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!
bowtie as big as his head