He’ll fake cough to get us to fake cough back at him. He’ll put things on his head to try to be funny. He is much faster to giggle and break into belly laughs. He’s signing ‘all done’ at the table. He clearly understands words and simple directions- he will give you something if you point to it and put your hand out. I can see the whole world opening up to him as he realizes he can make his needs and wants known.

5. He has very strong wants (and not-wants). Changing diapers is a challenge as this is a breach of the baby autonomy. He hates having a toy taken away from him. He hates not being allowed to maul our (very tolerant, but even so) cats. He goes MENTAL if we are eating and he’s not. Since he’s realized he can communicate, he gets frustrated when we’re not quick enough to pick up on what he needs.

6. He is better at self-soothing. Thumb sucking now appears when he is tired or frustrated or hurt (I also wonder if this is partly related to the fact he’s no longer getting any suckling time at the breast during the day). He puts himself to sleep for naps and bedtime without anyone being in the room. He’s taking longer and better naps at predictable times (that sentence makes me SO happy). If he wakes up too early he usually just grizzles for a moment and then goes back to sleep. He almost never gets up before 7 am.

7. He plays with his toys differently. You can really see him experimenting with the idea of “in and out” “under and on top” “bigger and smaller”. He is less likely to put things immediately into his mouth (the other day he had a glorious twenty minutes of playing with glossy newsprint and then his father appeared and I proudly said that E. wasn’t eating it, and E. chose THAT EXACT MOMENT to stuff a whole wad into his mouth. Sigh.). He is so mobile- crawls at the speed of light, stands before you can blink, and cruises around the furniture without pausing.

He’s a totally different baby, again. It is amazing and terrifying to see them change.

The second half of the first year is just awesome. Every time I think it can’t be possible, he changes and becomes even more fun. I am just loving our time together right now.

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Filed under Baby, Blink and you'll miss it, Food, Nursing, Sleep

Dragging across the finish line…

E. is refusing to nurse during the day. Point blank, not a chance, not at any point during the day. Not before naps, not after naps, not before bed, nothing. The only time he will feed is at night (and at least he is still doing that twice). If I offer, instead of just pushing away like he used to, he lunges in, bites down with all eight teeth, and then yanks off.

I’m not going to sugar coat. It fucking hurts. I’m mainly surprised he’s only drawn blood once.

It happened so fast. We went from two or three feeds during the day, to two, to one, to zero in the space of four days. And then the flat-out refusing and biting coincided with my mum and stepfather visiting.

There were many, many tears shed in the Turia household last weekend. I’m on a more even keel now, basically because I’ve been in touch with lactation consultants and they have reassured me that a) E. is not going to dehydrate given he will drink water or expressed breast milk from a cup and he is eating lots of food, and b) his nutritional needs are being met as long as he is gaining weight and is content. So it’s not a crisis situation…yet. Because the concern, as always, is that he will drop those night feeds before his first birthday.

But I’m not going down without a fight.

There are two possible explanations for what is going on:
1) E. is weaning himself- he is eating SO much solid food and is SO busy all day long that he simply isn’t interested in sitting still to nurse. He’s feeding at night to make up the extra calories.
or
2) E. really would like to still be nursing, but my supply has dropped so much that he doesn’t think it’s worthwhile, given he’s been spoiled by my ultra-fast letdown. He’s feeding at night because that’s when my supply is at its highest.

The lactation consultants are adamant that it is #2, given they don’t believe that any baby actually wants to wean before 18 months or so. My mummy friends think it is probably #1, and everyone has a story of a friend whose baby weaned at or just before the year mark.

I’m on the fence. E. has been gradually losing interest, but this whole-scale rejection happened so quickly, and came at a point right when I’d been away from him a lot during the day and we’d missed some feeds, that it wouldn’t surprise me if my supply had tanked. And as soon as he started refusing, it just got worse.

Regardless, I have to protect my supply enough to keep the night feeds going until he hits the year mark. So over the last few days I’ve put a plan into action. I’m taking fenugreek and blessed thistle- three capsules each, three times a day. I just started Domperidone- three pills, three times a day. I’m drinking more water and eating oatmeal. And I’ve borrowed a pump from a friend, and I’m trying to pump at least twice a day, if not three times, right around the points where E. used to feed. That milk goes into his Rubbermaid cup with the straw and flip-top lid so he can drink it throughout the day. He’s doing pretty well with this, which is reassuring. Even though I know dehydration isn’t an issue, it is nice to see him taking in fluids.

Pumping isn’t too much of a hassle. I’m getting 4-6 oz at each session. It feels a bit weird to be doing this for the first time when my baby is 10 and a half months old, but oh well. We do what we have to.

The way I see it, if I increase my supply, and E. still refuses to come back to the breast, than I’ll trust him that he knows what he wants. I’ll keep pumping to be able to offer breastmilk during the day and to protect the night feeds, but I’ll expect him to stop altogether when I cut the night feeds at the year mark. If it turns out he was just complaining about the supply, then I’ll stop pumping once he comes back to the breast, but may stay on the herbs/meds until the year mark. It’s also possible that he will start nursing again during the day when I cut the night feeds, but I’m not risking that until we’re past the year.

I’m still offering the breast, but if he just lunges, I put it away again and we just go about our day. The biting has got better. He’s also biting me like crazy during the day too- on my shoulder if I hold him, on my knee if we’re on the floor, etc. His baby friend who was born on the same day is doing the same thing (less the nursing bites) so that is probably developmental (if annoying).

The hardest part has been accepting that my baby may want to wean, even though I am manifestly NOT ready for him to do so. But that is part and parcel of parenting- letting them grow up and assert their own wishes and ideas.

I feel better having a plan. I know I can get him through to the year mark, regardless of what happens afterwards. But this has seriously been one of the worst weeks as E’s Mummy thus far.

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Filed under Baby, Food, Nursing

The fifth year

Yesterday was my fourth blogoversary. I’d had a vague recollection for a few days that it was coming up, so last night I checked right before I shut down the computer for the night, and lo and behold- there it was. My first post on this blog. Just for kicks I read the first few posts over again. I was just starting out on the path to parenthood. We’d already had our first appointment with a fertility specialist, I’d gone through the HSG, and our second appointment was later that week. I’d known that things weren’t likely to be easy (I was in with a fertility specialist less than seven months after starting to ttc- three months off birth control where nothing happened, a further three months where I charted to prove I wasn’t ovulating, and then a trip to the GP and a referral to a clinic), but I had NO IDEA what was coming.

