Friday, August 29, 2008

Feel free to ignore this one, it has nothing to do with the baby.

Finn slept through the speech last night, but I'll be able to tell him he was there.*
He also slept through the announcement this morning that John McCain had chosen his granddaughter** as his running mate. I guess he can't use the whole "experience" campaign tactic anymore.***

*Notice how I am shamelessly using my child to make this post relevant to this blog when it would be more appropriate on kittywhumpus? Get used to it, son. I will not, however, be putting him in an Obama Onesie.

**Cheap, ageist joke. I am not surprised at the choice, really. It's a purely political one that hopes to get at former Sen. Clinton supporters and young up Sen. McCain a little. He's basically chosen his Obama. One could say that Sen. Obama chose his McCain in Sen. Biden, but Sen. Biden is qualified to take over should Pres. Obama be unable to govern. Both these candidates should be choosing someone serious as their running mate because of the possibility that they may not be around to finish their term in office, and I don't feel Sen. McCain's choice reflects that reality.

*** I really hate it when people take an otherwise a-political space and make it political, and it just goes to show you how things are really only bad when other people do them.

Just kidding. I'll take this sort of thing back to kittywhumpus as this campaign continues, unless I truly feel that it's a policy issue that relates to our lives and Finn's future.

p.s. Dear Senator Obama,
There's no such thing as "Clean Coal Technology."
You may as well say that you are going to pour research dollars into faerie power.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Someone's in the Kitchener

It was either really brave or really stupid, but I just raced the baby on kitchener stitch. No, we were not going needles to needles, he's napping, and I had a graft to accomplish. It's only the second time I have done one, and when I got to the point in the recipe where it told me to kitchener, I remember thinking "No, it's not the thing I am thinking of. It's something else. Something that confuses me less" knowing full well that I was in what is called "denial," and it was the exact same confusing thing.

I understand kitchener, in the abstract. It makes sense, and I can see what is going on, it's just that I get lost. "As if to knit, drop; as if to purl, leave; as if to purl, drop; as if to knit, leave." Once I get into a rhythm, I am fine, but then if I start thinking about the rhythm, like "Hey, I am into a rhythm," I get lost again. I was even thinking, as I stitched "as if to knit, drop..." that maybe I had the hang of this, then I thought "No, you will never remember how to do this; you will always need to get out the book," and then "Wait... did I already 'as if to knit' this?" All while thinking "oh, he's grunting... is that awake or still asleep grunting... just one more minute..."

I suppose there are some geniuses out there who can hold a conversation and kitchener. I am fine with saying that I will never be one of them. For now, I am pretty impressed that I got this:
and I still have this:Ah, how we must realign our perceptions of true accomplishment once we reproduce.

poor fritz

This picture pretty much sums it up for him: life has changed, and he's not pleased about it. All he can do now is gaze on, forlorn, as his favorite person plays with his new pet. We have to make sure to give him his due cuddles, though, or I fear he will start to fade. He's going to be 19 in a little over a week, and we'd like to keep him around for awhile longer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Sound of Music is playing on the television, and The Captain is approaching Fraulein Maria in the gazebo while my son sleeps to my left on a pillow on my lap, fresh from fussing in his basket because he does not want to be alone, and he does not want to eat (unlike Fritz, who prowls, yowling, about the house, looking for the one who will feed him), so I sit, one boob out, unused, and a diaper cover on the needles to my right as the crickets chirp outside the windows at 5:34 in the afternoon--a sure sign that fall is approaching--and my best friends are drinking and cavorting at a house party in Wisconsin because life goes on even though it changes, still here I am, here we are, and somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

home alone, two

pete went back to work yesterday. it's a little depressing, and it means that i have no time for anything but baby. i am typing with one hand while swaddlebum sleeps on my chest, held by my left arm, and the main menu for "some like it hot" cycles over and over again in the dvd player. he only wants to be held, and i can't blame him. he missed out on a full third trimester of being held and not having to do any work. a lot has been expected of him.

hang on. this music is going to make me nuts...

anyway, a lot has been expected of him, and he's only been home for two weeks. still, it's very frustrating that i am only going to be sleeping in dribs and drabs. it's very frustrating that the majority of the mothering falls on me because i am the mother, and i have the rack. it's very frustrating that he does not want to sleep in either of his beds.

but he did not ask for any of this; we did, and he's a lovely baby. this is just a drop in the bucket of what we asked for. he will only be this size for a short amount of time. before we know it, he will be an infant, and then a toddler, and we will have to look at pictures to remember these first weeks at home. we need to lap up every moment, even the ones filled with the red screams, because we're lucky to be here. three months ago, on the way to the hospital, i never would have dreamed we could be here.

there's my moment of zen. the one i will have to draw upon when he is wailing or when i just want to eat my sandwich all at one time.

and to think. i never even wanted a dog because i thought they were too needy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fussy McGurglebarf

Imagine eating pizza until you threw up, and then eating pizza until you threw up, and then eating pizza... until you threw up. You would either be a freshman girl during pledge week or a newborn.

Finn has entered into the milky realm of regular spit ups. My baby smells like cheese.

We now have four beings in the house who barf on a regular basis. Three of them are cats: one with hairballs, one with an eating disorder, and one who pukes greenery. Finn has them beat in frequency. The video was just a prelude. We are true parents now: we don't groom, sleep, or leave the house. Pete has been walking around in a spit up stained Celtics tee shirt for two days, and I change clothes on a regular basis, like after he barfs down my arm, all down his front, as I sit on the couch, holding gurgly baby while cheesy fluid pools in my waistband. Today he exploded in a world of hurl, in the middle of a meal. No warning, no fanfare, no pauses, just Splash! and all the work of the previous ten minutes was soaking into the pillow and running down his face and chest. I startled, and Pete took him to shush him and tell him it was all OK. To be fair, he seemed fine and was back on the boob horse minutes later.

