Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Update from Seven Months

Hey baby, wanna come back to my place and check out my record
collection? Don't mind my effortlessly cool bandmate over here. 

Seven months is a great age!

Even though she's of course getting heavier, she's also easier to carry. She curls herself around my side like a little monkey and totally unlike the sack of flour her earlier self resembled.

She loves to stand up. She protests diaper changes, but as soon as I stand her up, back to me, facing the animal postcards on the wall by her changing table, she's thrilled. We do a lot of getting dressed this way!

She's not crawling yet, and can't get onto all fours on her own, but she can stay there for a few seconds if put there. And when she gets put down in the crib on her stomach (I started doing this once she started rolling over from back to stomach in her sleep, and waking herself in the process), she makes her body like a board, with all four limbs up off the surface of the mattress, and frantically "swimming" said limbs. I think is work towards eventual crawling.

Mostly, she's just so darn happy and interested in everything around her. The nanny can put Eleanor on the counter next to her to watch while she washes bottles, but Calliope couldn't be trusted with this -- she'd twist around and start unloading the drying rack of bottles and nipples, or removing wooden spoons from their container by the stove, or lunging for the dish soap. She is thrilled to explore anything I'm willing to share. Today, I gave her our first birthday party invite (for a two year old) and she curiously explored the unique textures and sounds it made while manipulating it before settling down to gum the green paper until took Mommy notice of its increasingly soggy state.  

She's delighted each morning when the nanny magically appears, and thrilled when I come home at the end of the day... until I make her wait while I wash my hands before I pick her up. Then she starts to whine. Literally. She doesn't cry, she makes this drawn out whiny noise while she waits for me. Then I scoop her up and she's all smiles as she melts her body against mine and relaxes against my hip. Then we relax into the glider and she whines again as I unhook my bra. It's funny how she basically never fusses to eat until I am already in the process of unholstering everything.


Calliope's bottle consumption dropped dramatically about three weeks ago. She had been taking 8-10 ounces over the 10 hour period I was gone at work. I feed her at 7 am before I leave, and again at 5 pm when I get home. So she would take a bottle at 11 am and 3 pm. Typically 4-5 ounces per feeding. Not a huge amount for an infant of her age, but I was used to that.


She dropped down to a total of 7 ounces per day, then by the end of the week, decreased further to 5 ounces per day.

She's now holding steady between 5-7 ounces per 10 hour day.

Some of this can be attributed to taking solids during the day. I asked the nanny to start giving her lunch because I thought they would enjoy it -- something to do each day -- and also because sometimes it's hard to fit in dinner between nursing when I get home, bathtime, and the second nursing, and still accommodate a 6:30 pm bedtime.

Well, she's taken off with the solids with the nanny -- mainly homemade raw yogurt, or actually, now only yogurt, she's lost interest in everything else -- and cut way down on bottles, while simultaneously decreasing the solids she will take with me. The number of nursings we do hasn't changed.

Ladies Who Lunch

Today when I got home, I found out that she only took one ounce of milk from the bottle this afternoon at 3 pm! This was two hours after her lunchtime yogurt! I don't get home to nurse her until 5 pm.

I took her to the doctor last week after her second five ounce day. She has continued to gain weight perfectly along her 25% curve, and was up to 15 pounds 10 ounces, so I decided to stop worrying.

So I think she is figuring out how to make her stomach wait for me.

She's mostly refusing solids from me in the evening as well as all this past weekend. The only thing she wants is some kefir from my glass. She looks up at me with this look of fascinated intent, then leans forward and opens her mouth. I tip the glass towards her mouth and she gulps, two tiny teeth clinking against the glass. Today she did this about four times. That was it for dinner.


Happily, she has suddenly moved her bedtime a bit later. Six thirty felt really rushed. Tonight she stayed up until seven. This allows me to get a few things done while still spending time with her, which is so nice. I don't like the feeling of having to be 100% focused on her while we rush through one thing to the next. This feels much more like a natural flow to a family evening.

