Thursday, September 25, 2008

I was already relatively quick at accomplishing tasks, but you learn how to speed things up even more when you have a new baby at home. During the short amount of time that he consents to nap in his basket--this time from about 10 until now--I have gotten his laundry together, gotten dressed and washed my face/put my contacts in, set my Mother's Milk tea to steeping, and wrote this. I put a few things away and bused some dishes from the livingroom. That has to be enough. Later, I hope to actually start the laundry, brush my hair and make myself presentable, eat something, and write the ten other things that are rattling around in my queue and in my mind, as well as block a sweater. The writing and the blocking are rather tall orders. The things that always have to come first are the things that he needs or that need to be done for him, whether he knows it or not. I have the back seat to my baby; it's just the way it is. The way it is for all mothers. You're a mom first, and it can be really hard to accept, especially for independent feminists who are used to being highly functional. You have to rewire your idea of functional, reset your inner clock, and change your expectations.

And balance the checkbook later.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

shedding

I have a lot of hair. Pete used to have a lot of hair. We have three cats. Suffice to say that the house is pretty furry, and the vaccuum cleaner gets quite a work out. We are pretty used to it.

But I think I have now discovered why so many women who have long hair cut it short or shorter after they have a baby. It's not the grabbing little fingers or the barf, it's the shedding.

While you are pregnant, all the extra hormones and vitamins give you strong nails and luxurious hair. Once those hormones wear off, so do the strong nails and luxurious hair. Interestingly enough, I did not start to experience this effect until Finn was term, no matter that he had been on the outside since 6 months into his gestation and my pregnancy. There must be some sort of biological clock that is still timed to that 40 weeks, because I have been shedding a small dog every few days, and my nails have started breaking. I am not concerned about either of these things. Women don't go bald because of this, and I'll just cut the rest of my fingernails off once another one breaks. But the shedding, the constant tickling of stray hairs on the backs of my arms, the wads of long strands clinging to my clothes and sticking to the baby... those are irritating as... well, they are irritating as the thing that they actually are. There is no metaphor because nothing else--nothing trivial, at least--is bugging me this much.

Every time I get a shower and wash my hair which, granted, is not very often, I have a handful of hair left over, and every time I think "OK, that should take care of it." But no. It's so annoying that I am thinking about cutting almost all of it off, at least for the time being. It will grow back. Thing is, I am not on America's Next Top Model, and I don't have Tyra Banks telling me what to do, so I have no idea. I can't go too short; I really won't go above the collar bone unless something is super cute and won't make my head look like a pumpkin. I'd be willing to cut off enough to donate to a worthy cause. I just have to find a worthy do and summon the will to make that kind of change. I know I will still be shedding, but at least the strands won't be a foot long.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dad is Awesome. The garments say so.

So far, we have received four garments extolling the virtues of Dad. "I love my daddy," "My Dad Rocks," "Daddy Rocks," and "Daddy's Little Cowboy" or some such nonsense.




hello?

Are dads so threatened by the relationship with the boob that they need reinforcement through fashion? I don't require tiny tee shirts for my boy that say "Mommy is awesome " or "Mommy's Little Prince" (blech) or "Mommy is feeling insecure about her role in this new family, so please prop her up with flannel niceties." No one is buying Finn onesies that say "Mommy carried me for six months, gave birth prematurely, agonized through ten weeks of hospital care, and is now a human dairy, and all I got was this lousy onesie."

But Dad?

Daddy rocks...

...while mommy stays at home and nurses, changes, bounces, rocks, swaddles, comforts, reads to, and generally entertains the offspring wearing the bitchin' "Daddy's Little Cowboy" sleeper.

Friday, September 12, 2008

missing malabrigo

I hate it when I put things away. Whenever I put something away, I can't find it when I want it. Right now, I am missing a bag of malabrigo (yarn), and I waaaant it. This has nothing to do with anything; certainly, no one reading this is going to be able to help me find it, and writing about it is not going to help me find it. I just feel like whining. I can only blame the baby by association: I am still dumb and scattered from pregnancy (apparently, this takes a long time to go away.) The next most likely culprit is The Husband, who insists that he would not have put yarn in the basement. Extra points to him for saying "the malabrigo?" when I pointed to a skein of it. No, I am sure it was me. I was getting organized after finishing projects and putting things away.

I should never do that.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

diaper resources

There were some comments asking about diaper stuff, like the sprayer and the little fasteny bits.

I got a lot of my paraphernalia from a local store called "Peapods" and a lot from an online vendor called "Green Mountain Diapers." The sprayer we have is from "Bum Genius."

