Friday, April 30, 2010

Well, THAT explains it

Yesterday morning, after stumbling blearily into the bathroom to put in my contact lens, I washed my hands and returned to my husband and baby playing in our bed. In between smothering my son with kisses and singing our Good Morning song, I stuck my finger in his mouth (which I haven't done in weeks) to check for teeth. And there they were! TWO teeth! Both bottom teeth are IN, one further up than the other.

Suddenly the previous week was so clear - Carter wasn't waking up and fussing at night because his sleep-training was suddenly and inexplicably kaput. He was TEETHING! He's been sleeping through the night again for the past week, so the teeth probably came in just over a week ago. D'oh! How did I miss this?

My little boy's growing up!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


For the past couple of weeks Carter has been going through a bit of a nursing strike. It started when he was sick with the Hands-Foot-Mouth thing back at the beginning of April, when his little throat was so sore it hurt to suck. After a few days the throat was better, but the nursing wasn't. He would take his bottles at school, but didn't have much interest in nursing, except first thing in the morning when he was ravenous after 10 hours of sleep, and to fall asleep at night - and sometimes not even then.

The worst day was a couple of weeks ago when I found myself trying to nurse him in the parked car on a street in Beverly Hills after his Music Together class. He hadn't eaten in over three hours, and was hungry and fussing. Yet each time I offered the boob he pushed away. After all, there was so much to look at! Ooh! Look at that branch swaying in the breeze! The way that shadow falls on the ground! A bird flying by! At seven months, distraction reaches its peak, and everything is more fascinating than mommy's breast.

A virtual battle ensued - me trying to shove him on the boob, him arching his back, jerking away like a tiny pony rearing its head. I know the La Leche League would frown upon me sitting there, grappling with my infant and trying to force interest in nursing, yet whenever I successfully got him to the breast his hunger seemed to suddenly register, and he would lunge on and chow down. That is, for about two minutes until he, say, saw a REALLY INTERESTING car drive by.

Our nursing relationship has always been rocky. I spent the first four weeks post-partum in excruciating pain and considered giving up and formula-feeding. My left nipple was so brutally gnawed apart that I repeatedly had to pump on that side and nurse exclusively with my right just to let it heal. The lactation consultants said there was nothing wrong - no problem with latch, no tongue-tie. Simply put, our boy was just one powerful sucker - as evidenced by the pound-per-week weight gain.

Eventually it clicked, and all was well for a few months. He quickly became a speed-nurser, guzzling all he could within five minutes or so and then refusing to take any more. However, my overactive letdown resulted in most nursing sessions ending with him choking and pulling off while my milk sprayed hose-like into his face, onto his shirt, and in a three-foot radius around us. Not attractive, and certainly no fun for the Little Roo.

Upon starting daycare, he adapted to his bottles very quickly and soon seemed to prefer them to the breast. After all, with bottles he could control the flow and didn't have to worry about a faceful of milk if he pulled off. On weekends, I would generally have my husband give him a bottle each day in order to give myself a little break, and for a few months he was still able to seamlessly transition from bottle to boob and back again.

However, a couple of weeks ago he simply would not nurse. If, after much struggle, I managed to get him on the breast, he would bite me and pull away. I ended up pumping and giving him bottles all day. As I relayed this to a mommy friend (who also happens to be a doctor), she smiled knowingly and said "Ooooh, he's weaning."

Weaning?? At SEVEN months? The thought distressed me. At this point, I am pumping five times a day during the week - once in the morning after his first feeding, three times at work, and right before I go to sleep - so if he were to wean, I suppose I could simply pump and bottle-feed. I have friends who have done this with great success - the only problem is that I am not quite ready to stop nursing my little boy. After all, I had always thought I would nurse him til he was two - would he really call it quits after only seven months?

When I nurse him to sleep at night, it is the most peaceful time of my day. All the chaos of the week fades away as I rock back and forth, singing to the RooRoo as he eats and drifts slowly off to sleep. Once he's out, I look down at his tiny face, his warm little body, trying to memorize every little detail, to preserve these fleeting moments of babyhood in my mind.

Fortunately, over the past week things seem to have improved. I've been using effleurage, a technique I learned from our birth class teacher, and it seems to calm him down enough to focus on nursing. As a child, my mother would sit at my bedside and run her fingertips up and down my arms when I couldn't sleep. 25 years later, she did the same thing at my hospital bedside as I labored during Carter's birth. Now I use it to calm my little boy.

Only time will tell if we've successfully weathered the strike, but I am hopeful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I am alone tonight, as my husband is enjoying a richly-deserved poker game with friends. He came home early and was the dutiful daddy, helping me to get Carter fed and put to bed, to unload today and get ready for tomorrow, to make sure I was content before taking off into the night.

So I putter about in my little kitchen, snacking on hummus and broccoli, making mango puree for my son while Cat Stevens warbles plaintively from iTunes, and I feel at peace. And in the sweet calm of this solitary evening, my thoughts wander back to a night many years ago, to a soft summer evening following my high school graduation, when a couple of dear friends and I lay in the grass of the plaza in my small town. There was nothing to do and nowhere to go, and as we stared up at the immense night sky blanketed with thick white stars it suddenly seemed that everything was possible, and the magnitude of it sent a current through the three of us. We could go anywhere and be anything. We could have reached up and plucked a star from the sky.

