Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Know thy baby

There's no shortage of information online and elsewhere these days about baby care. My mother is just in awe of what's available on the Internet (All hail Al Gore!). She never had access to such a wealth of information when she was raising four children in the country in New York. But sometimes the overwhelming amount of information available can make you second guess yourself. It can prevent you from just getting to know your own baby.

It's taken me at least two months to learn some very basic things about our son. When he gets tired, he fusses and sucks on his fists. When he's hungry, he sticks his tongue in and out. When he poops, standing and squatting on our legs helps move things along.

Saturday we ventured into the unknown. We began a bedtime routine and I felt a little lost and reluctant. He's never slept more than 45 minutes without me sleeping beside him. But since I am returning to work Thursday night, a routine will likely help Jim get Danny to bed before I get home around 1 a.m.

Saturday night was hard. My husband and I each went up to console him once after which he slept for three hours in his crib. That wasn't the hard part. For the first time since his birth, I went to bed without him sleeping next to me. It felt horrible and wrong and sad. I cried. And when he awoke for a feeding at midnight, an immense feeling of relief washed over me as I snatched him from his crib, held him tight and smelled his hair. Of course, he wound up in bed with us after that.

Sunday was better. Three hours in the crib, feeding at midnight, back to the crib, then at 2 a.m., he was in bed with us again. Last night, not so good. All night, he never slept more than an hour and a half at a time. By 1 a.m., I was tired of getting out of bed and walking down the hall to his room. So guess where he slept last night? That's right ... in our bed. Tonight is Jim's night to do the routine alone, as a dry run for Thursday night.

My sister tells me that it's not too early to start a routine, but it is too early to expect much from it. What I have gained so far is a little peace of mind for when I go back to work, a few hours of uninterrupted time with my husband and an hour to read one chapter of my most recent book (The Body Hunters, by Sonja Shah). It's not exactly what I expected, but I'll take it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My mother's revenge

Post contains new photo link and a video, below.

In the past week, my son has managed to get through the day wearing one outfit. How on earth has he accomplished this feat? By developing the ability to projectile vomit. And his aim is pretty good. He always gets it on both my shirt and my pants so that I'll have to completely change my clothes (or I could just smell like sour milk all day).

My mother thinks it's hilarious. When I was a baby, I was a projectile vomiter. She gleefully relates that she would pack a change of clothes for me, her and my father. I have burp clothes in every room of the house. I've even considered using the receiving blankets he's outgrown as burp clothes to cover more area on my body while I'm burping him. We're definately going to need new furniture when we're done having kids.

Danny is quite a bit like I was as a baby. He's very active, sometimes falling asleep in mid-activity. He gurgles and coos before he vomits (so at least you get a warning).

Other milestones:
  • He sleeps in his crib during the day!!!

  • Jim actually got to read the entire paper the other day while Danny played on his playmat.

  • We actually ate an entire meal while he sat in his swing and just watched us. He was probably waiting for the perfect time to start screaming ... which came after I had eaten my last bite of food. How considerate of him!

  • He's wearing real clothes now instead of bumming around the house all day in footed pajamas.

I've posted some new photos of him on the photoblog. Enjoy!

Here's a nice video my dad put together.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An infantile society

The midwives told me to remember that Danny's wants are his needs for the first few months. This advice has helped me survive these first weeks with our son. It helped me not to take it personally when he cried inconsolably. It helped me not to resent it too terribly much when all he needed was to be held (and all I wanted was a shower and a clean shirt). It's something that he will outgrow as he learns to soothe himself. And it's already starting. He's found his fists and loves to look at his surroundings. He's figuring out that his world is bigger than mommy and daddy.

I like to think that I've outgrown that stage. With every "need" that pops up, I analyze whether its really a need or if it's just something that would be nice to have. I ask myself if there is a suitable substitute around the house. Sometimes just waiting a day or two helps me determine how urgent my "need" is. One of my most important jobs as a parent is to help my children understand the difference between wants and needs. I don't want them to spend their lives on an endless mission to fulfill wants masquerading as needs.

It seems some (actually, most) in our society can't distinguish between wants and needs. A record number of people are in debt up to their eyeballs and Americans' savings accounts are virtually barren. Advertisers convince us that we "need" all sorts of things that are actually luxuries. If a person can't distinguish between their wants and their needs, aren't they somewhat infantile?