He also explodes into screams frequently, and they are loud and make me crazy. Pete bears it in stride, taking his sweet time changing the diaper or rinsing the soapy bum while Finn turns red and is screaming so loudly he barely makes sound. I am crawling out of my skin. I just want to help him--make it better. Fix it. "Babies cry," says Pete sagely.


But this isn't "babies," this is my baby, and he spent his first two months on this earth in the hospital. It's hard for me to say "babies cry," and calmly deal with the frothing mess. I have to, of course, so I do, but I have been known to snatch him from the changing pad before he gets a diaper cover and whoosh him onto the boob because Pete is taking too long, and I can't stand it, pee be damned.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Finn is three months old and two weeks away from being born. He's an interesting hybrid of a newborn and an infant. I often forget that he's a preemie because we just brought him home from the hospital, just like a normal couple would. After two and a half months.

Today, we had our follow-up appointment with Mary Jane, the lactation consultant. I was convinced that he would not have gained enough weight, and we would have to supplement him with yucky formula; I was resigned to it. I felt like he had been sleeping a lot and not eating enough.

Imagine my surprise when we discovered that he had gained 2.7 ounces in 2.25 days. As they are looking for an ounce a day, we are out of the green poopy woods, at least for awhile.

At 38 weeks, if he were inside, he would weigh about 6 pounds, 13 ounces, so at 6 pounds, 2.7 ounces, I am pretty pleased with his progress. He would also be 14 inches long. At 18.5 inches (possibly more), I guess he's a long baby. He was 14 inches at birth, four pounds ago.

I should probably skip ahead to the "newborn" section of The Book; I just noticed that they also have a premature baby section. I wonder what it can teach me...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Who knows what's normal? I know I don't, even when it comes to regular life. Throw a baby into the mix, and you got me. I am probably like every other new parent: obsessing over every little thing. For instance, he seems to be sleeping a lot and not eating so much the last few days. If he were a grown up, I would think that he was recovering from a stressful experience and that he is now finally able to relax. I guess you could assign the same characteristics to a wee babe, but I don't know. They say he's supposed to eat, eat, eat/gain, gain gain--about an ounce a day, and he fed like a pro for the lactation consultant, but since then, he's been very fussy at the boob. He'll take a bottle, but he just does not seem to be very hungry.

This morning, he latched on and ate nicely with no fussing and no arching. Then we gave him his Poly-vi-sol. And he puked. And puked. And puked. How am I supposed to pack the ounces on this baby when the supplement they want me to give him completely undermines the work of the previous hour? I understand that he needs iron for brain development, and I don't want to short change him, but it's a balancing act between caloric intake and supplement.

It's one of those times that I find it helpful to fall back on a cliche and say "They can put a man on the moon, but they can't make a more palatable and digestible iron supplement for children?!" I don't get it. I mean, it's not that I don't enjoy my baby smelling like a rusty bucket and watching him retch and gag and then puke up something that puts me in mind of bubotuber pus, but I did rather prefer it when he smelled pleasantly of pumpkins and was dealing with his normal amount of uncomfortable reflux.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not today, I'm booked solid.

Today was a busy day for the Little Man. His schedule was something like this:

24:30 bottle from Pete. (I went to bed at around 1:00. I sleep in the bedroom for a few hours, and then we bring Finn in, and Pete sleeps in the guestroom for a few hours.)

2:40 have wet diaper changed
2:45 drink a bottle as reward for humiliating bum exposure


At some point, have another bottle and another wet diaper. (Pete did not write these down, but we deduced from the facts available to us that they did indeed occur)

At around 4:30, I got up, just as Pete was finishing a diaper change and getting ready to bring the boy in. We tried nursing, but he just wanted to sleep. I was concerned because I was under the impression that he had not eaten since 2:45. We figured out later that there was an undocumented bottle involved in the early morning's activities. Finn and I slept for a little while after the unsuccessful boobular attempts.

7:00 31 minutes on the right breast
9:30 wet diaper
11:00 wet and poopy diaper
11:03 30 minutes on the left breast

11:30 get caffeine citrate dose from tiny syringe, spend some time looking at Snoopys on Moses basket liner, have some lap time with Dad.

12:15 have eyedrops administered, one drop in each eye (This was not even close to the misery of pilling a cat. In fact, it was quite simple. It made us feel worse than it did him. He experienced some mild irritation that he got over very quickly)

12:20 wet diaper
12:25 second round of eye drops

12:30 have 30 ml bottle (The note on the eyedrops said that we were not to feed infants for four hours after their appointments. In ALL CAPS. Of course, we did not see this until it was too late to feed him. We decided to ask the doctor about it.)

13:00 eye doctor appointment. (His right eye is totally mature, and his left is just a little bit behind. He'll be back in 5 weeks for a recheck. We were present for this exam; we had not been before, while he was at the hospital. They hold his eye wide open with a little tool, and I could not really watch. Pete did. Maybe he can tell you about it. The doctor told us to wait two hours to feed him, which would work out well with the lactation appointment.)