I can remember like it was yesterday the meeting with the f/s where she went through all the options their clinic offered, and how they moved from one level of treatment to the next. The last stop was IVF. “I don’t think you’ll need that,” she told us. We believed her. Ha. (In fairness, on paper we didn’t look like a couple who would need IVF either. We looked like a straightforward PCOS case- add Clomid and produce pregnancy!)

There is a lightness in my posts in the beginning that is both endearing and painful to read now. Even though I anticipated there were going to be problems, I was so relieved to be in with a fertility specialist so quickly. I really thought we would sort everything out with a minimum of fuss. I believed we’d be pregnant by the end of the year.

Then there was my first blogoversary, which was also my hundredth post. The optimism was gone, replaced by a gritty sort of determination. The treatment protocols were escalating. I’d just had a laparoscopy the previous month to cut out the endometriosis that my f/s had suspected was there (he- we’d changed doctors by this point when my first f/s left the clinic to move back to Australia- was right).

Then there was my second blogoversary, which was also the only post in my blog that entire month. I was in the final stages of preparing for my comprehensive exams. I spent literally twelve hours a day reading. I was going, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. And we were paused in treatments after our two FETs had failed. We were waiting for my comps to be over in April before we did one more round of IVF (and then ultimately waited until after we’d gone on a big trip to see Q’s family in July).

I’d come through the worst of it by March 2010- I was no longer in the dark place I inhabited in December 2009, when the second FET failed. I was trying to take some control over my life again. I was trying to see past the failed cycles. Trying to keep some perspective. I was quiet on the blog, as I was whenever we were between treatments. I was overwhelmingly grateful for my readers, who had become friends.

Then there was my third blogoversary, which wasn’t marked on here, sandwiched as it was between my weekly pregnancy updates (weeks thirty-0ne and thirty-two). I think the very absence of a post tells me just how much I had healed. The length of the journey was paling in comparison with how short a time remained before we would meet our baby, who turned out to be E.

And now, here we are. Four years after I first started writing this blog, I’m still here, still blogging, even if now I pull my hair out over E.’s crazy absolutely normal baby ways rather than weep over bfns and curse PIO shots. It’s probably appropriate that this is a week of introspection generally in the ALI blogosphere, as I have spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about why I blog and what I get out of blogging. (You can read about what’s going on with Mel’s posts 1, 2, and 3, and here at LFCA.)

First and foremost, my blog acts for me as a journal, a record of one particular aspect of my life. That used to be trying to get pregnant. Then it was being pregnant. Now it’s parenting. My blog transitioned from a ttc blog to a pregnancy blog and then a parenting blog, and I guess one day it will be a ttc+parenting blog when we start thinking about trying to give E. a sibling. And hopefully it will become a pregnancy+parenting blog, and then, at last, a parenting blog when our family is complete.

One of the issues the ALI blogosphere is currently ruminating on is the place of blogs written by those who are parenting after infertility. I know when I first started to write after E. was born, I had difficulty expressing how I really felt about mothering. I felt like I couldn’t complain (even though I did, a lot), because I might upset those readers who were still in the trenches, and who desperately wanted to have what I had.

Here’s how I got over that: in the first place, I really really needed an outlet for the side of motherhood that was not proving to be sunshine and rainbows and kittens and ice cream. I was taken aback by the ambiguity of some of my feelings in the first few months. I didn’t expect to both love E. with such all-consuming focus and yet at the exact same time miss my old life so desperately. I needed support, just as I needed support when I was trying to get pregnant. So I blogged about it. I think I felt more guilt when I was writing about pregnancy, but since the primary purpose of this blog is to act as a journal for myself, I posted my belly pics and wrote my weekly updates regardless. Already those updates are so precious to me. They preserve specific thoughts and emotions from specific points in the pregnancy, when my own memories are already starting to fade.

The other thing that helped was during the time I was trying to get pregnant, the vast, vast majority of the blogs I followed transitioned from ttc blogs to pregnant/parenting blogs. And I kept reading. I don’t follow a ton of blogs- I’ve never had enough time, and I’d rather keep up good close relationships with a few bloggers than only scan many. So the blogs that I do read regularly are usually those written by women (because they are all by women) with whom I could imagine myself sitting down for coffee and a good long natter. I read blogs of women with whom I think I could be friends (and I do consider most of them to be friends, even if only online). So when those blogs became pregnancy blogs, I didn’t stop reading in the same way that I wouldn’t have cut out a friend in real life who announced that she was pregnant. In many ways it was easier to be excited for my blog friends who were getting out of the trenches, because I knew how hard they’d had to work to get there.

My blog has never been hugely popular. I don’t get hundreds of page views, or dozens of comments. That’s ok. I know that some people comment, and no doubt more people are reading. I’ve made friendships through having this blog. And it serves for me in place of the paper journal that I would never, ever get round to keeping. I’d love to think that I would write my monthly letters to E. if I kept a paper journal, that I would record all those moments of his babyhood, but I doubt it would happen. Even though I write my blog for me, what keeps me writing and encourages me to put down my thoughts, is the knowledge that others are reading. So thank you. Because I know in five, ten, thirty years, when my memories of this wild first year with E. are as vague and unformed as those of my friends and my parents, I will be so utterly grateful for the clarity of these posts, sunshine and shadows alike.

E. is going through a weird patch right now. Lots and lots of random wakings at night where he bursts out crying and then, 99% of the time settles himself. He seems to be having the most trouble in the final part of the night. He’s also just generally a bit more fragile during the day- protesting diaper changes, sucking his thumb all the time. So I went and looked things up and sure enough, we’re two weeks out from a Wonder Week. I’m hopeful this means that if things don’t settle down earlier, we’ll be back to a more normal pattern by the end of March.

