Thursday, April 30, 2015

Six Weeks

Six weeks and what a mishmash of emotions.

On the one hand... we're really very close to being regular in her feeding schedule. The biggest hiccups come when I don't have Amelie's notebook in front of me and thus, forget when she last ate and screw up her next feeding time. Otherwise, it's rare, now, to have to make her wait more than a few minutes from waking up to feeding time. She's got it. Every three hours.

On the other hand: nights. Also every three hours. And I think Calliope was doing a six hour stint at night by six weeks. And the feedings and burpings and such still take the better part of an hour. So I'm tired. Really, really tired. Because sometimes it takes a lot longer. Girlfriend hasn't figured out how to coordinate the muscles in her abdominal area and so she goes days without pooping and gets really uncomfortable. Especially at night. And so she will be asleep in my arms, or so it appears, and then suddenly jacknife in my arms and snap her eyes open again. And if I've already been rocking and jiggling and swaying a while, especially at 2 am, that's pretty disheartening.

However, I've noticed something funny about her. As strange as this sounds, she seems to have a strange sort of separation anxiety. Often, as long as she can see me, she will stay quiet in her bouncy seat or RnP, swaddled and sucking on a pacifier, until she falls asleep. But if I go out of her sight, she screams. I'm not sure if this is a new development or if I just hadn't noticed until the last few days. I suspect the latter. But last night it meant that I could put her down awake in the RnP and just rock it, eventually while lying down, instead of rocking her to sleep in my arms and finally, gingerly transferring her and praying desperately that she didn't wake up.

So that's huge. Going to sleep on her own is an amazing development. It's not all the time, but it's definitely happening some of the time.

And now it's 8:30 on the dot and she's just started crying from my room so I'm off to do a dimly lit bath and feeding before, hopefully, a slightly longer stretch. One can hope.

Microblog (But Not On Monday... What Day Is It, Anyway?): Mommy Brag

I admit that I much prefer to read self deprecating humor towards oneself and one's offspring over mommy brags. We all think our kids are fabulous, but it doesn't make for interesting reading.

That said, there's definitely a time and place for a Mommy Brag. My feeling is that one just has to own it.

So here's my Mommy Brag: Last week, Calliope and I had our first Mommy And Calliope Date. It was lovely. A "very yummy date," Calliope called it. This week, I asked what Calliope what she wanted to do.

And she replied, "I want to go to Qathra (our favorite coffee shop) again. But I want to bring Susie and Amelie." (Susie is our nanny, and Calliope said this where Susie could hear her.) Blush with pride.)

And later, when I told her that Susie might not be able to come because she would need to stay with Eleanor, Calliope added, "I want Eleanor to come, too. And I want Eleanor to have her own chocolate chip muffin. But I will share my chocolate chip muffin with you and Susie, Mommy."

That she wanted to share her Special Mommy Date time... dayeinu! ("It would have been enough"). Already so generous. But to offer to share her weekly chocolate chip muffin, her most favorite treat after her weekly ice cream... wow.

She puts me to shame. I wouldn't offer to share my favorite treat. At forty. Never mind at three. I couldn't be prouder of my girl.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One Month

Amelie is tipping the scales at 8 lb 1 oz and measuring 20.5". Apparently she's gone from the 5th percentile to the 14th. I'm kind of glad I didn't know she was only the 5th percentile before -- that would've scared me a little.

These are the dog days, for sure.

I loved the newborn period with Calliope but gosh, she was such an easy baby. She put herself to sleep. I just swaddled her, inserted the pacifier, and stuck her in the swing. As long as I hadn't let her stay awake too long, she went right to sleep. She was easy to put on a schedule. I had lots of struggles with feeling sick from a postpartum hemorrhage, but the baby wasn't hard.

Amelie isn't so easy, especially as the day wears on. She's not smiling yet. I'm having trouble remembering that things will get easier. That the newborn period won't last forever. I just can't think past the next few hours. She needs help, sometimes lots and lots of help, falling asleep. Sometimes ninety minutes of jiggling, bouncing, patting, swaying. And then her eyes will still pop open when I finally ease her into the bouncy seat or rock n play. I haven't dared try the crib yet. That just seems like asking for trouble.