15:00 wet diaper

15:20 appointment with lactation consultant. (I wanted to ask about the nipple shield. Plus, we got him weighed. He's 6 pounds even, but he's not gaining as fast as the lactation consultant would like. She wants me to switch him over to the second boob when he starts to wane on the first, and see if that helps. Of course, when she was watching, he performed like a total champ. No shield, no kitten rooting--this is when he shakes his head back and forth really really fast in what seems like frustration, and usually winds up with nothing in his mouth. He latched on to The Boob--the right one is The Boob; it outperforms Lefty every time. It would be a good TV show: Lefty and The Boob. A crack crime fighting team consisting of the productive and quick Boob and his slightly slower but doggedly determined sidekick, Lefty--and then he latched on to Lefty. The Lactation Lady said that we are doing a very good job, and she was impressed with his eating. He took 1o2 ml in a little over half an hour, which was very helpful to know, as until today, no one had ever weighed him before a feeding and after, to see how much he was eating. All in all, a good appointment. I'll try double boobing, and try to keep the shield at bay. We'll go back Friday for a weight re-check and see how he's doing. It's sort of like cramming for a test or flossing the week before a dentist appointment. We really have to be on our best behavior these next few days.)

16:00 35 minutes split between Lefty and The Boob, but mainly on Lefty (good job, Lefty!)
17:00 wet diaper
17:30 adults get ice cream, baby sleeps.

home. sleep.

It's 19:07 now. Pete's sleeping, so's Finn, though the boy is stirring a bit as I type. If the past week is any indication, the rest of the day will involve eating, peeing, and sleeping. Hopefully, it will not involve inconsolable crying. I'll go to bed at around midnight or so, Pete will stay up with the boy until around 5:00, at which point, I will take over. It's what's working now, and it seems to be what he needs. If I get at least 5 hours of sleep, I find I do pretty well. I have diaper washing to finish and maybe some food to cook. I think Pete wants to vaccuum. We'll see. Tomorrow, we have no appointments, though Pete has a gig in the evening. I have some work I would like to do, and there are always plenty of little tasks that can fit into the nooks and crannies that we find hidden throughout the day.
I slept very well from 1:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. when I woke up to take over for Pete. This is the way of things: we don't sleep for long, and we don't sleep together, but when we do sleep, it's for real. I am not terribly good at sleeping, and I generally don't seem to need the full eight hours, so this has not been overly painful for me. Pete's hanging in there, but he needs more sleep than I do, so I try to make sure that he gets it. He's sleeping now; both my boys are. Finn has been sleeping since he finished eating at 7:30, for the most part, aside from a quick diaper change and my assumption that he would then be hungry. He wasn't. So, of course, I am obsessing that he is not eating enough. If he's sleeping, he must be tired, and I can't really force him to eat, but the hospital pounded the every three hours thing into my head, and I can't get over it.

He has an eye doctor appointment today, and we have to put his eye drops in before hand. I am not certain how you get eye drops into a baby's eyes, but in my head, it bears a resemblance to pilling a cat.

Beyond the Odyssey

So far, the soundtrack to the homecoming is the new CD by Finn's uncle Steve. It's in heavy rotation in the McCauley household. Finn is lucky to be landing into the middle of a very talented family of musicians, on both sides. His father is a singer/songwriter/guitar player, his aunt and uncle are classical musicians, and most everyone has some "game" when it comes to music. We hope to bring him up with a healthy love for the arts; Pete hopes to bring him up as a fiddle player.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mad Baby

There's nothing like a screaming baby to make you feel like a failure. I was in a state absolute helpless desperation, watching him cry and cry, unable to find the key to his distress. Pete had rehearsal with the band tonight, so Finn and I were on our own. No big deal. Except that he spent almost the entire time close to inconsolable. Red, shaking, screaming.

Babies cry. I know this. I have even had some experience with it, and I remember how frustrating it is. But now, that baby is mine, plus he's only been home a week, he's on an apnea monitor, and he's a preemie. Everything he does can be cause for worry, if it's out of the ordinary, and we don't even know what ordinary is. This was not ordinary, for him, during this past week.

Was he too hot? Too hungry? In pain? He couldn't give me specifics, just a white hot blur of noise to tell me that something was a bit off. He had been sleeping; he slept for almost four hours. I knew he would be hungry when he woke up. The first thing is always to change his diaper, which I did. Then, to the boob, first with no shield to see what he will do. About half the time now, he'll take it. Nothing doing this time, so I got the nipple hat. He was about six minutes into it before the screaming started again, and it went like this for an hour. On the boob, off the boob screaming. On the boob, off the boob screaming. Check the diaper. On the boob. Repeat. Finally, I gave him a bottle, which he took greedily, then had a wet diaper, a little more time on the boob, another wet diaper, then screaming. He finally calmed down with a little on the shoulder bouncing, had a pretty good boob session, and now he's sleeping on Pete, and I am having a Guinness.

I suppose it would have been mildly amusing to look in the window and see a small crying baby on the floor, and a big crying woman huddled over him, trying to remain calm while holding a pacifier into the gaping maw of his turmoil. All the education, self possession, capability, and big talk just shivers to bits in the face of such raw emotion.

and poop

Yeah, we're all a little tired.
But some of us are pooping like a champ.

I can't remember if I wrote about this already, and if I have, tough luck because I am not going back to check. Little Man had not pooped since Sunday evening, the night before we took him home, and by his pediatrician appointment on Wednesday morning, we were worried. No one told us that he might not poop every day, and it's ok if he doesn't. They were so intimately involved with his every-three-hour input/output schedule, that it made us a little paranoid. Is he eating enough? Is he peeing enough? Is he pooping enough? All important things, but to only focus on time spent breastfeeding or how many milliliters taken ("bottling. He bottled well. Bleh), or how pee or poop-filled his diaper can make a little not fun at parties, as well as too focused on the purely biological instead of paying attention to "Hey, how's they baby doing?"

