Friday, June 6, 2008

The end of one cycle

It's been a while since I've been here; once I started really working again, blogging for me got difficult. After all, when your job is blogging, you don't really slack off by... blogging. And I don't even have any time to slack off. My days are packed, from early morning until whenever I sleep, though for the past week I've been sick, so the schedule is completely, 100% irregular. I've had a really hard time sleeping since I got sick.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Jack is now almost four months old, he's beautiful, he's enormous, he's chatty and playful and happy, and he's now strictly a formula baby. He might have been the last time I blogged... that was April. I'm not sure. But I want to get the story out, to have a record, because it still hurts, because nearly every day, something happens that reminds me of the hurt.

Lots of personal details ahead.

We were doing okay with breastfeeding. He was a hungry boy, so we were sometimes topping him off with formula, but mostly, I'd just stay up with him for long nights, and we'd watch movies and nurse and nurse and nurse. We were in frequent contact with the lactation consultant at the pediatrician's office because he was just so hungry all the time (and growing so fast!), but everything seemed fine. We were happy, if tired. I never had any left over to pump, but since I work at home, that wasn't an issue. He took an occasional bottle, but since Jack will put anything in his mouth and suck, and always has, that wasn't an issue, either.

Around five weeks after he was born, I started menstruating again. I've always had hellish cramps, so I was pretty pissed off -- wasn't I supposed to get a break? where was my break? -- but that meant I needed some sort of birth control, because the last thing we need right now is another little person! This one's a handful. So I called the doctor, she called in my prescription after we discussed which pills I would take -- since I was still breastfeeding, and needed a certain kind -- and I started taking them. Great, right?

Not long after, Jack started to get really fussy during feedings, and never seemed satisfied. I talked to the lactation consultant more. We were advised to time his feedings and cut him off after a while. We were advised to top him off with formula more often. I went from not being able to pump much to not being able to pump at ALL. More and more, his father was bottle feeding him (I wasn't supposed to unless I had to), but he was thriving, so the doctor and the lactation consultant, they didn't worry much. I was trying so hard to feed him, and consistently failing more and more, with no idea what was going on. No one ever asked me about my pills. I didn't know they could be a problem, didn't think about it, didn't question it... my doctor had made sure everything was okay.

But the pharmacy didn't. We'll get there.

At eight weeks, I finally gave up. I was tired and upset and sick of calling the lactation consultant all the time. I was tired of Jack fussing. I just wanted him to be happy. The next week or so (I remember, it was like six days after I quit nursing him), Christopher went to pick up my new birth control pills, and that was when the pharmacist owned up to their mistake. They hadn't given me the special pills my doctor prescribed. They screwed up and gave me regular birth control pills, which had dried up my milk.

I called my ob/gyn's office the next day in tears. They prescribed a drug that was supposed to restart my milk production, and I thought everything would be okay. It was such a relief to know that I wasn't a "failure," that it wasn't me, but someone else's mistake. I got my new pills, and my new prescription (this time making sure, even with generics, that everything was the right drug), and started the pills that were supposed to restimulate my milk.

Except I almost immediately came down with dire symptoms that indicated a bad reaction to the drug. I was told to stop taking it. There was nothing else they could do for me. I waited a few days and tried again, because I was so desperate to be a good mother, to be adequate, to be able to simply feed my son, but I had the reaction again and had to give it up.

A friend spoke to a lawyer on my behalf. Apparently I could so -- and would win -- but wouldn't get anything out of it, since there was no "monetary" damage. I've never been much of a believer in the emotional distress suits, but if anything qualifies, I would think this does. I was devastated, and am frequently devastated all over again. Jack has problems keeping his formula down, and I keep thinking, maybe that's my fault. My attachment parenting books hinge on breastfeeding, and I wonder, am I a failure at that? I snuggle my baby, and I love him, and hold him and cherish him, and have slept with him so often... he shops with me in his baby sling... but I'm a failure at the most basic aspect of mothering.

I know it's ridiculous. I know I shouldn't feel like that, because it ISN'T my fault, though I guess I could have been double-checking every prescription from the pharmacy (like I am now; that's a lesson learned). But it keeps coming up. He went to the doctor recently for some problems, and we were talking to the doctor about switching formula, and she went on and on about how "nature had a plan with breastmilk," and since that was always the same, it followed that the same formula was a good idea, too, and I just broke down. I wanted to be on nature's plan.

I took him to the farmer's market recently, a woman was admiring him and his chubby little knees. She asked me if he was formula fed, and I said yes, and she said something about how all formula fed babies were fat, and I almost lost it then, too. With Dr. Sears going on about lean babies, and my fears that I will pass my own poor health and diet habits on (I'm desperate not to, and improving my own health all the time), all I could think was -- I've failed, I'm a failure, and now my son is fat.