That was almost thirteen years ago, and back then my dreams were occupied by fantasies of fame and glory. A family was the furthest thing from my mind. Tonight I putter in my kitchen, preparing baby food and nibbling on vegetables, listening to the smooth thumping of the white noise machine's heartbeat that means that my baby is fast asleep, and I shake my head in awe at how different my life has turned out from those teenage visions of grandeur. And I smile to myself and think that John Lennon was right, that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

And if you're very lucky, sometimes the life that happens is more grand and wondrous than anything you could have imagined.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Six Weeks In Pictures

Hooray Easter! Hooray, borrowed-from-a-friend Exersaucer! Hooray, red donut block (seriously - he loves that thing)! Hooray, puppy towels! And lastly, hooray mirrors!

Sleep - The Long and Winding Road

Success! My child slept (more or less) through the night last night!

Mind you, Carter had been sleeping through the night since late January or so, although I wasn't. That's because I did two dreamfeeds (nursing without waking) every night. For six weeks or so, every night I would snatch my sleeping baby out of his crib and pop him on the boob at 11pm and (ugh) 2am. He would nurse greedily, never once opening his little eyes, and then I would plunk him back down in his crib. Hearing my alarm go off at 2am was misery, but it was worth it for a night of otherwise uninterrupted sleep, and to have a small sense of control during the wee hours (Type A, anyone?).

After six weeks of dreamfeeds, I slowly began cutting down on the time of each feed. Since Carter has always been a speed-nurser, his longest feed was never more than six minutes. So one night I did five, then get the idea. It's pretty heartbreaking to pry your hungry, slumbering infant off your breast, but within a few days I had cut out the 2am feeding, he was sleeping til morning, and I was singing the praises of this sleep training method (no idea what it's called - a friend told me about it - no time to read anything). A week or so later, I slowly cut out the 11pm, and then (drumroll) my boy was sleeping blissfully from 7:30pm until 6am (or sometimes 5:30, but that's good enough for me).

For a few wonderful weeks, we slept. Until last week, when it all went to hell. Carter got a cold and started waking up again, and I just didn't have the strength to let my sick baby cry it out. So there I was, once again stumbling out of bed in the wee hours to comfort my crying infant. After weeks of sleeping soundly, this was torturous.

Last night, however, was different. He woke up at 3:20am and fussed for a bit, but I stayed strong and did not go to him. Then he went back to sleep until 5:30, when I nursed him and put him back to bed. He slept in til 6:45 (you know you're a mother when you consider waking up at 6:45am "sleeping in"). Ahhhh. AHHHHHHHHHH.

Now I'm sitting here wondering if I did anything differently last night that helped him sleep better. Was it his dinner? Did the lentil/quinoa combo possess some magical sleep-inducing wallop of protein? Or was it the sweet potato-pea-avocado side dishes (eat the rainbow, people. Eat the rainbow)?

I'll never know. In fact, I've learned enough by now to know that the only sure thing about parenthood is that whenever you think you've got it all figured out, it'll change. There you have it. Welcome to the rest of my life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Brief Summary of Recent Life

Carter is crawling! Well, practically crawling. He started doing the army crawl last weekend, pulling himself along on his little elbows. Then a couple of days ago he began taking tentative first strides forward while on his hands and knees instead of just rocking there back and forth like he's been doing for weeks. We have to get on the babyproofing, STAT! Our apartment is one massive safety hazard.

The Little Roo was very sick a couple of weeks ago - refusing to eat, with a fever that reached over 104 degrees at one point. His throat looked inflamed, but his culture was negative for strep so our pediatrician suspected it was Hands Mouth Foot virus (there's no test for it), which generally involves sores breaking out on (you guessed it) the hands, mouth and feet. Mercifully, within three days he was totally normal and never had any visible sores. Suck it, HFM virus!

We went up north to visit Grandma and Grandpa (and Auntie Erica, who is currently baking a new friend for Carter, due in September) for Easter and had a wonderful time, save for the fact that it rained constantly. Upside: I was finally able to dress Carter in all of his cute cold weather hand-me-downs. What's cuter than a baby in cable knit? Not much, people. Not much.

I am (unsurprisingly) totally obsessed with baby food - researching it, making it, feeding it to him. is my bible. I spent long evenings puttering in the kitchen - steaming, pureeing, freezing and (sorry, LOML) neglecting my sweet husband (must work on that). Carter is eating like a champ - the latest additions to his diet are blueberries, egg yolks and lentils. Loved 'em all. That's my boy.

Working motherhood is hard. Some days things go like clockwork, and I think I have it all under control. Other days I sideswipe parked cars on the way home from work (yes, I left a note) and wonder how I can manage to string words together to form comprehensible sentences in such a state of exhaustion.

But every day, every action-packed, running-ragged, crazy-making day, is another day with my precious boy. And they are all incredible.