Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Good

Soon to be followed by, of course, The Bad and The Ugly, but I don't have time for all three right now.

The Good: We're all getting a lot more sleep! Eleanor's general pattern lately has been to do one four-hour stretch, followed by one three-hour stretch, followed by a second three-hour stretch that's a little more restless and dozy than deep sleep. Usually for that last stretch I bring her into bed with me, since Andy's gone for the day at that point. She was going to bed when we did, so I was getting the same amount of sleep as she was, and it's totally doable. I had tried her out in her own crib a few times and she did fine, but her room is directly below ours, down a short flight of stairs in our townhouse, and I got tired of going up and down...also, something about her being on a different floor bothered me - I don't know if I'm ready for that yet. So she's been sleeping in our room, off in a darker alcove so we can read or watch TV without disturbing her. She does nap in her crib, so I don't worry that she won't be used to it.

I did recently decide that she probably needs a more normal bedtime, since we were keeping her up with us until she conked out on her own (generally between 11 pm and 1 am) and she, not to mention me, was way overtired at that point. So last night I decided to try putting her to bed earlier. We gave her a bath at 7:45 - she loves her bath and it really relaxes her. Then we put her in jammies, fed her, and read her a story, and I put her in her swing in our room (she sleeps really well in that swing, although I don't want it to become too much of a habit) at 8:15. She fell asleep immediately, even though she'd been awake when I put her down.

She woke up a half hour later and wanted her pacifier - she seemed wide awake, but content, so I just gave it to her and left her. Then she wanted the paci about every ten minutes for the next half hour, but I just kept giving it back to her and she seemed happy, so I left her. (I would not let her cry, just so y'all know.)

About 9:15, she fell asleep. I figured she'd be hungry again by 11, so I planned to sort of semi-wake her to eat and then go to bed myself. But when I tried to feed her at 10:45, she was fast asleep - she didn't even wake up until I changed her diaper. So I put her back down and turned out the light, but I lay awake, certain she'd wake up at any moment.

She didn't wake up until 3:30 a.m. Three. thirty. A. M.

Of course, I hardly slept at all. I know I got up at least once to make sure she was breathing, and on at least two other occasions I woke up Andy by poking him and whispering "Are you awake? She's still sleeping! I don't believe it! Do you think she's OK?" He was not amused.

Anyway, she woke up long enough to eat at 3:30, and then fell asleep again tuntil Andy's alarm woke her around 5:30. Honestly, I don't think she'd have woken up if she'd been in her own room, because she barely snacked and then fell right back to sleep. She was restless after that, though, and I brought her in with me and we dozed on and off until 7.

She's also taking a nap now. For two hours so far. In her crib.

Lest it sound like I only value my baby for her sleeping habits, I have to say she's an angel. We avoided the dreaded colic, although she's been a bit more fussy the last few days. I'd heard that increasing fussiness at approximately six weeks after the due date was normal, so I'd bet that's what it is. She has started smiling more and more often, which is the best thing in the world. I recently figured out a foolproof way to get her to do it - apparently, repeating back to her the gruntly, snuffly noises she makes is the funniest thing ever. Now all I have to do is go "heh, heh, heh" in a low gravelly voice and she gives me the hugest, gummiest grin. It's amazing how much more of a little PERSON she is now, with her own personality. She loves to be held in a standing position so she can bear weight on her legs, and will do it for hours if we hold her. She loves her bath but hates her carseat buckles (not the carseat itself, thank goodness).

Here's a recent photo of bathtime:

and another:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Last Diaper, or, how my day went yesterday

Eleanor and I are pretty good at getting out and about together. I thought I'd be a wreck driving with her, but I'm really not; at first it was hard to work up the motivation to get out of the house, but I realized that the more I did, the better I felt, so we're really making an effort. On Tuesday we took the T into Cambridge to visit Andy at his office; yesterday we went to breastfeeding clinic at the hospital and then to the mall; today I'm meeting some friends for lunch.

But every once in a while we have a day that makes me think maybe I should have stayed home after all.

Yesterday started out fine - I really only stopped by the breastfeeding group because I had plans to visit with Patty, the nurse who heads the pregnancy loss team at the hospital where I had Joseph. She'd been on vacation when I visited the other nurse and the neonatologist, and I really wanted her to meet Eleanor.

Eleanor fed well at the clinic and charmed everyone with how alert she was (and she's just learned to smile!) and our visit with Patty was sweet. So we stopped by the mall because I needed a few new T-shirts...I never realized how many of my clothes are really only good for work, or anyway not so good for nursing a spit-uppy infant.

Eleanor had eaten at the clinic at 1 pm, so I figured we had until at least 3:30 or 4 before she got hungry. No such luck. As I browsed in the Gap, she began to fuss and suck on her fingers, so I took her to Macy's, where I knew there was a big dressing room with a chair in the baby section. But first, I needed to use the ladies' room, so we stopped there. I had barely maneuvered the stroller into the handicapped stall and sat down when Eleanor let out an earsplitting wail. She NEVER cries like that; she must have been really hungry (maybe a growth spurt?). But there was nothing I could do at the moment except frantically offer her her pacifier, which she was having none of.

There were several women out by the sinks, and I heard one of them say disapprovingly, "That baby is in pain!" I wanted to sink into the floor as Eleanor screamed even louder and I heard more half-whispered conversation about me; I couldn't tell what they were saying. I finished as fast as I could and emerged to find several older ladies clucking at me. The original speaker said officiously, "Ma'am, is your baby all right?"

