Baby


My tribute for our baby’s first birthday.

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pooh 004Daniel is seen here wearing one of the many, many Winnie-the-Pooh items he’s received in his short life.  The Bear of Very Little Brain and his posse are all over EVERYTHING.  I’m told this is because the Pooh trademark changed hands this year, and whoever has it now owes A.A. Milne a big fat apology.

You can see in this photo that on this particular (very cute) hooded thingie, Winnie-the-Pooh is driving a CAR.  This is an abomination.  There are no CARS in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Also, Winnie’s smile looks one mouse click away from being a Wal-Mart happy face.  Sigh.

I look forward to reading the actual books and watching the animated versions I grew up on, someday.  For now we’ll just keep on wearing the adulterated Pooh-wear and A.A. will keep on turning in his grave.

1.  Change stinky baby.

2. Realizing that only full immersion will clean the epic poop, place naked semiclean baby on the floor in order to run into the bathroom and start the bathwater which takes 3-5 minutes to get warm.  Pray that baby doesn’t pee.

3.  Make mental note to clean baby pee from carpet.

4.  Bathe stinky baby.  Make a mental note to clean half the bathroom since baby has now discovered splashing.  Try not to re-injure lower back.

5.  Make a mental note to stretch and ice injured back.

6. Dress clean-smelling baby which activity now resembles baby professional wrestling.

7. Locate the new cat barf spots that I heard the cat barfing last night.

8.  Try to sneak the cat’s antidepressant into her food without her knowing.  Try again.

9. Resist temptation to take the cat’s antidepressant myself.

10. Laundry

11. Dishes

12. Celebrate baby’s first ever sleeping past 6 a.m. 🙂

Repeat.

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You're still there. 

So, what's happening?  D. is 4 and a half months old.  My husband takes every opportunity there is to do math in his head and is therefore quick to remind me that 2 weeks does not make half a month.  But he's not here at the moment, so four and a half months it is.  D. is very cute, he is at the moment squealing like Flipper, rolling over from back to belly, trying to crawl but not being able to do a thing except cry, gumming everything fabric and smiling lots.

There is always a number one question for whatever stage of pregnancy / parenting one is, and right now it's "does he sleep through the night?" and the answer is that he is working on it.  I'm actually not a big fan of sleeping through the night at the moment, because when he wakes and gets a bottle somewhere between 10 pm and 4 am, he might sleep past 6.  Otherwise he starts squawking anywhere from 5 am on, with the intention of being fully awake and ready to party soon thereafter.  I am Morning Girl around here so there is no sleeping in for me.  Ever.

While the sleep dep thing unquestionably sucks, it has not sucked for me as badly as I thought it would.  This is because 1) I expected it to feel so much worse 2) it hasn't been as bad for us as some 3) I have a husband who actually does HALF of the night wakings, and I'm very grateful; and 4) after having had insomnia for a decade already, I have had to conclude that getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is for pussies.

So much of wrapping our lives around something as world-altering as a new baby seems to be about what we expected.  I have to say that the infertile years really knocked my expectations all to bits, which makes me happier now.  Having a baby to care for is hard, but trying to have one is harder.  Even had we been able to periodically enjoy our child-free status during the Trying Years by jetting off to Europe or drinking sangria by the pitcher with girlfriends…

..well I did do THAT actually…

I couldn't really enjoy any of that freedom.  Youth is wasted on the young, freedom is wasted on the free.  Anyway, compared to the Trying Years, this baby time is better, even though it's waaay harder.

One of my favorite parts of the baby time, now, is that I feel like I can finally contemplate / plan for The Rest of My Life.  Some of that is some scary s*** like aging, but at least I can look it in the face instead of freaking out a la "Idontevenhaveababyyetandi'malreadysoOOOOOOOOLLLLD…." I don't have to live my life always looking down two roads – the If We Do (have a baby) and If We Can't, and If We Can't kind of went right off a cliff for me.

To friends who still suffer and look down the two roads, I don't have any good words to say or ways to fast-forward this sucky part of it. Except: For me that suffering does pay off now, in gratitude and improved perspective, in lowered – hell, shattered – expectations, and in improved patience.  I don't like waiting through a time that is just plain assy, but I have done it before.

So yes I am still here and instead of agonizing in the customary way of the post-infertile parent about What to Blog About Now, I'm just going to keep writing. 

I am furious.  I'm gaining weight, still, about 2 pounds a week.  I have been exercising a lot and trying desperately to control my eating with some success.  I count calories religiously and even allowing for significant error in counting (like restaurant meals and cookie amnesia) there is no way I'm putting away the 7200 extra per week it would take to put two pounds on me, week after week. 

I'm not furious about the weight gain  – I'm actually incredibly depressed, hopeless and weepy about that – no, I'm furious about the breastfeeding HYPE.  Of all the hype that I got hyped with when pregnant,  breastfeeding tops the list.  Everybody couldn't wait to tell me how important it was that I breastfeed, how wonderful it would be for all concerned, how much healthier / smarter / cuter it would make my baby (and hopefully, by association, me.)  I don't know a mother who isn't either guilt-ridden about her supposed breastfeeding failures or remembering the guilt as a painful part of the postpartum haze.  There are a select few who were able to achieve breastfeeding success, which apparently means keeping it up until the baby goes to kindergarten, and they are smug.

Obviously breastfeeding is difficult.  Well, actually it's not obvious until you and your boob are faced with a hungry infant.  Before then, who among us has not thought "what's the big deal?" and assumed that WE would be fine with it.  I sure did.  Obviously I was wrong.

