Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stages of life

If you'd asked me a few weeks ago, I'd tell you unequivocally that I did not like newborns. Don't get me wrong, I love children. I especially love MY children, but if I could choose to skip over a phase then this would be it. With Big Brother, things just got better and better after the 4 month mark. The crying ramped way down, and the cuteness way up. So much interaction & discovery---you could actually play with him, in a more 2-sided way (vs just singing & making faces at your crying or ambivalent newborn). As the mobility & communication skills grew, so did my interest in my child. I just couldn't wait for all the milestones, and I was constantly amazed and surprised at even the most mundane aspects of development (eating the feet! solid foods! babbling!) I fell more and more in love each day.

I realized yesterday that I have 4 weeks left of maternity leave. I was surprised to find it made me anxious and sad. I am actually enjoying this maternity leave. For one, the weather is much MUCH better (remember the 2010 winter when news programs were throwing around words like "snowpocalypse" and "snowmegaddon"? Yeah that was my other maternity leave). I'm getting out of the house more especially on those lovely 60-70 degree November days.

Second,  and likely more important, I am acutely aware of how fleeting it all is---this intense neediness, where I am fully responsible for his care, feeding, comfort every minute of the day and night---it won't last long. In a few short months he'll be (hopefully!) sleeping longer stretches & not in our bed. He'll be hurtling himself out of my arms to creep & crawl around the house. Few months later & he'll want to feed himself, "read" by himself, walk & climb the stairs by himself ("no helping mama!"). Breast will give way to bottles to sippy cups & regular food. Then the pieces won't need to be cut so small, and one day he'll be eating a whole banana, peeling it himself, then biting into a sandwich...all after climbing himself into the high chair and buckling it on his own (really! Big Brother does this.)

And thirdly. Oh the third reason is probably the most meaningful of them all. I'm sad for this all to end because this is almost certainly the last time for us. While I'd always wanted three kids, given my age & where we're at in life right now, it just doesn't seem logical. My husband has flat out said that he does not want any more children. Two children is a nice round number. I can live with that, but yet...

But yet, I find myself holding him more than he probably needs to be held, bringing him into bed when he'd probably fall asleep in the bassinet. I know I can't hold him back but I definitely want to hold him close.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This & That

Little brother is following in Big Brother's footsteps...with the COLIC. So...that explains why I haven't been around much, its hard to type while walking & bouncing a screaming baby.

The breastfeeding is actually working! We hit a breakthrough around week 3, when I tried nursing in the side-lying position & he actually latched on! So we did that for a while, and a couple of days later, I was at the lactation support group run by the LC I saw, and she got him to latch on in the cross-cradle hold while I sat on the floor, with no pillows or support or all that jazz. So I tried THAT later, just sitting on the bed---not the "nursing chair"---with no arm support or footstool. And it WORKED. We quickly got off the bottle-feeding, but I was still pumping since I wasn't sure when I'd need a bottle, and I built up quite the oversupply.  Gradually was able to stop that (after a few clogged duct episodes that necessitated ramping up the pumping again). Now we are exclusively breastfeeding EXCEPT when he needs to feed in public---I always take a bottle with me because it still takes him a while to latch on and it may involve some screaming on his part, and milk leaking everywhere---not exactly a show I want to take on the road! I pump once a day, in the morning after his feed; additional pumping after he takes a bottle, also. I am now only filling one freezer bag per day (sometimes not even) vs. 4-6 7 oz bags/day. Which is good because my freezer is literally bursting.

My MIL left on Saturday so we are on our own for the first time in 6 weeks. It's actually going fine. It IS easier the second time around, since we already have a finely-tuned morning & evening routine, that can be easily be managed by one person. So we kind of switch off---one of us doing the usual with Big Brother while one of us (usually me) tends to Little Brother. Not sure if it'll get easier or harder when Little Brother becomes more of a real person (i.e. not an accessory that we can wear or put down in the bouncy seat at our convenience).