Sleep continues to be a work in progress, but a pretty good one. We are down, slowly, to two minutes of nursing again, as of two nights ago. She woke the first time at 4 am; I nursed her for two minutes, then popped her off and slid her sleepy body back into the crib. Luckily, she doesn't protest this. Unfortunately, she woke up again a half an hour later, wailing! And she's not a wailing sort of baby, so I knew she was hungry. So I fed her two more minutes, and put her back in the crib again.

However, last night she didn't wake up until 4:30 am! A half an hour later than the previous night! Which is what the sleep book said would happen. This time I fed her for two minutes, put her back in her crib, and she didn't wake up again until 7 am! Perfect!

I'm going to stay with the two minute feedings for two more nights, and see what happens. I'm really, really hoping that she will just naturally delay the feeding some more on her own. If she could get to 6 am, I could stop trying to shorten the feeding and give her a full feeding at 6 am, and then gradually start trying to delay it by a few minutes each day.

It's always so stressful to think about having to further shorten her feedings -- I always get scared that she will protest, the thought of which makes me feel horrible. If she cried after I put her back in her crib, I wouldn't be able to stand the thought of my hungry baby, alone in her crib. I could do Cry It Out for other things, I think -- I have put up with the some protesting in the past -- but not for hunger. No way. Luckily she never cries anymore when I put her down. She squirms around, and talks to herself a little, but she doesn't cry. I am so grateful for this.

I finally invested in a video monitor this week, because a) I wanted to know how long it took for her to go to sleep, and b) I feel guilty sometimes because she will wake up and I will have no idea because she doesn't complain. And then I would go check on her and find her obviously wide awake and had been for some time, just playing in her crib. I'm lucky to have a baby that can entertain herself so well -- seriously, she can play with her toys for 45 minutes without assistance -- but I don't like the idea of it so much. Though I think everyone needs some alone time now and then. Oh, also, the nanny goes in to check on her very frequently, and I think it may actually wake Calliope up. And the episode where she vomited three times the one night I went out without her, and how scared I was that I wouldn't have gone in to check on her and would never have known. All good reasons, right?

Anyway, I love watching the video! It's endlessly entertaining! My favorite channel -- Calliope TV. I can see her breathing, even in pitch darkness, which is reassuring. And watching her when awake is hilarious. She peers up at the camera in the cutest way. It's like she knows the camera is there, and what it's doing.

 Elimination (Communication)

I finally asked the nanny point blank if she would be willing to put Calliope on the potty. We had discussed this in the interview, and she indicated interest, but she kept not doing it. Well, last week Calliope had a terrible diaper rash (after what was either a very mild stomach bug/diarrhea or else a reaction to carrots), so I asked if she would put her on the potty so that we could try to keep poop off the raw spot on her labia.

The nanny agreed and lo and behold, Calliope started going on the potty much more often than she does for me! (She pees for me sporadically, once every couple or three days.)

And now the other baby, Eleanor, had a stomach bug yesterday and pooped fourteen times in one day! Poor baby and poor nanny, changing all those diapers! So this morning I suggested the nanny put both babies on the potty. I don't know if Eleanor "performed" or not, but from the looks of it, they had a good time hanging out on their respective potties! Who knew you could play the piano while on the potty?

Monday, March 26, 2012


We both hate the sun in our eyes. Only one of us is fully convinced that 
sunglasses are the answer.

Up on all fours!
Granted, she needs help getting there. 
But girlie has some staying power!
Sitting on a park bench is a favorite occupation right now.
Though standing on a park bench is even better!

Hi, I'm Calliope.
Meet  my new $11 teething toy.
You know, that thing masquerading as a thing someone
might drink out of?
Don't be silly.
It's not for drinking.
That's what breasts and mommy's glass is for.
This cool thing is for chewing
I'm so glad that she bought me two of them! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What Fills My Tank?

She does!

My brother uses this expression, talking about things that "fill my tank." I like it.

After a hard couple of weeks, it's something I've been thinking about a lot. Because my tank was needing filling.

One thing that fills my tank is hiking. I love being outside, and the repetitive movement of walking lulls me into a wonderfully tranquil state.

