It Begins

I am about 98% sure Ansel’s front two teeth are about the make their appearance, based on his behavior and the ghostly white outlines of teeth now swelling his gums in front. I have been waiting for this moment with trepidation and fear, wondering if it might turn our happy go lucky ‘trick’ baby into a totally new creature to contend with. I have no answers yet.

He’s been napping terribly, but this isn’t anything all that new. He does best napping while being held, which makes his napping complicated and spotty, depending on who he’s with, when, and what they are doing. He sleeps pretty well at night, although he’s upped his night wakings from 2 to 3 times, and has been harder to settle once he’s eaten. He also has started to wake up for the day earlier and earlier. I used to be able to pull him into bed when he woke up around 5-5:30a, and he’d nurse and sleep next to me until we had to get up between 7:30-8a. This morning he woke up at 6 and wanted to gum my nipple hard and play with his hands. This isn’t as pleasant as snuggling and nursing in the wee morning hours.

Speaking of gumming things . . .that’s all he does. Your hands, fingers, whatever he has in front of him. He wants to chomp down as hard as his little jaw can muster. He basically lost his shit last night when he dropped his ice cold teether and couldn’t find something to immediately replace it with.

We cut up some banana and avocado last weekend and offered it to him. He played with it a bit and then managed to get a small chunk of banana back far enough to swallow and look shocked. Given his current love of cold teethers, we cut up some banana and froze it in a mesh feeder. He has been pretty psyched about this:

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We are going pretty slow with the food introduction, otherwise. This week, we haven’t been eating super well (see below) so I’m less interested in offering him much off our plates, and while he has some interest (mostly in the things he actually CAN’T have, like my plain yogurt with honey this morning) he also isn’t getting super grabby. So, slow and steady.

The last week has been a tough one, mostly because we are in a shitty spot financially. Although I was told I was getting a raise and started taking on a lot more at work in early July, we had to wait for the BoD to approve pay increases and the new budget. Due to bad timing all around, the board didn’t meet until Aug 19th to make this decision, so the pay increase still hasn’t actually happened – although it’s now, at least, approved. This, coupled with L’s switch from summer session to fall semester (which = in adjunct world, a skipped pay check) has meant an August that seems unending. Last weekend, we did the math and realized that with some reimbursement checks I was owed, we’d be able to cover our bills, but not buy gas or groceries. I was honestly less worried about groceries, since we are pretty creative and had some staples in the cupboard. Gas, though, was another story. Since we have to take Ansel to my mom’s or the baby sitter, and get to work.

But, when the going gets tough, the tough wander around their house and look for shit to sell on craigslist. And, sure enough, we found some baby items we didn’t need anymore, an old roku box and a broken but fixable lawn mower, and we scraped together $160. And the 31st, when I’ll not only get my new bigger salary, but also back pay for July and the first part of August, is much much closer now. If only we didn’t have a list of things to buy/pay for/pay back that we had to miss in August, we might have enough to do something fun with, too. But honestly, I’ll be happy to just feel less panicked about getting through the bills.

And finally, to round out a difficult week, I managed to just . . .forget to go do a training I’d committed to months ago. It was in my calendar – for September – and I moved offices at the exact time I was to be there, meaning my phone was out of commission and I wasn’t in front of my computer. Because of this, I didn’t get word of my mistake until my boss came in to tell me she had gotten a call. Whoops. After a lot of groveling, a tearful walk around the block to feel shitty about myself, and some deep breaths, I realize it’s the universe’s way of telling me I need to slow the fuck down. So, I’m trying.

And, I’ll be happy when September comes and I get to at least pretend to hit the reset button.

5 Months!

Ansel Jack is five months old!

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As you can see, he is SUPER happy about it.

He was less happy when we put him on his belly:

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But he’s cute even when he’s pissed, isn’t he? And then he rolled over and was happy again:

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Ansel is sitting up unassisted for a few minutes at a time now, and we are going to give him some foods to try starting this weekend! Exciting and a little nerve wracking! We are going the baby led weaning route . . .which means I should maybe finish the book? For those of you who do BLW, did you start just offering food from your plate, or did you do single items strategically first? We were thinking of offering some avocado slices, or sweet potato oven fries. Ideas?

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Ansel’s repertoire of sounds is getting bigger – squeaks, squawks, raspberrys, growls, monster sounding ferocity! And his “nun nun nun” whimper/cry when he’s sad. Breaks the heart wide open. He’s also working some hard consonants, D’s are his current favorite. He is pretty consistently rolling from back to front, although he still ocassionally needs some reminders of where to put his head. He’s pushing up into an arch on his back, as well, so I think rolling back to front is probably around the corner. He laughs and laughs, shoots smiles at damned near everyone, and spends time in his car seat, stroller or carrier quietly but intensely observing the world around him.