Of course, check into your locally-owned retailers first, but I have had great, fast service from Green Mountain. They were the only place I could find the preemie prefolds, and our local store did not have the newborn prefolds, either.

poor lefty

Reporting from the Office of Oversharing, Too Much Information Department:

Two nights ago, Lefty started hurting. It hurt so much, I could not hold Finn on my chest on the left, which I discovered was the side I favored. It was 5:00 a.m., and I was half asleep. I thought it was just a bit engorged, and maybe I should pump. I pumped. It did not help. When I got up later, I pumped again. This during a marathon feeding period. The pain was not abating by yesterday afternoon, and I began to suspect an infection. The sore area was red and hot to the touch. I was not running fever, but I don't think I am prone to them. When I had that urinary tract infection, my temp never went above 97.9. It was 97.7 last night and 97.5 this afternoon. I went to the lactation consultant today, and she confirmed what I already knew: mastitis. Which is just a fancy word for a boob infection.

What the hell?

Hormones, that's what the hell, if you ask me.

I have not had any sort of infection since I went off birth control pills way back in the 90's, when I had chronic yeast infections. They went away with the cessation of the medication. (So did the crazy, but that's another story.) Since Finn's birth, I have had two sparkly brand new infections, both in my naughty bits. I am sure that the medical community would tell me I am insane, but I think that elevated hormone levels make my body react differently to the presence of bacteria. Because the thing is, Finn has not missed feedings; he's been eating all the time. I have not been wearing underwire bras, and I have not since the girls got too big for their britches. I don't have anemia, and I don't feel abnormally stressed or fatigued (given the circumstances). So there does not seem to be a "reason why this happened." Nothing is really different, nothing that would indicate the cause of an infection. It was the same with the UTI.

Maybe elevated hormone levels make my brain come up with weird biological conspiracy theories.

Whichever way, Mama is back on the Sulfa. Ten days, four times a day.
Finn's weight on September 2: 6 pounds, 15 ounces
Finn's weight on September 11: 7 pounds, 10.5 ounces

To Knit or to Read, that is the question...


I didn't have a library card for years and years. There's no good reason for this as I love books, I love reading, and I am all for public libraries. I always thought that I needed to own books, in case I wanted to read them again, and this former English major also likes to write in them sometimes.

Then I met Pete, and one day, we went to the library to look at DVD's. We checked out a PBS special about partying Amish teens, and I thought "This is cool. I should have a library card." I promptly filled out the forms and was presented with my own purple St. Paul Public Library card. For over a year, I checked out and read book after book after book. I had at least ten books in my request queue at all times, and I knocked quite a few titles off my Amazon Wish List.

Then I learned how to knit.

It consumed all my reading time. A year and a half later, I still have not been able to strike a balance between the two interests. The click of the needles overcame the rustle of the turning page.

Now that Finn is here, reading has stepped even farther back into the shadowy recesses of HobbyLand, along with sewing, drawing, and general craftiness. There they all sit, grumbling, their pale eyes glinting out at me. "Remember us? We are the two shirts and three skirts you cut out two years ago. We are ready for the machine!" The comic book cover ideas are mouldering in a dank cupboard in the back of my mind, as is the calendar of maps I have wanted to complete for years.

While I did manage to catch up on my National Geograpics for a while there during breast pumping, even those have started to accumulate again. I can't seem to start a new book because my attention is constantly being diverted to the small being who needs to eat and eat and then eat some more and OH BOY he's eating again. I was perusing a lovely tome about maneating beasts, but I had to lay off of that as well because I found I was retracing my steps and forgetting what had happened in the preceding pages. I finally picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and started the series over again because I know what happens, it pleases me, and I can pick it up and put it down at random.

So I have been watching movie after movie as well as the entire Monty Python box set, and knitting while Finn sleeps on me (in between eatings). I guess I could be reading during those times, but for some reason, I prefer the voices in the films to the silence of the house, at least during the day. Pete has started bugging me to take walks because he can't sit in the house for more than a few hours without feeling claustrophobic. It's a good thing he's not me. But he's right about the walks. It's a good idea, it would be good for me, and the Little Man and I can get out of the house.