E. is now a totally independent sleeper. Q. and I had both noticed that when we put him down for naps he’d started waking up as we went out the door and flipping over onto his tummy. I figured it was time to try letting him put himself down again. So I spent a few days sitting in his room (hiding over by his closet so he couldn’t see me, but I could peek around to watch him and check his body language), and he put himself down every time. Now I can leave the room, and just listen to him on the monitor. There was almost NO fussing during this whole process. He did do some short naps (35 minutes) at first, but then we had a nap where he woke up crying and I just left him (as he still sounded tired on the monitor) and he moaned and fussed and sucked his thumb and eventually went back to sleep, and that seemed to solve the issue as we’ve had some good naps since. Q. is still putting a hand on him, but that’s ok. I figure once Q. realizes that I can leave the room and get on with things for the twenty minutes or so it takes E. to settle, he’ll want that time too!

I’m so so so proud of my little guy.

Q. and I left E. with my sister yesterday afternoon and went on a date to see a play. Daylight savings time messed things up, as E. was still napping when we had to leave, and hadn’t nursed yet that morning, so it wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, and I did worry a bit, and wanted to bolt home to see him the second the play was over. He, of course, was fine- was a bit confused when he woke up and his auntie was there, but ate a good lunch, had a nice play and went for a long walk with her (as it was an insane 17 degrees here). Started to cry as soon as we walked in the door, which I had predicted, but it went really well. It’s just too bad my sister is off on a post-doc starting next month, as it would have been great to have had family in the city for babysitting!

Given he only had the one nap, we tried to put E. down at his usual time (which was an hour early because of the time change). That was messy. I guess even though he was exhausted his body still knew it wasn’t proper bedtime. He woke up at 7 this morning, however, so we should be able to get him back on track without too much trouble.

I was reading a story to E. the other day pre-nap in his room, and we hit a page with a cat. As soon as I said ‘cat’, E. stopped looking at the book and started looking all over his room, trying to find the cat. AND he is now signing ‘all done’ by holding both hands up above his head when in his high chair. It’s blowing my mind that he understands things and is starting to really communicate.

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Filed under Baby, Emotions, Sleep, Writing

The tenth month

Dear darling E.,

This month, my son, you were a baby of action! Even when you’re asleep you move around- we’re always finding you wedged in a corner of your crib- and when you’re awake, the only time you sit still is when you’re in your high chair (and even then you find a way to kick your legs when you’re excited about some particularly choice morsel). But if you’re not eating or sleeping, you are constantly on the move- crawling all over the main floor, pulling up on anything and everything, and cruising around some of the furniture. It is amazing to watch you explore your world. You’re so confident, and so interested in everything. You obviously have a very good memory and the moment there is something new in your domain, you’re off to inspect it. You love ‘helping’ Mummy and Daddy empty the dishwasher- your favourite thing to do is fiddle with the flap that folds over to hold the detergent- and you are fascinated by the washing machine. You’ll pull yourself to your feet and bang on the window and shriek at the clothes as they tumble around.

You’re still continuing to grow and thrive. Your nine month appointment revealed that you are still in the 90th percentile for height (at 29.5 inches). You’re now in the 35th percentile for weight (at 19 lb, 6 oz), so that makes you a long, lanky baby. Even some of your twelve-month clothing that fit last month is starting to look at bit short, and the final few six-twelve months clothes have had to be packed away. We bought you your big-boy carseat this month, and you had your first trip in it on the weekend. You looked so grown up, and it was definitely time to upgrade- you were practically spilling over the edge of your infant bucket seat!

Your balance and confidence when standing has improved so much over the course of this month. Last month you could only pull yourself to standing in your crib until the very end when you just started to be able to get upright using the couch. Now you can stand up as long as you’ve got something to provide support- you no longer need to literally ‘pull’ yourself up. You stand up using the fridge, the mirror in the bedroom (where you love to give kisses to the baby in the mirror), your high chair, the couches, the dining room chairs, your toy box, the bookshelf, etc. You can stand holding on with only one hand, crouch down to pick up a toy that you’ve dropped, bounce up and down, and you’ve even started to think about how you might climb stairs (to which you get access only when Mummy is there to supervise). You love to crawl over to your toy box, stand up and then quite deliberately reach in to pull out particular toys (or, depending on the day, put toys back in the box).

Your crawling is now officially high speed, and the cats have had to lift their game to avoid being grabbed by you (something which you still spend an inordinate amount of your time trying to do). If we leave the door to the pantry open, or the front hall closet, you are off like a shot! You do cruise around the furniture- you’ll move from your toy box to the couch, for example, but you’re not taking many steps yet.

This month I feel like you really started to master the idea of spatial relationships. You’ve figured out how to navigate the ledge between the kitchen and the dining room. At first you would crawl up to it at your usual speed, then stop and slowly put one hand out over the edge and lower it down until it touched the ground, and then repeat with the other hand. Climbing up would often involve some squeaks of frustration and quite a few downward dogs (still your go-to pose if you’re unsure of something or want to take a moment to think things over). Now you just roll over it, up or down, at top speed with barely a moment’s hesitation. If your toys roll under the couch you flop down on your belly and try to reach them out. When on the change table you invariably hurl whatever toy I give you down into the tiny gap between the change table and the wall (your aim is always perfect). You stash toys on the couch and chair cushions and go back to get them later. I always spend a few minutes after you’ve gone to bed tidying up the living room and putting all the pieces of your toys back together and putting them all away in the toy box for the next day. This is definitely starting to become a challenge some days, and your Daddy regularly finds me crawling around the living room, looking under couches and muttering to myself, “I need a pink ball.”

You are still utterly obsessed with the cats. If one of them is sitting on the back of the couch looking out the window, you will crawl over, pull up to standing and then spend a good long while trying desperately to ‘talk’ to the cat and get her attention. You will shriek, babble, bounce up and down, laugh, and do your utmost to get that recalcitrant feline to stop ignoring you. We spend so much time talking about the cats that I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised when just yesterday when I asked you “Where is the cat?” while we were reading a book together, you ignored the picture in the book and turned your head to look at the real live cat at the window! The cats are fairly tolerant of your adoration, as long as it comes from afar; neither of them is interested in letting you grab their fur and pull their tails, something which you would so dearly love to do. I foresee many a conversation about how we are gentle with the cats in our future.

