Month ONE (a little late!)

*I started this blog over a week ago and didn’t finish when I started . . .so it’s a bit disjointed. And I’m even worse at blogging with a baby than I thought! I am finishing this blog thanks to the baby k’tan, which allows me to actually use two hands to do something while home alone with Ansel*

Well, I guess I’m one of those bloggers I always got annoyed with who finally had the baby and then stopped posting. I am both frustrated with myself and have a new appreciation for those bloggers I used to be so frustrated with. I am simultaneously doing nothing and also have absolutely no time to do anything. Similar to my feelings about time – everything is both fast and slow, all at the same time. I’m updating now because La took Ansel to a meeting and I am at a s’bux down the street, feeling both relieved and weirdly sad to be all of a half mile away from my baby.

The biggest news is, of course, Ansel hit the one month mark! Tuesday was four weeks and Friday was 30 days, so no matter how you slice a month, he’s there!

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On Friday, La and I picked up a copy of his birth certificate – with BOTH of our names, and both of us listed as “mother”! It’s pretty amazing to see it there in black and white. I know that names on a birth certificate are not – YET – a guarantee of security for our family, but it’s still pretty amazing to have. And, unlike the hospital, where the BC lady seemed confused and unable to accommodate us, the vital statistics office took care of things without batting an eye. Proving it’s not actually that hard not to be a homophobic dick.

More and more, we are adjusting to this new normal. By adjusting, I mean I am able to do things other than sit in a chair (or on the couch) and breastfeed-watch TV-doze with a baby on my chest. Don’t get me wrong, those activities still take up a good portion of my time, I’m just ALSO able to occasionally do a load of laundry, wander around tar.get in a postpartum haze and prepare lunch other than corn chips and salsa.

Ansel is also becoming more human. Just today, he gave us what appeared to be a legit smile – at least, it was a smile in response to something – up to this point, he has only grinned in his sleep! He is also starting to see things beyond the 1 foot range, as evidenced by his newfound fascination with the assortment of black picture frames on our  living room wall. He can also enjoy his infant gym for 5-10 minute stretches, and spend small amounts of time alert without also being angry or hungry. I’m trying to be aware that Ansel may be a tiny bit behind the normal markers, since he was almost three weeks early. And, of course, I am also sure my baby is the most precocious and precious, because I am his mother and that’s what we do. Right?

Breastfeeding is still going. I want to say it’s gotten easier, but really I think I’ve just gotten more used to it and have more tools in my arsenal. At Thursdays group, A was 7lbs 3.5oz – which means he gained 7ozs in a week, exactly what he should be gaining. I’m currently taking 1500mg metformin, fenugreek, and goat’s rue, and my supply is adequate but still sort of stressing me out. Per the recommendation of the LC (and my friend Jen at Good Families Do ) I’m going to add moringa and shatavari as well. I’m also still pumping after feeds 2-3 times  day, and then feeding that back to him when he needs it, and averaging 7-9ozs per day from those 2-3 pumps. Update! As of last Tuesday 4/21, A was at 7lbs 12.4oz! I started the shatavari and moringa. Still pumping 2-3 times per day and feeding it back. When he hits the 10lb mark, I will likely start stockpiling vs. having him eat what I pump on the same day. I haven’t noticed an appreciable difference in my supply, but I’m feeling confident about it. 

I have to almost constantly remind myself that we are doing GOOD with breastfeeding. That my baby is growing as he should eating only my breastmilk (BTW – I just want it to be abundantly clear that I think any way of feeding a baby that works for the family is the best way; I just also feel really strongly for us that exclusive breastfeeding/milk is the goal) And I’m having more and more days where the above feels true, and I can settle into it and be ok for a while. AND, I also wish that more people talked openly about how fucking hard this whole thing is, because I really had no idea how consuming it would be or how crazy it would make me. The money I spend to to the LC group is worth every single penny because it normalizes things in an amazing way.

