Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Daddy Diaries: Parenting is a Contact Sport

Make no mistake about it, parenting can be painful. Physically.

Both Lauren and I have nursed sore backs from carrying Kai around all day. Lauren's shoulders and my biceps occasionally ache as well. Our dear son's freakishly fast-growing fingernails have been known to latch on to arms, breasts, and even faces. But by far the most fearsome weapon in Kai's arsenal of pain is his head. One sneak attack from his surprisingly hard noggin can leave me reeling. Yesterday morning he whacked me so hard on the bridge of the nose that tears sprang into my eyes (I was also laughing hysterically, which may have contributed).

Here's a recent pic of me trying to burp Kai, while hiding from the wrath of his steel-plated melon:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A New Trick!

Kai rolled over this morning for the first time, from his tummy to his back. He's been working on it for a few days and when it finally happened, he looked mighty overwhelmed by his first step to mobility. Mom and dad realized that soon, he'll be rolling from back to tummy, and that means we're gonna have to finally get around to doing some baby-proofing. Oy. I've got some pics and video to post from the last week or so...will try to do that tonight.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cross Your Fingers!

For those who need their fix, more pictures from last week of the little man, wearing the sweater and booties my mom made for him (we'll post more over the weekend):

Bob carrying Kai in the Moby...I'm so proud of him for learning to use it:

Well, the breastshields aren't going to cut it. No pumping for me, hand expression it is. The good news is that I'm consistently getting 3-4+ ounces of milk per session, which is plenty. I'm going to see my Lactation Consultant soon to see if there are any things I can be doing to improve efficiency, output, or the rapidly developing repetitive stress injuries in my hands!

The bad news...a couple of our bottles of milk soured well before they should have. I nearly cried when we dumped them, and was impressed when I didn't, but I am getting considerably more practical about all of this and much less emotional. I am hoping that if we push the milk to the back of the fridge from the front, and/or store in glass containers, that will solve the problem. If not, then the problem is likely something called excess lipase in my milk, which starts breaking down the fat and leading to a sour smell/taste. Doesn't actually spoil the milk, but Kai flat out refused to take one of his bottles today and it turned out to be one that smelled slightly sour. I don't blame him. I wouldn't want sour tasting milk either. If it is excess lipase, scalding the milk before storing it will solve the problem, though it will also reduce the nutritional and immunological benefits a little bit (apparently not an issue unless one is exclusively pumping).

So anyway - cross your fingers that it's just a storage issue. We can scald the milk, but it would definitely be a PITA.

Can I just say - three cheers for my determination, and also for my body and its excess supply, which made it possible for Kai to gain weight, even when not latching well, and is making hand expression a reasonable alternative for me!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back at Work...

Day one at work wasn't so bad. I have the world's most amazing, supportive boss. I'm using some vacation time to work short hours for a little while, upon her encouragement to do so. Called Medela this morning, since my package never arrived over the weekend - they agreed that they had made an error, refunded the cost of shipping, and said the breastshields should be here Wednesday. In the meantime, I had some success with manually expressing milk - 11 ounces today while I was at work. Not bad for my first day.

The Daddy Diaries: Day One

Lauren returned to work today, so it's my first day as a full-time stay-at-home super-Dad (I tried to think of ways to get some more hyphens into that sentence, but alas, my creativity runneth dry).

I was a bit nervous about me and the little monkey making it through the day without Lauren here to feed him, soothe him, and generally be fantastic. But with Lauren due home in a couple of hours and Kai fast asleep, we've had a pretty successful first day if I might say. Some highlights of our day: an enormously long (2+ hours) nap this morning (for Kai, not me), a walk to the Arlington Town Hall to pay the excise tax on the car, several successful bottle feedings, and a lot of time spent bounce-bounce-bouncing (I knew I could get some more hypens in this post somewhere) on the exercise ball while wearing him in the Moby wrap and listening to a looping white noise track on iTunes.

We'll see how tomorrow goes....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm in Love

Kai's taking a nap on me in the Moby right now...he's about to wake up for his last meal of the evening before I put him to bed, and I just keep looking down at him and kissing his cheek and feeling completely, totally in love. He is the most precious, adorable, wonderful, soft, good-smelling gift I've ever received. I can't believe that we made him, and I can't believe I grew him (and am still growing him!). He's perfect.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kai (at 10 weeks) and Friends

I had yet another reminder yesterday about why I love my husband so much, and why I'm so excited that Kai will get to have him as a full-time dad. Bob decided it was important to gather all of Kai's animal friends in one location for a photo shoot:

(This, of course, made me think of the time, shortly after we had moved in together, when I arrived home to discover Bob in our room, with the two big bears that we had (seen in the center of the pics above), seated in a circle on the bed.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Summit of the Bears," he replied, knowing this would delight me (I'm really a two-year old at heart).

"What are you all discussing at this summit?"

"Inter-bear racism."