We walked to the library. Finn's not supposed to have a great deal of hand to hand contact with the outside world, but as long as he is in the sling and kept close to us, a few outings are fine. The library is just a few blocks away; long enough for a good little round trip jaunt but short enough so that we are not gone too long. I picked out some movies, paid my late fee, and Finn's alarm went off. That was awesome. It was a "loose lead", the one that sounds like a high pitched fire alarm. It just keeps going and going until you turn the damn thing off. One long, unbroken, brain-augering tone. When we got home, I switched out his lead wires and electrodes. I also logged into my account and requested a load of movies and TV programmes for my viewing pleasure. I am still not reading, but at least I am using my library card.

(Many thanks to Finn, who slept in the sling while I typed this)
We apologize for the break in programming. FJ has been eating for a week straight. At least, that's what it feels like to me. Luckily, I had that cloth diaper blog all queued up, or there would have been nothing the past few days. Nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

cloth-ing

It's the mountain of clean diapers and clean flannel wipes, ready to go. Finn is a cloth diaper baby, and I don't know how he feels about it, but I am loving it. I had no choice in the hospital--he was in Pampers for two and a half months, and it made me crazy. It was just one more thing that was entirely out of our control, and we were reminded of it every three hours when his cares rolled around. It took us a few days to get into a system here at home with the cloth, but once we did, it's been pretty smooth sailing.

We're using prefolds and covers, and I am washing a diaper load about once every two days or so. I have learned to start that load before I only have two diapers left because you have to run two wash cycles and then a dry cycle. If you only have two diapers when you start, you will be scrambling, and baby (if he's Finn) will not be happy. The new washing machine and dryer have been fabulous.

This is what the preemie prefolds look like on, then covered (and hungry):

Once they are wet and off him, they go into the diaper pail which is, appropriately, a used kitty litter bin. The other nifty thing is the sprayer that is hooked up to the toilet. We spray poop right into the bowl. Though breast milk poop is more like a gourmet sandwich condiment both in color and consistency, so it's not quite as imperative that it all be rinsed out before the wash.

He just graduated into the newborn prefolds, and I don't think that the preemies will really work anymore. They are just too small. At 7 pounds, he's sized like a real baby. He's also out of most of his preemie clothes; they are going into a little bin. I'll figure out what we keep and what we take back to the NICU for them to use. The preemie prefolds will come in handy later as doublers.

The diapers arrive flat and hard, not looking like diapers at all. You have to wash them two or three times to prime them for use.

The newborn size:
I have also knitted him some covers. This is my favorite:

This is excitement these days. New diapers and new appliances.

Friday, September 5, 2008

perfection

Our baby is pretty great. We think he's adorable and sweet, strong and wonderful. But he's no better and no worse than anyone else's baby. In the grand scheme of things, he's just a baby. Because he is ours, we are in awe, impressed, and completely in love, and we are thankful that he is healthy so far, but he's one out of half a million premature babies born in the United States each year, and all of those parents think they have the best baby in the world. They are right. They do have the best baby in the world. So do we. They, because their baby is theirs, and we because our baby is ours. This baby, who is finally asleep in the sling after fussing for an hour, has made our lives richer, sleepier, busier, and more interesting. But he's not perfect. Neither are we walking around in a faerietale cloud of domestic bliss.

This experience is complicated and frustrating. We are facing financial, personal, relationship, and employment challenges and changes. I am home all day, sometimes unable to leave the couch for more than a minute. I'm ungroomed and tired, and I am running out of movies to watch. Today, he barfed twice directly down my cleavage. (Most boys only get away with that once.) He also peed on me, he's not interested in napping unless it's on me, and he generally does not want to be put down. So I type with one hand and periodically rest my cheek on his soft head and hug his swaddled baby body. It's no different from any other mother's situation, and it's really nothing to complain about.

It's also natural and lovely. I am finding out a lot about myself, things like "Wow, I can do this," and "I am more patient than I ever imagined I could be." I try to accept whatever is happening because it can't be helped. He's a baby; he's reacting purely in stimulus-response mode. If I want to be able to cope with it, I have to remember that.

We will do our best to bring up a child who has an even-keeled view of himself and the world, and we will do our best not to overprotect him or give him a complex about being a "miracle," or a complex about having been a "preemie." I don't really think of him as a preemie, anyway. He's Finn. He's not really a three-monther, and he's not really a newborn. He's who he is, and it's just fine. As with all things, we'll see what happens.

Being in the NICU for two and a half months gave me perspective. We are not alone, and we are not special. Finn is not perfect, and perfection should neither be expected nor imposed. He's a baby; he's our baby, and we love him.

