Author: MamaUno

Texan-born L-word enthusiast who spends her days working with low-income preschoolers with behavior issues (trying *not* to think about TTC), and nights watching terrible, terrible tv with her darling Deux.

First month surprises

Our son is officially a one-month-old. What a shocker. No really, I’m kinda stunned. I look back at his newborn pictures and it is already hard to imagine that he’s grown so much so quickly. I miss the tiny bean we first came home with. I miss when he had hair. And yet, I’m thrilled (even relieved) to see him growing into a more independent, expressive, hardy little man.

The first month was not exactly what I imagined it would be. For me at least, it wasn’t the extremes people describe – the new baby euphoria, the utter despair over midnight crying spells. I was emotional, but more raw and a little vulnerable than big highs and lows. I was tired, sure, but never exhausted. Some people even warned us that the first few weeks were “hell,” and frankly they haven’t been. It’s been more like plugging along at a much slower pace than pre-baby, visiting with friends and family, adjusting to a new kind of sleeping, learning to breastfeed, eating lots of treats, and staring at the boy we made, wondering how this happened, anyway – I mean, how did we get here? I remember, but it seems like a dream.

Our birth was also a huge surprise. So many things about it. Our midwife expected him to come on/near the due date because of my dilation early on and the fact that we knew the precise date of conception. And he was 9 days late. I also found contractions felt a lot like menstrual cramps, and I never did feel them in my back the way others described. Transition wasn’t noticeably different from the rest of active labor for me, and I hated being in the tub (after so much planning for water birth!). Last but certainly not least, we caught the baby ourselves with no help from a medical provider – the last thing I’d imagined might happen. He caught me so by surprise that instead of yelling “he’s coming” (or something otherwise helpful, to cue the nearby midwife that she might come over and check things out) I yelled “what is happening!!?!?!” just before standing up and grabbing him by the neck as he slid out. I’m still recovering from the shock of seeing our whole baby son in our arms so abruptly, and seemingly without warning. (It turns out he transitions quickly between things in life – he’s a man of action, our guy.)

Other surprises: I now wear a size 32 F/G bra. Breastfed baby poo stinks, despite what the lovely lactation consultants may tell you. Baby clothing sizes make absolutely no sense, and the people who manufacture “newborn” onesies that are as long and as wide as my forearm should be shot for wasting our money. Our kid won’t sleep for more than 45 min. in his adorable, super-safe bassinet and prefers to be jumbled up all sweaty in bed with us. Newborns have opinions, and if they are anything like ours, they are pretty good at winning arguments.

I remember being told about childbirth that at the end of the day all of the reading and preparation we did would fade into the background, and we’d just do it. We’d use our instincts and the support we had around us, and get through it just like women have forever. I wish more people said this about babies. Instead there are a thousand books with well-meaning advice (often contradictory) and warnings about potential problems, and if you are a good student like us it can be darn confusing. For the record, our baby has had stinky farts, rashes, a bloodshot eye, sudden hair loss, unexplained shrieks upon waking from a deep sleep that just about put us in hysterics, what I consider “projectile” spits ups, bizarre nipple-tugging behavior while nursing, and a million other befuddling symptoms. The numbers say that real trouble – food allergies, milk supply problems, acid reflux – is pretty rare, and all of this falls under the realm of what is “normal.” If so, why do I keep reading these damn books?! If babies really are this funky and moody and messy, I should stop reading and listen to the wise old women I know who say “if your baby doesn’t have a fever or seem lethargic, you don’t need to worry.” (Case in point, he just yelled suddenly and angrily in his sleep, and went right back to peaceful snoozing.)

I’m convinced there is a rhyme and reason to it all, and I don’t have to have it all figured out. I just want to be reassured that we aren’t missing a major sign of imminent disaster. Is that too much to ask?

Having ranted for so long I don’t know how to sign off, so I leave it in the words of Deux who just stopped by the couch to peek at our sleeping bean and say, “I can’t believe we have a BABY.” That, dear friends, is the biggest surprise of all.