"She's hungry," I muttered, red-faced. "I just need to get somewhere and feed her." I washed up as fast as I could, not meeting anyone's eyes. As I wheeled her out, a little girl of about five asked, wide-eyed, "What's wrong with the baby?"

"SHE'S HUNGRY," I repeated and got the hell out of there.

We found our dressing room and I started to feed her, but she was worked up from crying and kept popping off the nipple to fuss. Finally we were done - sweaty and tired and fussy, but done. And then I did a stupid thing...I decided to change her diaper. I got the changing pad set up and, crouching on the floor of the dressing room, awkwardly got her wet diaper off and a fresh one on. Then I buckled her carefully back into her stroller. The instant I snapped the last fastener I heard:


So off came all the straps, out came the changing pad, and I did it all over again. This time as I reached for a diaper I realized it was the last one in the diaper bag. Oh well, I thought, at least I'm going home now.

I didn't even get it closed before she exploded again.

So my poor child had to go home in a dirty diaper, and CPS should be knocking on my door any minute now, since Ms. Officious probably had me tailed.

Amazing that I actually left the house again today, isn't it?

Friday, August 18, 2006

settling in

Can you believe that six weeks - half! - of my maternity leave are over as of today? Where did the time go? Eleanor was five weeks old on Thursday. Sometimes it feels like it's flown, and sometimes it feels like she's been here forever.

It's hard to believe how much she's already changed. A month ago she was just a tiny bundle of needs - now she's starting to have a personality. We're starting to discover her likes (being held upright, looking at herself in mirrors, peeing on us as soon as we open her diaper) and dislikes (being strapped into her carseat, being put down while mom and dad eat dinner). She started smiling, very occasionally, last week - there is nothing more heart-melting than sitting down to nurse and getting a huge gummy smile. (I think she may actually be smiling at the boob and not me, but I'll take what I can get.)

She's starting to develop slightly more predictable eating and sleeping patterns; she's going longer during the day (3 hours or so), then cluster feeding in the evening, then going 3-4 hour stretches at night. My mom was visiting again last week, and she helped me get started with a bedtime routine and with transitioning Eleanor to her crib in the nursery instead of the swing in our room. This "bedtime routine" stuff actually works - I think it's the fifth night we've done it, and tonight she went down faster than ever. I'm about to go grab some sleep myself before her first night waking (generally around 2:30). I'm doing pretty well with the sleep deprivation - going for two three-hour stretches with a short feeding in between feels like a hard-earned luxury. Often on weekends Andy will get up with her first thing in the morning and give her a bottle of pumped milk, which also helps.

We're getting better at taking her out and about - when I'm home alone with her during the week it gets hard to work up the motivation to get out, but I feel so much better when I do that I really need to make the effort. She's been to a few restaurants (mostly fast-food places like Quizno's, but a few sit-down places during off hours); to just about every store around; to friends' houses; and today we took her to a local county fair, which she slept through entirely but which gave us some good practice.

Oh, and we're moving...the Northern VA move is definitely on. We're getting ready to put the house on the market. This seemed a lot less daunting before the baby was actually here, but I'm still really excited about it.

OK, need some sleep.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I can't believe it's been two and a half weeks since Eleanor was born - it feels like she's been here forever. I wouldn't go so far as to say that we're settling into a routine, but life at least feels like it's returned to some new semblance of normal.

I was hit hard by the baby blues in the first few days after we got home from the hospital. Breastfeeding was going OK, but there were a lot of new-mom questions and concerns - for example, E spent her first few days home sound asleep and her first few nights home eating for 5 minutes, falling asleep, waking up when put down, eating for 5 more minutes, falling asleep...and over and over. I had a few nights in a row where I didn't sleep at all, and I tried sleeping during the day but I've never been good at that. Last Monday, I broke down in front of Andy and my mom and sobbed that I hated having a baby, that it had been a huge mistake. I felt horrible, but it was even worse that Andy got upset hearing me say that (not that I really blamed him) and we had a big fight about it. I felt horribly guilty and sad.

Miraculously, that was the night E decided to sleep for 3-4 hours in between feedings. We figured out that she likes to sleep in her swing, so we tried it and it worked. She's had pretty good nights ever since - she's been going between 2 and 4 hours between feedings and going right back down afterward. After nights of not sleeping at all, getting up every two hours feels like a luxury. After a few nights of sleeping better, it was like the "mom hormone" finally kicked in - I am just enthralled with E. I had no idea I could love another human being as much as I love this tiny girl.

By chance I discovered that the hospital I delivered Joseph at (which is closer to our house than the one I delivered E at) has a drop-in breastfeeding support group 5 days a week. When my mom was here last week, we went three times - I love the LC who runs it, and it was great to meet so many new moms going through all the same things. I think I'll be going at least once a week for a while, if for nothing else than the companionship and advice. E is now 8 lbs 2 oz, so she's one pound 4 oz over her birthweight and one pound ten ounces over her hospital discharge weight, so I guess I'm doing something right!

The first day we went to the group, we decided to go up to the birthing unit and see if any of the wonderful nurses who took care of me last year were there. As it turned out, the nurse who was with me all through my labor and the neonatologist who took care of Joseph were on duty, so we had them paged. As soon as they came out in the hall and saw me, we all started to cry. It's amazing that the staff there remembers us so well - I think our story really touched them. I'm glad we went.

E is crying...more later