Since Wednesday, he has had one giant green poop, then one pretty big, a little less green poop, and now he's pooping the color of the discontinued M&M, just like he should be, and he's doing it rather regularly. We got all that nasty powdered gunk out of him, and it's smooth sailing... if you call riding the choppy waves of gas smooth.

All this peeing and pooping led to the first load of diaper washing, which was very exciting. It has always been my intention to cloth diaper, and though many sage moms have listened to me with the condescending "Oh, yes, we all think that, dearie, just wait..." look on their faces, I really meant it. They sent us home with the crappy crinkly Pampers that don't feel wet unless they are saturated to monsoon levels, and we used them up; they were going to be thrown away one way or another. We have also used a few 7th Generation chlorine-free disposables while we got our shit together, but now he's been in cloth for the most part. I love them. You have to change them more often, which is good, and instead of going into a garbage can, they go into a kitty litter pail, which is appropriate. Plus, it's just fun to say "Preemie Prefold."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I got all gussied up today and ran an errand. Yes, I had a bath, changed my clothes, and went to buy some Guinness seven blocks away from our house. It was quite exciting.

Friday, August 15, 2008

please don't eat the...

If your baby is fussy, it could be your diet.
Remember being pregnant, and all the stuff you could not do? Well, it's back! Except it's worse.

Finn's not really fussy. He's gassy and farty, and he fusses sometimes, but he's not what I would call a "fussy baby." Just in case, though, I was wondering what I could change in my diet to help him out. Not much, just a few things, like chocolate, cinnamon, chiles, garlic, curry, citrus and pineapple, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers, cucumbers, kiwi, strawberries, cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, the will to live, tomatoes, eggs, peanuts, peanut butter, corn, wheat, soy, apples, and bananas.

I think it might be easier and shorter to list all the things you can eat.

That's me, over in the corner, weighing nine pounds and eating oatmeal and meat.

I suppose it's good news for the carnivores; the meat feast is ON! But it's summer. It's harvest time in the northland, and our CSA keeps delivering the most lovely boxes of veggies. Of course, we have not been home all summer, and I forget to eat, so we're making a lot of super lovely compost, but now that I am home, I'm eating those veggies, fussy baby or not. It's either that, or the baby will be looking mighty tasty.

I figure I am damned if I do, damned if I don't. If he's fussy, we're all sad. If I am starved and deprived of dairy, we're all sad.

shield me from harm?

If you had said the words "nipple shield" to me four months ago, I may have ducked and protected; I may have thought that you were referring to some unknown super power belonging to Wonder Woman and her island-dwelling amazon counterparts; or I may have said "No thanks, they're fine." I would not have thought that, four months later, my boob would be wearing a little silicone hat every time I wanted to attach my baby to it.

That's what it is, though, and they told me at the hospital that I needed it. They went ahead and got one without asking, and when they handed it to me or, rather, put it on me like they were struggling to put a turtleneck on a cat, I just acquiesced because they were exhausting me with comments like "Insurance won't let him stay here if the only reason is that he won't take the breast."

We'd been trying for all of two feedings. Way to be patient. I was not feeling frustrated or anxious. I figured it would take him time to get over the pacifier.

Here they were pushing the bottle and the shield all because, they said, they were just trying to get him home, and didn't we want him home? Insinuation: we are selfish and just want things our way instead of getting our baby out of the hospital.

So here I am, typing with one hand while Finn sleeps on my chest, fresh from only his second successful feed without the neeple hat. I'm going to see a lactation specialist at his pediatric clinic to get him off the crutch, and in the meantime, if he is calmly hungry, I offer him naked boob to see if he will take it.

My nipples do not need accessories.

At least not in this instance.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Hooray! He's eleven weeks old today.

Though we have a sort of hybrid newborn/one month old, in behavior. He's a newborn because he's home for the first time, and he's small, and he needs to eat a lot. He's a 4-weeker because he doesn't poop every day.

OK, so I know that hospitals don't send you home with babies and instruction manuals, but when they send you home with a chronic condition that needs to be managed, don't they tell you how to manage it? I think that they gave us some sort of binder two and a half months ago about caring for our new baby, but we weren't caring for him, and it wasn't like I had time to read ahead. No one told us, for instance, that he would not be pooping every day. That it might be more like every two or three days. They are obsessed with input and output in the hospital so, naturally, so are we. We did not find out until our pediatrician visit yesterday morning that his behavior is normal. We worried for more than two days about our little man's inactive bum because they worried about it in the hospital.

When he pooped last night, a big sticky mess of army green poo, we applauded. Wouldn't it be great if our mundane achievements were met with such enthusiasm when we were adults? Babies get love for the most bizarre things.

I want him to be regular, though, at least in the intestinal sense, and as he's a breastfed baby, he should be. At the hospital, they were plugging him all up with Beneprotein and Similac Human Milk Fortifier in his bottles, and they sent me home with Similac Neosure, instructing me to fortify two to four bottles a day for him to bring his breastmilk up to 22 calories instead of 20.

I didn't want to do it, and I vowed not to do it. But I was over talking to them about things like this, so I let them do their spiel, took the can with the demon shark-eyed bear on it, and nodded like I understood. We decided to wait and talk to the pediatrician, and then if it seemed absolutely necessary, I would find a supplement that was more to my liking and not chock full of corn syrup and additives and not made by a company whose name implies that they are similar to lactation.

Well, the pediatrician we found in half and hour while sitting outside a hospital coffee shop turned out to be a lactation guru, married to an immunologist, very experienced with preemies, and just all-around cool. She said that I did not have to supplement, we'll check his weight at his next appointment, and if he's not gaining, then we'll talk. She did say that I have to do the iron and vitamin D supplement, though, and it's downright nasty.

