I’d like to quote T’s kind words in response to my concerns about succumbing to the use of the binky:
“Whatever works – remember there is no right or wrong so try not to beat yourself up if you have to change your goals or notions in mid-stream. Do what works for you and the baby. She will grow up to be a wonderfully successful human being despite what errors we feel we might (have made) make.”
Thank you, my friend, for the encouragement. (I’ve received love and encouragement all around, especially from my mom, whose heart breaks and goes out to me every time I call her on the brink of tears in a world of frustration, but it’s nice to have the words easily copy and pasteable.)
Yes, it seems that I’m changing all of my well thought out plans already. It started during labor when I asked for the epidural (though I never got it) and when I allowed the internal fetal monitoring when the baby’s heartbeat was low and impossible to find with the external monitoring. Then plans changed when I allowed the baby to take the pacifier much earlier than I had hoped. Now I’m starting to beat myself up about falling asleep while I’m feeding the baby in the middle of the night.
When I’m too exhausted to sit up to feed her, Maysen and I lie down on our sides facing one another so that she can eat while both of us are comfortable. It’s nice because I can relax a little and not have to use my strength to hold her up. She’s too little for the Boppy to hold her up high enough to eat, so I have to either hold her up myself, or slouch down to meet her. Either way, matched with the incessant rocking and cradling to get the baby to sleep, it’s hard on my arms, shoulders, back and neck (all of which, you may recall, are in desperate need of a massage, and will receive one, as soon as I’m confident that I can leave the baby for a few hours).
But in the side-lying position, there’s a chance of my falling asleep. And fall asleep I’ve done. I’m not proud, because I know there are many people who forbid and ‘tsk tsk’ this, but then again there are just as many, if not more, who wholeheartedly support and encourage this as a bona-fide way of nursing and bonding. But now I’ve even started falling asleep sitting up, so I suppose it’s really a moot point and probably safer this way in the long run.
Either way, it is happening. See, Ronny is recovering from surgery (removed tonsils and septoplasty, hopefully to rid him of sleep apnea), which means that he’s out of commission. I haven’t been able to take a nap, I haven’t been able to give the baby to him in the middle of the night, and I haven’t had a moment to breathe until right now while the baby is actually sleeping. (Note: This blog posting has actually taken THREE DAYS to complete, so time references may be a little off.) And for some reason, a couple of nights ago, Maysen was up ALL NIGHT. From 2am until 8am she was either nursing or fussing, but sleeping was not in the books for her. So that meant that sleeping wasn’t in the books for me, either. And Ronny was in serious pain and trying to sleep even though he was in pretty bad shape.
So I had a really lousy day. Sleep deprivation and taking care of a newborn baby and a recovering husband, not to mention the dog and cat who still want attention, create a recipe for an exhausted mommy-in-training. Especially since I’m a lady who really isn’t the compassionate care-giving type to begin with.
The one thing that does make me feel a little better about falling asleep while I’m breastfeeding is that it seems that it’s the only way I can get Maysen to go back to sleep so we can both rest in the middle of the night. Apparently she prefers cuddling with Mommy over lying in her bassinet. It’s the only way any of us is getting rest, at least for now, so it’s going to have to be okay for at least a little while. Plus, it’s awfully nice to wake up with my little daughter sleeping peacefully next to me. Even if she does have little lines of dried up breast milk which have dripped across her face when we weren’t looking, like silvery snail trails on a morning sidewalk.
Anyways, yesterday marked Maysen’s one-month birthday. I can’t believe she’s already out of her first month! Between the sleepless nights and the hundreds (yes, literally, hundreds) of diapers we’ve gone through, the time has flown by in a frantic whir. In this short month, I’ve already seen changes in the baby, me and Ronny. Here are a few: (Another note: I wouldn’t normally write in lists, but my exhaustion prevents me from stringing thoughts together cohesively, let alone weave together compelling narrative.)
1. We’re no longer afraid of breaking her like we were on the first night. The first time she got hiccups we nearly died of hysteria. Now, it’s either endearing or frustrating, depending on the situation. Now, when changing the diaper, I know how to take charge and either lift her up or move her legs where I want them to go, not where she wants them to.
2. She can lift her head and control it, for the most part. This is great, because it’s really cute to watch her lift her head off of my chest and try to look around, but it also means that I have to hold her more closely…no more just letting her lie there, unless she’s asleep, or she can roll right off.
3. She’s looking at the world around her now. She’s fascinated by lights, windows, the ceiling fan, the tree I painted for her and my eyes. It’s pretty cool to see her develop out of being the cross- and googly-eyed newborn to this little baby whose bright blue eyes focus on things. It’s like she’s legitimately interested in her surroundings. Unfortunately, she’s also started focusing on the TV when Ronny has Family Guy on…that doesn’t bode well for the future.
4. Maysen likes to bounce. In the last couple of days I’ve discovered that it makes her coo and grin (sortof) if I hold her under the armpits (supporting her head, of course) and bounce her. She’ll use her legs and feet to push off of my lap a little, and it seems to really make her happy. It even stops her from crying every now and then.
5. Pooping and farting seems to make her happy. She has this look of concentration that she uses when she does a serious job, which is usually followed by an expression of comfort and relief. I guess she takes after her daddy. (She just this minute did a full-body-tensing, bang-up job, so it’s time to change yet another diaper.)
6. Maysen already has a strong personality. She’s the lightswitch type. Either she’s on or she’s off, and it’s a matter of a second when she goes from off to on. She’ll be perfectly content one second then screaming her head off the next. It’s fine when we’re sitting in our living room, but when we’re out in public and she’s suddenly upset and seemingly on the brink of starving to death, it can be quite unnerving. Yes, I was that girl at Sizzler last weekend who had to frantically put the baby to breast right at the dinner table. Thank goodness we weren’t at Ruth’s Chris.
7. I’m finally getting the hang of being a multi-tasking mommy…sortof. I can finally leave the house with confidence and pseudo-ease, baby changed and in the carrier, diaper bag adequately and completely packed, myself confident that the baby’s screaming will cease once we get moving (if it hasn’t already after employing the vigorous swinging that seems to work miraculously), and I can usually do it all in fewer than 13 trips back and forth to the car. I can do several things with a baby in my arms, including updating this blog, changing the laundry around, preparing and eating a meal, and even using the toilet (no, I’m not proud, but, as we all know, when you gotta go, you gotta go).
8. Formula breath is really stinky, at least in the few babies whose breath I’ve smelled. But Maysen’s breath smells sortof like frosting. Is that weird? Is it like that with all breastfed babies, or is my milk just really sweet? I don’t know, but since she doesn’t have baby halitosis, she gets lots of kisses from Mommy.
9. Daddy is sometimes a better comforter than Mommy. I’ve got the baby feeders and am spending much more bonding time with Maysen, but Daddy seems to be the one who can get her to calm down when it’s not hunger making her cry. Maybe it’s because he’s stronger, or less frazzled, or furry like a cuddly teddy bear. Just try telling me that this picture isn’t darling…
I can’t wait until he’s feeling better so that he can help with the baby duties…I’m so tired…
Soon I’ll be Wondermommy, but for now, I’m still getting the hang of it. I’m still getting the hang of the exhaustion, of not rolling out of bed until sometime around noon, of being up every two hours all night long, and then being up for at least an hour each time. I’m still getting used to having not even an iota of time to myself, and a shower only every other day. I’m still getting used to really sore breasts which are in constant use, and wet spots on my shirt, whether it’s from leaking or from spit-up. I’m still getting used to not being able to go anywhere except a quick trip to Wal-Mart for the essentials (and returning home to a screaming baby and frowning Daddy), and I’m still getting used to doing most of this on my own while my husband recovers from his surgery on the couch.
Seriously, I’ve never been a caregiver. I’ve never been compassionate or selfless enough to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. I’ve never not been able to lock myself up in my room for a good dose of silence and solitude. I’m not used to taking care of anyone, so this is all a bit of a struggle for me.
But there’s no doubt that it’s all worth it. Just look at this little face.
And, as promised, here’s a pic of Maysen being comforted by Daddy after she got her shot the other day:
Because her name is Maysen, the nurses seem to think she’s a boy (even though she’s dressed in pink), so they gave her a Snoopy boy Band-aid, but I gave her a girly Strawberry Shortcake sticker to make her feel better. Inside, I know it worked.
So, for Maysen’s one month birthday, we had a little celebration complete with the birthday song and a cupcake with a candle. Well, since Ronny’s not really feeling well, and Maysen’s just a baby, it was pretty much just me celebrating, but I sung the birthday song and blew out the candle to mark the occasion. And I got to eat the cupcake, too!
I had better pictures of the baby on the birthday celebration, but apparently sometime during my pregnancy I managed to grow a gnarly double chin, and it showed up quite obviously in the photos.
Here’s the little cuty checking out the lamp. Fascinating, I’m sure.
And here’s her official one-month portrait. Why does she always look so startled? BTW, I would have gotten better pictures during the daytime, but I felt pretty crappy. Maybe her two-month photos will be better?