On leaving the house, and other joys of week 4

That’s right – I left the house. We all drove together to the grocery and video stores, and this time *I* got out and ran the errands while Deux stayed in and watched over our sleeping bean. We were hitting our limit for being cooped up, and it felt great to get out for a while. Even a bit surreal for me, who has been anchored to the furniture by a demanding infant for nearly 4 weeks. I walked around the store thinking: “People! Don’t you realize I don’t get out much? Don’t you notice me, a brand new mom who is barely dressed and covered in spit-up?” The strangest part was the pace. I’ve adjusted to long waits for nearly everything. When he falls asleep I’ll put him down and make lunch. If we coordinate I might get a shower in today. But untethered I flew through the aisles like a woman on a mission and it felt great. Ah, the little things.

As for the boobs, they are much better. The mastitis, as it turned out, wasn’t so bad and actually cleared up on it’s own with lots of massage and hot compresses. I didn’t have to take antibiotics, which was a relief to me, though it meant I suffered a few days of nipples-on-fire. And after the rollercoastering, my supply has regulated itself – I don’t feel painful engorgement hardly at all, but rather walk around with jolly, jiggling melons all day that are mildly tender at times but otherwise unchanging. Thanks so much to everyone for your encouragement and ideas. It felt like I had every problem for at least a day or so, and may still have too much foremilk and/or fast let-down issues at times. All in all, though, I feel like we made it over a major hump.

Right now, Deux has crashed for a wee nap and bean is actually in his cosleeper, which means he should be waking up any second since he can’t stand sleeping on his back for long without skin contact with one of us. Those pesky arms and legs twirl and sputter like kites in a thunderstorm, punching him in the face (or kicking me in the gut if he’s nursing), but heaven forbid we try to swaddle the child. When we do he goes rigid, arches his back, and screams until his face turns the color of a tomato. Not the desired effect, you might say. So we manage at night with this kid who sleeps like a perfect chubby cherub, OR flailing, grunty beast depending on the hour. Oh, and he’s always, always sweaty. Must be all the aerobics.

Okay, he’s now up, but I’m forging ahead with a baby attached to my nipple and supported by an overpriced pillow. First world comforts are great, aren’t they?

So back to bean – he really is charming most of the time. And he has us by the balls ALL of the time. We laugh and cry every day harder than I ever remember laughing and crying in my life. How can one tiny person make me so crazy and lovestruck at the same time? How can I cycle in a single day through intense helplessness and despair, beaming pride, utter confusion, and I’d-lie-down-in-traffic-for-you love? People who know me can attest that I am fairly pragmatic and level-headed most of the time, so to those folks let me say I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m an emotional mess and in a way it’s wonderful. If nothing else, I know I’m really very much alive.

And a picture of my darling beast, limbs free and ready to rumble. Swaddlers be damned!!:

HELP! Boobs on strike?!

Boobs are marvelous things. I’ve always thought so. And after giving birth to our wee son, and seeing how they responded to his every need, I was shocked and awed by the fact that I’ve been carrying around these perfect little milk-making machines my whole life. Really, it’s all quite impressive.

Fast forward to about 12 days after the milk arrived – oh my god my boobs stopped working! At least, that’s exactly how I felt last night at 2am when my screaming baby had nothing to eat, and there wasn’t one damn thing I could do about it.

So here’s what’s happening – he nurses like a champ all day, and sleeps for 2-3 hour stretches. The boy does love the boob, and really when he’s awake it’s all he wants to do. So sometimes he nurses for a few minutes and falls back asleep, and sometimes he’s on and off for an hour or two. He’s a newborn for goodness sake, so I try to respond to his cues and not worry about having him on any particular “schedule.” An early childhood person, I figure we have the rest of his life to worry about consistent routines. The problems start after dinner, when it seems like I go bone dry and he gets frustrated at the boob. He starts fussing, I switch sides, burp him, try to get him to sleep, pass him off to darling Deux who does all the same stuff including some of her own secret baby mojo. We get wiped and he isn’t getting his fill, and despite short naps things deteriorate until we’re all a hot mess (I’m usually crying) and we finally crash all together in a heap around 1 or 2, depending. Then as if as a cruel joke, the next time I wake up my boobs are enormous rocks, so huge my kid can’t latch on unless I hold the nipple back for the first 10 minutes. Yes, seriously. It takes him until 1 or 2 in the afternoon to drain them back down to acceptable size.

