Back in the Saddle Again

I’m back! (cue Steven Tyler mic tip and hair flip)

Welp folks. My maternity leave has officially ended. I am on my third day of being a working mom. I think it’s going pretty well. It’s nice to be back at my job, using my brain for things other than keeping track of how long it’s been since the dumpling has slept. Though it’s a little dusty up there, I’m pleased to report that I do remember financial terms and can still label a balance sheet! Back in October, this time seemed like an eternity away. When the newborn days hit us hard, January seemed like it would never arrive. And now we’re here. That chapter has closed.

Three days in and all I have to say is whew! There’s just so much to remember to get the dumpling and myself out the door every morning. Milk. Lunch bag. Computer bag. Diaper bag. Pump. Pump parts. Seriously – did you pack the pump parts??? (A crucial piece that I forgot yesterday and had to turn around and drive all the way back home for.)

I have a pretty great arrangement with work. If you’ll remember (waaaaaay back at the beginning of my pregnancy), I worked out an arrangement that I would work from home part time. Today is the first day of that and I think I’m really going to like it. Mornings are a lot smoother when I’m not as concerned about getting myself out the door to go downtown. I can also pump while working, which is very convenient as I’ve already seen why working and pumping moms often stop pumping. It’s just such a nuisance. Yes, I know you’re providing sustenance for your child. Woo! But it also means 20 to 30 minutes (every three hours or so), locked in a room at work, feeling weird because you’re shirtless. It means interrupting conversations and meetings because you’re boobs are full. Or not interrupting conversations and meetings and then realizing that it’s 3pm and you’ve only pumped once. It means stopping what you’re doing right now because you’re already behind on your pumping schedule. Since I’m working from home most of the week, I think I’ll be more likely to keep up with pumping as it’s just my conversations with Jas that might get interrupted. (And who are we kidding, she’s a cat… she’s probably happy that I stopped talking to her and left her to nap in peace.)

We did change daycares. I feel pretty good about the new place so far. Everyone is warm and welcoming. Even though it’s a center (which I always stigmatized as huge and impersonal), the staff and teachers have greeted the dumpling by name every morning. They tell me that he’s the happiest baby! So many smiles! They also have a great app that keeps us up to date on his day in real time (he’s napping right now). They can also send us pictures through the app which is how Luffy and I got to view the dumpling’s displeasure with tummy time on Tuesday. I, however, am very happy that he’s getting regular tummy time and stimulation as I seriously doubt he was getting such attention at the last place.

So now Luffy and I are once again shifting our roles a bit, finding our groove in this new routine. Luffy helps me wash the daycare bottles and pumping bottles. I take time each night to get the dumpling’s bottles ready for the next day (right now, he’s getting all fresh milk because I’m battling a cold and want to make sure he’s getting all my antibodies). Luffy picks up the dumpling when I’m working from the office. I race home from to nurse. But at the end of the day, we get to spend a little time with our dumpling; coaxing adorable smiles that make the entire day so worth it.

The Newborn Chronicles – 5w6d

So. I believe you know that Little Dumpling was in the breech presentation… I might have mentioned it once or twice or three hundred times. Not only did that lead to my c-section, it also meant that Little Dumpling could potentially have hip problems. I refused to look into this because I know what happens when you turn to Dr Google. Despair. Doom. Death. No thank you. I just kept my fingers crossed that he wasn’t in frank breech presentation, the one likeliest to cause problems.

As it turns out, he was. This meant that his legs were extended, feet up by his head. Our pediatrician ordered an ultrasound of his hips be performed around 6 weeks of age. We had that ultrasound this morning.

That, in and of itself, was fun. Have you ever tried to keep a newborn still when he doesn’t want to be still? It’s like wrestling a greased pig. To add further challenges, they needed images when he was “relaxed” – meaning not active. Lolz. It took us probably half an hour, along with rejected pacifiers, a touch of sugar water (I didn’t really want to use this so I barely dabbed the pacifier in it), and our trusty white noise app. To my untrained ears, the radiologist kept going back and forth between “no problem” and “problem.” They eventually got all the images they needed and sent us on our way. Unfortunately, they’ll send the report to our pediatrician and we don’t have another appointment for two weeks. I’m not sure if they’ll call us earlier with the results, although I do plan to give them a call tomorrow to find out!