In addition to Kai's animal friends, he met one of his human friends, Joellen, for the first time on Friday. Jo, who works for public radio's Marketplace, sang Kai what she called a Marketplace rap. The second picture is quintessential Jo, and is, I think, a perplexed Kai deciding that he likes this kooky chic.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Saga Continues...

Well, I convinced Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover the pump and the shields, so we ordered the expensive glass ones today - and were even able to order them for Saturday delivery, contrary to what I was originally told. Don't know whether they will be any better, but definitely worth a shot, especially with insurance paying for it...

Also managed to get about an ounce of breastmilk after a few minutes of manual expression earlier today, so perhaps that will actually be a decent back up suggestion.


Another Breastfeeding Post

If you'd rather not think any more about my nipples, I totally understand. Stop reading here.

The update to my problems with pumping is that the flanges are indeed too small for me. At the suggestion of a lactation consultant, I rented a Medela Symphony pump from the hospital yesterday, to see if the slightly different shape of their breastshields would improve the situation. And it did improve things somewhat.

But even with the XXL size, 36mm (which they told me at the hospital they almost never need to use), after a few minutes and even on low suction, I start to have the same problem, with my nips filling up the bottom of the tunnel, rubbing against it, and generally chafing. You'd never know it to look at my nipples appear so tiny. But once that whole vacuum suction thing starts, dude do they expand.

So today I talked to Medela (the maker of the pump) customer service. Only thing left to try is 40mm, which is glass, has to be ordered specially, and costs $129.99 for each one! Which, frankly, I would happily spend, but not without some confidence it will work/be worth it. It also wouldn't be here for at least a week, which really doesn't help me go back to work on Monday.

I think we've got enough expressed milk for Monday (and actually, probably more, since Kai still refuses to drink more than maybe an ounce at a time from a bottle and seems to prefer to just wait until I'm here to feed him), but I'm so scared I'm not going to be able to pump during the day when I return to work. If my commute weren't so long (about an hour), Bob could just bring Kai to me a few times a day, but that doesn't really seem feasible under the circumstances. Kai is only going to be 10 weeks old when I return, and I really don't want to have to give him formula at such a young age, especially given his existing digestive issues (formula's much harder on a baby's tummy than breastmilk). I also don't even want to think about how engorged my breasts will get if this is what we have to do.

I've been trying to learn the Marmet technique for hand expression, but am having no luck. Plus, from what I understand, hand expression takes much longer than pumping. I would theoretically have needed to pump 3-4 times/day at work - I have a supportive boss/environment, but would feel very badly if I'm spending more time than that would have taken already not doing my work.

Why, oh why, can't my breasts just be like other people's? This is doing nothing for my relationship with them. Or the birth/postpartum supplies industry. Grr.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Ugh. So now I'm pumping more regularly to get ready for going back to work. And my pump is giving me plugged ducts/I'm getting less and less milk when I pump. I think it's a problem with the flange fit, but I'm not sure whether I need bigger or smaller flanges, so once again, I've left messages for my LC and local La Leche League leaders, hoping one of them will get back to me in the near future, since I only have a limited amount of time to resolve this issue. Everyone else I've asked has said they had no problems with pumping. Seriously, I'm so done with obstacles to breastfeeding. And before anyone suggests it, the problem with using formula during the day when you return to work (aside from the nutritional and immunological problems) is that ultimately, doing so has a tendency to reduce your supply and lead to early weaning.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

9 Weeks Old...

Kai, just up from a nap:

Bob's last day of work was Friday. We're home together this week, then back to work for me the following week. Can't believe Kai's already 9 weeks old!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

First milestone met!

Kai is two months old today! A quick note to say how proud I am of myself for surviving all of our breastfeeding challenges to this point. His latch is finally solid, I'm no longer in pain, and I love feeding my child this way! Hurrah!

Next goal: six months (at which point, I'm definitely going out for fancy dinner with my friend Rebecca!)
After that: self-weaning.

Poor Little Guy!

More pics to come over the weekend, I promise...

Bob talked to Kai's pediatrician yesterday to find out what exactly the interaction between his thrush medication and the reflux medication might be and whether it was serious. Turns out that most sources say no interaction, but one suggests that the reflux meds might slightly reduce the efficacy of the thrush medication, but probably not substantially.

When even the vacuum ceased to help him, and I could do nothing but hold my poor little screaming infant while he screamed, and just hope that it made him feel better than screaming on his own would have, I was glad of this news, and we decided to "risk" it.

Night and day my friends. At least we are now confident that Kai is not one of the many overdiagnosed cases of reflux. He is SOOOOOOO much happier. Don't get me wrong, he still fusses a bit, (it's evening right now, and indeed, he's feeling a bit cranky), but my goodness. Seriously. Night and day. He napped for three hours straight this afternoon (after only a few minutes of being bounced) today with a couple of quick nursing breaks thrown in. Napped for an hour in the morning before we left to (sad) get his two month vaccination shots, and then napped in the car for another hour after (I took the occasion of his falling asleep to go for a drive on Route 2, which was quite relaxing). One hour of his afternoon nap was even in the Pack & Play. I actually ate a leisurely lunch with no one attached to me while reading a book!