He isn't, by the way. He's perfect, and I've stopped making sense long ago, but there are so may things that happen that remind me of this, that keep bringing up the fact that this happened, that I had to stop nursing, and it just kills. It comes up with friends, too -- even just tonight, when I was talking about Jack teething with a friend who'd moved to Dallas and hadn't heard what happened, he cracked a joke about the impact of that on breastfeeding, and I just wanted to die.

But I keep telling myself that it's okay. Jack is happy, and we're happy. It just keeps coming up, but someday, I'll get over it. In the mean time, here's a picture of my beautiful boy, looking much older than he really is:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First and often

For the first time tonight, Jack reached for me. He half-rolled onto his side and stretched his arm out, hand grasping for my fingers. Once they were in reach, he held onto me until the hanging toy over his face distracted him from making contact with mommy.

I was maybe a little teary.

Here he is after one of his many baths, which we must administer liberally due to his spit-up habits. He seems to like them! Baths, rated one thumb up.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not the best day ever

Shots today. Many tears. Must remember to write an actual post soon.

I've never heard him scream like that. It just broke my heart. But the good news is that he's ahead of the curve in almost every category, and growing like the proverbial weed. 13.6 pounds, 23 and three quarter inches, and a mighty noggin that he can hold up like a champ.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Has it been so long?

Tomorrow, the boy is eight weeks old. I can hardly believe it's been two months, though we still get so little sleep that Christopher said (and I agree) that weeks tend to feel like one very long day. Calculating time that way, he's still the tiniest of tiny sproglets.

Not in size, though. We took a walk this afternoon around the neighborhood and ran into a father with his 17 month old daughter -- and Jack was nearly her size. He is one large baby, but still terribly cute, so I forgive him.

I don't see him doing much crawling. He's desperate to be up on his feet; he already wants me to stand him up often and "walk" him around. We do this every day on the sofa, usually after a feeding. It's funny... he can barely play and he isn't much into his stuff yet, but he is just dying to get up and run around.

Also, I'm fairly certain he called me a Jew today. I don't know who he's been hanging out with, but I won't have this kind of name-calling and ethnic slurs (slurring?) in my house!*

*Clearly, this is a joke, but it really did sound very much like "Jew!"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

On the bum

So we're switched over to pretty much only cloth diapers now, with a very few exceptions, like if we're going to be out for a while in the car. Otherwise, though, we're washing 'em up, and it's a lot easier than I expected. We really could have switched over sooner, but I did NOT want to deal with cloth right out of the gate, while I was still freaking out over simply having a baby. I know that's when a lot of new parents lose their cloth resolve, so I just skipped it and waited until things were less insane.

Funnily enough, though I've bought several Bum Genius diapers, as well as a few other pricier types (one Cricket's diaper, a couple of Fuzzi Buns, which I LOVE), we really use the prefolds and covers more than anything. The Bummis Super Whisper Wraps NEVER seem to leak -- even if the prefold is soaked to the point of ohmygodding -- and even Christopher doesn't think it's difficult, and he was not particularly gung ho on cloth. In fact, he's the one who uses those the most!

The best thing I bought, however, was the PUL diaper pail liners. I have a decent pail, plus those, and I wash every couple of days (including bag). No smell, but if I notice anything, there's a little spot for a few drops of essential oil inside the bag. Awesome.

Though I will say that pee diapers are way, way smellier than poopy diapers once they've been in the pail for a day or so. Maybe it's because we clean the poopers off a little in the toilet, but I think it's more the ferocious ammonia smell... and tiny Jack is a freakin' pee machine.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Now that little Jack is six weeks old (today!), we're beginning to approach the possibility of developing something that might be considered a schedule. That's nice, because we've had some real sleep issues. First, he doesn't sleep nearly as much as he should. Second, there are a lot of places he won't sleep. Let's look at it in list form:

Places Jack won't sleep:
His crib
His bassinet
In his snuggle nest/the co-sleeper (he has been the last two nights, though, which is good)

Places Jack WILL sleep:
On the sofa
Mommy's pillow
Wrapped around Mommy's arm
In bed with Mommy
His swing

You can see why this is a problem. But there's hope! I'm certain he just needs a little more security. He's little and he's held a lot. But man, sometimes we need to be able to put him down, and that's not coming easy.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Five weeks

Where does the time go? Everything is changing so quickly. Friday, Jack was five weeks old and suddenly, it was like he was a completely different baby. A crankier baby, to be sure, but when he's not crying, he's more alert, he's aware, he really sees things. He can hold his head up almost all the time (which makes it more frightening when it flops down), and he's taken a sudden interest in his toys. He can't really do anything yet, but he wants to, and sometimes, his inability to do anything seems to frustrate him.

He's also, I think, just starting to really smile. Sometimes it's still reflexive, but other times, I'm sure, absolutely sure, that it's a real smile. Either way, it's adorable. He gets bigger all the time -- he's up to eleven pounds now (or was on Thursday) and has begun to outgrow some of his earliest clothes.

One thing hasn't changed, though. He still behaves much more sweetly when there's a grandmother in the house. The moment a grandmother pulls into the driveway, he stops crying or falls into an instant sleep. It's like magic.