The colic. Oh the colic. Its tough to listen to the little guy scream as if he's being tortured---head back, tears streaming, body stiff---for HOURS at a time. I'm trying to be zen about it---I know he is not in any real pain nor is he purposefully trying to torture me, that I just need to try and soothe him until it goes away (3 months later!) & that it is no indication of future behavior or psychological issues (our very real fear with Big Brother---we were so sure that this was patently abnormal behavior that spoke to some sort of inborn personality disorder).

Talked to the pediatrician about it yesterday (we saw the new guy at the practice: young naive fresh out of residency, so cute!) & he agreed it sounded like colic though reflux is a possibility (I have a script for zantac just in case). We tried the antacids with BB; I was SO hoping he had reflux because then the medicine would MAKE IT STOP, but to no avail. I think I'll skip it this time. In a fit of desperation I DID order probiotics online (found some studies showing decreased crying vs. placebo and vs. mylicon in infants with colic). I gave the first dose today. We shall see. I also am off dairy this week to see if it helps. Blech. I like cheese a lot. In fact, I accidently had some the second day into the experiment. Went to meet some work friends for lunch---ordered the vegan burrito with vegan cheese & sour cream (tip--skip it. its neither sour nor creamy) yet the accompanying side salad was full of blue cheese crumbles & the "vinegraitte" had parmesan in it. Oops.

OK, the monster is stirring...better go pick him up! I am going to try to be more regular about posting, not that anyone is reading or anything :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two steps ahead

Sometimes I feel like I design my life to be a series of challenges. I consciously choose difficult paths, persevere to get through them by checking off each task/day/month, and then bask momentarily in the satisfaction of completion until I move on to the next. I don't have a concrete set of longterm goals that I'm working towards. Instead, I take it one thing at a time, driven by this constant feeling of "What's next?". This is particularly true in my professional life (schooling, training, and each difficult project I undertake), but I've recently discovered the same pattern in my personal life.

My current challenge, of course, is parenting a newborn---the breastfeeding, colic, sleep deprivation, all coupled with the lack of any meaningful positive feedback make this phase particularly harrowing for me. I keep looking ahead to each milestone not as a beginning but as an end of a more difficult phase. 3 months, 4 months, 6 months....I  realize that soon...much sooner than I can imagine...the challenge of early infancy will be over. Then the inevitable enters my mind..."What's next?"

I mentioned this before, but the idea that I have finally "arrived" is terrifying and unnerving. Its easier for me to keep my eye on the prize and power through to a finite endpoint then to really dive in and live this life fully & deeply. I wonder if this tendency comes from the years and years of study & training where life was divided neatly into semesters/blocks/rotations that you weathered through, crossing days off a calender. If life sucked, just wait a few weeks, it would change completely---without any personal effort, just the routine changing of the schedule. I never really had a consistency to my life, where I knew that the next month, season, year would by and large have the same structure & rhythm, and that I would have to consciously work to improve, but also, enjoy it.

I have been attempting to change this mindset. To learn to stop pushing ahead and wishing my life away one challenge at a time. To appreciate & even enjoy the career, family, and life I have built for myself. Because as much as I tend to wish away the present times, I know how fleeting life can be, and that there may come a time when I will be wishing wishing wishing to have these moments back.

For now, I want to savor (for the last time) the wonder of a newborn baby...the way he smiles in his sleep & flashes his dimples, the way he moves his arms around so aimlessly as if he is still underwater, the way he clings to our chests like a treefrog when he's sleeping, the lovely warmth of him snuggled up in the crook of my arm in bed on these cold nights. Simultaneously I am trying to savor the amazing transformation of a nearly-two year old...the way his vocabulary is expanding daily & everything we say is fair game for copycatting...yet some words persistantly come out so adorably wrong (bicy-kickle for bicycle, go-wanna for gorilla, mo morning for good morning), the way he's developing interests (music, books) and personality quirks (shy, but with a sense of humor like both his parents; he wants to see "KIDS!" at the park but then hides behind my knees when they come say hello. He's making jokes---saying daddy is a gorilla or that the he wants the dog to read his stories tonight.)

There is just so much going on right here & right now...I don't want to look back and realize I missed it all because my eyes, mind, and heart were too busy looking ahead.