We had an exciting time this month when we thought you might have outgrown your MSPI intolerance. It turned out that this wasn’t the case, but our experiment was still promising in that it suggested that your intolerance might be lessening, and you really might outgrow it entirely by your first birthday. In any case, your Mummy did love the couple of weeks where she ate cheese and yoghurt with abandon.

Leaving aside the MSPI issue, you, my son, LOVE food. You are certainly your father’s son. Your current favourites include meat (of any type, but especially hamburgers), broccoli, tuna pasta, pancakes, pitas with toppings (hummus, peanut butter, apple butter, roasted red pepper dip) and your ‘mixed puffs’, which are always a good go-to option if you’re not thrilled with the other options on your tray. You have a strict hierarchy of preferences with your puffs- first you eat all the corn puffs, then the ‘o’s, then the kamut, and finally, if no more puffs prove to be appearing, you’ll deign to eat the rice. Tuna pasta is probably your absolute favourite. We make it with lemon juice and various spices, and you will absolutely hoover your way through an entire bowl. The other day your Daddy made it for lunch and you ended up eating a significant amount of his lunch too! You have very clear likes and dislikes (although what these are change on a daily basis), and anything on your tray that does not meet with your approval rapidly ends up on the ground. You no longer want fingers of vegetables- you’d rather pick up bite sized portions for the most part, or be given the entire thing to munch on (this is particularly the case with apples and pears- you reject poached pieces but will happily gnaw away at the core provided some of the fruit is left). You love lentils and curries made with chick peas.

The flip side of your love affair with food is you continue to be a challenge to nurse. Most days I’m lucky if you settle for one or two short feeds during the day. Your two feeds at night are still the most substantial, and we’ll be continuing them until your first birthday to make sure you don’t try to wean entirely. I think you’re just too busy during the day to want to stop to nurse, and you’re too excited about all the other food options. On the rare occasions when you do wake up only once, you nurse much better the next day, so I have to trust that you’re getting as much as you need, just not always when I would like you to! You’re quite adept at drinking breastmilk or water out of a cup, provided we hold it for you, and you’ve also mastered the art of sipping from a tupperware container that uses a straw and a flip-spouted lid. You look impossibly grown up when you do this.

You consistently take two naps a day (lengths being wildly variable, as always), and your nights are very consistent: asleep by 6:45 or 7 pm at the latest, and up for the day around 7 am, or a little bit earlier or later. You now put yourself to sleep at night all by yourself. We go into your room and sit in the rocking chair together while I sing your lullabies. Then it’s time for a kiss and a cuddle before I put you in the crib, give you your monkey, and walk out the door. Usually you’re asleep three minutes later, as you’re so tired by your action-packed day. We think the independent bedtime is helping you settle more at night as well, as it’s very rare now that your Daddy has to go in to help you get back to sleep in the early evening, and we don’t seem to wake you up any more when we come to bed ourselves.

You had a rough few days this month waiting for two more teeth to come through (number eight in particular was a real doozy), but now that they’re here, we’re hoping we’ll get a break from teething for a little while. You still try so hard to be cheerful, but you do need Ad.vil at night to help with the pain, and we’ve noticed a definite increase in thumb sucking as a way of self-soothing and putting pressure on the sore parts of your gums. You also tend to start biting things, particularly Mummy’s knees and other parts of her anatomy, which isn’t all that appreciated.

Your favourite toys are the balls that come with the ‘brainless elephant’ as your Daddy calls it. You will drop them into the elephant over and over again, bang them together, shake them to hear them rattle, and chase them all over the main floor. You still love your shape sorter, pulling books off of your shelves, your Lam.aze fishbowl, your music table, and anything that rattles. We keep some toys in the kitchen on the lower shelf of the bookshelf that stores our cookbooks, and your favourite toy in there is an old yoghurt container: it is great fun to push around the hardwood floors, and the lid is perfect for chewing on. When I need you to stay in your crib for a few minutes, I’ll put some of your books in, and you’ll happily sit there turning the pages. Once you get bored with that, you’ll stand up and bounce up and down and try to rattle the bars.

We try to get together once a week with your baby friends, and it’s so interesting to watch you interact with the other babies. You’re all fascinated with each other, and there are open-mouthed kisses galore whenever another baby gets within reach. You also love to try and pull their hair, and the other babies give as good as they get, so we Mummies do often have to intercede to prevent too many playdates from dissolving into tears. You also spend a lot of time observing what the other babies can do, and it’s clear that you are all learning from each other. The other day one of your friends was over here, and his Mum was telling me how he doesn’t like to feed himself, but wants her to put all the food in his mouth, like a baby bird. We were having a snack and you were sitting up in your chair, devouring some tuna and mixed puffs. The other baby was watching you like a hawk, and then he wanted to start trying to put mixed puffs in his mouth too! I also don’t think it was a coincidence that you started crawling two days after a playdate where you watched another baby zooming around. Even though it is getting harder to carry on a conversation during our playdates, we Mummies are so excited to watch you all change and grow. All the babies are within six weeks of each other, and it is so neat to watch their personalities unfold. It’s hard to believe that on our first few playdates you all used to just lie on a blanket and wave your arms and legs!

You are rapidly moving closer to toddlerhood, and the face that smiles up at me when I come to get you in the mornings is now looking more and more like that of a little boy. But you still look like you; there is a photo I took during a recent playdate where you and a friend are engrossed in your music table. You have looked up, and you’re giving the camera a long, appraising stare. You look so grown up, and yet at the same time, the expression on your face is exactly the same as one in a picture I took of you on a car ride when you were only two and half months old. You have always taken so much of your world in, always had that level-headed look of assessment, but it is so much fun now to watch you put the pieces together and manipulate your own environment. You know when Mummy and Daddy are trying to be funny, and you will either reward us with a huge outburst of giggles if we’ve done something particularly amusing (like pretending to eat the fish from your fishbowl and making sounds of disgust when I come to the starfish), or provide a clear token laugh if you feel our effort should be acknowledged, but you didn’t think the gag was all that amusing (this often happens if we try to do the same thing too many times in a row).