Another SMC, Obernon, and I decided to go hiking, and she kindly agreed to pick up the rental car and come to Brooklyn to pick us up.

Let's just say it was not an unmitigated success. Just getting us out the door seemed a Herculean task when I had that low gas tank to begin with, and after a couple months of not being in cars... my daughter does not like them any better. She's okay for a little while, which is an improvement -- she can handle a cab ride to Manhattan now, thankfully -- but longer car rides are a challenge, and any kind of stopping, say, at a red light makes her miserable.

The walk was beautiful, and the rain held off, thankfully, and the picnic was fun, but given that she's a baby that rarely cries, listening to her heartrending wail for many long minutes is really stressful. Given that she almost never complains, the car must really be hard for her.

Doing anything for me that poses such a hardship for her isn't worth it to me at this point. Maybe taking a train to a trailhead would be better, though the thought of having to carry everything on my person is intimidating. Anyway, I'm looking forward to summer travels to California and New England where hikes are much closer at hand.

The big thing that I'm feeling good about right now, apart from my girl, is my village. It's coming together so nicely. I've got two SMC friends in walking distance who I see most weekends -- often we congregate at the farmer's market and then hit the playground right next to it. And then I've got two mom friends from the local playgroup, one of whom shares a nanny with us, and they are becoming good friends also.

It's great to have people nearby. Given that my energy is lower than I wish these days, I'm loving activities that take place locally. And other people with babies whose worlds are not, shall we say, expansive at the moment are perfect company for me.

Speaking of both villages and California... I've found that I've made a decision, without really realizing it.

I'm staying put.

My village matters more than hiking.

My friends and also my job, which is rewarding and busy but not terribly stressful, and enables Calliope to travel with me to school every day, once she's old enough... these are all intangible things which make my quality of life pretty great.

Yes, I miss hiking and the outdoors. A lot. So I will just have to do my best to make up for it during my summers off. Another quality of life enhancer, my summers off. Even with the subsequently lower salary.

It's all working right now. I'd be a fool to change it.

Have you ever seen such a cute tushy?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Worrying Just a Little

I was starting to get a little worried about myself wih this funk I was in, discussed in a prior post. Yesterday I just felt so tired and unmotivated. I've had struggles in the past with depression, though they were always fueled by social anxiety, never by something like this. Still, I worry, especially now because my precious girl doesn't deserve to be exposed to something so heavy. And when she gives me an innocent, two-tooth grin, it hurts my heart to not be fully present.

Luckily, yesterday, Saturday, was restorative. I threw chores to the wind and went out for an aimless walk with Emily and her nearly four year old daughter, then came back to my apartment and the three of them played on the floor and kept me company while I worked out on the elliptical. Exercise is absolutely my anti-depressant of choice. Indeed, I wonder if this struggle may be related to the fact that I'm not getting enough exercise. I'm holding steady at four days a week -- thought this week would be five, which is always my goal, but today's fun wore me out -- but they're not quite long enough. Ahh, a work in progress.

Anyway, that was really nice. So sweet to have their company even while I was dragging through a workout.

Reading with the girls. Isn't it sweet how Annabelle has her arm
around Calliope?

In the evening I went to a St Patrick's Day celebration at a friend's house. Calliope was a good sport, but she's just not happy being out past her extremely early bedtime of 6:30 pm. Her fatigue manifested as stranger anxiety. Poor little munchkin.

She was extremely festive, though, in a green outfit that was given to us along with a stack of other new clothes that a friend's baby never got to wear because she grew so fast. Calliope looked a little ridiculous, more like a green bean than anything else, but it was fun. And doesn't everyone love the open-crotch look that comes with a slightly-too-small one piece, terrycloth, Kelly green outfit?

Today we had a lovely outing with our friends Catherine and Jack.  We headed out to the farmer's market to pick up a few essentials, then went back to Catherine's for a quick nursing and some playing.

Calliope and the always smiling Jack. Note the always popular split-crotch
look that Calliope is sporting.