The fun new breastfeeding development is the plugged duct I have acquired in my left breast. I noticed it on Friday night – a hard, tender lump and super intense let down (I usually don’t really feel much in the way of let down at all, so this really sucked!) Since then, I’ve been using hot compresses, pumping and nursing extra, and massaging the plug as much as possible. So far, no dice. Anyone have experience want to chime in about when I call my midwife about this? I’m definitely keeping an eye out for signs of mastitis, and so far it’s just localized redness at the site of the lump. Another update: I ended up with a second plug in the same breast, and had them both for almost a week before they finally cleared. I took a high dose of lecithan, per the LC’s reccomendation, which seemed to help, and now I’m on a maintenance dose. I’m thinking we had some weird latch/suck issues for a while only on the left, since I was having intense vasospasms and the plugs, but that seems to have resolved for now.

And here’s where I pick up for good on 4/27/15:

Ansel is still sleeping stretches of 5 hours many nights, interspersed with nights where he’s up every 2-3. I’m grateful for the longer periods, although lately we’ve been staying up while he’s sleeping – which is, arguably, not the best use of time. But it’s nice to do tasks, hang out with La, cuddle the bulldogs (who have adjusted well, but miss having all the attention) – feel like more than a pair of boobs on call, basically. But, this means that Ansel’s 5 hour stretches of sleep are only about 2 1/2 or 3 hour stretches for mama. But, we all make choices, I suppose.

Today was my 6 week check up, and we ended up seeing the midwife who was there for my c-section (who was also the midwife who told us the week before A was born that I had pre-E and we’d be having a baby that weekend) – she told us that the nurses at the hospital still talk about how great we were. La and I often hope to be the ‘favorites’ (we are fairly sure we are also our therapist’s favorite couple) – so the confirmation was welcome. I’ll actually be sad not to see the midwives again – until something else comes up, I suppose. (or La get’s knocked up!)

I’m going to save my deeper reflections about my c-section for another post. I’m going to try and be a little more regular about updates, but I’m not into making promises I can’t necessarily keep so . . .I’ll do my best! (I do read and comment as much as I can with only one hand. Can more of you try and update between 1-4am? That’s when I really need something to read!)

Milk Maid

I spend approximately all of my waking hours thinking about my boobs. That is only a slight exaggeration.

If Ansel isn’t attached to my boob, I’m thinking about when he should be attached to my boob next, or I’m pumping, or I’m drinking water so I am hydrated enough to make milk, or I’m eating some oatmeal or taking some fenugreek or . . . It’s really pretty consuming.

I’m sure this post seems a little out of left field, considering my recent ‘level up’ but I have come to realize that breastfeeding is the biggest mind fuck I’ve ever experienced. I feel 100% confident about it one moment, then in the depths of despair the next. There’s really no telling how it will go any given day.

So far, Ansel is continuing to grow appropriately, and have lots of wet and dirty diapers. He also continues to eat only my milk. This, all of it, is an accomplishment – and it is a situation I should be – and am! – grateful for, because other women would kill for all of those things. But the situation feels very precarious. Ansel is gaining, but still quite slowly. He nurses well, but has times when he seems frustrated at my breast and I, frankly, feel empty and like I’m not providing. The reality is, I just don’t quite trust my body.

On Tuesday, I went to a breastfeeding group at a local crunchy mama store/meet up space. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and – to be honest – I was expecting there to be a lot of lulu-lemon wearing yoga pants wealthy whole foods type moms there so I was anticipating not fitting in. Ansel and I went in, I got him naked and weighed him (he was 6lbs 9.8oz – up exactly an ounce from the day before at the pediatrician), then found a spot to sit in the huge crowd of folks, and started nursing.

There were so many mamas there. Some of them were definitely lululemon. Some of them were not. I sat next to two other women who were new to the group, one with an 8 day old baby, the other with a 3 weeker like me. Once everyone got settled, we went around the room and everyone mentioned what their primary concern was – from oversupply to under supply to poor latch to tongue tie. And lots of us cried when we talked about what was going on, or how scared we were that we weren’t able to feed our babies, or how alone we felt not knowing if we were normal. It was really, really wonderful.