Our Little Man was a champ at the doctor's office. He got to be weighed all nekkid, which they did not do at the hospital. In fact, the last time they weighed him was in both his diaper and his apnea monitor belt. Now we can start from scratch at 5 pounds, 13.3 ounces and 18.5 inches. I'm going to talk to their lactation consultants and get him off the nipple shield when he's ready, which the doctor thinks should be soon because "he has a big mouth." Then the boy will go back in about three weeks for his second round of our alternative immunization schedule and a weight check.

Tomorrow will be the end of his 37th gestational week, and he's considered full term. Really, he just looks like a small, normal baby. He has a strong neck, a lot to say, and an almost adult ability to fart.

We are very proud.

note to pregnant people

If you are pregnant and thinking of having a preemie because, you know, they are smaller, and it won't hurt as much, plus, someone else takes care of your baby and you can still work for the first couple months, I would advise against it.

I would venture to say that it is practically impossible to have a baby in the hospital, pump breast milk, work full time, and keep it all together. Unless you are rich and can hire someone to clean the house and cook for you. But if you are rich, you don't have to work, and you could even hire a wet nurse, but if you didn't have to do all the house stuff plus you didn't have to worry about money, then I guess you could just sit at the hospital all day and bond with your baby and your breastpump.

Normal people don't have that luxury. We have to work because we have to have money, and we have to work because we have to have health insurance, especially with a baby in the hospital who will cost upwards of half a million dollars by the time he comes home (he's much less expensive now).

When you try to do too much, say, when you seem to think that you can handle anything and you are some sort of super hero, then things will slip through the cracks, and nothing that you do will be up to your standards. Then you will feel like a failure and like you have pretty much let everyone down, and that's no good. Notice how I have used the future tense and second person singular to make it sound like I am not talking about myself?

It's too much. It was too much for me. I could not keep up with new stuff at my job, and I could not keep track of the things I had been planning on tackling over the summer, while I was pregnant. My mind was still scattered from being pregnant, and it was further dissipated to the winds when I was split between many different tasks. I tried to hold it together and present myself to my colleagues as OK, maybe a little tired and slightly overwhelmed, but still OK. It's easier to believe it's true when you are acting like it's true.

Now that I am home with the baby, I am the exact opposite of most new moms: I find that I have time, and I am totally relieved. I am not going to the hospital, and I am not pumping six times a day. It's bliss. I can think about tasks in an organized manner, and I can get things done when he's quiet or when Pete has him.

Like now.


* 5/18/2010: Please note that this post was written during my Great Vaccination Fugue, from which I have recovered. Finn will be getting the CDC recommended vaccination schedule from now on.

I have always been a steadfast believer in the value of vaccinations. Then I had a preemie. I did not know what the medical approach would be regarding a vaccination schedule for Finn, and when it finally came up, I was unprepared for my reaction to the decision.

I was a wreck. I did not know what I wanted to do, and I did not know where to look for information. I don't know that I believe a lot of the hysteria about vaccinations, but I don't think that enough research has been conducted into the long term developmental effect of the many shots that kids are receiving nowadays.

And the staff at SCN were not helpful. They just kept asking if I had made a decision, but they never asked what they might be able to do to help me. They just made me feel afraid of what would happen if I didn't have him fully vaccinated. Finally, I found a book that went through the CDC recommended immunization schedule and talked about the risks and benefits of each shot. Based on my reading both in that book and elsewhere, and also considering my own reasoning, I finally submitted my concerns to the doctor:


We believe in being responsible stewards of public health, and recognize the importance of vaccination programs in the eradication of disease, but we find that the literature and research into the effectiveness and long-term safety of vaccines and their ingredients is lacking, especially when it comes to premature infants. We want the best for him, which is why we are putting a lot of reasoned thought into this decision. None of the concerns that we are listing below have been assuaged to our satisfaction.

• Given his risk factor (extreme prematurity), we are concerned about the introduction of vaccinations containing multiple ingredients including chemicals, human and animal tissue, and bacteria/viruses into an underdeveloped immune system. It seems that at the very least, the vaccination schedule should be altered for preemies to their corrected age.

• Hepatitis B seems unnecessary for a newborn as its incidence in infants is extremely rare and considering that we are immune and do not have any risk factors for the disease.

• Given the FDA assertion* that premature babies shouldn’t receive more than 10-25 micrograms of injected aluminum at any one time, it concerns us that the five brands of vaccinations listed make for a combined total of 1000 micrograms of aluminum.**

• The DTaP vaccine listed (Infanrix) has the highest amount of aluminum of the three available at 625 micrograms. Is Daptacel available? (this brand still contains 330 micrograms of aluminum)?**

• Rotovirus was not listed on the vaccine brand list we were given, but it is listed on the CDC schedule on the handout we were given. Is that included in this round of vaccinations?

* document NDA 19-626/S-019

** according to package inserts"

His doctor took the time to do some research, and she listened to us. We finally decided to go with the DTaP immunization in the hospital, but we requested the shot with the lower amounts of aluminum. We then decided to go ahead with a staggered schedule of HIB and Pc after he was discharged. Our doctor agreed that this was a fine plan.

The day that he had his shot, I was a mess. I was very worried about the whole thing, and I wished that the situation would just go away. I was partially reacting to all the stress I had been feeling since we had moved to Special Care, and I was feeling very out of control when it came to my son's care. This was just one more thing in a long list of frustrations. The bottle damage, I figured I could undo with time and persistence. But a severe reaction or long term damage from immunizations was beyond my power, and once the shot was given, there was no undoing it. Perhaps I was overreacting, but it doesn't matter. It was how I felt at the time, and it seemed like a lose-lose situation. Another mother in the unit had watched her baby go back on the cannula and onto antibiotics after she felt badgered into giving her daughter the whole round of shots.