Here's a video of the two of them.
Jack and Calliope, tussling

I'm proud of Calliope -- she held onto that ball as best she could, and didn't seem phased by Jack's "affection."

Frankly, though, I'm a little shocked by the lack of supervision on the part of the mothers, who can be heard laughing uproariously in the background.

Catherine and I went to the Botanic Gardens a year ago, quite pregnant, during peak cherry blossom festival. It was fun to be back nearly a year later with our strollers! Especially because we aren't pregnant any longer. It's easier to enjoy the sights that way.

Isn't my cleavage awesome???
Under a... ?dogwood tree in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens 
Catherine and Calliope having a serious conversation
at the zoo while Jack sleeps. He's an awesome napper!
Unlike some people I know.

Touching foreheads with Catherine... Calliope loves doing this but saves it
for her favorite folks... Don't the pink sunglasses bring out the green in
her leisure suit in the nicest way?

Seven Months

A rare shot with her sticker still afixed

Still in her 3-6 months jammies, but not for much longer
(my hand is holding the sticker on; she can stand up
by herself (holding on))

Hmm, what have we here? Something is stuck to my

Oooh, I think it's a... 

It's a sticker! Thanks, Mommy! I love stickers!

Wow, this tastes... disgusting

Well, Mommy, it's not what I would've chosen to
eat, but since you gave it to me, I'll carry on

Friday, March 16, 2012

Back To Sleep

The big news in our camp is that Calliope learned to clap!

Well, clapping of the silent variety. But we are very proud nonetheless.

(Blogger is once again being a PITA so check it out, please, on YouTu.be. It's worth the trip, I promise.)

Calliope Clapping, Accompanied by Eleanor.

In other news, the sleep issue has arisen. Again.

I know, but seriously, cover those muffled yawns. This issue is hard to put to bed, no pun intended.

So Calliope has been waking up more frequently the last month or so, since she got her teeth. I can't remember why, but somehow we fell off the wagon of only feeding 2-3 minutes at night. And I decided that she was really hungry, so I should feed her.

Now she's an easy one to put to bed, no fuss, no muss. So she goes down and eats once during the night -- seems reasonable, right? Especially since she usually goes right back to sleep afterwards, either in the crib or my bed (I'm happy to co-sleep but not happy with the inquisitive pats on the arm nor the cozy "chatting" that sometimes emanates from my bed partner. It's adorable, but I'm not in the mood to be adoring at 4 am. Sorry, love. It's back to the crib with you in these scenarios.)

Well, so then it suddenly was happening twice a night. Sometimes she was waking up when I was going to bed. Always very hungry.

But suddenly I'm exhausted.

But I can't do pure CIO in the middle of the night like my friend Amy. Maybe it's easier with the baby in a separate bedroom and a spouse to tell me that we are doing the right thing. But solo, in the same room? No way. Especially since I have a baby that rarely cries. If she's screaming, it's because something is wrong. Generally, she's hungry.

So three nights ago, I timed her night feeding (only one that night, how nice): five minutes. (Yeah, she bolts her food!)

And two nights ago, I limited her to four minutes. She went right back to sleep. Unfortunately, she was up at 5:40. An hour before I want her to get up, since I get up then to exercise and shower. I nursed her for one minute and put her back in the crib but she never went fully back to sleep. Drat.

Last night, I bravely decided to accelerate things again and decrease her to only three minutes, even though we had only done one night at four minutes. So we did three minutes... and she went right back to sleep in her crib. AND she slept until 6:45 am! Perfect!

Although I'm feeling greedy, I think I'm going to stick at three minute feedings for tonight and tomorrow night. It's the weekend and I don't want to rock the boat anyway.

Here's my only concern. All week, Calliope hasn't been taking much milk. Only seven ounces in the ten hours that I am gone. I had the nanny start giving her solids, but she wasn't really taking more than a taste or two. Mid-way through the week, I had to start giving her yogurt, and she loves that. But today she only took five ounces the whole day.

I'm feeling anxious about this.