The last few days, though, I think I'm starting to see possible signs of progress. At the risk of jinxing myself, she seems to sleep in pretty regular three hour stretches at night. I've gotten over my dislike of co-sleeping because it makes such a difference in how much sleep I get. Without it, I can easily be awake for an hour per feeding, between the nursing (which has now mercifully shortened to ten minutes or so), burping, and getting her back to sleep. So with feeding every three hours, that's a maximum of two hours of sleep followed by one hour of sleep. And if I've had to turn the lights on for some reason, it takes even longer than that to actually get back to sleep. With co-sleeping, I can't sleep while she's actually nursing but as soon as she's done, we are both asleep. I usually wake up three hours later to find that I've been sleeping with my bra open and my shirt undone -- I was too sleepy to even tuck myself back in.

I don't sleep as well, feeling like I have to be so conscious of her little body and its position relative to mine -- a couple of times, her swaddled little self has rolled onto her belly, which terrifies me, even though she turned her head without a problem -- and my hips get terribly sore from lying on one side for such a long time. But there's no doubt that being awake for fifteen minutes beats being awake for an hour or more.

I also just had a night nurse last night, again, and oh, it's blissful. Yesterday evening was rough, which I finally realized might be attributed to yesterday's Hepatitis B shot. Regardless, she only napped for twenty minutes between five and nine PM yesterday. The rest of the time was spent either nursing or trying to get her back to sleep. I felt so guilty about poor Calliope, playing so sweetly by herself in the living room as I desperately bounced and swayed in front of the roaring exhaust fan in the kitchen. I wanted so badly to devote just a few minutes of undivided attention to my little girl who had been gone all day. We did finally get fifteen minutes of Special Time to play before Amelie woke up and joined us for stories on the couch.

When the night nurse arrived, I gratefully handed Amelie over and was surprised to see her dissolve in hysterical screaming. It's amazing to me that since about two weeks old, she calms when I hold her versus anyone else. I don't remember Calliope knowing me so young.

But anyway, the feeling of being able to hand her over and go into my room and know, for sure, that I wouldn't be woken all night is pure deliciousness. I wake myself up once to pump but I don't strictly have to. I just feel too guilty to skip it.

The night nurse had quite a bit of trouble getting Amelie to sleep but... when she finally did, Amelie ended up going five hours without eating! Her longest stretch yet!

During the day, I'm trying to stretch her to eating every three hours. I won't let her cry out of hunger, but I do my best to distract her if I can. I find that going for long walks works well. And luckily I had stopped bleeding for several days which my midwife said meant I could exercise again. (It came back yesterday, a little, after perhaps too much exercise.) And the weather has finally gotten nice so it's wonderful to be outside. Also, my apartment gets boring after a while.

We still have plenty of stretches of only two hours but it seems like today had more three hour stretches than two. Like I said, possible progress.

When I stretched Calliope's schedule from three hour feeding intervals to every four hours (at eight weeks), her night interval immediately lengthened to every eight hours. So I'm hopeful that getting Amelie to every three hours will help at night. I know that conventional wisdom says to let little babies eat whenever they want to but my question is: has anyone ever done a study to see if babies actually gain weight faster by grazing all day long? Again, I won't let her cry out of hunger, at least not for more than a minute or two to make sure she's not going to settle, but if I can get her to sleep a bit longer with walking or the pacifier (today was our best day yet with the pacifier, hooray!) and thus she eats a bit more at a feeding, isn't that a good thing?

Girlfriend is still asleep and I keep waiting for her to wake up but I guess I should go to bed, just in case this is going to be a miraculous long stretch. Photos tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Microblog Monday (kind of): The Roof

"I'm going to invite the roof to read stories with us, Mommy. Not the alarm, just the roof."

A month or two ago, Calliope and I were climbing the stairs to the sixth floor from our neighbors on the fifth. It was very cold and breezy in the stairwell of our large building, and I noticed that there was an open window in the stairwell near the door to the roof.

We climbed the stairs past our floor towards the roof when suddenly a loud shrill alarm went off, sounding like a car alarm but reverberating very loudly within the confines of the enclosed stairwell. I was startled, of course, but Calliope completely panicked. She dropped to the floor -- luckily she was a few steps behind me, on the landing -- in a huddle with her hands over her ears, screaming.