Finn was fine, of course. He did not even have any apnea spells, which are apparently a very common side effect for preemies. Looking back, I don't think there was any other way for me to go about it, and I think we made the right decision. There will be many more agonizing quandaries ahead for us as we raise this boy; this was just the beginning. It's a learning curve, and we've learned more already than I ever really wanted to know.

word/not word

I have never been a fan of verbing the noun, and even in my dismay over the pushing of the bottle on my infant, I could not help but notice the use of the word "bottling."

This and the word "officing," as in "Where are you officing?" just need to be stopped.

Oh, and "growing a business?"

no. Just, no.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This baby is awesome...

Hands down, best baby I ever had.

We're well into our second day of having our actual baby in our actual house, and... hang on...

(little bit of sleep fussing from the boy.)

Had to go and check, of course. He makes a lot of noise, but now that I think about it, he seems to be settling down somewhat. Right now, his co-sleeper is in the livingroom, and we've been sleeping in shifts. The overnight at the hospital was... not relaxing, so we are trying to make up for it. It was wonderful to be alone with our baby for the first time, but it was not like being at home. We did not sleep at all, and then Monday was... not relaxing. But none of the discharge experience was. It was remarkably frustrating and haphazard, especially considering that they do this all the time. Nurse Bev went over our discharge papers, containing some pretty important stuff, while I tried to breastfeed on 1.5 hours "sleep;" the doctor called me at 11:00 a.m. to tell me that we could not send baby boy home if we did not have a pediatrician assigned to him. Makes sense, but when dealing with frazzled parents, would it not be a good idea to have, oh, I don't know, some sort of What to Expect When Discharging packet? Seems like they may as well have just dropped him off in a basket on our porch.

I was to the point where I would not allow Pete to leave me alone with any of the staff. I just could not deal with it. The last straw was when Pete was heading out to the car with the carseat, and Nurse Bev said "Where are you going with that?"

"To the car."

"Oh no you're not. He needs to leave in that."

"You mean, I can't carry him out of the hospital?" I said.



"I don't know."

Even though I had seen at least two babies leave the hospital in their mother's arms, one just an hour before. But it was enough. Fine. I just want out of here. I could not fight it anymore. I can't carry my own goddamn baby outta here? Fine.

(Max just jumped up into Finn's bed for the first but, I am sure, not the last, time.)

It was so odd, leaving there. After two and a half months, we just sort of wandered out with our baby to a couple of weak "congratulations" and waves.

Of course, it was all worth it. The past two days have been magnificent. There will be plenty of time in the future to lament our lack of sleep; for now, we are just marveling at the fact of being together as a family and enjoying the freedom granted by the comforts of home. Picking him up, changing him without anyone hovering over us, and sitting on the couch watching Star Wars while he sleeps on a pillow on Pete's lap are all luxuries to us, and we are reveling in them.

The weird thing is, this is not weird at all. It is totally natural to have him here and be taking care of him. Though many times a day, we stop and say "This is our baby. We have a baby."

And what a baby he is...

Baby, you can drive my...

Finn was born when most people are making decisions about pediatricians, day cares, vaccinations, circumcisions, and other life transforming issues. Once he was here, all those decisions were pushed away as we waited, worrying that he might die. Then, we were told that we could expect him to be in the hospital for 100 days or his due date, and that seemed like a long way off. We developed a routine based on what we had available to us, and though things were hectic in their own way, it was pretty smooth sailing with an even rhythm to the waves. There were occasional times when the stress would foam over the decks, especially for me, and then I would freak out, let it go, and start all over again. But we knew what to expect at the NICU; we liked the people, and we felt secure.

On Monday the 28th of July, he was transferred to Special Care, and we went from sailing to speedboat. To flagrantly mix my transportation metaphors, it's been a high speed train to Babyville from day one, and not a nice, nonpolluting, highly efficient train, rather a smoke belching, clunking wreck, trundling along rusty tracks through an uncertain and indifferent landscape.

It's rush rush, push, shove, what do you want to do about this, and what do you want to do about that, and do this, do that, blah blah and blah. When we were admitted, the nurse told us that we would be learning, which would make you assume that they would be teaching.

Now, my dad is a professor, and my mother is a nurse. I have worked with some excellent educators who really care about students. What I experienced at SCN was not teaching unless teaching is someone ticking through a checklist and talking to you about bulb syringes while you are changing your baby's diaper or going over a discharge form while you are breastfeeding your baby after being up all night for the first time with him. Oh, and while that baby chokes on a big gulp, stops breathing, and turns blue. Teaching is awesome. No wonder kids love school so much.

The last week of our stay at SCN was terrible. Pete took it better probably because he had to, being that I was so miserable and tense. Someone had to hold it together.

I can't understand why it had to suck so much, and I am guessing that many parents feel the same way. They must assume that everyone will be overjoyed to be told on Tuesday that they should expect to take their baby home on Saturday, but the nurse in the apnea program said that 90% of the familes she sees are just like us: rushed, angry, shell-shocked, and filled with stress.

I felt like I was in the checkout counter at a busy grocery store, and I was fumbling with my purse while a line of mad customers built up behind me. We were shuttled around, rescheduled, scheduled, stood up, bombarded with information, and pushed to make snap decisions about important things.