This week La started fall semester, which meant finding some additional child care for two mornings each week. We found a woman from my church who is currently a SAHM, has a 3 year old at home at an 8 year old who will be in school. He’s been there now twice, and he loves it! He particularly adores her older daughter, who he will smile and giggle at, totally unbidden. We both feel so comfortable with her and are super glad he’s going to get experience being around other kids. We are hoping to keep him out of daycare until he’s at least a year, so this is definitely a huge help.

I finally dug up a few pictures of myself at Ansel’s age for comparison – we are still waiting for BFF to get some from NY so we can check out how he compares on that side. Thought I’d share with those of you no on FB:

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1 more month until we’ve reached the mid-year point. Holy shit.

Well, I officially know that I can spend a night away from my baby and neither die of sadness nor lose my supply of breast milk.

On Monday evening, I bathed and nursed A to bed and then picked up my overnight bag, training supplies and car keys and drove south east to a teeny, tiny town in Colorado (neighbored by this town, renowned for their delicious Cantaloupe!) I arrived around 11pm, checked in and hooked up my pump. I watched some terrible TV and expressed some milk, set an alarm for 3am, turned out the light, and tossed and turned until that alarm went off and I woke up to pump again. I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep between 3:30 and 5:30, when I woke up and pumped again, then headed to facilitate a training.

9 hours and 5 more pumps later, I started home and arrived at 7pm, just in time to bathe and nurse my baby back to sleep. And then I keeled over from exhaustion and slept the good sleep. Until, of course, Ansel woke up to be nursed. And never was I more grateful that it was a baby and not an alarm waking me up.

So, I did it. We did it. And we will have to do it again but I am so so very glad this night is behind us now.

The last few weeks have been hard. Last week, I spent most of my days running from one meeting to another, with hardly a chance in between to pump. And when I did have a chance, it was frequently in the car – which is not ideal for so many reasons. As a consequence, my output by the end of the week was starting to suffer. On Thursday, I spilled 2 oz all over myself and the car, and then on Friday night I forgot the 10 oz I’d pumped and found them on Sunday, warmly rotting in the cooler that was no longer cool. Momming and working were not so compatible last week.

But, Ansel had his 4 month check up (a little late, since he’ll be 5 months on Monday!) and he’s weighing in at 16lbs 5oz, is 25.5 inches tall and has a head circumfrence of 42.3cm – putting him around the 60% percentile for height and weight, and closer to the 40th for head. In any case, he continues to grow well, and the doctor is very happy with him. His reflux seems to be under control, so we aren’t pursuing any medication at this point. He’s healthy and still so very, very happy.

We’ve still been talking about #2. Mostly, this decision is based on L’s job prospects. She’s been applying for full time faculty positions across the country, and scored some interviews, but no job yet. It’s super disappointing. Our original plan had been to start tracking her cycle in the fall, and then try IUIs with her in January-ish. But she mentioned, when we brought it up with BFF, that she wants to continue applying for positions for next fall, and while we all know it’s hella illegal to not hire someone for being pregs, she’d rather not have to wonder if she’s not getting a job because she’s obviously knocked up, nor would she want to get hired (even in a tenure track position, there is still no guarantee) and then have to immediately go on leave.

So, it seems like it could very well end up being me who goes next. Since we talked about it, I’ve been sort of day dreamy about being pregnant again. I’m sure I’m being a little rosy about the past, but I honestly kind of enjoyed being pregnant. Some days, I even kind of miss it. (y’all who are currently SUPER pregnant, feel free to throw rocks at me and remind me I didn’t have to deal with those last 3 weeks) I’m excited by the idea of being pregnant again, even though I also feel really intensely excited about L being knocked up! She is gonna be the cutest pregnant dapper dandy EVER. Plus, a baby with her dimples would probably just totally slay me.

Of course, nothing will happen until at least April-ish, when A will be over a year and weaned from the boob (thinking about having to stop nursing him makes me just horrifically sad though, so I’m trying not to think about it) and a lot could change between now and then. And, of course, there’s always the expense of another transfer to consider. Man, what must it be like to get pregnant for free?

So, that’s the happs, y’all. Wanna give a shout out to my friend Alicia over at LadyLoveandBabyDust who is probably holding her precious possums for the very first time RIGHTNOW! It took both of us a looooong time to get some babies on this side of the ol’ ute, and I’m so so happy for her. <3!!