This leads me to ask: My son is two months old ... What's your excuse?

Monday, January 22, 2007

A cruel joke (on all of us)

On Thursday night, Danny Boy began sleeping through the night. In the past week, he's become increasingly social even if it is mostly with his stuffed toys, the mirror in his crib and his own fists. On Friday night, he started coming down with a cold. By Sunday morning, we were at the pediatrician's office. He's now being treated for a respiratory virus, I've got a cold and the sleeping-through-the-night thing is shot to hell. Remember I was sure this was some kind of trick? The doctor assures me that he will go back to sleeping through the night again.

The poor little guy has to be treated with a steroid delivered through a nebulizer at least three times a day. He's starting to feel and sound better, but he's still got quite a bit of mucus in his chest. It's weird to be taking care of a sick little person whose only way to communicate is by crying. I can only guess what part of him is hurting.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No thanks, Senator

A quote from a story in today's paper about ethics reform:

"Americans want their public officials to do their business in public," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

I'll pass, Senator. Please do your business in the bathroom like everyone else. (Obviously, this senator should have consulted his spokesperson before opening his mouth.)

Sleep diary

Danny Boy slept for a stretch of three hours and then four hours last night, but I woke up several times. He kept stirring and I mistook it for him wanting to nurse, which he did for about five minutes just once. So basically, we had another good night. However, because him sleeping is so foreign to me and because he has a cold, I woke up more often than necessary.

Other milestones:
  • He has found his fists and chomps on them regularly.

  • He has been drifting off to sleep without either of us holding him.

  • He bats at toys hanging from his play gym.

  • He reaches for things, such as the cat (below), who is a pretty good sport about it all.

Friday, January 19, 2007

It finally happened

My brother Paul, the psychology student, says that a person will start hallucinating after 48 hours of not getting REM sleep. I've been waiting for that to happen. Last night, it may have.

Danny slept for about six hours. Or at least that's what my fuzzy Mommy-brain believes. (I swear it feels like my brain is wearing a sweater sometimes.) We bedded down at around 10:30 p.m. and he started fussing at around 4:30 a.m. This better not be a trick.

There's an old-wives tale that says a baby will start sleeping through the night when he reaches 11 pounds. Well, I weighed Danny this morning and, sure enough, he's 11 pounds on the dot. We'll see what tonight brings. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Our dog is broken

What could possibly make our dog Bob cower on the back porch like this? Snow.

Believe or not, Bob, who is part Siberian Husky, refused to go out in the snow this morning. We got about an inch of unexpected snow today in Durham. He eventually sauntered out into the snow, jumped around a bit at my urging and then came back on the porch with his ears down. I tried to tell him that he's a sled dog and he should love the snow, but he just begged to go back inside. What a big baby!

Bad mommy? Part 2

I put my infant son on his playmat in the living room while I fixed myself some lunch. He fussed for a few minutes, talked to his toys a bit and drifted off to sleep. Every so often he fussed and cried in his sleep, but for the past half hour, all has been quiet. I feel bad because the playmat is on top of a hard wood floor. He obviously doesn't seem to mind and I don't think he'll remember this when he's 18. I did get a nice, undisturbed lunch out of it, though. I've come to the conclusion that if I don't take care of me, I can't take care of him. That means I need to eat, need a shower at least every two days and I need to get enough water even if it means he cries for a few minutes. It's not like he'll mention it to his therapist when he's older.

Alfalfa or Ed Grimley?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A pair of threes

In the crap shoot that is my son's sleep schedule, I finally got lucky. Last night, he slept for two stretches of three hours. And because he's getting better at nursing lying down, I am barely even awake when he nurses. Score!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Newer photos of Danny

I posted some new photos of Danny on our photoblog. He is now six weeks old and weighs in at 10 lbs 4 oz. and measures 23 inches.

Check out the video below of Danny watching Sesame Street. We have achieved self-entertainment. Not only does he watch Sesame Street, but he also talks to stuffed toys, gazes at his mobile and listens intently when we talk to him. He's becoming a little more human every day. I told my dad that I was waiting for him to become more human and he told me it takes 18 years. Right now, his favorite CDs are Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of Led Zeppelin and Cat Stevens' Teaser and the Firecat.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I had no idea

While I was pregnant, I tried to resist the baby marketing machine and what it told me I "needed." Now, six weeks into parenthood, I'm starting to get a clear picture of what I actually need.