After the ultrasound appointment, Luffy asked me what could be wrong – what were they looking for? Since I don’t know myself, I had to turn to google. Apparently the biggest concern for little breech babies is developmental dysplasia of the hip. Basically it means that his movement was restricted in the womb, thus the hip might not have developed normally. It can cause an unstable hip, which leads to problems walking and, in the worst cases, the hip dislocates. There are varying degrees of course. Most cases remedy themselves as the child grows. In more severe cases, a brace is required to hold the hip in the socket as the child grows. In the most severe cases, surgery is required to repair the hip joint.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all looks good! I really can’t imagine keeping him in a brace for six to twelve weeks (it would be anchored at his shoulder and basically hold his knee up by his shoulder – can you imagine?!). And I really, really can’t imagine my sweet baby boy undergoing surgery. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we’re slowly coming through the Wonder Week. He’s much more alert now, for longer periods of time. I think his fussiness has decreased a tad. A touch. Maybe? He also gave us his first toothless smile yesterday morning! It was gorgeous and just as wonderful as I imagined. Of course, he was smiling at his daddy and wouldn’t return the smile to me – the one who is sustaining him merely through the power of mah boobs – but that’s ok. I’m not jealous or anything.

We went to Luffy’s parents’ house for lunch yesterday; our first time since the dumpling was born. I had to joke about my major demotion in status. You see, when I was pregnant, Luffy’s parents basically skipped right over greeting him and would immediately come to me, seeing how I was doing, ushering me in, sitting me down. No though. No such reception. Both Luffy and I were passed over completely as his parents swooped in to greet the dumpling. They immediately wanted him out of the car seat and took turns carrying him around their house. As a new mother, it was both adorable and infuriating. I kept telling myself to relax, after all, they raised Luffy and he’s just fine. What can I say, it’s been just me and the dumpling for six weeks! After we ate lunch, they wanted to run by Luffy’s aunt’s house (where his grandparents live as well) to show off the baby boy. We couldn’t turn them down so off we went to show off our precious little one.

And I think that’s about it for now. As I’ve mentioned before – the days are long and boring and exhausting and precious as I care for this little guy.

The Newborn Chronicles

Can I still call him a newborn? I mean, he’s five weeks old today. Meh, I’m still gonna call him a newborn.

Last week was fun (ish? esque?). Little Dumpling went through a cognitive leap and was extra cranky and clingy and fussy which was perfect timing because my mom and Luffy were around to help keep me sane. My mom went home Saturday, but Luffy helped a ton over the weekend as well (Luffy can wrap him up in our Moby wrap and get a three or four hour nap out of him!). I think we’re starting to come out of the Wonder Week, although he still seems to be rather tired (and a touch cranky today). But he’s been good.

I, on the other hand, had a bit of a meltdown last night. For some reason, the monotony and responsibility of being the one to help the dumpling get to sleep each. and. every. time. he goes to sleep got to me. I was nursing him before bed, which is when he usually conks out. However, the past two nights, nursing alone hadn’t worked. I desperately wanted some time with Luffy and here was this wide-awake infant who was supposed to be going to sleep. I got frustrated. I passed him off to Luffy who (wonderfully! graciously!) accepted the challenge of getting him to sleep and told me to go to bed. Which wasn’t really what I wanted, but I took him up on the offer. What I really wanted was a day to myself again, where I’m not solely responsible for this tiny human. Where I’m not needed to nurse or change a diaper or get him to sleep (this is the biggest, most challenging and frustrating aspect). What I really wanted was a day with just Luffy and me again, to do as we please. My days are not my own right now and it’s getting to me.