Shame, guilt and the search for common ground

Breastfeeding Medicine

In the fallout from the breastfeeding sibling study, I’ve been struck by the intensity of conversations about shame and guilt. A colleague and friend posted on Facebook:

This study is for my patients who have taken every tea, herb and drug to raise their milk supply, and are afraid to be seen in public giving their babies formula. They shun the social support they need from other mothers because bottle feeding has become so stigmatized. I see such relief on their faces when I tell them that they are outstanding mothers raising healthy babies, and am glad to have some evidence behind that.

A father commented on the ABM Blog:

I sat in pre-natal class with my wife as a bunch of women were given the implicit message that they were not real women or good mothers if they did anything but breast feed. And a lot of these…

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Just call me ‘Boobs’

Did you know August is breastfeeding awareness month? And the first week of August is National Breastfeeding Week? I mean, it’s also National Catfish month (aside: I was going to just throw something random out like, ‘I bet its also national catfishing day’ but then decided to actually look up what other observances occur in August and I discovered – I shit you not – it is actually national catfish month.) Because every day is now SOME kind of celebration – like today, August 3rd is National GRAB SOME NUTS DAY. Yes, really – so basically, does any of this have any meaning anymore?

I guess it means something when it’s your day or week or month, right? And because I spend a lot of hours in my day (and night) breastfeeding (or pumping) this time, it’s my month and my week.

It feels fitting, then, that I spent pretty much all day nursing my nursling. Mondays I “work from home” which often translates to “take care of the baby until L gets home then work all night” or, today, “nurse the baby and try and convince him to nap all day then work for two hours in between L’s classes and rehearsals then work after the baby goes to bed.” For no reason that we can tell, A slept like shit today. He woke up late, then couldn’t be cajoled into his typical morning nap. So I nursed him an extra time, hoping it would work, with no luck. An extensive walk around the park finally did the trick . . .until exactly the moment we walked through the door. More nursing and rocking and wearing got me another 20 minutes, then some nursing and some tummy time and some toys on the floor then a full scale nuclear meltdown then more nursing and I just gave in and let him keep a boob in his mouth for the rest of the afternoon. A brief respite when L got home and then he was back on the teat until bath time and a final drink goodnight.

Some days, it’s like this. And it feels exhausting and bone wearying and touched out. And I both envy L that she doesn’t have to nurse him and feel sorry that she doesn’t have this in her parenting toolbox when I’m not around.

As of tomorrow, I will have been nursing 20 weeks, 4 1/2 months. It has gotten easier. I mostly don’t stress about my supply (except occasionally when my pumping schedule gets fucked up or the smidge sleeps extra long and I wake up with rocks on my chest) I don’t have any pain when nursing and only a little discomfort when pumping. I am sometimes annoyed or feel pressed for time, but most of the time I see nursing as a respite from the rest of my over scheduled life. At night especially, I can feel the surge of good hormones when my milk lets down and everything feels at peace for a few moments.

Breastfeeding is a huge part of my world, and it is something I care deeply about, and something I wholeheartedly believe is not actually supported by our medical, work or social cultures. But I also hate so much how terrible women feel for not nursing – for whatever reason – and I am always nervous that my love and pride will be confused for ego and condescension. There is a lot of luck, a bunch of stubborn hardheadedness and quite a lot of access to resources at play in my success, not to mention a baby who was born with his mouth wide open and looking for a nipple.

This morning, the nursing pictures that were taken at the Birth Without Fear conference showed up in my inbox. I love them. I even love the one with my face, where I have 30 giant chins. In fact, I only noticed the chins when I looked at the pictures for the 25th time tonight. That says something to me, that nursing is something that makes me feel strong and capable and connected, its something that makes me feel beautiful. I’m proud that I’ve fed my baby with my body. But I want to make it very, very clear that my pride doesn’t cloud my love and respect for all the mamas who feed their babies in many other ways.

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In other news . . .this post is courtesy of the new surface pro I was given to use at work, which allows me to both do work more easily remotely, and also more easily update my blog after I’m done with work. In a weekend of exciting new things, we also traded in my chev.y HHR and got a new-to-us hyund.ai sonata, aka: a car that can actually fit the car seat without the passenger seat pushed all the way forward. The best part was that we got what we owed on the trade and so our monthly payment actually went down $10 a month, and the insurance will be cheaper as well. It feels weird to be those people with two new cars in the driveway, because it doesn’t actually seem representative of who we are but . . . whatever.

So that’s it, I guess. Boobs and cars. Not a bad life.