I called the pediatrician yesterday and she suggested I switch to a faster flow nipple. Calliope had still been using the slowest nipple because I had read that its best not to upgrade to faster nipples for breastfed babies. But I had a couple extra faster flow Pla.ytex nipples. Well, lo and behold the nanny hasn't been giving her Playtex bottles for a while. I thought we had been alternating between Pla.ytex and Born Free, but apparently she's been emptying all the Playtex bottles into the Born Free bottles. Humph. I'm not entirely thrilled that I wasn't informed of this.

Anyway, Calliope refused the new Playtex nipples, so that was a bust. But apparently the Born Free bottles aren't all that slow, anyway.

But, given that today she only took five ounces, I'm on a hunt for level two Born Free nipples. Amazon has them... but for expedited shipping, it would cost $25. For a nipple experiment! No thanks.

I just had a stroke of genius and called a pharmacy in nearby Park Slope (a somewhat yuppie and entirely child focused neighborhood, for the uninitiated) and lo and behold, they have them! So that's just a subway ride and not a bus ride to the fascinating but ultimately exhausting mega Tar.get sort of near me.

Fingers crossed that this works.

I know, intellectually, that I shouldn't worry. My healthy girl won't starve herself!

But emotionally, my mama heart worries. I worry on the one hand that she will waste away and on the other hand, now that she has tasted solid food, she won't want breast milk anymore.

Oww. I'm not ready to think about that.

Post Script

First off, thanks for all the lovely and supportive comments about my previous post.

I think I did a pretty good job of butchering what I was trying to say, so just in case... I was trying to say that I get it that life isn't fair, and moreover, the unfairness meted out to me is pretty minor, so I am both struggling with my lot in life and also feeling guilty about struggling.

An intuitive eating counselor that I spoke to asked me, "Suppose you can't lose weight. Do you want to look back at this time with Calliope and have it be about your weight?"

And of course the answer to that is a resounding no, of course not.

But easier said than done.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Life Isn't Fair

I've been working this concept lately, that life isn't fair.

It first came to me when my dear friend C, and her husband confessed to me that they are struggling with infertility. The details aren't important, beyond the fact that they haven't been trying long by infertility standards, a bit more than a year. But what struck me was when C said, "I don't understand why this is happening to us. It isn't fair."

And I so deeply appreciate the trust that she placed in me for sharing all this.

But my immediate thought was not, I'm afraid, sympathy, but remembering her perfect wedding, that seemed to come in a two year period of friends joining in wonderful unions with amazing partners. I adore C. I love her husband. And together, they are amazing.

But when all my friends were getting married, lord, I was lonely. My heart ached.

I thought, "why not me? what's wrong with me? It isn't fair."

But then I would think of another beloved friend with an amazing husband... and a brain tumor. And another amazing friend with no partner AND... with breast cancer. The second friend will soon make five years cancer free, has just fallen in love for the first time, and seems to have a bright future. The first friend has since had a beautiful baby girl with her handsome husband... and lives every day knowing she is on borrowed time.

Life isn't fair.

I got a great deal out of life. I dare not complain.

I made my peace with single-dom. I'm happy now. I'm not lonely. Not only do I not yearn for a partner, I can't even imagine having one (except for loving the idea of help with dishes and finances). I don't want anyone to intrude on my life.

But here's the thing that I continue to struggle with.

My body.

And compared to infertility, it's so stupid.

But in today's society, not having a body that's a normal weight means there's something wrong with you.


I imagine people judging me all the time.

Of course it's me judging me most of all.

Of course, I'm in excellent company. I think something like 2/3 of American adults are overweight. I know lots of overweight folks who are amazing, even amazingly attractive. I love them dearly. I don't care about their weight.

But I can't get okay with it for myself.

My friend is (more or less) effortlessly thin. And I fail at every diet I try. Yet I have a darling dumpling of a baby girl. And I'm pretty sure she would happily trade in her weight for a baby.

But that's not a choice we get to make.