And the lactation consultant, who is known across Denver as the boob whisperer/best LC ever talked to each of us in the context or the group and then also came around to us individually afterwards as well. Ansel transferred a little over an ounce during the feeding – which was a little disappointing. The LC said he’s gaining ok, but she wants to make sure we don’t ‘go off the rails’ – and with my PCOS dx, she recommended I get back on metformin to boost my supply a little, and start pumping 3 times a day after feeds to up my supply as well. And, of course, she told me to keep coming back to the group – for the support, to check Ansel’s weight, and to keep an eye on things.

I went back on Thursday (the group runs 4 times a week) and Ansel was up to 6lbs 12 oz – another ounce a day gain! He also transferred just barely under 2oz during this session! I also ran into two colleagues from another organization – one who was due just a few days before me. It was surprising, again, to hear the diversity of stories and struggles, and how deeply everyone was committed to making nursing work for them.

I called my midwife on Tuesday afternoon and got a script for metformin, which I started taking on wednesday. I also upped my pumping and instead of saving it in the freezer, we have been feeding it back to Ansel in the evening to help bump his gain up and also give La the chance to connect with him by giving him a bottle (this was a bit earlier than we wanted to start bottle feeding, but the LC recommended it and assured us it wouldn’t hurt anything) I’m trying to pump 3x/day after feeds or on the opposite breast when he only takes one (most common in the early morning or middle of the night) although there are days when I can’t get 3 in because he seems to be eating all the time.

I’m exhausted and a little bored with myself, but I also feel so so committed to making this work and feeding Ansel breast milk exclusively, if it is at all possible. The LC told me she was very impressed that we’d been able to not supplement at all given that he was both early and I had a c section, and that fact spoke well to our likely ability to keep going, especially with a little extra boost from the metformin and pumping. But the fear still hangs over my head . . .Last night, Ansel slept for 6 hours in a row. And I should have been so excited, right? Instead I was terrified about what that might mean for his weight and my milk. Fucking parenthood.

But damnit, he makes it all worth it (and I think he’s starting to get some chubby cheeks, maybe?)

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Breastfeeding level up!

Today Ansel and I met our next nursing challenge: breastfeeding while he’s in the k’tan so I can do something besides watch Parenthood on the couch.  With a little negotiating,  we got it. . . For today anyway!
I’m also planning to attend a breastfeeding class at a mama store this afternoon which will involve driving.  . . Which I haven’t done since before we went into the hospital to be induced!  It will be my first time leaving the neighborhood by myself with the kid.  Funny what feels challenging these days!

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Please excuse my messy hair and no make up.  . . But I AM only 3 weeks post partum!  I feel like an amazon though! !

Going on 3

Tomorrow Ansel will be 3 weeks old. What?! Its surreal, still, that he is ours but I also can’t really remember life before him.

So far, things are going well. I’ve said (and seen it said by others) that when you struggle to conceive, you should get a break somewhere else in the process. There is no reason to the cosmic accounting process, but I figure I got a fairly straightforward pregnancy in exchange for the difficult journey to get pregnant. I feel like now, we have also scored on the baby front thanks to the marathon birth. Ansel is, for now anyway, a very laid back baby who is content to nurse, sleep, and shit – usually in that order – without a lot of difficulty on any front.

Although there have been some tough stretches of cluster feeding, where he’s seemed insatiable and my nipples feel like they are constantly in use – but mostly, he nurses well – if often – without any issue. He’s gaining weight on the low end of the curve – 5 ozs in the last week, bringing him up to 6lbs 9ozs – but the pedi isn’t concerned about his growth. I am constantly so, so grateful to have a good nursing relationship right now, since it was one of my great fears during pregnancy. I wonder if there is any new breastfeeding mom who doesn’t stress out about supply issues, though? Even though he is gaining weight well, having the requisite number of wet and dirty diapers, and I’m pumping what I think is an average amount on my in-between feeding pumps (1.5-2oz per breast, usually) – I still feel this kind of deep anxiety about whether my supply is adequate, and will stay adequate, and if I’ll be able to pump enough once I go back to work  . . . I’m trying to live in the successful moment where I am and not slip into the rabbit hole of worry, but . . .damn. it’s hard to trust your body, eh?

