Monday, November 28, 2011

Frayed Around the Edges

It's possible that I am not doing entirely as well as one, namely me, would hope.

I've got a call in to the pediatrician's office tonight, at around 9 pm. To the pediatrician on call, who happens to be the chairman, who isn't my boss, but is one of my bosses' boss, so isn't entirely not my boss.

I called in, and am awaiting a call back, because my baby is coughing. Hacking.

She was fine all day, apart from the same runny nose that has been plaguing her the last few days. I still can't find the Com.fy Nose (aka Sn.otSucker), so I went to CVS and bought a little baby first aid kit with nasal bulb aspirator to use until I can get to the baby store (where, unforunately, you cannot buy babies, only products for babies) tomorrow to buy the much more effective Sn.otsucker.

But since I put her down, I can hear her hacking every five minutes. In a way that seems far too loud and harsh for such a small baby.

I haven't gotten out the stethoscope to listen to her, because I am sure she must be fine. Plus, as I said before, I really don't want to "play doctor" (or "play nurse practitioner," to be more precise but less succinct) on my own child.

But seriously, I won't be able to sleep in the same room with her the way she's coughing.

On the other hand, how can I not sleep in the same room with her? She's sick and I abandon her???

I don't know, what do you more seasoned mommies do?

(Excuse me while I cough. Yes, I reckon I know where she got this cough from. What I don't know is where I got it from. After my first year of pediatrics -- a new cold every week for ten weeks, then pneumonia, then bronchitis. What a year that was! Anyway, since then I rarely get sick. But this is my third cold since Calliope was born... and I'm not even around sick kids yet! What will happen when I return to the germ fest that is my work?)

Anyway, while I wait for the doctor to call back, I am pumping.

I've started pumping at night in addition to the mornings because I'm nervous about my milk supply holding up. Yes, I have three gallon zi.ploc bags in the freezer filled with little baggies of milk. But my milk supply used to be so overly abundant, and I'm worried that now it's merely (?barely) adequate. Calliope used to only nurse for 5-10 minutes, even as a newborn! And now she can easily go 15 minutes per side. And I worry that she is stopping simply because she's tired of working so hard, not because she necessarily got enough to eat.

Of course, she looks healthy and great. She is smiling all the time, and just starting to figure out how to use her hands to grab something. I offered her this plastic ring in the tub tonight, and she oh-so-carefully calculated the distance... slowly reached her hand out... extended her fingers... and missed!

Luckily I caught it all on video.

Anyway, I spent the day racing (mentally) around the apartment. I still have so many items left on the to-do list. For every one that gets crossed off, it seems another two get added.

I was talking to my cousin about this tonight. I was telling her that I am not caught up on thank you notes. She advised me that I am doing a great job, and to cut myself a break.

And I realized that I am holding myself to this ridiculous standard... of perfection. It is unacceptable to me that thank you notes not go out, preferably promptly. Is this because I am a single mom (by choice)? Do I feel like I have to prove myself? Is this the American career mother conundrum? Are we all doing this? If yes, how do we stop?

I'm trying to let go, to recognize that this is most likely displaced anxiety about leaving Calliope... and that the best antidote, whatever the cause, is to spend time with her. So tonight, after her short evening nap, we went for a quick walk to the hardware store to see if they could fix the keys they just made that don't work (they tried, but nope, still not working, but I didn't have the heart to drag the baby on a third trip to the hardware store) and then she took a lovely long bath while I watched and cooed and read her a bath book, several times over.

I asked my friend Catherine recently, "what, exactly, do you do with your baby?"

Because I know all of the things I do to her, like bathing and feeding and changing her diapers. And some of the time I also sit next to her while she plays on the floor. But then I'm just observing.

And so recently we've started reading together, and also doing nearly nightly baths. And so these are what we  do together. We read lots of stories -- it's adorable and incredible to watch her looking intently at the pictures at such a young age! -- and we do long baths. Where she churns her legs and coos long liquid phrases... and I sit on the closed toilet lid and watch, and listen, and coo back at her.

I just re-read the salient parts of Hea.lthy Sleep Hab.its, Happy Child, and so now I am feeling very focused indeed on how I should be prioritizing her napping times, and not interfering with her rest.

But lord, it is hard to not compromise a child's sleep when she is only awake for 1:15 (that's one hour, fifteen minutes) in the morning and 1:30 in the afternoon and then 2 hours in the evening. You try getting an errand done in that 1:15 window (which has to include nursing, diapering, and ideally, changing clothes... yesterday she stayed in her pajamas all day long and it made me feel sluggish every time I looked at her)! After those brief awake periods, she sleeps until the next feeding... so yes, those are some long-ass naps.

So now I have one more thing to feel guilty about!

Does it ever end?

The doctor just called back and of course he told me there's nothing I can do that I haven't already done (humidifier, saline nasal drops, bulb syringe, suffer... perhaps I made that last one up). He may have sounded a little impatient. Or else tired, since it was 10 pm when he called. He did, kindly, encourage me to bring her in tomorrow to be seen. Perhaps because that lessens his odds of hearing from me again tomorrow night?