So I'm struggling with the unfairness, of being told by a doctor that there's nothing I can do about my weight until I wean Calliope (and all efforts to lose weight seem to confirm this), even while I appreciate his honesty. It's far better than being told that there's nothing wrong with me and thus feeling like my problem is all in my head.

And realistically, I don't hold much hope for his liver cleansing cure. Nothing has helped so far. Why should that?

Regardless, I'm struggling mightily to find my peace with life's inequalities, and also to not beat myself up and feel guilty for my emotions.

I'm having a hard time with this challenge.

Even while I am, truly, loving every other aspect of my life. (Okay, the fatigue isn't my favorite thing either, but it's certainly bearable.)

I'm ashamed to admit all this, but I'm hoping that somehow airing it out will liberate me. I hope you all don't think I'm insanely shallow for these thoughts. I'm not proud of them.

PS the NYTimes photo is unfairly flattering.

Our New York Ti.mes Debut

Is It Safe to Play Yet?

There's a quote from me and a photo of the two of us (sneak peek below).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dancing Queen... Hands Free!

Ok, it's not great footage (sorry it's sideways), but look what my 6+ month old can do!

My nanny caught this on film today. I was shocked to see she could do this!


Oh, at her six month visit, she was 25.5 inches and 14 pounds, 13 ounces. She'll be seven months in a week, so I'm a little late in reporting her stats. Oops.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thoughts of T42

Travels with E... into the kitchen

I thought I didn't like the swings, but I do!
But actually, my most favorite thing at the playground
is the park bench. Sitting or standing (which I love
to do, at six months) are both great.

Don't get excited.

I am nowhere ready to start trying for number two.

Lordy, am I so not ready.

But I sure do think about it a lot.

Mostly in terror stricken sort of ways.

Right now I'm fixated on pregnancy.

How could I ever endure that again?

The agony and the ecstasy, the highs and lows.

Waiting for the first beta... and the second beta... and then to see the heartbeat... and then to see the nuchal scan... and the anatomy scan... and to pass the point of viability... and then to worry that the baby would come to late, and my sister would miss it... so very many fears.

Physically, I had a pretty easy pregnancy, all things considered. I was nauseous for weeks 7-11, if memory serves, and that was it. I never vomited.

I was completely exhausted, pretty much through the entire first and second trimesters... but I now know that that was due to undiagnosed anemia... if I had that again, I would ask for a blood test much, much sooner.

The fatigue of the first trimester. Napping every evening after work. And spending most of the evening after that, flat on my back on the sofa, researching baby products with the laptop balanced on my hip bones.

I remember how tired I got just from the subway ride to work, but mostly those stupid stairs up to the subway, ever day on my way to work. Leaving me exhausted before I even arrived at my job. And I stopped work at thirty-five weeks, because I hit 35 weeks at the end of June, and I don't work summers. How on earth could I have (will I) possibly work(ed) full time until I was due???

And then there's the thought that I would have to go through labor again.

Oh god.

I've made my peace, really and truly, with my birth experience. It doesn't haunt me anymore. I don't actually care about it anymore. It doesn't matter. It's like dental work. It sucked, but now it's over. Life goes on.


The thought of going through it again?

Fills me with terror. I can tell you right now that I would be a solid bundle of nerves. Petrified. Like a block of wood.

I already know that as a result, I will have to do some sort of psychological work, either before I get pregnant, or early in a pregnancy. To somehow process what happened to me. Even though, really, nothing happened. But I can tell you this. If I had to have a baby tomorrow... I couldn't. I flat couldn't. And I don't really have any clue why I'm so traumatized. The emotional content that filled my brain is gone, leaving blankness... and dark scars. and this knowledge that I am in no shape to do it again. For now. But given that I literally don't have any thoughts about what was so scarring... and not feeling traumatized in the present... it's hard to understand.

Isn't this weird? I've gone back to being my lighthearted self.... with baggage that I can't quite locate.

Anyway, so there's that.

And then there's the small matter of parenting an infant... AND Calliope.

Calliope the toddler.