You’re also desperate to assert your independence. Diaper changes and being dressed are apparently now beneath your dignity, and you will wail in protest the moment we put you flat on the change table. You haven’t quite realized that the more you protest and try to wriggle away, the longer the process takes. Having your face washed after meals is the worst.thing.ever. You hate discovering that where you want to go is blocked by a gate, and if we catch you heading for something forbidden and remove it before you get there, you will express your disapproval loudly. At the same time, you still crave love and security. You will happily play by yourself with your toys, or go crawling around to explore, for forty-five minutes or longer, but you always trundle back occasionally to climb into (and then out of) my lap to touch base and make sure I’m still there. If you have a minor tumble you’ve become very stoic and will just continue on with whatever you were doing, but if you really hurt or scare yourself, nothing else will do except for a good solid cuddle (which Mummy or Daddy is always happy to provide). We’re trying to let you explore as much as you want, without ever letting you end up in a position where it would be dangerous. It’s a fine balance to maintain, and I guess it’s only going to become more challenging as you get older and more capable of getting into things.

You are becoming your own little person, and I love to watch your personality emerge each day. You’re still pretty quiet on the babbling front, and you don’t shriek or make other noises as much as some of your friends, but I can tell from watching you that you’re drinking it all in. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to discover in the next month. And it is hard to believe, but I have to start thinking soon about your first birthday.

As always, my glorious son, I love you so very very much. That will never change, no matter how much you do.

love,
Mummy

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Filed under Baby, Letters to E.

Random thoughts in snatches of time

A few bits and bobs in the spare moments I have while E. naps

  • I’m dairy-free again, and will remain so until E. is closer to the year mark. He is clearly getting better, but just as clearly still has tolerance issues, so I’d rather give his system time to outgrow it than continually tax it with small doses through me. It also makes things easier, as we can’t feed E. what we eat if we’re putting dairy in it all the time. Q. and I had a ‘conversation’ about it last night where I said I really thought it made sense to remove dairy again, and Q. said nothing and changed the subject, and when I pressed him on it said, “Fine, if that’s what you want to do.” This is Q-speak for, “I think this is dumb but you’re obviously not going to change your mind and I don’t want to fight about it.” Obviously I would have rather had an actual conversation, but provided he’s not fighting me on this, I don’t care if he thinks it’s a stupid plan.
  • The other interesting thing was at bedtime on the day he had the yoghurt E. couldn’t put himself to sleep. I think it’s been more than two weeks since I started just putting him in the crib and walking out the door, and it’s been working so well. He’s often asleep within three minutes, and at the most he chats to himself and then does a bit of mantra crying and then conks out within fifteen minutes of my leaving the room. It is amazing- our bedtime routine is now maybe ten minutes from the time he’s dressed in his pjs and sleep sack, given how short his nursing sessions are. So I do wonder if his tummy was already hurting and that was why he couldn’t settle himself and eventually needed one round of pick up/put down.
  • I started my bootcamp on Monday. I felt good yesterday but sore today, so I shudder to think how I will feel after tonight’s session. It was nice in that it showed me I do have some residual level of fitness left, even if I feel shockingly out of shape. It was also nice because one of my mummy friends was chatting with another woman there when I first arrived and introduced us and then said, “And Turia runs marathons!” To which I replied, “Half-marathons and that was pre-baby! I haven’t done anything in months.” and the other mum looked at me and said, “No, you look sporty.” And the instructor asked at the end of the session whether I’ve done a bootcamp before, and when I said no, she asked if I go to the gym a lot. So I clearly did better than she was expecting a first-timer to do. This is all a huge ego-boost for me, because I used to be significantly overweight, and was for a LONG time. I only really dropped the weight during my master’s degree when I took up rowing, and then I put most of it back on again in my first few years teaching and living with Q. Then I dropped it for our wedding, and I’ve pretty much kept it all off, give or take five pounds, over the past four and a bit years (obviously leaving aside the pregnancy weight gain). But the thing is, I STILL think of myself as fat. My mental image is that skewed. And even though I rowed at quite a high level while in the UK, and now have run two half-marathons, I still think of myself as a couch potato blob. So it means a LOT when strangers and/or friends who didn’t know me before we moved to this city (where I have always been trim, and sometimes downright skinny) make comments that assume that I’m sporty and fit. I just need to get better about believing it myself.
  • So that was the good part. The bad part was at the end she took my measurements so I can track my progress over the course of the bootcamp, and the number on the scale was not good. And granted, it was the end of the day, and I’d eaten dinner, and I was wearing running shoes, and it was a different scale, but even so. I’ve been avoiding our scale because I tend to get obsessed with numbers, but I decided I better double check, so I hopped on this morning and was given definitive proof that what I’d been suspecting was true: I cannot keep eating like a trucker if E. is going to nurse as little as he does. It’s not terrible- I’m only four pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, but that’s enough that I need to be a bit more serious about my diet again. I’ve already been cutting back portion sizes to get closer to what was ‘normal’ for me pre-pregnancy and breast feeding, but I also have to stop eating E’s leftovers. I can be smarter about heating things up in smaller batches and just doing more if he’s still hungry, but I also need to recognize that sometimes there will be food left over that can’t be saved for another meal and it is OK to throw it out. (I was raised in a house where it was not ok to waste food and we always had to clean our plates. I am NEVER telling E. that he has to finish what’s on his plate before he can leave the table. My food issues are ridiculous.)
  • Something amazing happened this morning. I was reading books to E. and we were reading Doggies, by Sandra Boynton, which is a counting and barking book. On the last page there are ten dogs and one cat and I asked E., “Where is the cat?” He turned his head to look straight at one of our cats, who was in her usual place in the window. I figured it could have been a coincidence, so I asked him again a couple of other times over the next twenty minutes as we were playing, and each time he turned his head right to look at her. HE UNDERSTANDS WORDS. Where did the tiny baby who used to just lie there and flail, bug-eyed, go?

And E. is awake. Gotta run!

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Filed under Baby, Food, MSPI, Running

Sometimes I hate being right…

Thanks for all the comments on my last post. I am going to start writing, I promise. Just not today, for reasons that will become clear below.