He also asked if she was having trouble breathing. Which of course is such an obvious question, but duh, well, I hadn't really checked. She was so completely fine when she went to bed. So I just went in and laid a hand on her chest, and she's breathing fine (at what age do you stop creeping to your child's bedside and laying a hand on her chest to make sure she is still breathing? this is still at least a once-or-twice-a-night ritual for me, and I, for one, am tired of facing that moment of fear so frequently.)

So now I have to decide if I want to bring her in tomorrow. Also on the list for tomorrow: visit midwife to get clearance to return to work and also say an emotional goodbye/thank you of sorts, ideally with a gift, visit entirely crush-able RE with baby at long last, go to employee health to get cleared for work and also to show off baby. Oy. Adding a visit to the pediatrician in the mix, although geographically convenient, adds a whole new level of complexity. Even without considering nap schedules.

My mom (who I just called for commiseration) had the brilliant idea that I could take the baby to an urgent care center tonight.

But even I, in my hysteria, recognize that it would be sheer lunacy to wake a peacefully sleeping baby, even if she was coughing badly (oh yeah, it has subsided for the time being).

Thank god for small favors. Such as the fact that I am physically removing myself from the keyboard now. No more verbal diarrhea for tonight.



  1. First of all, don't be sorry!

    Second, the first thing that popped into my mind while reading your post was to tell you to... take a deep breath. And then another. And another. Not in a condescending way, just in a trying-to-be-helpful way. :)

    And the second thing that popped into my head was something along the lines of, "Good, so a year from now (!!!) when I'm freaking out about such things, I can remember those that came before me, that I'm NOT the only one, and that these things happen". And then all will be ok.

    So, thank you! And I hope both you and Calliope are feeling better soon!

  2. If you're really worried about her breathing or coughing I'd definitely bring her in with you. Even just to know for sure how much she coughed through the night - might reassure you or else convince you to do that doctor visit tomorrow. Sick babies are tough. I hope she gets better quickly.

    I really like Healthy Sleep Habits and think he's generally right on in his advice. But y'know, sometimes life intervenes. Like, for example, I've realized that Fiona and I are never going to get to do anything if we're always home for Carys' naps. So sometimes we sacrifice the morning nap so we can go hiking, or to the zoo, or whatever. Then I'm just sure she gets a really good afternoon one in. Sometimes you just gotta live with abandon and ignore all the advice in the books....

  3. You may not sleep either way. Her being away in another room or her coughing during the night in the same room. Better to keep her close for random cuddles, breath checks and (semi) peace of mind. I hope you'll both feel better soon.

  4. I agree with everyone else Abby...just stop. Simply stop. Your house is going to be a wreck for the next I don't know how many years. You're going to forget to pay a bill. Thank you notes will sit, stamped, behind your dresser where they fell.

    And guess what life will go on :).

    And I also of the naps can be on the go. I would have lost my mind if I had to be home for all of Tate's naps when he took 3. Heck when he took 2. I just couldn't do it. Otherwise like you said between changing, feeding, changing again, pumping, cleaning up you have 4 min and 5 sec before the kid needs to be back in bed. I would just gather Tate and all his belongings up and pop him into the car (almost always during the afternoon nap cause it was so much shorter than our morning nap) and get on with my life. I loved the infant carseat because I could just pop it in and out of the car multiple times and he'd stay asleep.

    You need to just be these next couple of days before you start working. I really believe that. Esp in light of what you mentioned in your previous post. (by the way...all that just sucks!!! Losing staff etc). Like Claire said sometimes you just gotta be and ignore all the advice in books (and on your blog comments! :) ) It took me so many months to give up control, and I mean months...probably 12-14 and since I have I'm so much happier.

    Oh, and P.S. I say sleep in the same room with Calliope. When Tate is sick he always ends up in bed with me. I just feel better with him nestled under my arm. I adjust the humidifier to blow over both of us...great for my pores!!!! However, you gotta do what works for you! I just hope you don't have too long of a night regardless of where you rest your head!
    Good luck!!

  5. Abby, I'm sorry my comments have bothered you. I have not meant to judge you or the way you parent. i was merely asking questions as one mother to another, trying to understand. We all go through parenting with our own ideas and principles and philosophies, and we all also frequently try one thing and then another in various attempts to find something that works for us. Sometimes the things we do one week might not work the next. Or sometimes the things we were adamantly opposed to one month may not seem like such bad ideas the next month. As someone who has been following your story, when I ask questions it is merely my way of trying to understand where you are currently and why you're taking your current approach towards some aspect of parenting. If we're all honest, we all on occasion do judge other parents, but I am honestly sorry if anyone judgment came across in any of my comments to you. I will refrain from commenting in the future, and I wish you good luck with your return to work and the challenges you'll face as an SMC.

  6. Oh Abby, I relate so much to what you wrote! The thank you cards, the pumping & fear of not having enough milk supply...the worry, worry, worry & I wish I had some sage advice but I agree that taking a deep breath is a good start :) if it weren't for my mom, I would have had E to urgent care (unnecessarily) a dozen times & have had her to the Dr a couple of times just for peace of mind.

    I hope that Calliope is ok & you were able to get some sleep.