But part of why it was so difficult is the HYPE and the part of the hype that has me infuriated is that you will, absolutely will, lose weight when breastfeeding. 

Of course it's more complicated than that.  The anecdotal information and some newer studies I'm reading suggest that weight comes off more easily after the breastfeeding is over, or maybe everyone's weight comes off more easily after six months postpartum.  According to this study,
some women gained and some lost, and it depends on whether you were
overweight before your pregnancy.  Because if you started out fat,
you'll gain more weight; if you started out thin-ish, you may not.  Our
design may be intelligent but it sure as hell isn't fair.

Obviously breastfeeding makes us hungrier, so some of us will lose weight because of burning more calories and some will gain because of eating more.  I personally gained weight during marathon training so we know which category I'm in. Hormones are also a major culprit; some women gain just from the breastfeeding hormones and some do not.

Of course, you have to dig beyond the HYPE to get this kind of answer.  If you go to your ivillage or your basic self-styled weight loss guru type of person or your babycenter you'll get some kind of expert saying breastfeeding burns off those pregnancy pounds, end of story, and then a bunch of comments saying otherwise.  Often accompanied by "what's wrong with me?"  As well as appalling, horrifying spelling.

Is that sad or what?  I am going crazy wondering what's wrong with ME because I fell for it. The hype.  The one-scenario-fits-all generic bad information that is gumming up the internet and coming out of the mouths of doctors as well as TV anchorwomen.  It is really pissing me off. I wish I had known ahead of time that this would happen.  I still would have chosen to breastfeed and I probably would have gone through what I did to keep it going, but maybe I'd be expecting this nightmare instead of going nuts wondering why my weight doesn't fall off when "everyone else's" does.

Breastfeeding babies are supposed to be less vulnerable to obesity than formula-fed babies.  Since I was born to gain weight like Michael Jordan was born to play basketball, this is important.  But guess what?  I was breast-fed.  It didn't help when I was a baby and it ain't helping now.

Today our little guy is 3 months old.  I'll skip the usual bits about how fast it went and how we can't imagine our life without him – for me, infertility is more memorable than that. 

The end result of all the breastfeeding drama is that I am a part-time breastfeeder.  The baby gets an unknown amount of breast milk when I nurse him.  I don't pump a lot when I pump, and I'm not going to tell you how much that is because I still feel ? ashamed?  I guess, of my non-performing breasts.  Whatever – they did a lot for me over the years and generally looked good, particularly in evening wear.  They continue to make my husband happy.

From where I sit now, being a part-time breastfeeder is the way to go.  This is because I have hit a few walls in the last month.  Getting a few sorta full nights of sleep really sets you up to feel the shorter nights when they come around again, because of course they do. 

I have a particular wall that is, as usual, built of lies.  This wall is where I think I should be more cheerful about mothering a very young baby, because we went through so much to get one. I should be tireless, in case anyone who disapproves of 45-year-olds having babies is watching.  I should be extra-capable in all things Mother, since maybe I wasn't "supposed to be a mother" in the first place.  I hit that wall this week, and not for the first time, and after a lot of trying followed by a lot of crying I can see it more clearly now.

Yeah, it's kinda sick.  Thank God for my husband who patiently points out that all that is lies.  It also makes a hard job much harder which I don't need.

The breastfeeding fell into that whole mess.  I figured I needed to be a perfect breast-feeder to justify it all, et cetera See Above, and of course my body did not cooperate. 

But now, when I think about the next baby, I hope that the breast milk flows copiously, that the latch is sure from the first try, and that there is no silly talk from middle-of-the-night nurses about flat nipples.  I really hope all that.  But I will also hope to introduce the bottle early, whether it contains breast milk or the dreaded formula, and I won't sweat it.  Because doing all the feeding alone is really, really, really hard and I don't want to do that for very long.

I'm also tired of apologizing.  I read a blog entry a while back that stuck with me in which the esteemed Finslippy talks about disagreements and how sometimes we make "everyone else wrong so we can be right."  I am bad about doing this, and it always comes back to bite me.

In order to have the nerve to contemplate unmedicated labor, I had to make C-section really, really wrong.  The good people who chose or got railroaded into or didn't have a choice about getting sectioned were just collateral damage.  Ditto breastfeeding and lots of other choices.  It seems to be hard for me to feel strongly that something is right without deciding that everyone else is wrong and not just, agree-to-disagree wrong, but really, wilfully, "what were you thinking?" wrong.

Like I said, this comes back to bite me hardest of all and so that's going to help me stop it.  Obviously I feel differently about people who have C-sections and I'm not sure how hard I will fight for my VBAC should I get the chance.  (that's another post)  I'm not sure how hard I'll fight to be an exclusive breast-feeder next time – I fought really hard this time and all I got was a 16 pound weight gain and a lot of tears.  Part-time breastfeeding might get me just as healthy a baby and a more healthy mom too.  People who make those choices aren't wrong and terrible, they're me, and I have been given the gift of being able to see their side quite well.

My new position on mothering, and please help me stick to it – hell, help me REMEMBER it – is that this is a marathon not a sprint.  That having a healthy mom just might be an important part of the package and that means a mentally healthy mom too.  There are things I know I f***ed up and wish I could do over again.  Those things are in the minority.  There are many, many other things where I just have a vague feeling that I could have done them better, somehow, and I feel vaguely oogy about them.  That's the part I want to be done with.  That oogy feeling turns into judging me and others and who needs that?  I can't spend the next 17 3/4 years of my son's life apologizing for everything I didn't do perfectly.

So I'm not gonna.

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