You don't need a bunch of plastic crap to entertain an infant who can't see very far or even in full color. They prefer to look at your face, your plaid couch, the dark clock on a white wall, the dog, the cat, the white wall, the mesh on his bassinet and swing. You don't need fancy outfits that the kid will just puke all over, just a bunch of hand-me-down wash and wear cotton outfits. You don't even need baby soap, which has some of the same ingredients as adult soap. Just get a bar or two of Ivory soap. The kid probably won't even go through an entire bar in six months.

Here's a partial list of what I actually need in abundance:

  • Burp clothes: Luckily, a friend at work who is also a mom thought to get me a ton of burp clothes.

  • Baby clothes: Before baby arrived, I thought, "How much clothing could this little guy possibly need?" It's not like he'll be going out on the town. This kid spits up and out (and I mean UP and OUT) quite often. He changes outfits more in one day than a Vegas lounge singer.

  • Clothes for Mommy: I get spit up on regularly and often have to change my clothes two or three times a day. And I don't have a lot that fits me right now.

  • Baby socks: If you thought keeping track of adult socks in the wash was hard, try keeping track of socks that are only two inches long.

  • Laundry detergent: It seems like I do a load of laundry just about every day.

  • Patience: A friend once told me not to ever pray to God for patience because you'd get pregnant. Trying to soothe a crying infant takes a lot of patience. Patience is handy when your baby wants to nurse for a half hour or so and you have to go to the bathroom and could really use a glass of water.

A Jimmy Joke

Last night, Jim was furiously shaking his foot. I looked over and asked "What's wrong?"

His foot had fallen asleep. He said "Well, at least part of me is getting some sleep."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mommy aerobics

When I don't get to take a walk with hubby, the dog and the kid, I'm still getting plenty of exercise. Danny likes constant movement. I often appear to be doing an aerobic routine when I'm simply trying to keep him content. I rock back and forth, sway, twist and turn, bounce my legs, pat his bum and more. Just carrying and lifting all nine and a half pounds of him is a workout. Even when I'm in the rocking chair, my calves are working just to keep the chair going. It seems to be paying off ... between the breastfeeding and the "exercise," I'm nearly 15 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight. (Please don't hate me ... remember, 40 hours of labor???)

Bad mommy?

Is it awful that I put my infant son in front of the television to watch Sesame Street and Arthur? There are certain times of the day when I just can't console him. Danny is mesmerized by the images on the screen. He appears to be watching the programs, though I don't know what and how far he can see. I do draw the line at Barney, which comes on after Sesame Street. The big singing, goofy, purple dinosaur is just unnerving. By the way, Jim and I can't figure out what kind of animal Arthur is. If anyone has some insight, let us know. We think he's either a mouse or an aardvark.

Right now, Danny is asleep on my lap and I am actually typing with two hands. What a treat!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New photos of Danny Boy

I've posted some more photos of Danny Boy on the photoblog. Enjoy!

And here is a video we took last night of him actually playing.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just one of the guys

I'm severely outnumbered here between my son, my husband and the dog. My son is already such a boy. He grunts, growls and grimaces, likes really loud music and is a messy, noisy eater. He makes fists and punches in the air, even in his sleep. In fact, if you approach him while he's sleeping, he'll make a fist (see photo). And he likes to be pat on the butt. It's a guaranteed calm-him-down move. I'm sure this is a guy thing ... I've seen football players pat each other on the butt. And now he farts.

Yes, Danny Boy has just learned how to fart. He used to just grunt and let out this pathetic, little squirt. He finally got it right last night and practiced his new skill quite a bit early this morning. He's very pleased with himself.

Monday, January 01, 2007

What a difference a year makes

Whenever I feel like I'm stuck and things are never going to change, all I have to do is look back at the end of a year. It's then I realize that a lot can change in just one year.

Last year on January 3, Jim and I had our first appointment at the Duke Infertility Clinic. This year on January 3, our son has his first appointment at the pediatrician's office. At the beginning of 2006, I had lost hope of ever having a child and with the failure of one fertility treatment, I began to explore adoption. By the end of 2006, we were welcoming our son into the world.

Happy New Year everyone! We wish you a year full of growth and change.