Yesterday I gave E. a whole lot of yoghurt, because I was tired of not being able to figure anything out definitively with the dairy situation. I was still convinced he was reacting to me eating it, and Q. still thought it was all in my head. And I felt that the reacting was getting worse and E. was becoming progressively more ‘not quite right’. But he’s still teething (oh #8, you are worse than #6 was), and there was nothing I could really point to, and say to Q., “There it is- that’s the problem.” It was just a gut instinct, albeit one that was getting stronger every day.

So he ate the yoghurt, and then at 4 am he was up this morning, which is not unusual for him, except he didn’t want to feed, he just wanted to writhe and cry, and he couldn’t be put back down in the crib, and Q. couldn’t settle him, and so at 5 am I was in the rocking chair where eventually he fell asleep on my chest with the occasional burst of crying.  This is EXACTLY what used to happen with a dairy/soy exposure. It felt so familiar. And it sucked, but at the same time, I was relieved, because we finally had a clear answer.
Except Q. doesn’t seem to think it’s definitive- he STILL thinks I’m overreacting. We had a brief conversation about it and then (since he is a conflict avoider and I was obviously getting worked up) he just disappeared downstairs to shower, but it was clear from what he was saying that he doesn’t think having E. writhing in pain crying on my chest is definitive, even though that is what he used to do every time his tummy hurt, and he has never done it (not once) since we cut out dairy and soy. Nothing else causes it- not teething, not other food, nothing.
To be honest, I’m a bit flabbergasted, because I would have thought that the experiment ended the moment it became clear that our baby was in PAIN. But I feel like Q. wants to wait until the blood starts appearing in E.’s diapers again. And I’m just not going there…there is no way I’m waiting until the damage gets so bad his gut starts to ulcerate, not when he’s given me such a clear indication that all is not right.
There’s no way for me to say this to Q. without him getting defensive and angry, but having been the one to sit in the rocking chair, or hold E. on my chest in bed before he was in his own room, I can tell without a shadow of a doubt that this is a dairy reaction. I’ve sat through too many of them not to recognize it. And yet Q. is asking, “Well, what was he doing other than being awake?” and insisting, “Oh he does that back arch thing with me when he wakes up at 10 and won’t go back down too.” I don’t think there’s anything I can say to him that will convince him, because he already thinks I’m inventing the whole thing. But I was willing to entertain the belief that I was projecting; I was willing to keep going with the experiment, because there wasn’t anything definitive.
Now there is. And I need Q. to trust me when I say to him, “This is wrong; he’s in pain; we’ll try dairy again at the year mark.”, and not to second guess, or openly doubt what I’m saying. Because right now, my mama bear instincts are in overdrive, and if Q. dismisses what I’m saying, or tries to push me to continue with the dairy exposure, I am going to lose my shit.

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Filed under Baby, Food, MSPI

Paralyzed

I don’t write much here about my life outside of mothering E. I’m the sort of person who likes to compartmentalize things, and keep them in their neat, ordered boxes. I have a filing cabinet in my head. I make to-do lists for my to-do lists. That sort of thing. And this space, most of the time, is a place where I can explore my thoughts on motherhood, now that we’ve made it through the wilds of ttc and are out the other side.

And if I’m being honest, there isn’t all that much more to my life right now beyond struggling to keep my head above water as a first-time mum during her baby’s first year. We had some old friends come to stay for a few days this week- good friends of mine from high school- and I found myself doing that horrible new parent thing where all you do is talk about your kid and/or the minutiae of life with a baby. They were pretty tolerant about it, all things considered (both of them being male, and one newly married and the other resolutely single), but sometimes I would take a step back and listen to what was coming out of my mouth, and inwardly I would cringe. And then I would try hard to change the subject. (They did think little E. was pretty awesome. They came back one day with a giant red hooded towel/poncho that had lobster eyes on the hood that will fit E. when he is maybe two years old. It’s very cute, and it was so sweet of them.)

People ask me, “So, what’s new?” and I tend to answer in terms of what E. is doing: “He’s pulling up on everything now.” Or: “He’s teething again, so his naps have disappeared.” Or if E. is crawling around nearby, I tend to just point to him. He’s what is new. He’s always new- every day he changes. And yet he isn’t new, and there isn’t all that much to report when it comes to my own life. At the moment, it still very much feels like he is my whole life. I spend much of my day trying and failing to get him to nurse, which is a source of enormous distress to me. I feel like my supply is dwindling because of it. I’m at the point where I’m trying to borrow a pump from one of my friends so I can at least protect my supply, and maybe get some more milk into a cup to offer E. at meals, because he sure as hell isn’t interested in nursing otherwise.

Except, of course, at night. I have these crazy conflicted feelings towards the night feeds. Every night, as I take out my housecoat and lay it over my dresser, ready for me to slip on before I trundle down the hall to his room, I think to myself,I can’t. I just can’t keep doing this anymore. I am so tired. And then he wakes up, twice, and each time I go to him, and I take him out of the crib, and we sit down in the rocking chair together, and he latches and nurses and drinks deeply and strokes my skin and relaxes in a way that he simply doesn’t do during the daytime, when it feels like I’m fighting with him every time I try to get him to nurse, and on the rare occasion when he feeds he’s finished a few minutes later and desperate to get down and get moving again. But at night he curls up to me, and when he’s finished I hold him to my chest and rock him for a moment or two, and kiss his perfect head, and inhale his glorious baby smell, and savour the feel of his no-longer tiny body as he relaxes into me. And then I put him back in his crib, and I return to my own bed, trying not to calculate how many hours of sleep I’ve already had, desperate to keep my brain from waking up too much, and then eventually I fall asleep again, and then the morning comes, and somehow I’ve made it through another night.

I am desperate to end the night feeds.

I am reluctant to end the night feeds.

At this point I believe that when we cut out the night feeds at the twelve month mark, E. will wean himself. This makes me terribly sad. We’ve done so well with breastfeeding, and I was ready to continue to at least eighteen months, even if the MSPI issue had not yet resolved. At the back of my mind is always, always, the awareness that E. could well be our only baby, and that he could be the only child who will cry for me in the night and rest his head on my shoulder. If he is going to be my only nursling, I’m not ready to stop two months hence.