Sleep wise, he has nights of very little sleep – nursing every hour and a half or so – and night where he will give me 3 or even 4 hours at a go. Last night, he slept four hours for the first part of the night (after an exhausting day) and then two – so a wash, really – but you suddenly realize how luxurious 4 hour stretches feel after you’ve been awake near constantly for a few weeks. He is still sleeping in the rock’n’play next to our bed, and we’ve upped our swaddle game – putting him in both a receiving blanket swaddle wrap and a zip-up swaddler. Baby Houdini can still get his arm almost out by the morning, but he seems to be sleeping more soundly.

So those are the stats to report on for baby, right? As for me . . .last week La went back to work, which was challenging mostly for her. I was hardly alone at all – I had at least one visitor a day every day last week. This might sound nice, but for an overtaxed introvert, it’s not so lovely. With all but a very few people, I feel obligated to entertain or host, and I inevitably feel guilty when Ansel is nursing near constantly and the guest isn’t able to hold him for their visit. I’ve put a bit of a moratorium on guests this week, with a few exceptions. Already today I’ve felt much better – I took a good nap this morning when Ansel was sleeping, and am here – updating the blog!

We really overdid it yesterday – attending a birthday picnic and family Easter – and Ansel got passed around so much, was out in the sun, didn’t get sleep between eating – it was kind of a mess. We were all incredibly cranky and emotional when we got home. I think it was a good lesson for all of us about how we are building our capacity to be outside of this little unit of our family.

The other stress is getting Ansel insured. I investigated putting him on my insurance at work, and it would be nearly $400 a month – so, not happening. We looked into applying for a state children’s insurance plan, but we make just barely over the cut off to qualify. The independent exchange plans are confusing, and the least expensive is $100/month – not terrible, but still spendy. We are going to investigate having La apply for the state plan on her own, since she makes less than me, but I don’t know how that works in terms of taxes and filing, etc. Mostly, I hate that this shit is necessary – that in the midst of trying to get enough sleep and acclimate to a totally new life, we have to compare which insurance plan is less crushing to our budget. Gah.

Finally – an aquaintance on FB who identifies as, I believe, both trans* and genderqueer, posted something about how new parents who choose not to parent their children ‘gender neutral,’ specifically by using they/them pronouns to talk about their child and not-gendering their child in any situation, are ‘doing violence’ to their kids. Because this is something I’ve thought a lot about – I have another acquaintence who is raising their child this way – I responded thoughtfully with our reasons for using he/him for Ansel, calling him our son, etc.  The person ended up being totally vitriolic and infammatory and dogmatic, continuing to use really intense language like ;violence’ and perpetration to describe using gender pronouns. I know I should have just disengaged, but I didn’t and it ended up bothering me a lot. Not because I give a shit what this person says, but because I am already so tired of people telling me their opinions about how to raise my kid, and using hyperbolic language to make their specious claims. And this is one I care about, deeply. I want to give my kids all the space in the world to decide how to do them – gender, sexuality, hobbies, intellectual selves, emotionally, spiritually, etc. La and I will let Ansel be Ansel – he can dress how he wants, play with what he wants, whatever – and we’ll make sure he has access to lots of toys and clothes and people who let him make those decisions. I feel like the dogmatic attachment to my keeping my kids genetalia a secret and use ‘they’ pronouns for him is missing the fucking point. But I felt deeply hurt by this, anyway. Then a few friends reached out and told me they had my back and sent me this smart article by S. Bear Bergman that affirmed what I think. But, I’m curious what y’all think about these ideas – both how we create space for our kids to decide for themselves their gender (and other things) and how we talk about the parenting ideals that are important to us without making other parents feel like shit.

Of course, no post would be complete without some pictures of this precious possum! Check out the Easter duds of WordPress blogger spawn everywhere!

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Family nap

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Milk drunk

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bowtie as big as his head

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Chillaxin’