I scrambled back down the steps and scooped her up and hurried out of the stairwell. Luckily the alarm turned off immediately, but poor Calliope was shaken.

And since that day, she's been scared of the alarm. And of roofs (rooves?), in general.

We talk about roofs a lot. That roofs can't be in the lobby. That roofs don't have feet. That roofs can't come in her room. That roofs have to be on top of the building and no place else. That everyone has a roof. That no one lives on the roof. Except birds. And no, birds can't take the stairs to the roof. And that the alarm won't go off if we go on the stairs, so long as we don't go past our floor.

Today she announced that she's going to invite the roof and a fire truck to Shabbat dinner. Progress!

(Note: written if not published on Monday. Give a new mom a break, would you?)

Proud Big Sister

She loves her baby!
Whatever issues she may have with me, Calliope loves "her" baby. Every morning, before she leaves, and every night at bedtime she says "I want to kiss my baby."

I imagine it will only get better, for a while at least, as Amelie starts smiling and showing actual interest in her big sister. When Amelie becomes mobile, things may take a turn for the worse. Trying not to worry about that just yet.

In other exciting (ha!, as if anything in my life is exciting) news, Amelie tipped the scales at 7 lb 11 oz at 3 weeks 4 days. So she's gained 1 pound and 6 ounces since birth, and more, really, since she was down to 5 lb 14 oz when we left the hospital. Her little face is getting chubbier by the day and it's a race to see if we can finish the newborn diapers before she outgrows them. Her feedings have gotten much shorter, too. Under ten minutes, I think.

She got a weight check because I went to see my old pediatrician because I realized that Amelie's noisy breathing was more than just typical newborn stuff -- she was having inspiratory stridor. And I don't trust my new pediatrician all that much, so off we went to downtown Brooklyn. Yes, I'm two-timing my pediatrician.

Anyway, my former (awesome) pediatrician said it's probably laryngomalacia or tracheomalacia -- basically, floppy vocal cords -- and it's nothing to worry about since she's not turning blue or having trouble eating or having trouble breathing. I'm very relieved. But I know if my new pediatrician had said exactly the same thing, I would have doubted her. So I'm glad we made the trip downtown.

The new pediatrician is a little bit like me -- takes too long and is a little too scatterbrained, though warm and lovely and unhurried. All very contradictory, I know. But she also gives advice to Amy that I disagree with, like, that an ounce a day isn't enough weight gain for little Leo, who has slipped from 50% to a much lower percentile. But the thing is, Leo's parents are very small people. Leo was never going to stay in the 50%. And an ounce a day of weight gain is very good. So that makes me want to fire the new pediatrician. But seriously? For getting shots, why wouldn't I go to the pediatrician in walking distance? So like I said, I'm two-timing my pediatrician. Luckily my insurance doesn't seem to mind this.

In other two timing news, I tried Baby Night Nurse 2.0 last night because the original one is in Jamaica for her father's funeral. I was hoping to wait for her return but two nights ago was wretched -- Amelie went to bed earlier than usual (9:30) but then was up for two hours from 3-5 am (plus every 3 hours during the night) and then Calliope was up at 6 am. And then we had to go to the DMV yesterday because I found out the previous day that the car registration was expiring yesterday (long and boring story). And then, because I was too forthcoming with some information I shouldn't have shared, we ended up having to go to a second DMV. With a chiro appointment in between. Seven hours out of the house is too much for this mama and her three week old. I was ready to cry from exhaustion. I still need a nap every day and the DMV saga precluded that.

So Baby Night Nurse 2.0 agreed to come last night. She is the cousin of my postpartum doula (who I hopefully won't need any more -- night nurse is more economical and frankly, provides the service I am most desperate for) but I didn't remember her name. That seemed to offend her. I mean, seriously? Placenta brain over here. Then she apologized that she forgot part of her uniform. Uniform? Why would I care what you wear? Then she informed me that I was using the wrong bottles -- sometimes I use the Medela nipple on a pumping bottles and she said I should only do that when I am out. They are "transitional bottles" and shouldn't be used on a regular basis. Who knew? She liked the Avent and Playtex bottles I had, though.