And yet, I don’t really enjoy our current nursing relationship during the day. I don’t like that it feels like a battle, that I end up expressing milk into a cup, hoping to get him to drink it, that I never know when it is ok to leave the house because I can’t figure out when E. might suddenly decide that nursing does sound like a good idea, that my breasts either feel over-full or all-too empty.

But for my own sanity, the night feeds have to stop when we hit the twelve month mark. I like to think that I’m coping, that I function most days, that in my interactions with others they wouldn’t be able to tell that I was up twice last night, and have been up at least twice nearly every single night for the last ten months.

If I’m honest, however, I can see that all is not right.

I’m breaking things.

In the last month, I’ve smashed at least four things in the kitchen- a glass, a port glass, a plate, a bowl. I don’t think I’d broken four things, total, in the previous ten years. They were dumb accidents too- I’d reach for something on the counter and knock something else over instead, or I’d pick something up and drop it on something else. They were dumb enough that each time I remember standing there amidst the shards of glass or pottery, thinking, Really? I just did that?

I forget things.

I forget everything now, if it isn’t written down, and half the time I still forget it even if it is recorded somewhere. Given I’ve always been the memory of this family (Q. being a very clever man but a very absent-minded professor), this is quite disturbing. It makes me feel weak.

I lose patience with E., but especially with Q.

Because my instincts know that E. is young and vulnerable and too little to know any better, when he has a horrible day and I’m ready to pull my own hair out, I snap at Q. instead because I am just SO.DAMN.TIRED and I need to vent my frustration somewhere.

I know that I’m not operating as I should be, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it right now, except keep putting one foot forward in front of the other, and take each day as it comes. But always, always, I’m reminded that there is one giant part of my life right now that is not about E.

My dissertation.

You know, the one I’m supposed to be writing at the moment. The PhD that has nothing to do with my child and yet has everything to do with my child, because how I’m coping with E. directly affects how I cope (or not) with my doctorate.

I never, ever, thought I would be ten months in to life as a mother and still be waking up twice a night. I might have seriously reconsidered going back to the dissertation after six months, had I been able to scout out what was in store for us.

And now we come to the heart of the matter.

I’ve promised my supervisor a chapter by the start of May. I have to produce it to stay on our agreed-upon timeline, so that I can finish in good time and get out on the job market and hopefully cobble together enough sessional work to make Q. and I feel like this whole process wasn’t a giant waste of our time and I should have just swapped over my teaching qualifications and sucked it up and continued teaching high school.

I haven’t started writing yet. I have an outline, and an awareness of how much time I have. But I haven’t been writing. Instead I’ve been reading and thinking and collecting ever more references that may or may not prove to be useful in the final product.

I have to start writing next week. I don’t have any more leeway.

I find the blank page very intimidating. Once I get going, I’m usually fine. But those first words are killers. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I always have- even with essays as an undergraduate. I’ll convince myself that I can’t even start writing until I’m convinced that this essay/paper/chapter/what-have-you is going to be the BEST work ever written on the subject. And I can’t possibly write the best work ever written on the subject because, like all graduate students and most professors, I secretly think I’m a fraud and that one of these days everyone else is going to notice that I don’t actually know anything about my subject and I’ve been faking my way through university, albeit while collecting a host of awards, scholarships and medals, all this time. (I have a full-length draft of a novel that sits under my desk and has done so for the last three years because I can’t bear to send it out in case it turns out that it really is terrible, which is what I have feared since writing it. But that is another post.)

Q. can always tell when I’m hesitating- balanced on the precipice and looking down into the deep black hole of my latest assignment. He’ll catch me cleaning, or popping in and out of his study, and he’ll tell me to go and sit in my chair.

He’s always right. I put my butt in the chair, and I start writing, and while it’s never the best work ever written on the subject, it’s generally pretty damn good by the end. And once a few hundred words are there on the page, suddenly it’s easy. The pressure literally lifts off my shoulders and the words skip out from my fingertips as fast as I can type.

The funny thing, though, is that it never gets any easier with any later assignments. I go through the same process each and every time I have to produce something.

Right now, I’m on the precipice again. But this one feels different. It’s the first chapter of the dissertation. The first chapter of that final step- my last assignment as a student.

Dissertation angst is legendary among graduate students. I think I’d be feeling it, regardless of the circumstances. But it is made about a billion times worse by my being all-too aware of just how depleted my mental state currently is, just how little I have to give to something that should be the focus of my existence.

But it can’t be, of course. That place is filled by E.

And even though I know, I KNOW that this is only a first draft, and that there will be revisions upon revisions and much of it probably won’t even end up in the finished product, and I will rewrite at a time when E. does sleep through the night and my brain does not feel like it is made of cotton wool, and that I need to start writing now to know what I still need to read, and what questions I still need to answer, I remain paralyzed, immobile with the fear that when I start writing, I will discover that I really, truly can’t do this, and that my brain has failed me when I need it most.

The one saving grace is that I’m so damn tired that at least the fretting isn’t keeping me up at night.

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Filed under Baby, My addled brain, PhD, Sleep

And the results are in…

Or not.

I STILL cannot tell whether E. really has outgrown his dairy intolerance.

I did the milk binge- we had pizza for dinner with extra cheese, and I drank 500 ml of milk and then we had ice cream for dessert.

And then I felt sick.

E.? Had a normal night, was maybe a touch fussier than normal the next day, and seemed a bit uncomfortable the next night, in that he was wriggling around during his feeds like he had bubbles in his gut that weren’t coming out. No weird crying jags in the early evening.

So I ate more ice cream. And this time there was no reaction on the first night or the second. But I still thought he was gassier/fussier than normal during the day. He does this weird panting/fussing thing when crawling that I think is indicative of discomfort.

I am driving Q. mental, because my gut tells me that he is still reacting. Q. thinks it is all in my head and that it is tied up with my own (large) issues surrounding food. And what has thrown a HUGE wrench into this whole process is tooth #8.

That’s right- the day after I had my dairy binge, it became manifestly clear that E. was teething again. And this one is causing a lot of discomfort- we’ve had to break out the ad.vil most days.

E. yesterday morning did that weird panting/fussing thing, so I figured it was from the milk I’d eaten the day before. Then we dosed him with ad.vil (which I don’t think would solve stomach discomforts) and he was fine for the whole day.

So today, when Q. was out at the library, I decided to take the plunge.

I gave E. cheese at lunch.

And (and this is truly driving me crazy), I STILL don’t know if there’s a problem. He skipped his afternoon nap, and was really out of sorts as a result by the end of the day. He had several dirty diapers. But all of this could be teeth as well- we’ve had three days this week where the afternoon nap just would not happen no matter what we did, and E. definitely dirties way more diapers when teeth are coming.

Here is what is not happening:
– there is no blood or mucus in his diapers
– he is not waking up at 5 am and screaming in pain and having to sleep on my chest
– he does not act like it is an enormous challenge for him to dirty a diaper

I think the very fact that Q. can feel that the reaction I think I’m seeing in E. is entirely in my head tells us that things are definitely improving. But I guess I’m just worried that it is all building up and eventually his gut will start ulcerating again. After all- it took more than eight weeks after he was born for the blood to start appearing.

The only way to figure that out, though, is to just keep challenging him.

I’m trying very very hard not to dwell on just how amazing it is to drink milk and eat cheese (and pesto and shortbread) again, just in case this is but a temporary interlude.

The not-knowing is killing me.

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Filed under Baby, Food, MSPI

Sleep is for the weak

E. had his nine month well-baby appointment this afternoon. The office was a total zoo- our appointment was at 1:30, and we didn’t get home until 3:15 (we live a fifteen minute walk away from the doctor’s). In the waiting room I recognized a mum with her son who is a few months older than E., and we got to chatting. E. was busy pulling himself up on everything in sight (which is what he does at the moment all.day.long. He is very good at getting back down, so he almost never needs rescuing, and it keeps him occupied for hours).

“He’s a skinny little guy, eh?” she said.

“Really?” was my response, my mama bear instincts kicking in. “We didn’t think so. He’s chunked out a lot since six months.”

But, it turns out she was right. E. is 29.5 inches long, and 19 lb, 6 oz, keeping him in the 90th percentile for height, but dropping him down to the 35th percentile for weight. His pediatrician is not worried. She says it is normal for babies to get leaner and leaner as the first year progresses as they become more mobile. If she is not worried, I am going to try not to worry, and just accept that he’s our lanky little dude.

She also gave the green light for introducing peanut and almond butter, given we have no nut allergies in the family. She said the current thoughts are to introduce everything sooner rather than later, and that the only thing E. should not be eating right now is honey. She was very supportive of our decision to delay solids until almost seven months, and to stick with baby-led weaning. She was impressed at the range of food E. is eating. (Yesterday he ate an entire pancake with apple butter for breakfast, had potato, parsnip and green lentil soup with pita breads for lunch, and then ate polenta with vegetables cooked in balsamic vinegar and Mediterranean herbs for dinner. We joke we’re breeding a foodie…)

Then we talked sleep. At first she was absolutely in agreement that we should be working to drop the night feeds- she wanted to see E. in a better sleeping pattern. Then we talked about E’s nursing problems during the day. He is getting worse and worse right now- completely and utterly distracted by everything, and flat out refusing to nurse more often than not (complete with pushing the breast away and crying). Today he didn’t have a proper nurse until 3:30 pm. Yesterday it was the same- I can get him latched earlier in the day but he pulls off after a couple of swallows and fights me if I try to press him. He doesn’t stay on long enough to get letdown- I think even if he is hungry he is just so impatient. He’s used to my ultra fast letdown, and he’s unwilling to put in the energy to wait for it- he’d rather be crawling/pulling up on something. And I get stressed the more he pops off and cries and fusses, which slows letdown even more. It’s a bad scene. If I get too uncomfortable I hand-express into one of his cups, both to protect my supply, and so that we can offer it to him during his solid meals. He’ll usually drink a little bit- again, a few swallows, but not enough at the moment to count as a feed.

“I’m afraid if I cut the night feeds he’ll try to wean himself,” I admitted.

Then we looked at our options. And they were pretty much non-existent. She thinks if we cut the night feeds it is likely that E. will at least keep morning and evening feedings, but there are some babies who wean entirely, so that possiblity can’t be discounted. And if he did wean, we have nowhere to go right now. He can’t have cow’s milk yet. He can’t have soy milk or yoghurt or cheese to help make up the calcium he needs. And the only formula option, in her words, “Is very expensive, tastes awful, and to be honest, at his age, I don’t think he’d stand for it.”

We ended the appointment with her saying that we should just continue what we’re doing, and cross our fingers that E. outgrows the MSPI issue by his first birthday. Things really will get complicated at that stage if he still has to be dairy/soy free.

So. I left the office with the advice from our pediatrician, just as we’ve been waiting for. It just wasn’t the advice I was hoping to get.

But. In the long term, what’s a couple more months of broken sleep? How can I possibly get more tired than I already am? I am managing to function on my six broken hours. I am even managing to achieve something with my dissertation.

The absolute top priority is that E. gets what he needs to grow up healthy and strong. And since we can’t run the risk of him deciding to self-wean if we cut the night feeds, if that means I’m getting up twice a night for another three months, then that’s what I’ll do. We can still encourage him to try to drop them himself, or to at least build up his stretches so he’s only waking once. She said as long as he’s getting at least two good big feeds during the day, that would be enough. But sleep training is off the table until his first year is complete.

She did agree with me that under no circumstances should E. be nursing three times a night, so at least I can tell Q. that.

This is hard. I didn’t think I’d still be up twice a night by nine months. I didn’t think I’d be going months and months with so many things cut out of my diet. It’s not just the obvious dairy and soy- if you start to read labels and really watch for key words, you realize that they are basically in everything. I didn’t think I’d spend so much time worrying that I might accidentally eat the wrong thing and make my baby scream in pain.

But I am beyond stubborn and very very determined when I set my mind on something. And I am going to breastfeed for the entirety of E’s first year, whatever it takes. I am going to see this through.

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Filed under Baby, Food, MSPI, My addled brain, Nursing, Sleep