THIS Is What I Thought It Would Be Like

{ Wednesday, September 30, 2009 }
I've had a post written for some time describing our experience at the hospital after having the bean, but I never published it because it seemed like just a bunch of complaining. Suffice it to say that we were very anxious to get away from the hospital and get home after our two day stay. I was under strict orders from our midwife to go home and do nothing but care for the bean for the next two weeks. The boy had taken that time off from work and we were looking forward to getting to know the newest member of our family. I had expected that the three of us would crawl into bed and stay in our pajamas. I'd feed the bean, the three of us would nap, the boy and I would take turns changing diapers and we'd squeeze in some gazing into each other's eyes here and there. The reality? Well, all I remember is the screaming. I fed the bean all. the. time. and when I wasn't feeding her, she was crying. I couldn't feed her lying down and I couldn't sit up in the bed thanks to my broken tailbone. I took the bean out of the bedroom to feed her and the boy ran around trying to take care of our animals, bring me food and water, and attempt to calm a screaming baby when I finally unlatched her to go to the bathroom or close my eyes for 10 minutes at 3am. It was not the peaceful time I had imagined it to be. The boy assures me (and there's photographic evidence to confirm) that the bean did, in fact, spend some time sleeping and interacting with us during that time. Looking at those pictures is like looking at my belly pictures the day before I delivered--I refuse to believe I was ever that big. And I refuse to believe that the bean ever stopped crying those first two weeks.

At my two week checkup, my midwife advised me that life with a new baby gets significantly easier after the first two weeks, after six weeks, and again after three months. Some of you even told me things would get easier at three months and its not that I didn't believe it, not exactly. I just didn't want to get my hopes up. Well, I'm here to say that you were right. I can't believe how far we've come from those first two weeks. We're napping consistently during the day and . . . dare I say it? We have something that looks almost like a schedule. NOW we can lay in bed and coo and giggle at each other, take a long nap and the bean will actually eat a meal and stop for some time before eating some more.

Shortly after the bean was born, I mourned that the days of the boy and I curling up on the couch on a Saturday afternoon to watch a movie were gone forever. Well, last Saturday the bean took a long nap and the boy and I did just that. It was heaven. I love, love, love spending time with the bean and "talking" to her and making her laugh, but those long days when she wouldn't close her eyes for more than a few minutes at a time were really, really tiring. We are all in such better spirits when she gets a little rest during the day.

I can't say whether this change is because the bean is older and decided to nap better or if its because we are getting better at taking care of her, but I suspect its a little of each. Every time we realize something new (oh look, when her eyes get glassy, that means she's tired!) I feel so badly for our little bean that she's had to suffer with such amateur parenting. We don't even need to mention how long after her birth it was before one of us said, "Do you think we should check if her diaper is dirty?" OK, I admit it, it was not me that said that. Were it up to me, the poor thing would have gone much longer without a clean diaper. I was a bit preoccupied with trying to figure out where the truck went that ran me over and oh yeah, working out everything that goes along with having another human being attached to my breast nonstop. But I digress. We're getting more comfortable with this whole parenting thing and she seems to be forgiving us our mistakes and adjusting right along with us.

I know its a cliche, but its truly amazing how quickly this time passes. When I look at the pictures from the bean's first few days and think about how different she is now, its amazing. I'm trying so hard to remember how quickly this time goes and to savor every moment. Before we know it, we'll be wondering where this first year went (and laughing at how inept we were)!

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

{ Sunday, September 27, 2009 }
Its been quite an adjustment getting used to my post-pregnancy body. I expected that it would take some time to get back into my jeans, but I hadn't planned on 'the girls' partaking in the steroids that my butt and hips obviously abused the last several months. The first couple weeks postpartum, in my sleep deprived, hormone crazed state, I would look in the mirror and proclaim that nothing had stayed where I had left it.

