Life is still good. The bane of our existence these days is intestinal gas, namely Ali’s, who’s 7 weeks old today (and who was a whopping 11 and a half pounds a few days ago at our check-up with the midwife). I’m not sure if it’s something I’m eating or just his little digestive system learning to work at the same time he’s becoming more aware of his own body. I guess our simian ancestors were carried and jiggled more of the day, so this wasn’t as much of an issue. And indigenous people tend to carry babies around in wraps or slings, or siblings and cousins play and jiggle them all day.
As for me, wearing Ali saps my energy so fast it’s hard to wear him for more than ten minutes at a time, and that’s if he’s actually in a mood to be shoved into a contraption against my chest without getting fed. (Some of what I need to do involves a hot oven or stove, which is not the best place to be wearing a baby in the first place.)
I really hoped my energy would be higher by 7 weeks postpartum, but I’m still nowhere near my normal energy levels. I can be totally great for a lot of the day, but then doing the dishes, getting groceries, or going for a walk can wipe me out. It’s frustrating. I’m taking iron, eating plenty of red meat, taking all kinds of other vitamins (including a high-quality prenatal), and just added a B vitamin lozenge to the mix.
I guess I’m still recovering from the longest day of my life, bookended by two other days with virtually no sleep, including 10 hours incarcerated in a hospital, followed by 7 weeks of almost never getting enough sleep and sometimes not eating enough, either, just because it can be hard to peel the baby off me long enough to do so. Hoping I turn a corner pretty soon.
The good news is that right around 6 weeks, breastfeeding became much easier and not painful at all (except when the milk flows too fast and he clamps down with his gums to slow it down). It’s become pretty pleasant.
And for a little while he was stretching to a feed every 2 to 4 hours, with a 5 hour stretch at night now and then, which was great! But now it’s back to roughly every 2 hours, including at night. I guess it’s the 6 week growth spurt, plus the gas issue. The poor guy just can’t seem to sleep for very long without waking up either grunting or yelling until he manages to fart. It makes for long days and nights for all of us.
His grunts are super cute, and I wish I could just stay up and appreciate them and hold him and jiggle him for hours. But then I’d be a pretty useless mom and general human being during the day As it is, just getting up and jiggling him for several minutes and then feeding him again and then trying to put him down again… lather, rinse, repeat… is zombiefying enough. If this wasn’t a holiday weekend, with Ahmed off work on Monday, I don’t know how we’d have traded off naps enough to make it through the coming week.
I wish I knew if there was something I could do, or if I just have to wait it out. Any insights will be appreciated.
Meanwhile our wonder boy is flying through his milestones. His head control when we pull him to sit is well ahead of the curve, and he can not only intentionally bat at objects above him while lying on his back, he managed to grasp some rings above him as well. Might have been by accident, but when he does things on accident, doing them on purpose often follows quickly.
A little funny story: We have three main types of tea that we drink: Darjeeling, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey. This morning, as I was feeding the boy (in bed, side-lying), I asked Ahmed to put some water on for me (for tea). Then I dozed off while the boy finished his breakfast.
Several minutes later he came back and asked, “English breakfast?”
I looked at him for several seconds, wondering why he was offering to make me baked beans, tomatoes, toast, and blood pudding instead of our usual breakfast… 😛
Yesterday I managed to injure our boy in a small but painful way that kind of broke my heart. I put him in the Pack n Play diaper changing insert upside down (so his head was where his feet normally were) just to be silly, to show him my face upside down. He laughed and smiled a little, and then I took him out and he started pain-crying loudly. I thought maybe it was gas again, but it sounded more insistent than usual, and I noticed a little round scratched place on his head. It didn’t break the skin, but somehow I knew he wasn’t over-reacting. I felt around on the changing insert and felt a little metal knob of just exactly the right height and width to be especially painful if you raked someone’s head across it as you lifted them.
I felt so horrible, and I held him close until he calmed down. It didn’t take that long, and he’s fine today, but oh how it hurt me to see him in pain that I caused. And why the hell do Pack n Plays have a pain-causing knob right there instead of smoothing it over somehow? I guess you’re not supposed to put kids in them upside down, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s done it.
Anyway… One thing that’s pretty easy to do with a baby is watch sports on TV, and it’s been one heck of an NBA tournament. It’s unfortunate that they tend to go so late at night, because we’d do better to go to bed earlier, but it’s been a lot of really good games.
Last night Ahmed asked why it’s “from downtown” when someone makes a long three-pointer.
“Isn’t downtown, like, the center of the city?”
He makes a good point, as he often does when it comes to questioning our sometimes bizarre language and idioms 😉 Apparently it came from games at Madison Square Garden, which was a bit far from downtown? Or maybe it was a directional thing in New York — perhaps one end of the court pointed uptown and one pointed downtown?
Anyway, it’ll be nice when the World Cup starts. The games will start at 7am, which is right about the time our boy wakes up. A(nother) good incentive to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier 🙂
One article I enjoyed reading lately claims science says happier people are raised by parents who do one thing, and that’s respect the individuality and autonomy of their kids.
“Feel free to set limits you feel are appropriate. Feel free to have expectations. But then go one step farther: Talk about why you set those limits and why you have those expectations. Then allow your kids to talk, and make sure you listen.
You may be able to control [I think ‘influence’ is a better word here] certain behaviors, but you can’t control every opinion — so don’t try. Show that even though you might disagree, you still respect their right to see things differently. Showing respect is a great way to show you care.”
Another fabulous article (from NPR) says “The result [of our sometimes bizarre Western culture] is something unique in human history: A mom stuck in a box, often alone, doing the job typically performed by a handful of people. As Gillis writes, “Never have mothers been so burdened by motherhood.””
I have it incredibly easy compared to most. I make my own hours at home, and my little guy has a super engaged father. And I wanted to be able to take care of my own child as much as possible. This was my choice, and I consider it a luxury compared to most of my other options. But it is still strange and not super easy being stuck in a box all day alone with a baby most of the time.
Turns out, it’s just not how it’s really meant to be done…
Wondering if I can somehow reach out to other mothers in my apartment complex and improvise a “village” at least a little? A friend told me there’s an app called Peanut that’s like a dating app for new moms who want to connect. I’ll probably look into it (one of those things on my very long list), but I don’t have a smartphone, so I’m not sure how that’ll work.
Speaking of not being sure how things will work, my Facebook “village” has suggested various things for Ali’s gas, including gas drops (simethicone, a medication), gripe water (an herbal remedy), a certain kind of hold while burping, and just waiting until the phase passes.
Of course, every bit of advice / medicine / herbal remedy / contraption works different for every kid. It’s like every child is this whole new experiment, and sometimes you have to buy every damn contraption / medication / miracle cure out there to figure out what works for yours… or just suffer until a given phase passes.
We tend to err on the side of suffering, I guess, since baby stuff is so grotesquely over-priced. But every now and then we strike it just right, like with the Love to Dream suit that swaddles his arms up by his head. That was definitely a life saver. Worth paying $35 for a glorified baby pajama, even if it set my teeth on edge.
Thankfully most of the contraptions we have are second hand or were gifted to us, but I could easily spend a fortune trying all the other things. (Part of the expense is also the time spent researching every damn thing to see if there’s any science to back it up or at least good reviews on Amazon. Time I could spend making freelance money. Or blogging.)
Luckily our life more or less works as it is, but the baby industry must seriously be just about the biggest money maker out there, since so many parents are willing to spend anything if their kid will just calm down and sleep. And I understand that impulse completely, even with my relatively easy baby. If he was much more difficult… we might just go bankrupt! And/or crazy.
But in the end, it is a short season of life, and with respect and unconditional love, it’s hard to go too far wrong. And his little smiles, and the way he looks so content and secure when he sleeps, are so amazing. We’re still so happily astonished by the simple fact that he’s here. He’s really here, and he’s really ours.
I saw a quote the other day that said something like, “Children show us who we were and who we may yet become.” Children are so open, full of wonder, eager to play, naturally affectionate, unselfconscious, and devoid of prejudice. Something we can all strive to emulate. They can teach us at least as much as we can teach them, if we’re open to it.
Here’s Ali with a bunch of my baby stuff that I’ve saved all these years, and that my mom brought down when she visited last week to help me out. (All the photos on this post are by her.) That was my “I’m a Wild and Crazy Baby” shirt, my Rattle Bear, my Glenda Rabbit (gifted to me by my mom’s friend Glenda), my red gingham blanket, my little Silver Bear (half-buried) that I got for my eighth birthday in Tahlequah (the name is because I think he has a Silver Dollar City logo on him somewhere).
And my son. My sweet summer child.
P.S. We’ve been making a vague attempt to influence our boy to sleep from 7pm to 7am, since I’ve heard that “sleep begets sleep,” and this schedule seems to work for a lot of people. More importantly, he seems to get up at 7am at the latest for his morning play time, no matter when we put him to sleep. Apparently, putting babies to sleep earlier helps them sleep a bit later. (If we put him to bed at 10pm, for example, he might wake up at 5:45am. Ouch.)
It’s not working very well, and we end up kind of wrestling with him until 10pm or so. Because of the farting he keeps waking up, wanting to be fed, etc., and that’s if we can get him down at all. So we’re officially giving up until the World Cup final, which will take place a few days after he turns three months old. As long as everyone is reasonably OK, we’ll just let him sleep and wake when he wants to, and of course help him along toward sleep whenever he makes sleepy signs. We’re still in the fourth trimester, and Ali is still king 🙂
Plus we like to take walks at sunset — it’s one of those things we’ve been looking forward to for years, taking our child for sunset walks along the river — and sunset is well after 7pm these days. So our sweet summer child will be a sweet sunset child for a few weeks anyway!
After the World Cup and its 7am games is over, we’ll see if we can hit the Holy Grail of a 9pm to 9am sleep for our boy… or even 8 to 8 would be amazing. He’s big enough now that he doesn’t actually need to wake more than once a night for feeding — he just does it for comfort, or habit, or maybe he’s not eating enough at some sessions because he falls asleep before he’s really finished, or maybe it’s a growth spurt, or maybe he’s just using me as a 24 hour snack bar. Who knows, maybe that will run its course before long, too, or I can pick through all the advice out there on how to “wean” a baby to one feed per night. One can dream! (Well, at least when one can sleep…)