What a concept. I'm not ready yet to let go of her own precious infancy. She is so sweet, so delighted to see me each morning when I appear by her crib. She dove headlong into slices of cheese I held for her this evening. She fell asleep nursing tonight, a rare occurence in her life. Even in the newborn period, we didn't nurse to sleep. It's so sweet to see her downy head nestled peacefully against my breast.

I remind myself that even if I have another baby, I will never again have the opportunity to treasure this period like I do. And so, to make the most of every moment.

Which is why I pulled her bundled, wailing self from her crib and into my bed last night (at 10:45 pm... a new record for her! less than four hours after going to bed she was hungry again!)

Anyway, I can't really imagine doing it again. I think I would be tired for the rest of my life.

And I hate being tired. It makes me feel like I am not doing justice to life. To be half present, wishing it were bedtime or at the very least, that I could lie down... that's no way to live. Of course we all have days like that, but I don't want my daily existence to be this.

This post doesn't really have a neat conclusion.

I think I would like to have another child. Someday. But I cannot, for the life of me, imagine having enough energy to manage it.

Of course, I'm tired tonight from last night's difficult sleep. Hopefully Calliope will have an easier night tonight and I will be more optimistic in the morning.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Me n' My Liver

Tonight I had a phone consultation with Dr. Cowan in the Bay Area. He's a holistic family medicine doctor recommended to me by my holistic health counselor, Hannah Springer (to learn more about her, read the "comments" section from my last post, where she responds to concerns about the safety of raw milk).

Tonight I explained to Dr. Cowan how I had been a healthy weight and ovulating more or less normally (not exactly regular, but cycles ranging from 26-35 days... I charted my fertility as a form of birth control, so I know I was ovulating), and then... I went on birth control. And watched my weight steadily climb. Only to see it continue to slowly climb after stopping birth control. Every diet failed, immediately. I could never lose more than 2-3 pounds. Despite willpower. Despite exercise. And moreover, post-birth control... I never ovulated again.

Medical providers seem to vaguely agree that I "probably" had PCOS, despite lab results that were entirely normal, based on my clinical symptoms (weight gain, a little bit of acne, a little bit of hair growth, anovulatory cycles, cystic ovaries). Since there are no agreed upon criteria for PCOS (there's at least three different sets of criteria I know of, and these are just the well publicized ones), who could say for sure if I had PCOS or not?

Well, Dr. Cowan said I do not.

And he said that my symptoms were caused by the birth control.


Because, finally, a medical practitioner believes my story. That it doesn't make sense that I suddenly developed PCOS, out of the blue, rather than the birth control causing it... given that it coincides with when I started birth control.

It feels good to know that I am not crazy. At least in the eyes of one person.

He explained to me that Chinese medicine practitioners (of which he is not one) believe that hormones, though created by other glands, are regulated by the liver. And so, he feels that I have liver damage as a result of the birth control, and worsened by the high doses of hormones I had during IVF. (Indeed, my liver enzymes were quite elevated during my Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.)

And so, he recommends an herbal liver detoxification program for three weeks (herbs and a very specific diet), followed by continuing the diet I am on (a traditional diet, rather like Paleo, but emphasizing lactofermented foods, bone broths, and healthy fats (butter, lard, smaltz).


I can't do this while I'm breastfeeding. Because the body doesn't want to lose weight while breastfeeding (at least for me it doesn't... apparently if your systems are more robust, it may well be able to.)

And... if I take hormones again in the future, for example, to transfer another frozen embryo or two... I will most likely incur the damage all over again.

I would be willing to risk doing it all over... and who knows... maybe I could time a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) with my natural cycle so that I wouldn't have to take all those hormones. Unorthodox nowadays, but not impossible?

Frankly, I'm afraid to believe that this liver program he recommends could work, given how many times I've been disappointed in the past. So I'm certainly not going to rush to wean Calliope in hopes that it will work.

But it is a nice fantasy to keep in the back of my mind.

In the meantime, I will continue my traditional "diet," because I feel strong and healthy on it. As the doctor pointed out, I'm only a little bit overweight. I'm more than a little bit over my ideal weight, but as far as my baby and my breastfeeding are concerned... so what?