Every couple weeks, I've been optimistically pulling out pre-pregnancy clothes to try on and see how they're fitting. The weather has been getting cooler lately, so today I pulled out a warmer shirt that I haven't worn since last fall and the results were, um, unpleasant. I said to the boy, "Why doesn't this shirt fit me? It fit fine before I got pregnant!"

The response? "Yes honey, but you were flat-chested then."

Happy Beanday!

{ Thursday, September 24, 2009 }
One year ago today and unbeknownst to us at the time, I became pregnant. It would be two more weeks before we found out, but the little bean was already starting to become the big bean I'm holding right now. Happy conception-versary, little one!

The Unexpected

{ Wednesday, September 16, 2009 }
We knew from the beginning that we could plan all we wanted, but there would be no way to predict how things would go with a new baby. Still, I've been surprised by the things that haven't gone according to plan.

Diapers. We just used the disposables provided at the hospital for those first couple days and switched to cloth once we got home. Then the bean got a horrible case of diaper rash that caused her so much pain that she was wailing inconsolably. The bean cried quite a bit those first couple weeks, but it was always for food and she was easily quieted at my breast. With the rash, she was in too much pain to eat and we were heartbroken that we could do little to comfort her. We tried several different things, but the only way we could find to get rid of the rash and keep it away was to switch to pampers. We tried some more earth-friendly (and less chemical-laden) brands, but they too brought on the rash. You can imagine that's difficult for this tree-hugging mama to swallow, but the bean's in charge. Now that her sensitive skin has started to toughen up a bit, we are very slowly starting to reintroduce the cloth by using one or two a day, but we may never be the full-time cloth diapering family I thought we'd be.

Sleeping. Before the bean was born, I posted about my concerns over our sleeping arrangements. I wasn't exactly sure where everyone would start out sleeping, but I had always thought that I would bring the bean into bed with us at some point during the night to nurse her and we would all sleep together for at least a couple hours. As it turns out, the logistics of that were really too difficult for me. Nursing in bed is not as easy as I thought it might be and I turned out to be way too paranoid to sleep with the bean in the bed. We did try out the snuggle nest for two nights before it was returned. You still have to pick up your baby to get him or her into the thing and the bean always woke up when I picked her up those first few weeks. I figured if I was going to risk waking her, I might as well put her in the bassinet. Yes, the ancient bassinet is where she ended up sleeping her first two months. The boy had the brilliant idea to remove all the lacy coverings, which allowed us a clear view into it from our bed so we could easily check in the night that she was still breathing (c'mon, I know all you parents have done it too). This setup has worked really well, but the bean is growing so quickly that she's within a couple inches of not being able to sleep in it with her legs straight out. She's been able to stretch and simultaneously bump all four sides with various body parts for a few weeks, so this past weekend we moved the crib into our bedroom. (We're still not ready to give up on being able to check her breathing in the middle of the night.) We now have a crib at the foot of our bed and we sleep with our heads at the foot so we can check her more easily. We have co-slept a handful of times and for sure the bean sleeps great in bed with us, but I am still paranoid about the whole thing and sleep better myself when she's in her own bed. Had we known, I guess we could have put the crib in our room from the beginning.

Baby Stuff. This was the biggest surprise. I was adamant that we not have big piles of plastic baby accoutrement around our house. That and my aversion to anything single-purpose led us to make very thoughtful, well researched purchases. We got a pack and play that came with an activity mat in tasteful, subdued colors. Travel, downstairs naps, and play--three uses! We chose a similarly subdued rocker. No bouncy seat, no swing; we thought we'd hold her or have her in a baby carrier most of the day anyway. Turns out the bean's aesthetic and mine are very different. She didn't much care for subdued and hated being in a carrier. (And not once has she been able to stay asleep when we put her in the pack and play.) Fortunately, we have some experienced friends and relatives that answered our calls for help when we couldn't manage to keep this baby entertained for more than 30 seconds at a time. We now have a living room full of brightly colored (some plastic) baby gear. She loves her hand-me-down activity mat and bouncy seat so much that I feel bad I almost deprived her of them. Lesson learned. We will continue to make thoughtful, earth-friendly purchases, but our living room decor will no longer factor into the decision.

On a different note, I was completely unprepared for how being a parent would change me. When the boy and I first got together, we spent every moment of our time getting to know one another. We stayed up all night having deep, intimate conversations and, after sleeping an hour or two, would pick up the next morning right where we left off. We would lock ourselves in the bedroom all weekend, emerging only to eat or walk the dog. We missed a lot of work in those days because nothing seemed as important as spending time together.

Being a mama to the bean is like that. Its mostly one-sided, but it has a similar intensity. I've spent every day and night with her for 2 1/2 months now--watching her learn new skills and discover new things, studying her in an attempt to predict when she'll be hungry, tired, or wanting to play. Its been such a short period of time, but its hard to remember what things were like before she arrived. I didn't think that I spent very much time thinking about myself before but, in comparison, it seems like that's all I did. Now, everything is for the bean. My needs are squished in around the edges. The poor boy is somehow piled in on top of that. In a way, I feel that its a juggling act, but in other ways its really not. The bean needs us to do absolutely everything for her, so she wins out each time. In such a short period of time, this little being has become my universe and its amazing to me how natural it feels.

The boy and the bean. My two favorite people.

Late Night Confusion

{ Sunday, September 13, 2009 }
Last night, as I was climbing into bed at 5am, the boy woke and asked me, "What are you doing up?"

I took a long pause, trying to decide how to respond. "Did you forget we have a baby?"

"Oh, yeah."

Silly boy!

Beanie Baby

{ Saturday, September 12, 2009 }
I'm two handed typing for the first time since the bean was born - yay!

Thank you so much for the comments on my last post. We're having so much fun with the little bean and I know that the hard parts are very temporary, but it can get overwhelming and it helps to be reminded of how quickly things can change. Two months is such a tiny period of time in all of our lives and even in that time, things have gotten dramatically easier (we now sleep at night, even if we're not sleeping through the night).

I was in kind of a dark place a few weeks ago and feeling rather sorry for myself until something remarkable happened. We had a decent night of sleep and I woke up feeling like a new person. I realized that things are much more difficult when I'm sleep deprived (duh!). While there's not much I can do about the sleep situation, I decided to try to eliminate the other stressors in my life so that the sleep issue is the only thing I'm dealing with. I made an appointment with a lactation consultant to work on the breastfeeding issues we've been having and started seeing a chiropractor to try to get some relief for my poor, broken tailbone. Its amazing how much difference these two things have made. I think my milk supply is mostly regulated and we're working hard on correcting the bean's latch. Its going to be a long, slow road with my tailbone, but I've already seen some improvement and I think I'm not far from a day when the pain is dull and in the background rather than sharp and searing every time I stand up.

On the sleep front, I haven't been able to get any naps since I'm exclusively breastfeeding and the bean absolutely refuses our attempts to feed her from a bottle. I'm feeding her every 90 minutes during the day and every 2-3 hours at night. On the weekends, when the boy is home, I tried sneaking in a nap between feedings but that didn't work out so well. What has worked is when the boy gets up with the bean in the morning. For some reason she'll go a couple hours without eating while I sleep in. I was amazed the first time we did this, honestly, because you'd assume the bean is waking up because she's hungry. Nope, she's just done sleeping after 7-8 hours. I keep reading things that say babies this age sleep 10-12 hours at night--not true for this bean! Anyway, I slept in every day over the long weekend, which was heaven and I feel so much better. We can't do it every day, but hopefully the extra rest on the weekends will be enough to get me through the week.

But onto the bean. She is still growing like crazy and, at two months, is as big as a four month old. She "talks" all the time and is starting to reach for toys and hold them when we put them in her hands. She recently discovered that she has feet and tried desperately to grab them, but couldn't quite reach. She also realized we have pets and is particularly fascinated with the cat. She's not rolling completely over yet, but we often wake up to find that she's rolled onto her side and is sleeping in her bassinet that way.

Oh, and she likes having her picture taken!