She also didn't like the fact that I don't change Amelie into "night clothes." My reasoning was; if her clothes aren't dirty, why would I change them more than once a day? But BNN 2.0 feels that Amelie needs a bath every night and a change into clean clothes to teach her that it is bedtime. Never mind that her "bedtime" doesn't preceed sleep that is any longer than her daytime sleep. Okay, whatever.

Also, according to her, Amelie is too small for the bouncy seat -- she needs to be bigger so the seat sinks down to stabilize her better. The RNP received praise, though.

All in all, it's a wonder either of my children survived so far.

Luckily, I found the whole thing fairly hilarious. But I won't be hiring her again.

On the plus side, Amelie slept three four-hour intervals! In a row! She never got her bath with BNN 2.0 because she didn't wake up until midnight. No credit to the nurse, either, because I had put her down for the first four hour interval.

I'm scared to say this is a pattern but I can't help but be a little cheered by this state of affairs.

And I will try the nighttime bath and change, just to see if it helps. Her neck folds could use a little extra attention, anyway.
Doesn't she look oddly like a doll?  
The less photographed eldest child, playing with SMC Talia's adorable son Rian.
Rian's awesome mama brought us quiche (not that Calliope would eat foods that are mixed
together) and organized my fridge and freezer so none of the food people brought me would go
bad. I love my village!
Side note: Calliope is wearing one of her uniforms, fleece pants ("because I'm a fleece girl,
right Mommy?") and a leotard (which she calls "my tattoo"). 
I'm not a fan of cosleeping but when Amelie wouldn't settle on her own, I discovered that a
daytime couch nap together can be pretty delicious.

Almost a smile!
(She does smile occasionally, just not exactly at anyone yet.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Three Weeks

My friend Liz and her four year old daughter Sophie came to visit from Washington, DC. Liz is one of my favorite people and I rarely get to see her, and it's rarer still, like never, that she's able to come visit and actually stay with us. So I didn't want to take her up on her offer to take the girls out without me.

And I was feeling pretty well yesterday. So we packed up our girls and hopped on the subway for an easy ride to Coney Island.

The girls were thrilled with the experience, which made it all worthwhile. Sophie even said, "This is the best day of my life!" Of course there were the inevitable meltdowns (Sophie's) and delays but it just so sweet to see their joyous faces. Except that I was so damn tired by the end. Apparently there's a reason you don't see a lot of three week olds on the boardwalk or at the Acquarium (we ended there, just so I could nurse the baby before heading back).

So last night I did something crazy and hired a night nurse who was recommended by my postpartum doula. Yes, all members of my hired staff. She seemed great, although I did just wake up from a scary nap nightmare where she attacked me. It was wonderful to hand over the baby and go into my room and close the door. I woke up once to pump but was otherwise alone. I just wish I knew why I still felt totally exhausted.

So she's coming back tonight. She's going out of town for a few days and then I will have family here for a couple more days (so no place for the night nurse to spend the night) and I just can't bear to go that long when I barely feel any better. So she's coming. Even though it feels recklessly extravagent.

In other news, after investing in five different kinds of pacifiers -- all sent to me by that wonderful online company -- Amelie has finally agreed to accept one. Naturally, the last one we tried. Never mind. I couldn't be more proud than if she had just graduated from college. My life has already gotten better.

Meeting Amy

And meeting Sophie

Another sister shot from the wreckage
Getting some serious cheeks!
Three weeks old (and two days)

First, and only, tummy time. Only because Leo was doing it. Are we really supposed to be doing that already>
My how the second child suffers. I can't remember any of this stuff and who has time (or inclination, really) to look it up?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Two and a Half Weeks

The last couple days have been easier, thank goodness. I feel like -- is it possible -- we (I) might be finding my stride?

With hindsight, I can see that Amelie had a growth spurt over this past weekend. But at the time, it was inexplicable misery. She was eating every one and a half to two hours, but each feeding lasted an hour, all night.

The previous night was nearly as bad.

I was already miserable and barely holding it together... and then we had our newborn photo shoot. When one or the other girl refused to cooperate all morning. I would rock and nurse Amelie to sleep, wait fifteen minutes, scarcely breathing, trying to get her soundly asleep, then lay her down... and in seconds, she would be awake and fussing again. No doubt overtired from our long night... that made two of us. I was not terribly sympathetic but the photographer was very kind, especially when I was near tears.

I'm very grateful we got at least one shot that I love.

The princess dress was a touch added by Calliope that I was too tired to object to,

And the next night, my camp friend/fellow SMC/downstairs neighbor agreed to take Amelie for a few hours at night so I could get some uninterrupted sleep. She brought Amelie back at 2 am but Amelie stayed asleep for an additional hour after that, so I slept 9 pm -- 3 am. What a difference it made! I could have wept with gratitude the next day.

The next day, I weighed Amelie on the postpartum doula's scale -- is it possible she gained eight ounces in four days??? (Up to seven pounds, half an ounce.) That would explain the all night feeding frenzy, I suppose.

Today, four days later, post-feeding, she was seven pounds six ounces, so an additional six ounces, though I would guess her full belly accounted for at least a couple ounces of that. Her face is definitely filling out, as is her little round belly, so I don't think I have to worry any more about her being too sleepy to eat anymore.

This week has been spring break for the public schools, which meant it was our nanny's spring break week as well. I think that was the hardest thing, having both kids. Especially at dinner time. Some nights were fine, some nights, especially when it came time to get Calliope ready for bed, were hellacious. Calliope has some charming new habits that include total deafness alternating with hyper silliness and a tendency to dive behind the couch cushions, endangering my mom's Tiffany lamps in the process.

Luckily I had hired a postpartum doula ahead of time and she came every other day at dinner time. That was super helpful but I guess I'm getting stronger because I think I may not need her any more. I don't have a lot for her to do... but I'm scared to let her go, too. Tonight I had her stay with the girls while I took myself out for a delicious grass fed burger. I had gotten too hungry and it was the best thing ever.

Speaking of hunger -- I'm ravenous these days! But my digestion is still a little shaky. I don't remember this from last time.

In news about Amelie, she is batting at toys on the play mat already! I don't remember Calliope doing it so young. Often she hits them accidentally but occasionally it's intentional.

She's also flashed a couple of grins at me but I haven't been able to replicate them so I'm not sure if they are intentional or just lucky timing.

She's wailing in the kitchen right now. She gets tired and wants to nurse but then gets mad that milk is flowing into her mouth, but mostly refuses the pacifier... So she gets parked in front of the exhaust fan in her bouncy seat. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Evenings seem to be a little rough for her but, knock wood, it seems like she settles down by about 11 pm. So far the last three hours, she's nursed three times. Otherwise, she mostly nurses every three hours or so. I wake her during the day but not at night -- usually I'm lucky to get one 3.5 hour stretch (knock wood!).

I'm trying to stick to a rough sort of schedule since it seemed like Calliope slept much better once she was on a schedule. Though I don't think I had started this young with her. But I do work hard at not letting Amelie stay awake too long, based on my findings with Calliope that this caused evening fussiness. It seems to mostly be working.

Oh man, she's up again. This blog post has been written in at least four different installments over as many evenings. This is round two for tonight. So I'm hitting publish while I can.

Two and a half weeks, feeling pensive

Baby's first [chiropractic] adjustment!
(It consisted of a very brief back massage which she appeared to relish.)

"Eh? What's this I hear? We will be spending every day together for the next three years?"
Meeting Baby Leo, future nanny share partner, for the first time today.

Enjoying Leo's playmat

Batting at toys -- the action is about 32 seconds in

Impossibly cute sneeze

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Calliope on Day Eleven

Susie left early today to go help Amy (Eleanor's been home all week with a terrible stomach bug, poor thing) and Amelie was asleep so Calliope and I had some Special Time together this afternoon. She really is so cute and funny. I lose sight of that sometimes when Amelie is around, or I need her to go to bed, or am in any way, you know, placing demands on her. But in that unstructured time, she blossoms, and I know that I need to nurture that if I want her to hold up during those times I need something from her.

Me, "Calliope, in two minutes, we need to get started on dinner."

Calliope, "Can I have a treat after dinner?"

Me, "I'll think about it."

Calliope, "How about if you think about dinner and I think about the treat?"

Me, "Okay, that seems fair."

Calliope, "It's a compromise bonanza!"

 (A quote from one of her favorite books, Bi.nk and Gol.lie.)

Later, I was settling into my glider to nurse the baby and she leaned over the baby's face, so that her hair was hanging in the baby's eyes. I calmly asked her to move her hair. She did... and then a minute later, she suddenly, bizarrely, burst into hysterical tears.

I was completely baffled, but gathered her into a one armed side hug and asked what was wrong. "You yelled at me!!!"

She's not typically sensitive to mild rebukes like this so I'm still confused by this one.

We had a nice dinner together, I read to her while I nursed the baby, we bathed the baby together, something she wanted to do. Then she did some artwork while I put the baby to bed. And then when I gave a two minute warning for bedtime, and rebuked her for leaving a chair lying on its side in the middle of the kitchen floor and asked her to pick it up... she got that annoying hyper giggling fit and ran to the couch and dove behind the cushions. A behavior that drives me beserk.

I gave her a count-to-three warning or no songs before bed, and she jumped out and ran to her room and slammed the door.

Very well then. I stalked to her room, took her to the bathroom, then silently back to bed, taped on her diaper, quietly said "good night" and closed the door.


After all that quality time this afternoon building "carousel castle houses" with magnet tiles, and lots of time talking and cuddling and reading... I'm sorely disappointed.

I know it takes time but it's still frustrating. I'm dreading the long weekend and the nanny's week off next week. I've decided to ask the postpartum doula to make a flourless chocolate cake with Calliope on Friday for our Seder that night. Kill two birds with one stone -- occupy the kid and end up with a dessert to share. Maybe I will even get to rest a bit.

Day Eleven

First time on the playmat. 
 I've been resting as much as I can, since tearfulness is usually associated with sleep deprivation for me. Amelie decided to insist on an extra feeding during the night so I was extra tired this morning.

As an aside, ugh, the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat is the worst. I can't wait for that phase to be over!

I'm still waking Amelie for nearly every feeding. My midwife wants me to be feeding her at least 8 times in 24 hours but I can't quite make that goal. I can't bear to not have at least one 4 hour stretch at night, if Amelie will allow it. And during the day, I have the best of intentions but by the time I wake her up, do her little mouth exercises as prescribed by the lactation consultant, get settled with my water bottle and nursing pillow and baby, it's invariably a little more than three hours. It's worse if big sister is around.

I'm curious to see if feeding her on this roughly three hour schedule means that she will adopt this schedule on her own. Right now she's asleep most of the time that she's not eating... but eating plus burping (or attempting it, anyway -- she's not much of a burper) and changing her diaper plus rocking her back to sleep takes about an hour, though I'm cautiously pleased to see that feeding times are getting shorter. I'm looking forward to her weight check tomorrow to confirm that she's eating enough. It seems to me that her little face is filling out a bit but it's hard to say for sure. There was another baby at the midwife's office yesterday who was born a week earlier at nine pounds and change -- 50% bigger than Amelie! She looked like an entirely different species of baby, yet still had that exquisite newborn newness.

I'm feeling less emotional today but if I talk about my mom or my Calliope guilt, I get choked up all over again.

In a positive development, I've barely bled at all today. Last time, I bled for six full weeks. This aggressive approach to resting really helps. I highly recommend it! We have to go out tomorrow to the pediatrician but then Friday will be a home day, apart from going to a Seder at my friend's downstairs. Saturday will hopefully be our newborn photo shoot, but hopefully not too tiring since it will be at home? Sunday I will attempt to drive us to our weekly breakfast place.

I had my postpartum doula come last night. She's so lovely. I'm just not sure how to use her. Apart from rocking Amelie to sleep -- which sometimes requires nursing -- and diaper changes, she can't do much for the baby. And Calliope isn't so open to to the help of strangers. The doula decluttered last night, which was amazing, but now it's done. Too bad she can't pay bills and write thank you notes and call my HR department!
Apparently I'm not a very interesting conversationalist.