I did not want to give him bottles, but I was made to feel as if I was being cruel because the longer I held out on bottles, the longer they would have to leave the feeding tube in, and "that's cruel, don't you think that's cruel?" "You want him to go home, don't you?" the lactation consultant said.

No. I want him to stay here, consuming resources in this disposable, cold environment, out of my control. Of course I wanted him home; that was never the issue. I was just trying to have some say in the things that I thought I could control. In the end, I was just so ready to get him out of there and away from them that I just wilted and nodded or made Pete handle it. Once we got him home, it would be up to us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

and thus begins The Long Awake...

or, blogging with one hand.

We're home, all of us, and what a week it has been.

Suffice to say, I have a lot to say, and I will get around to it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

36 & 10

Friday. He's 36 weeks gestational and ten weeks old. As the book says, "Baby can suck," which I find to be a highly amusing title. Like it's an insult or something. Your baby can just suck it. Well, our baby can, thank you very much, and quite well.

He's supposed to be between 16 and 19 inches long (he is... he's almost 19 inches), and he's supposed to weigh about 6 to 6 1/2 pounds (he's more like 5 pounds 8 ounces). Recent fat deposits have rounded out his face (yyyyuuup), and his powerful sucking muscles are ready for action (Oh yeah).

His parents are being made slowly insane by the discharge "preparation" at this hospital. I have so much to say, and so little time to say it. But I'll get there, never you fear.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

lactate this!

All the talk about giving him a bottle was starting to make me crazy. I wanted to talk to a lactation consultant before I gave my consent, but they are really busy, and it took until Tuesday for one of them to get to me. There are only two, and it turns out that the other is out right now, so that leaves only one for all the moms in ICC, NICU, and SCN.

She was great. Finn was asleep after a short burst of nursing, so she did not get to see him in action, but we talked about our situation. She said that he may need to use the nipple shield until around his due date; they get used to the pacifiers which, in a hospital setting, are a good thing for them, but no one has nipples that long and of that texture and consistency (hopefully). I am not sure how I go about weaning him off of the shield, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. She did not seem concerned about the bottle; he'll be coming home with a supplement in any case that will have to be given by bottle, so it's out of my control (another "choice" that is not really a choice). I'll just make sure to get him on the boob as often as possible both now and when we are at home. She also had me draw 3 cc's out of my pumping from each breast so she could test the fat content. Turns out, he's getting a lot of skim milk, so she recommends that I pump for two minutes on whatever breast he is going to use and then stick to that breast for the whole feeding so he can get some higher fat content "hind milk."

He's doing very well with eating, though. I think he likes it. Pete came to the hospital yesterday at 3 for his first bottle (and to bring me a car key because I had locked my keys conveniently inside the car so I would know exactly where they were). I won't be giving him bottles; I'll just be boob central so as not to confuse matters more. He did a good job with Pete, and he did a good job over night. It's part of why he seems to be on the pushy fast track to home. It took us about six minutes to get a good latch this morning, but I am not going to blame it on the bottle. I'll just be patient and work through any of those difficulties as they arise.


This morning after his feeding and before his eye exam, Finn's big-eyed, perky nurse practitioner said that he could be coming home "by or before the weekend." I am not sure what the difference is between "by" and "before," but in my book, they are the same. I guess if he passes his carseat evaluation tomorrow morning and continues eating on his own, they are shipping him home. While most people would say "How wonderful!" it is a cause for many mixed emotions in us. We were prepared to bring him home at the end of the month. Physically speaking, we could bring him home now. Meaning, we have almost all the "stuff" we need. Emotionally, it's scary to think about bringing him home. Logistically, when it comes to work situations, there's no way we are ready to leave work. Pete won't be able to; I will have to, but I am not sure how...

Long Weekend: 2

I was talking about nipple shields, and I got distracted by extreme diaper cream and my inability to stand up to, well, anyone. I had a Guinness and went to bed rather than subject everyone to a rambling diatribe. Though rambling diatribes do often make for interesting content.

I put the nipple shield on... no, wait, the nurse put the nipple shield on like she was struggling to put a turtleneck on a cat, and told me what to do. Five days later, it's hard to imagine why she felt she needed to put the nipple shield on for me or why the whole transaction glimmers in my mind with a sort of frantic energy, but that's how I remember it. Everything she does has a frantic energy behind it; it's just her way. Watching bath time was painful for me as she tried to get Pete to move faster. I knew that if she were "helping" me, I would not enjoy it. I don't think Pete loved the experience, either, but he's much more capable than I when it comes to dealing with other humans.

With nipple shield in place, and feeling like a big, biological bottle, I moved Finn in, and he latched right on and sucked away. He's been doing so ever since, except or when he's sleepy and does not want to wake up to eat. He's very used to sleeping through meals, after all. But over the weekend, which included me taking Monday and Tuesday off to work with him more, he fed himself for most of the times we tried the breastfeeding. We did four feedings Saturday through Monday and three yesterday. He needed supplements only two or three times.

How it works is, if he sucks well for ten minutes (my baby sucks), then he does not get a supplement (the nose feeding). If he sucks for five minutes, he gets half, and so on. It's not very scientific. The only way to really tell how much he's getting would be to weigh him before and after, but they don't do that unless his weight starts to drop. So far, he has gained or stayed the same. He's now at 5 pounds 7 ounces, and he looks great.

It was a long and tiring four days that included loads of errands on Monday and a dentist appointment on Tuesday, as well as two quick stops at The Dubliner, our "home pub" to visit with some friends who were performing. On this end of it, getting ready to go back to the hospital for his 9 o'clock and then to work, it's hard to believe how far he has come in such a short time, and it's even harder to believe that he could be home in a week.