And I will feel relief to know that I am not crazy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

And Another Thing

This is the sort of thing that is maybe more easily shared on a mostly anonymous blog...

I have a boil.

On my cootch.

It's not from anything fun, or even anything like preparing for fun (like shaving), it's just weirdly... there.

It's not even in a particularly interesting area, as the geography down south goes. I think it's a coincidence that it's covered by underwear and thus gets better billing than if it was, say, located on my leg.

But what an awesome reason for a sick day, should it not heal in a few more days, right?

"Oh sorry, brand-new-boss, I have a festering boil on my yoni, won't be making it in today. You don't mind, do you?"

Potions and Concoctions

I'm afraid I may have gone off the deep end.

What started as noticing that Swiffer solution gave me headaches has led to... homemade all purpose cleaning spray, floor wash, glass wash, baby wipes (okay, I've been doing this one for a while), and even... deodorant.

I don't necessarily have a problem with commercial deodorant... it's just that my friend sent me a recipe for it and it seemed like a fun thing to try. And on the days I've remembered to use it, it seems to work just fine. (If I'm pressed for time, I use Se.cret.) The month of August may shed a different light on things, but so far, so good.

I've also been making my own (raw) yogurt, which is really satisfying. It's so easy and so much cheaper than commercial yogurt, plus it looks really cool in my new wide mouth Ma.son jars. I had a tiny bit left over, so I even did a tiny baby food jar of yogurt (thanks Catherine for the donated jar).

To those who are scared by the raw stuff... here's the deal. I won't extol the benefits of raw milk, but just say this: milk can be contaminated at any point between leaving the cow's body and entering your mouth. Pastuerization is just one stop along the way -- it can still get contaminated after this step. It is my firm belief that farmers who know their milk will be consumed raw are all the more likely to be scrupulously careful with their dairy (if not out of concern for their customer than for their livelihood... one bad outcome could put them out of business). Morever, cows who are grass and not grain fed have a normal pH in the stomach, one that does not harbor the deadly E. coli 01H57. So that makes it all the more safe. And is one reason that it is safe to eat grass fed beef more rare than conventionally raised beef.

As I read, calves raised alongside their mothers in pasture don't get sick from nursing on udders that are far less than scrupulously clean (read: tinged with manure) and yet they don't get sick... yet conventionally raised calves have to be pumped full of antibiotics to stay healthy.

Still, I am keeping my own little calf drinking milk from her own species. But she does relish some raw (bovine) yogurt, swiped from mommy's dish. I feel that the benefits are worth the risks.

Other homemade consumables include vast vats of chicken broth (made from pastured, organic chicken), gluten free carrot muffins (made with coconut flour and raw honey), beet kvass, kefir (still trying to work out the kinks on this one), lactofermented cabbage, grass fed beef stew, and many others. I'm finally cooking for myself again, after the many months of pregnancy and infancy where I just couldn't be bothered. But I feel like I need to be a good role model for Calliope, and skipping dinner, or snacking for dinner, isn't what I want her to see. Never mind that I eat after she goes to bed.

Anyway, I'm a little bit excited and quite a bit nervous because I volunteered to be interviewed for the New Yo.rk Ti.mes as a new parent who got freaked about chemicals. After writing a blurb to the journalist, he called me for a phone interview. I'm pretty sure I sounded like a dufus as we chatted while I simultaneously pumped in my office during my lunch break. After not hearing from him for a while, I was hoping that maybe he decided to feature someone else... but then I got an email last week that a photographer was coming to take pictures of Calliope and me. We did that last Thursday.

So, it could be cool to be featured in a national paper... but I really think I sounded kind of idiotic in the interview. I was just scattered and maybe a little ditzy. Let's face it, this is my new state of mind, what with the advent of motherhood.

So I feel this need to warn everyone ahead of time... that somehow, if I tell folks that I know sounded stupid in the interview, I won't feel as embarrassed when the article comes out?

It seems like a dubious strategy, at best, but lacking another one, I'm sticking to it.