Even when he does this:
video

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Full Term

This is Finn's birth week.
He's 19 inches, 6 pounds 15 ounces, and due any day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Buzz

I have been cutting Pete's hair for almost four years now. This tradition started after he came home with yet another unsatisfying professional haircut. He asked me if I would do it next time. The idea of this struck fear into my heart because he's oddly particular about his haircuts, and it's so curly, I had no idea how one would approach the actual cutting. So the last time he went to get a professional cut, I sent him to my guy, and I went along to watch the process. After that, I cut it. He has never complained once about any of our home haircuts. He's gone twice, that I can think of, to get his hair cut professionally since I started cutting it, and he has been unhappy with the results each time.

See, he says I am smart, but then he doesn't listen to me.

I told him to go back to my guy, if he was frustrated that I did not have time to do it, but he tried out someone else. The cut was wrong, and you could not even see the color. Again, I told him to go back to my guy. He didn't. And he came back looking like he was either ready to go under cover over at the RNC or join the marines:

He even took along a picture of himself with a short haircut to show the girl, but maybe he accidentally showed her a picture of his infant son, because now they really look alike (aside from the pacifier). He says he will listen to me next time this conundrum comes up.

I'll believe it when it happens.

Home Alone, 3D

The Boy and I had our first overnight alone this past weekend. Rockstar Dad had a gig on Friday night and an out-of-town gig on Saturday night, leaving Finn and I to fend for ourselves for the better part of a weekend. Before he came home from the hospital, I had been thinking that I would need someone to come and stay with us for the night, and the two people who came to mind were my best friend, Kira, and my mom. Kira works the Renaissance Festival, so she was busy, and my mom was heading out to a miniature convention in Denver (That's not a very small convention, it's a convention for dollhouse enthusiasts, but I love making jokes about smallness. Never gets old for me. I am simple in many ways).

But by the time the weekend rolled around, I was fine with the idea of being alone with Finn. I am not worried about those uncomfortable silences when we don't have much to say to each other, and I don't think he's going to judge my poor grooming skills. I am pretty sure by now that I am not going to accidentally harm him through ineptitude, and he has been doing very well on his own, breathing and heart-rate wise. I was a bit concerned about sleep, as when Pete is home, I get almost three unbroken hours, but there was nothing to be done about it. I just had to ride the wave and hope for the best.

We did very well, thankyouverymuch. We slept in the bedroom together overnight, and he woke up (or I did) every three hours or so for a diaper change and some boob. As we are only talking about the period of time from about midnight to 7 or 9:00 a.m., it works out to two or three times up for about a hour with a little bit of light napping in between for me. It goes by pretty quickly, and then we are back out in the living room, in the light of day.

The concepts of Day and Night have very little relevance to me anymore, anyway. Night is something to be gotten through with as much "sleep" as possible, and Day follows night. I try to get a few things done when he consents to sleep in his basket and not on me, and it's working out pretty well. I did finally have to give up the ghost of working from home at the moment, as the solid blocks of time are not long enough to accomplish much of anything aside from making and (hopefully) eating a sandwich, pumping once or twice a day, and doing a dish here and there. (I don't bother with napping.) Admitting that I am not a superhero is difficult; I so wanted to believe that I could do it all, but I can't. This maternity leave will have to be a real maternity leave, and I am just fine with that, now that I have realized my limitations. I only get one chance to be the mother to a newborn/infant once (most likely), and it's important to get it right.

After all, I doubt that as my life draws to a close, I will be wishing I had spent more time at the office. I'm not that type of gal.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Leash


Over a month ago, one of Finn's doctors made the decision to keep him on the caffeine for his apnea spells. This meant that he would have to come home on an apnea monitor and on the caffeine, but it meant that he could come home sooner.

The monitor is a blessing and a curse, as so many things are. It tells us when he has apnea, bradycardia, or a fast heart rate, so we have the security of being able to see that he's still breathing and his heart is still beating. But he's on a seven foot leash, and we have to drag the thing around with us when we want to move him from room to room. It means that I am tied to that seven foot area when I am home alone, and he needs to be held.

Tomorrow, we are going to do our first download of information, which means we have to find a land line to use as we got rid of ours months ago. The nurses at the apnea program at Children's will then evaluate the data and decide if he needs to stay on the caffeine. My guess is that he won't need it anymore. In that case, they will want him to stay on the monitor for a couple of weeks to see how he does off the caffeine.

(Fritz likes to lay directly in front of it, so we can't see the lights.)

It will be odd not to have it. I am used to glancing at it periodically to see those green lights flashing, but I'll just have to get used to life without the crutch. I'm sure I'll be checking on him more and more, and waking up often to make sure he's still alive, which is probably not much different from any other first-time mother.