By 9PM, I went to check on Luffy and the dumpling – both were still awake. I pumped, giving Luffy enough milk to make the dumpling a bottle and went back to bed. Luffy brought the dumpling into our room (where his bassinet is) and tried to lull him to sleep with a pacifier. It didn’t work, but by that time I had collected myself enough to go help. The dumpling wanted to nurse, so we did, as Luffy sat beside me, listening to me describe what I was feeling. The dumpling did manage to go to sleep after nursing but woke up soon after we transferred him to his bassinet (he had a dirty diaper). By this point in the night, it was late, so I sent Luffy to our bed and the dumpling and I cuddled* up in the guest bed. He slept an astounding four and a half hour stretch before waking to nurse again. Then we dozed and nursed until 7am.

Luffy and I talked more this morning. I miss our old life, when it was just the two of us. When we could relax in the evenings, without the question mark that is getting an infant down to sleep. When I could focus on taking care of Luffy (or myself for that matter!). I miss work and I miss my exercise classes. I laughed at myself because, in all that time we spent trying to get pregnant and in the nine months that I was actually pregnant, I never really thought about the newborn phase. I never once thought about how hard it would be to take care of an infant. When I thought about our hypothetical child, it was always the older infant (maybe 9 months?) or the adorable toddler. It’s probably a defense mechanism of sorts. Too late now!

To be brutally honest (and why not – it should be talked about), there are times when I look down at the dumpling and I wonder if he’s worth it. I wonder if we didn’t make a huge mistake. I resent the intrusion he is in our (Luffy’s and mine) wonderful life. I mean, I know he will be worth it and I know we didn’t make a mistake, it just feels like it sometimes (also known as when the dumpling is howling bloody murder for no apparent reason or is suddenly wide awake when he’s supposed to be sleeping). Now don’t call CPS on me – we’re all good. I feel like it’s probably a thought a lot of mothers have (especially those that aren’t really into the baby phase – some women are, more power to you).

I know that these days will go by, whether he cries for hours or sleeps like a champ or goes on a nursing strike. These days will roll by and suddenly, Luffy and I will look down at our dumpling and he will no longer be a newborn. He’ll be an infant and then a toddler and then a child and we’ll wonder why we ever questioned ourselves. I know that day will come, so I’ll just try to get through these days as best I can.

*Hardcore bedsharers always talk about cuddling their newborn, but I’d like to call BS on this, at least with my particular newborn. Bedsharing with him is like sharing a bed with someone who thinks he’s sleeping alone. I’m cradled around him to keep him safe and clear of pillows or blankets. I’m hyper aware of his little body, trying to lay as still as possible. Meanwhile, he grunts and kicks and coos in his sleep as I just try to stay out of the way. Plus, the word “cuddling” sort of implies a little give and take, maybe some snuggling, some happy baby chirping or a smile. Nope. Nopity nope nope. My little guy wakes up and is just like, where ma boob be at??? And would it kill you to change my diaper?

Moments to be thankful for

I’m currently swaying back and forth in my kitchen. Little Dumpling is wrapped up tight to my chest and he’s sleeping soundly. He was fussing, but I wrapped him up and turned some music on. He quieted down. Then Luffy and I got to sing him a song that means so much to me. And he just looked up at us, wide eyed. 

I’ve loved this song since the first time I heard it. I always said I would sing it to my child instead of lullabies. And now I have. And he enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy it too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Blissfully Happy

I’m sitting on my couch right now, with Friends on as background noise for Little Dumpling. Luffy is napping beside me; he came home early from work. Little Dumpling is in his pack ‘n play in front of me, napping like a champ. Jas is soaking up the last of the afternoon rays in the office, worn out from our play session earlier.

I am blissfully happy at this moment. Wonderfully, completely, absolutely happy.

Everyone and their mother has told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but I just can’t do it right now because it would be such a waste of this perfect moment.

Two Weeks and Change!

Little Dumpling is two weeks, two days old!

We’re slowly getting the hang of this parenting business, settling into a new routine of round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes. We’re still working the nights in shifts right now and I expect that to continue for a while. My hope is that by about four or six weeks, Luffy and I can go back to sleeping in the same bed, with me just waking as Little Dumpling does to nurse. But we’ll see. Right now, Little Dumpling seems to like having a mini party around 3am with Luffy and takes a couple of hours to settle back down into sleep. We know he’s tired, he just won’t go to sleep. Newborns! They don’t make any sense sometimes!

