Monthly Archives: December 2011
|December 18, 2011||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
We are soaking up every minute of Christmas magic that we get this year. Experiencing it all through her eyes, seeing a lit tree and Santa and decorated houses all for the first time, has been pure magic, nothing less. Every new discovery is met with a tiny pointed, chubby finger and an excited, “Doh!” Doh, indeed, Little Bean. I just thought I loved Christmas before she was born.
This weekend we went to Mimi’s house to celebrate with the Gonzalez/Foss/Mahan clan. Alice went through several costume changes each day so that she could fit in all of her cute Christmas outfits. (Some might call that excessive, but I bet they wouldn’t do it to my face.) She had so much fun playing with her cousins and opening presents.
Sweet babies. Luke, Luke and Alice in their Christmas loungewear. I’ve declared myself in charge of getting them ridiculous outfits for all future holidays. Its not a task I take lightly.
Next up is even more Christmas with my side of the family. I can’t wait!
|December 14, 2011||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
So, I showed the dolls to my mom this past weekend. I was so, so proud. “See, Mom!” I pointed to Alice holding the dolls, loving on them. “See how she loves them?”
“Yep. Neat,” my mom replied.
A little disappointed, we flew with the Boobin to St. Louis to visit my aunt, uncle, cousins and their kids. We bundled up.
I showed my aunt a picture of the dolls.
“Look! The dolls!” I exclaimed, bracing myself for the wave of praise that was surely to come.
“Cool,” my aunt said.
“COOL? COOL? What do you mean COOL? I MADE THE DOLLS.”
“No, you didn’t,” she said, looking closer. “You did not.”
“Yes. Yes, I did.”
“I bought the pattern, sewed the dolls, and gave them to Alice.”
“You went to the store, picked out the fabric, took it home and made the dolls?” she asked, incredulous.
Finally, someone was getting it.
“YES!” I exclaimed.
“No, you did not!” Ugh.
Then my mom shouted from the kitchen. “YOU MADE THE DOLLS?”
Yes, people. I made the dolls. I promise. Cross my heart. I am more than just a hot ass and a pretty face. I make dolls. Or, I made dolls, once. Maybe next I shall sew myself a cookie.
|December 8, 2011||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Last year while deep in nesting mode I bought a second hand sewing machine. I took a basic sewing skills class and a quilting class. George took my temperature a couple of times, just to make sure everything was ok.
Since then I’ve made a tote bag and 2 baby quilts. Until now. Now, you may call me Susie Homemaker. Ms. Homemaker if you’re nasty.
Last week I started on these dolls, and in a crazed frenzy to finish them before Christmas I worked on them every night after Alice went to sleep. I bought the pattern here on Etsy. They were relatively easy even for me as a beginner. Hopefully they won’t fall apart the first time she plays with them!
|December 5, 2011||Posted by Lisa under Uncategorized|
Ah. Breastfeeding. Although I’ve thought about it endlessly I’ve never sat to write about it, I think because for the longest time I was just trying to keep on doing it rather than process it. But, I’m comfortable now, I know it won’t end suddenly and without warning, and I’m ready.
Put simply, breastfeeding has been one of the most gratifying feats I’ve ever taken on in my life. When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to try it, but also was sure not to get my hopes up because I’d heard of many women who were unable for various reasons. I knew the last thing I needed was to get all anxious about it, so my motto was, “If it works, great, and if not she’ll have formula and still be great.” It went like this:
Day 1: About 3 hours after Alice was born I went to see her in the nursery. The nurses set me up in the corner with a movable curtain to hide us from the fishbowl windows of the room. I pulled down my hospital gown and held her to my breast for the first time and she did it. She opened her mouth and barely sucked, so shallow that I could hardly feel it. I wondered if we were doing it right and asked the nurse to look. “Yep, that’s right,” she said with a smile. I remember looking at George and smiling, so proud and happy and not believing that this was happening. She nursed that first time for 20 minutes on one side and 30 minutes on the other. In the early days, they had us keep track of the length of time she nursed as well as the number of wet and poopy diapers she had per day. For the first two weeks of her life, we meticulously logged the number of minutes and which side she nursed from to make sure she was getting enough to eat.
Day 2: Breastfeeding started to hurt on the second day. Skin that had been hidden all of my life in the protective cup of a soft bra was suddenly exposed to saliva with enzymes and a small mouth that sucked, sucked, sucked. I’d learned in my breastfeeding class and from the nurses that it should feel like pulling but not be painful. However, by now the top layer of skin peeled off and reveal a raw, red nipple underneath and it felt like the baby had razorblades in her mouth every time she nursed. “Is this normal?” I asked the nurse. She smiled and said, “Yes.” “Alrighty,” I squeaked out, cringing from the pain with tears in my eyes.
Day Three: My milk comes in. And, lo, there was a great swelling in the boobs. A massive swelling. Think Pamela Anderson on Baywatch times 307. WHAT THE HELL? And pain. I just THOUGHT they hurt before that. Oh dear God, my boobs are going to explode and I will never get to teach my daughter how to care for her curly hair. I googled, “New mom breasts explode,” and “make engorgement stop ASAP.” I called friends and my neighbor came to the rescue with a heating pad after I asked her for it. I found out later the heat probably just made it worse. Oopsie.
Day Four: Still massively engorged. We went to Costco and I walked around holding an icepack to my chest, wincing at every watermelon I saw. By that night they’d gone back to only 4 times their starting size and the intense pain went away, but, damn… that was traumatic.