It's such a relief to be able to look at him and not see a tiny little creature in pain. The thrush also seems to be getting better...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Think We're Doing Pretty Well, Given...

I feel for this kid. And for his parents. I'm just going to go ahead and say it. Kai is a really, really fussy baby. We're getting much better at calming him down, and I think we're finally realizing that we're not doing anything wrong, not missing some big THING that is troubling him. We suspect that he is 1) very easily overstimulated; 2) very sensitive to the digestive issues that his immature, eight-week old gut have; 3) very sensitive to the reflux that all babies naturally have (their esophaguses tend to just open up willy nilly - some babies mind, others don't); and 4) needs a lot of help napping during the day because of these issues. This morning, I got him napping in record time. As soon as he started to fuss, on went the vacuum. He stopped screaming pretty much immediately and was asleep in seconds. Left it on while I put him in my Moby wrap (so that I could turn the vacuum off and he would actually keep sleeping). He's been out for 47 minutes so far - I'm aiming for this to be a one and a half to two hour nap for him. I'm headed out for a walk in a few minutes.

So far, with the exception of a few nights, we have been incredibly lucky with respect to his nocturnal patters. Last night, for instance, he slept from 7-8, then had his last big meal of the day, passed out by around 9:30pm, slept until 1 something am, and then slept until 4 or 5 something am (now that his latch is better and I can feed him in the dark and in our room, I'm not even really that aware of what time it is when he wakes during the night). I can't figure out what makes night so much easier for him - perhaps it's that whole overstimulation thing during the day.

This morning I'm feeling confident that this phase will eventually pass - I always know it will---

---This was when Kai interrupted me by waking up and wanting to eat. And chat for maybe five minutes. Then scream for a while. Then to discover that he actually can scream even when the vacuum cleaner runs. Luckily, it was about fifty degrees out this morning, and hadn't started raining yet, so, with the vacuum at least keeping him mellow enough that I could succesfully put him back in the Moby (like sleep - he always calms down once he's back in the carrier for a few minutes, but he sometimes resists going in...but then, when he's in that state, he pretty much resists everything except arching his back and screaming) and walk around the block. Back to sleep.

I'm trying to decide whether to go to my mom's group this afternoon. On the pro side of the list, I usually learn at least one helpful tidbit. On the con side, I'm feeling relatively unstressed by my son today, but I'm not sure how I'll do today with a meltdown outside the house where I don't have all my different tools (like the vacuum).

Again, a shoutout to the message boards at How I do love the women who post there. So many people whose babies fussed the same way Kai does and who can tell me that it passed at 12 weeks, or four months, or whenever, and can serve as wonderful reminders that I'm doing my job as a parent by being there with him when he's upset and doing my best to find the source, but that this may also just be his temperament right now. (By the way - I'm generally a good speller, but I just discovered that temperament is spelled temperament, not temperment).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Go to Sleep Little Monkey. Please?

Oh, little Mortikai. Not his name, just what we call him sometimes. At only eight weeks old, he has decided that naps are for suckers and he doesn't want to take any. Which would be fine if it weren't for that fact that once he yawns for the first time, it's all downhill from there. We've got three, maybe five minutes if we're lucky to get him asleep before he starts screaming a scream we'd rather not hear all day! This little boy who used to conk out wherever now requires that we wear him while bouncing on the bouncy ball and listening either to the vacuum cleaner or some other very loud white noise in order to a) go to sleep, and b) stay asleep for longer than three minutes. Mostly we're fine with this, but my shoulder kinda hurts today, so it would be truly amazing if I could lie down and take a nap with him, but no such luck. Here's us, right now, bouncing at the computer and listening to a very loud waterfall that I downloaded from iTunes (we're a little fuzzy on account of the bouncing):

And here's me wearing him on various other recent occasions:

On the upside, all this movement and continued breastfeeding means that I'm back into my "healthy size" jeans already and am only about five pounds away from pre-pregnancy weight.

Finally, I'll leave you with the purplest picture we took of our little bear during his unsuccessful but amusing treatment of gentian violet (the oral diflucan that he's taking now seems to be doing the trick, though sadly, we cannot give him his reflux meds at the same time and he's pretty unhappy again about spitting up when it happens - I've cut out dairy and chocolate in the hope that it will help him out until he can return to the reflux meds again - which I sadly decided to do only two hours after purchasing a quart of B&J Cookie Dough Ice Cream, now sitting in my freezer, taunting me with its unavailability):

Oh! One more "finally" - the demon baby picture caused by a failed red eye adjuster: