Thursday, September 16, 2010

Number two

No, not that number two, though I could undoubtedly fill seven blog posts with those adventures. I'm talking about another baby.

I always envisioned having two - no more, no less. Close in age. DH wanted zero. Then I convinced him to have the one, and he thinks he wants to stop here, but is open to two...maybe. He typically lets me decide these kinds of things. That's how we ended up with the one in the first place. But he's begun to question the wisdom of some of my decisions recently since our second dog (that I insisted on) is turning out to be higher maintenance than we ever imagined. The first one was and continues to be a perfect angel. I pushed it too far this time, I admit it. The second one has made our lives exponentially more stressful for reasons we could not have seen coming. You don't really know what you're going to get when you adopt a dog. Same with having a kid - even moreso with a kid that you don't get to spend 20 minutes with before hand. I have a lot of faith in my gut feeling on this one though, I LOVE being a mom, I love taking care of a baby, I like the idea of giving Dom a sibling and having a slightly bigger family and avoiding the 'only child' syndrome.

I am, however, starting to consider the disadvantages and the possibility that not only do I not think I want to start trying again immediately but that I may be good with just the one. As B3thany Fr@nkel so aptly put it - this motherhood thing is "no joke" - and she doesn't know the half of it with her full time nurse, two personal assistants, and a work-from-home career. I remember thinking, briefly, when I was considering a second dog - why mess up a good thing? We are so happy, content, life is easy, why complicate it? Because I always complicate it. I have some kind of cosmic pull toward challenge, chaos, and stress. I think it's some deeply-rooted psychological phenomenon having to do with wanting to prove myself to my parents. I always convince myself that I want the impossibly difficult career that's way over my head, the hard-to-get bad boy, the second rescue dog. I don't listen to people telling me to take the easy way out because it sounds like the easy way out when really it's just a recognition of one's limits and how to make life comfortable. I've never listened and have paid a price. I don't like the career path I'm on and am constantly stressed out about one aspect or another of the life I've built. So it does give me pause when I recognize how headstrong I am about a second baby. Do I want it for the right reasons? Or because I think that I should be all and do all including the 'perfect' family?

Paired with this hesitation is the protocol I'm just now learning about for pregnancy-after-c-section. It's actually a protocol for consecutive pregnancies in general. When I first spoke to my OBG to schedule my 6 week post partum appointment she mentioned that we would talk at that appointment about what birth control I wanted to use. I was instantly irritated (to those who aren't familiar with my previous blog, I don't have a spectacular relationship with my OBG). She has this repulsive way of putting things that nixes any chance of discussion. She often makes decisions applicable to my body and my life and presents them to me in a way does not leave room for talking about pros and cons or risks and benefits. Like it's not open to discussion at all. This was one of those times. She didn't mention anything about why I would have to immediately go on BC or for how long or what the consequences could be if I didn't. She doesn't think the patient needs to know the details and that has always frustrated me about her. So I ask a littany of questions based on what I've read off the internet and heard from friends and she proceeds to criticize me for borrowing inaccurate or unreliable information. What else am I supposed to go on?

Anyway, it took a few minutes on babycenter to figure out that there are real reasons to wait to have a subsequent pregnancy. Even more reasons after a c/section. It makes sense, your body has been completely depleted. You have a six inch incision in three or four layers of the max stretching zone. DH told me I looked "too skinny" and tired last night - he was holding Dom and I pointed at the baby and said well, there's all my calcium, my protein, my nutrients, vitamins, energy, everything. Everything went into that little bundle. I get that there might not be enough left to create a whole other being right away. Now, in this day and age and region, nutrients are easy to come by - we civilized societies are a healthy people and kabillions of people have healthy back-to-back babies. So it doesn't seem to me like an impossibility, but I get that back-to-back may increase the risk of certain issues. In my research about SIDS I found that having a second baby right away increases the risk in that second baby. The waiting periods I keep hearing range from 9 months to two years. If you know me you know I am not someone who deals well with any degree of risk. I hate the unknown, I am a control freak. So I can wait.

I was trying on work clothes today, to try to gauge whether I'll ever be able to wear any of them again. As it turns out, DH is wrong. I am not too skinny. And as I got into the mindset that I will eventually have to march back into that office, it struck me that this would be the first time in my professional life that my day to day activities, my every thought and decision and action, will not be governed by the babymaking cycle. The waiting, the charting, the sex-on-demand, the more waiting, all the tests, putting off making plans, it's all very stressful and a sense of relief that washed over me when I realized that I'm currently free of all of it. Free of it and appreciative of that. The last two+ years of my life have been consumed, in the fullest sense of the word, by a desperation, a dissatisfaction, a want so bad it hurt, and finally, I have attained a sense of contentment. Happiness. And the focus has now shifted to my life as it is rather than what it is not. And while there are plenty of good reasons to have kids back-to-back, I think I am going to enjoy this break.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time has passed, despite my best efforts

I have spent the better part of my life wishing it away in a sense. Wishing for time to pass quickly. Waiting for my 16th, 18th, 21st birthday. Waiting for the next summer break, for finals to be over, for vacations, to get the word on a new job, to get the bar over with. And more recently that wish has been more acute. Waiting to ovulate, waiting to see if DH will be on board when the time comes, waiting for the time to test and then waiting twelve weeks for that first ultrasound in 2009. I thought it would kill me. And then, as if the universe was chiding 'you ain't seen nothing yet' there became a wait to try again. And again I hadn't suffered enough and it became a wait to find out what was wrong with me? Was it cancer? And then a wait to recover. And then the mother of all waits to try again. Then, pregnant and waiting again, this time with angst and fear at the wheel, for each ultrasound, each test, each milestone, to find out - is he okay?

For the first time in years, and particularly in the last two years, I am wishing for time to slow down. I feel like a completely different person, I've never held 'the moments in between' in such regard. I want to live in them forever. They aren't without anxiety and they are plagued by sleep deprivation and back pain and isolation, but if I could do nothing else for the rest of my life I would be happy. I am happy. It's a strange transition, hoping for time to stop. And it's frustrating to have people telling you that having kids is like hitting fast forward on your life. And the absolutely constant reminders to remember every moment, take lots of pictures 'cause it all goes by so fast. I've tried that, every day I try - for example, the moments I tried to seize in the hospital, holding my tiny beautiful perfect newborn. Spending time alone with him, taking in his every movement, every feature, observing my every emotion, even when it was 4am and I'd had 6 hours of sleep in three days. Even then I prayed and yearned for time to stop like I've never hoped for anything before. But while this process and those times have taught me a lot about living in the moment, time still passed. Already he's not that tiny newborn anymore. I have a one-monther. And he's clearly grown. Which is great! But I already mourn the loss of those earlier moments.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I turned thirty exactly two weeks after my son was born. People love referring to this milestone as "dirty thirty," and friends and family insisted that I do something spectacular to mark the occasion. Instead I sat around the house with my mom who was still in town helping me recover from my c-section. I changed diapers and breastfed. I didn't even take a shower that day or get a nap in. I had a sip of chocolate infused port - but just a sip, I'm still scared to over-indulge while I'm feeding such a tiny newborn person who's liver is about the size of my thumbnail, if that. But it was my favorite birthday yet. The very best one. And I truthfully wasn't upset in the least that I was leaving my twenties. First of all, I really don't see the point in getting all worked up (be it excited or depressed) over birthdays after the age of 10 (and hopefully to that point it's nothing but excited). Second, I have achieved everything that I want in life. The important stuff, ya know? I have a husband that I love. A healthy beautiful little boy. A house. A job - albeit not one I love, but I have an ok, well-paying job and a marketable skill set, or so they told me in law school. Ok, so the job thing could use a little work, but I am happy with what I have achieved at this point. There was nothing for me to be upset over. I still have this running monologue in my head reminding me of how lucky I am - on my birthday I was still thrilled to be able to change the diapers of my own baby and have been every day since, I wouldn't be surprised if this high lasts the rest of my life. So the day passed with little fanfare, objectively speaking. But subjectively, I had the time of my life. Every day I am with my son is the time of my life.

Back to the job thing, it's actually kind of eating at me. With all the time I have to peruse the internet these days I have actually gone looking for a less demanding one (My current job requires ~10 hour days, some weekends, it's one of those law firm gigs where you're a slave to the billable hour). Not very seriously, just browsing to see what's out there. And there are some options I think I would like and that would accord me more time with my family, but that would also mean a 50% pay cut. Part of me thinks "seize the day," grab the opportunity, any chance to trade up in terms of happiness in your job is a good trade as long as you aren't being paid less than you're paying to daycare (while this may not be true for everyone, it's true for me because for me I don't think any job would beat SAHM). But the other, more responsible part of me thinks I should stay the course, do what I can in my current position given the new pressures on my time and see what happens. Milk the current paycheck for a while until 'they' either start suggesting that I find something new or I reach the point where I can't handle it anymore. I have a pretty serious work ethic, I'm kind of stubborn in that regard, so I bet I'll stick it out until I get 'iced' out because I have to leave every evening at 5:30. And then I'll gladly find something else to do. Why does the more responsible choice also seem kind of passive aggressive? Maybe because the more responsible choice isn't the most responsible choice...which would be to get my ass on the partner track...which is not going to happen. It's not worth it.

Anyway, back to my birthday. Not only wasn't I disappointed at being thirty, I also wasn't sad that no one made a big deal about it. My mom gave me a check. I don't even think my dad called me... I got some facebook well-wishes. That's about it. DH and I don't really do presents, and when we do, it entails telling each other what we want and sometimes we even end up shopping for our own gift which is always something we would have gotten around that time anyway. In other words, we don't really do gifts. We get things we need and rename them 'birthday presents' because they happen to be needed around the time of our birthdays. This year I 'gave' DH a pair of running shoes for his birthday. Nevermind that we didn't get them until three months after his birthday and that we went shopping for them together. One year, when we moved into our new house and didn't have a TV, I gave him a TV. A 73-incher that DH still insists was a gift to myself because I am a total addict. Most years we don't get each other anything at all. We are very low-key about holidays in general. No xmas presents. No big anniversary bashes or valentine's day celebrations, I'd say we're 'too practical' but I know that's what people say when they know they're bordering on sad and unromantic. It's more that we don't like receiving gifts that we don't really need paid for with our own pooled funds enough to make it worth trying to think up gifts to get each other with the same funds and we would rather spend the money on things we both agree that we need. It is a little unromantic though. Luckily DH spent the seven years that we dated discovering that jewelry was an easy win in the gift department (and we did do gifts back then) so the fact that I don't get gifts from him anymore isn't such a bummer in that respect.

Upon the birth of our baby I decided that, for my birthday, instead of a tattoo I'd settle for something less invasive and painful but perhaps just as predictable. An initial necklace. One of those little letters standing for your baby's first name, usually diamond (or CZ) encrusted. I found the one I wanted in both real ($450) and fake ($38) and decided the fake would be perfectly adequate. I'm a parent now. I may have spent $450 on a purse six months ago but it's time to get real. I have a house to pay off and a person to raise. It's not about me anymore. So I told DH my idea and he literally jumped off the couch and ran to get a little gold pendant his grandmother had given him years ago which actually bore our baby's initials - probably because our baby's initials are also DH's initials. I put it on a tiny, almost invisible gold chain and I have to say, it's grown on me. I don't wear a lot of gold which could be a problem but I'm actually a fan of the idea of having something more unique and meaningful than a roberto coin charm (not that I would turn one down)...but then again, those little letters are adorable and would go well with my usual jewelry style. I told him I'd use the one he gave me for when I wear gold and get the silver one - actually it's rhodium (which frankly, I think is the most underestimated of all jewelry metals) for when I wear silver. But I never did order the silver one. I don't know if I'm being responsible or more sentimental than usual, or if I'm just realizing that being 'cheap' isn't always being cheap, sometimes it's more of a sort of buhddist contentment with less crap which actually I could use a lesson in. But the verdict is out on whether I'm going to hit that "place order" button.

So all in all the day passed without much 'to-do.' And I was actually relieved. This whole year has been about me. At least the last nine months. I'm the only one in my circle of friends and in my family that was pregnant at the time. I was carrying my parents' first grandchild. DH was an only child so same there - although his parents are gone his (very large) extended family made a huge deal over the situation to the point of embarrasment. One of my friends said my baby shower was by far the nicest she'd ever been to and that it was more like a wedding than a shower. And this friend is preppy, so that's saying a lot. It was like a wedding. It was ridiculous. There are people in my family who have sent three plus different sets of baby gifts - like one when they found out about the pregnancy, one for the shower, one when he arrived, one when they came to visit... I have never been particularly good at being the center of attention. I don't like it as much as some people do - I get insecure and embarrassed, like who the F am I to deserve this ridiculous show. So as you can imagine, after almost a year of this, I've had enough of it being about me. I'm sick of myself. And I really didn't want people spending more money or time on me. There was just no need. If for no other reason than because I have everything I need. Figuratively and literally.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Formula is gross.

I've been exclusively breastfeeding for the three weeks since he arrived and lately have noticed some changes in Dom's behavior that have led me to think about supplementing. I am a believer in the whole 'breast is best' thing, but as is the case for the way I feel more generally about pregnancy, birth, and parenting, I don't feel the need to be a purist about it. I'm a huge fan of breastfeeding, but I'm not too conflicted about the idea of giving the baby formula as a supplement.

This week he went from going straight to sleep after every feeding to getting really fussy after being put down at least half the time. He'd seem sleepy at first so I'd put him in his crib only to discover via video monitor that a few minutes later he'd start sucking on his hands and smacking his lips. And then he'd start crying or fussing. Then wailing. So I'd try to breastfeed him more but I doubt (based on my experience pumping after feeding) that there was anything left. One of several things could be happening, I figure. He might still be hungry either because I'm not producing enough milk or because he's going through a growth-spurt and my supply hasn't caught up. He might be colicky, but I don't think so because he can be soothed pretty easily by putting a boob or a pacifier in his mouth or sometimes even just picking him up and talking to him. Finally, he might just be growing out of that newborn "amoeba" stage and actually require a little more awake time and stimulation, more attention - he may be realizing the difference between how nice it feels to be held and how lonely it feels to be left in his crib.

All signs pointed to 'still hungry' though because no matter what soothing, or distracting, or attention-giving steps we took he still ultimately reverted to sucking on whatever he could reach and fussing when he realized that none of those things was a boob. So I decided to fix him a bottle of formula last night. Some work friends mentioned a useful rule of thumb: If they still seem hungry after a feeding, try formula and if they drink more than 2oz they probably were hungry. If they drink less than that, there are probably other reasons for the fussing.

I chose Similac because I had a couple free samples. As unreasoned and uneducated as that rationale is, I actually hear it a lot. Genius campaign. Whoever figured out how to get those little canisters into every hospital giftbag and to mysteriously appear in the mailboxes of new moms everywhere is a genius. I've never gotten a free sample of any other types of formula which makes me wonder if Similac has some kind of injunction preventing it.

Anyway, I opened the can and just about puked. It smelled awful. I triple checked the expiration date, I knew I had examined the seal on the can just before opening, but there you have it. It smelled like rotting plastic. I couldn't believe that that's what it was supposed to smell like so I opened the second canister to compare. The second one was equally as nasty. I proceeded to mix it. Still smelled absolutely awful. By this time I felt a little sick. I started to wonder if I had stored it at the wrong temperature and what was I about to do to my poor tiny baby?! I tasted a few drops, not too bad. So I fed Dom a little. He wasn't into it. I tasted a little more, an actual sip this time. Undrinkable. I continued to worry that maybe it was tainted and pictured a story on the news about new recalls for potentially fatal contamination and then I googled and realized...this is normal. WTF?

I'm not sure what I expected, something like ensure I guess. Why not make it a little sweeter - babies need calories, right? Or make it at least neutral. Like milk. I don't expect them to throw in butter pecan flavoring or anything but it must be possible to make this stuff palatable. Anything less offensive than "toilet scum." Upon learning that formula really just tastes that bad it started to make sense that it would smell like crushed up vitamins and minerals. I also saw a few things online about how babies don't have taste buds or the nipple goes so far back in their throat that they don't taste anything. I don't know how plausible these explanations are but apparently masses of babies don't mind this funky stuff for one reason or another.

Like I said Dom wasn't into it. He got this scowly look on his face and spit the nipple out after a sip each time. He's had bottled breastmilk before so it wasn't the bottle. Either he was as grossed out as I was or he wasn't hungry or it was the wrong temperature - he was screaming by the time I got the bottle ready so it wasn't properly warmed. But again, he's had lukewarm breastmilk so I don't think the temperature explains everything either.

I had hoped that our first foray into formula would be more successful. This is only my second post of the new blog and I think I've already mentioned that I love wine. I have severe guilt about drinking and breastfeeding this early, however, and formula could help with that. DH also gets a kick out of feeding and pumping isn't working very well while I'm also breastfeeding round-the-clock so formula could help with that too. Not as a replacement for breastfeeding by any means but a couple times a week maybe. Now I'm not so sure. Perhaps we'll try again when I regain my stomach.