Day 5-12: It still hurt. I’d be talking with George and Alice would latch on and tears would well up in my eyes in response to the pain. My days and nights consisted of one endless string of catnapping, breastfeeding, changing diapers, soothing, swaddling, sushing, and waddling back and forth to the bathroom. Add to that the special level of sleep deprivation that only the parents of a newborn have felt as well as the intense level of pain that comes from shooting a person out of your body, and its no surprise that I was pretty miserable.
Day 13-ish: I wake up one morning and suddenly it doesn’t hurt anymore. Which is great because I was about to get them amputated. Although it was around this time that they started spraying uncontrollably. One morning I was watching Ellen and feeding the baby and felt warm pee on my arm. Wait. The baby has a diaper on and pee wouldn’t reach my arm even if she didn’t have one on. I looked down and to my complete horror it was my boob spraying about 4 inches over to my arm. I looked around the empty house to make sure no one saw, utterly humiliated. And a little grossed out.
Day 14: We take Alice in for her two-week checkup at the doctor to see if she has regained her birth weight. This was a big day for me as a mother. It was my first test to see if breastfeeding was working or if I was failing at the most important thing I’d ever done. In the first few days of life a baby will lose a little bit of weight, but if they are back to at least their birth weight by the two-week checkup it means they are getting enough to eat. I knew this from my incessant internet research. We drove her to the pediatrician’s office and I waited nervously in the lobby. They called us back, we stripped her down to nothing, George plopped her on the scale, and stood right between me and the display screen. “MOVE!” I yelled, swatting him to the side so I could get a good view. There it was. 7 lbs, 11 oz. She gained her birth weight back and then some. I was not a failure as a mother. I could see it right there. Success.
I relaxed a little. I started pumping, first right after her feedings in her room for 20 minutes. I got lonely, so I brought the pump out to the living room. And it went like that for a couple more weeks, at least. Feed, change diaper, put the baby down for a nap, pump, lay down for 5 minutes before the baby wakes up and we do it all over again. I was miserable and I felt isolated. I remember sitting on the couch crying, because I just knew that I’d never be able to leave that cushion and I’d never feel joy again. I’d never like the things I used to like, and I’d never be able to enjoy them even if I did like them because all I was ever going to do is sit on the couch, nursing my baby, who couldn’t look at me or smile or talk. I tried to explain it to George.
“It’s not that I don’t love her…” I said, trailing off. “Its just, I don’t know if we made the right decision. And I can’t take it back.” George nodded, told me to wait, that I’d feel better soon. We’d read about this, our doctor warned us about it, and it was happening.
I had the Baby Blues. Bad. I was lonely, most of all. I felt like I was killing myself, sleeping only an hour or two, sometimes a glorious 4, at a time, feeding and diaper changing and pumping and trying to sneak in a nap just to hear the baby cry as soon as I drifted off. I used to dread her cry, fear it. I was exhausted, and I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly. I rarely woke George up during the night to help, although he offered numerous times, because I needed to know that someone in the house was firing on all cylinders. That someone was feeling normal. My mind was so cloudy that I didn’t trust myself and it made me feel better to know he was still normal. Or at least as normal as he ever was.
When Alice was about 5 weeks old, the fog lifted. She started sleeping more, I started sleeping more, George started staying up late for her first night feeding so I could get a solid stretch of 5 hours of sleep. And, we nursed. We nursed and it didn’t hurt. I got off of the couch. She started interacting with me. It started with her tiny hand hooked on my nursing bra, holding it so tight. She’d moan quietly while she drank and when she was done she’d lay back, her eyes closed, hands clasped together, raise her eyebrows and sigh. It was wonderful.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t worry, though, and I did that from time to time, too. I worried that I wasn’t producing enough, or that my milk wasn’t ok (it smelled like soap) or that Alice wasn’t eating enough or was eating too much. When I went back to work, I pumped just enough for the following day’s supply. We used formula a few times when I left the milk from the day in the car (I could have kicked myself… and I did this at least 5 times) or when we traveled and needed to supplement. I worried that the formula would upset her stomach.
A few times she went through a stretch of 2-3 days when she didn’t want to nurse and I feared that she was self-weaning. By then I needed it. I’d come to look forward to nursing just as much as I looked forward to seeing her tiny face every morning. The closeness, the sense of relief. There is a hormonal release that happens at let down and it was intoxicating for me. I needed to feel her tiny, warm belly rising with breath and soft against my own belly. I needed to see that big blue eye looking at me like a whale’s, bright and clear and, at night, slowly fluttering closed. I needed those small breaks in the day where she was all mine and still and perfectly curved around my midsection. I’d cry and have George take pictures of her nursing so I could look back and remember.
But, I always produced enough, my milk was fine, when she would accept the formula it was fine, and she always came back. Somewhere along the way I knew I wanted to nurse until she was a year old. I never said it out loud just in case I didn’t make it. Pumping at work really was inconvenient and a hassle and when she was about 9 months old I considered stopping because just as I was getting really annoyed with pumping, Alice was biting me. With a little encouragement from another daycare mommy, I pushed through.
She’s almost 13 months now, and we are still nursing in the morning and at night. What once made me feel so sad, so alone, is now my favorite part of the day. The teeny baby that couldn’t make eye contact with me in the beginning now rests her head on my chest and lifts my shirt when she wants to nurse. She still softly moans and sighs, and she plays with my mouth and nose and eyes and hair. She wiggles and kicks and tap dances on my legs when we lay side by side.
I am so grateful to have shared this relationship with my baby. It has been difficult and trying and gratifying and rewarding, all at once. But, most of all, it has been my privilege.