To put it simply: we have a lot to do...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Long Weekend: 1

Where have I been Saturday through now?

Well, I'll tell you: at the hospital.

When last we left our cheery cyber pages, I was catching up from the last week. I was thinking about a lovely cage match between clinical nurses and hippie lactation consultants. I was trying to make important decisions about my child's medical care without the benefit of a healthy therapeutic relationship. I was marveling at a semantic argument, and I was feeling distanced from my ability to make choices.

Granted, what I wrote was probably not expressed in the above manner because I was very tired. I am still very tired, but it is only 9:00 at night this time. Dozens of little writing crumbs have fallen between the stove and the cabinet, and perhaps with the right tool, they will come back to me as I reach back through the last few days, but in the meantime, this may be somewhat detached from emotion. And interesting content.

How about we start with the nurse pulling out a nipple shield and asking me if I wanted to try it?

The nurse said "I ordered a nipple shield. Do you want to try it?"

"I... um... er... uh... ok."

I don't like surprises or snap decisions, and I usually react with acquiescence.

My nipples are not sore or sensitive or otherwise damaged. They got over that long ago, in the first week of exclusive pumping. I was trying to get him away from the silicone sensation of pacifiers, but she had already said that "the insurance companies won't let him stay here if it is just because you want him exclusively on the breast" and the nurses had stood around talking about how I should try to breastfeed two to four times a day. Looking back now, with the knowledge that they were relentless and would just keep asking the unanswered questions until you caved, I could have been more assertive. I have already proven that I am not so good at that.

"F*&$ them! He's your goddamn baby," a friend said to me Friday night, and I have definitely been trying to keep that at the forefront of my mind, but certain personalities just shut me down. Stern Grandma reminds me of my Stern Grandma, who I loved but who made me crazy, so I can't cross her. I wither, in fact. She's all about the Extreme Diaper Cream, for instance, and I would never allow that stuff in my house with its ingredient list, but here I was, smearing it on my baby's bare bum because she told me to.

Jesus. What the hell is wrong with me?


OK, so I guess this is not free from emotion...

Holy Sheep Dip, Batman!

Word on the Ward is that Finn could be coming home "as early as this weekend."

*insert collective deep breath here*

I have some catching up to do...

Friday, August 1, 2008

35 & 9

"In Week 35, Rapid growth continues" says the book.

"Your baby continues to pack on the pounds and store fat all over his or her body. The crowded conditions inside your uterus may make it harder for your baby to give you a punch, but you'll probably feel lots of stretches, rolls and wiggles."

He certainly is gaining weight and has succeeded in creating kissable cheeks and a double chin, just like he's supposed to. He's positively enormous to me... until I see a term baby, and think "gosh, what a freak of nature." Term babies are unspeakably large.

My uterus, on the other hand, is not suffering from crowded conditions and will remain so, for at least a year, and possibly forever. Who knows if we will do this again, as I have said before to shock and horror.

He's 35 today (9 weeks). At 35, I was finally smart--or at least smarter--and Finn is exhibiting emotional growth as well.

We've still been nuzzling, and he definitely can latch on, but he has not been able to sustain interest for a significant length of time and did not seem to be transferring any milk. Who could have thought that I would be using the words "suck, swallow, breast, pump, and nipple" so often in such a family friendly way? But here I am, having these conversations on a daily basis with normal people in public situations. Modesty pretty much goes out the window once you have been through labor, and that candor continues when you have a newborn. It only stops when they start to understand you, and sometimes, not even then.

Being that Special Care is baby training, they are eager to get him on the breast and, to my dismay, onto bottles. At 35 weeks, apparently, he should be getting bottle feeds when I am not there. "He's very oral," our nurse said, and he seems to want to eat. The nurse asked if I had tried a nipple shield and did I want to try a nipple shield. I didn't know. She brought me a nipple shield, the next time I showed up.

This brings me to another little quibble with SCN: pressure and choices.

Something is presented to you as a choice, like our "choice" of ICC or Special Care. Turns out, not a choice. The doctors chose, and we went along with it. Looking back, we wish we had been more assertive, but I don't know when we could have. We were asked twice which we preferred; we made inquiries; we thought about it, and the next time it came up, the decision had been made: Special Care.

Now, we are in Special Care, and it doesn't feel very special or very caring. Our evening nurse is great: she's a cloth diapering grandma and we have plenty to talk about on the subject, but the "feel" of the whole experience is not as friendly as the NICU. I don't feel like we have much continuity of care, and I have no therapeutic relationship with any of the practitioners. And you know, now is when I need it most. Now it's time for the questions of vaccinations, bottle feedings, and other decisions for which I need thorough and impartial information from someone I can trust and who knows Finn, as well as someone who will respect my parenting decisions.

About the vaccinations, I said that I needed to do some reading. About the bottles, I said that I wanted to work on the breast feeding and talk to someone from lactation. I sometimes get the feeling that Lacation and The Nurses should have a cage match because from what I overhear, I don't think their viewpoints match up. The nurses are too clinical, and the lactation consultants are too touchy-feely and too adamant about "breast only."

I've been disliking the pacifier since day one, but the nurses kept saying it was good. Now, I find that he does not know what to do with my bare nipples. When she brought me the nipple shield, I felt like I had to try it. He latched right on. Of course. He's used to the feel of the pacifier.

"There's no such thing as nipple confusion," the nurse said, "Babies don't get confused."

I think we could have a semantic argument here, and I think it should happen just before the cage match to really get both sides riled up.

(and now, I need to go to bed. Because it's really 12:29 on Tuesday morning, and I am trying to catch up on this blog by backdating.)