I’ve gotten out of the house several times this week, to run short errands. It’s so refreshing to get out and drive and perform little tasks like that. Of course, having a newborn in tow makes everything take that much longer. It takes me at least half an hour to get out of the house. And then of course, once we’re there, there’s the loading and unloading of the car seat. I’ve come to find that I adore my choice of stroller system right now (light weight, folds well, perfect for zipping around Target). I also have a Moby wrap, which I can’t wait to try out of the house, but we haven’t really gone anywhere to warrant the effort yet. (It’s just so easy to plop his car seat down into the stroller frame!)

Our life is also slowly resuming as well! Our birthdays were this week (Luffy and I have birthdays just two days apart, if I haven’t mentioned). My brother and his fiance are coming by this weekend to celebrate. Then we have plans next Friday for a Friendsgiving of sorts. We fully plan to go, with the little in our Moby wrap, as long as everyone attending is healthy. That will be the challenge, ensuring that everyone there is perfectly healthy. However, if we do get to go, I’m hoping to finally have some champagne again! Woo!

Speaking of champagne, I always thought I’d want some immediately after giving birth. Like, push out the little dumpling and someone hand me a flute! Cheers! Oddly enough though, I haven’t had much interest. My mom and I picked up a mini bottle (one of those little 1/4 bottles), intending to share it on her last night. We didn’t get the chance, but I also wasn’t too excited to break into it. Part of it is the uncertainty of nursing (I never know right now, especially in the evenings, if he’ll want to nurse again in an hour or two – honestly it would be easier to enjoy the champagne if I had it during the morning since that’s a much more predictable time!). The other half is that I, very wisely for once, recognized that alcohol is a depressant and that as much anxiety as I was having, it wouldn’t be good for me to indulge. So good for me, for putting my mental health above all else.

So yeah – that’s life right now! Shift work in the evenings. Trying to make sure a certain tiny human sleeps when he’s supposed to. Trying to find our new normal.

Newborn Survival Mode

My apologies in advance for the rambling post here. We’re in newborn survival mode over here. I’m still getting the hang of this mom business. I was lamenting to my own mother the other day that I really wish human bodies were capable of carrying the pregnancy another three months so. I know it would not be fun to be pregnant for a full year, but at least they wouldn’t come out needing two hour feedings.

We’re doing well at home though. My mom stayed with us the first week and I honestly don’t know how I would have done it without her. I wasn’t prepared for the absolute dive my hormones would take. I’m an optimistic, cheery person by nature, but for the first several days home I was a wreck of anxiety and feeling depressed.

It really took me by surprise, how strongly I felt that I would never be able to do this. That we had made a huge mistake. I love my son, but I was so anxious over the situation that I couldn’t sleep well – even though my mom was basically pulling all nighters to care for the little. My chest would tighten and my arms would tingle and I would just panic in my bed. I didn’t start to feel like my normal self until Sunday and even then it was hard to keep the optimism.

My mom’s presence was amazing. I truly can’t thank her enough for all her help and support. Luffy and I have a huge leg up right now because of all she did. I’m not a zombie (yet) because of her and I know that I’m healing quicker because of her help. I would have bribed her to stay my entire maternity leave if I didn’t know, deep down, that I need to do this myself.

Luffy has been wonderful too. It’s been hard on him. He loves our little guy too, but the disruption in our regular life is taking a toll on him. The crying at odd (and early) hours, the constant need, the never-ending cycle of eat-change-sleep-repeat. I know he’ll get there. We both will. Right now, we’re so worried about each other and trying to make each other lives’ easier (which is what gives me faith that we’ll get there).

In other news, I’ve already become very familiar with the daytime television schedule. And literally every time I see someone with a child – be it on television or social media, a toddler or a teenager – I tell myself that if they can make it through the newborn phase, so can we.

That’s my new mantra for the next three months. If they can do it, so can I.