Okay, to be fair this has only happened a few times, but they’ve been close together (3/4 out of the last 5 nights, with one miraculous night in between where everything went just right). And last night was awful – he screamed for 2 hours, and I had a meltdown. One of those primal, I-can’t-feed-my-baby meltdowns. So my doula (a lifesaver!!) processes with us by phone and she gave me some tips to try for tonight, but I wanted to poll the audience. Any breastfeeders out there with an encouraging word?

Info you might wonder about: Yes, he’s gaining weight (a pound between days 2 and 10) and pees and poos plenty, so my supply isn’t altogether low. Latch seems fine. Fussing on the boob only happens at night. Also, he’s spitting up a lot in the last several days. That’s new. Sometimes he spits up before we even burp him, or spits up a long while after feeding. I’ll answer any other questions, and welcome all ideas!!

Hey, Jude

Introducing our new little man – Judah – who arrived yesterday at 4:58pm after (yes, folks, he is a first baby) just 3.5 hours of “active labor”. He is 7 lbs, 1 oz, and 19.5″. And he came out so fast he was caught by his moms, with the midwife looking on! Birth story with details coming soon.

My birth day!! Phew, that was a *lot* of work.

Me, one day old. And looking very mature already.

My Deux

So Deux has been teasing me about not writing for so long. What can I say? I find this job best left to the professional in the family. When she asked me to write a post, I thought: where do I begin? My head swims most days with a million thoughts about being t-minus 4 weeks and counting to my son’s birthday (!). What will I be like during birth? Will we have the baby in the water like I’ve been hoping for? Will my boobs work? Will I sleep again? How will our family transition to its new shape and size? Will our cats hate us? But I have to say, of all these things, all I really want to tell you is that I have the best lady in the world.

Hormones, perhaps, but all I want to do lately is snuggle. That’s right, snuggle. And I am astonished by how my Deux accommodates my every little desire without so much as a grumble. I don’t have to tell you how sweet she was about my birthday, and I know she worries she isn’t doing enough! She’s going to be the most amazing mom there ever was, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I have her to be on this crazy ride with.

Okay, so it’s not all about snuggling. She’s also kicking ass at baby preparation! While I come home and whine about my job, and lie prone on the futon watching bad sci-fi (really, terrible) shows online, she is buzzing around wanting to learn and know everything there is about being the best friggin’ family we can be. This means developing an extreme expertise in cloth diapering (look out, anyone who dare challenge her!), figuring out the legal system in this godforsaken state so we can have the protections we want and need, and thinking through how we’ll talk to our family and, most importantly, our son about the donor. While my concerns are, it seems, cut and pasted directly from every pregnancy book there is (mostly focused on the birth itself at this point), she is preparing us to not only tackle some of the challenges of being a two-mom family in the South, but to do it with style, thoughtfulness, and a hint or two of green.

Deux, I love you. I love the way you wash the cloth diaper prefolds daily to make them perfectly soft and absorbent for our new baby son’s bum. I love the way you nourish us with delicious food and seem to have endless patience for our whining cats, obviously stressed by the changes afoot. I love your hunger for information about how to make us a strong family unit in the face of obstacles, and how concerned you are about preparing the grandparents-to-be. I even love the mess you leave in your wake, because I know it’s a sign that you’re hard at work in this world. There was never a more loving, inspired, generous partner and mom on this planet. Now, come home so we can snug!

Hello, second trimester

Okay, folks. Just thought after reading those posts from my poor distressed honey I better emerge and give a brief update. I am finally, I think permanently, feeling better. And while my evenings of late have been kinda yuck, my days have been okay for a couple weeks. I think figuring out when to eat is making a big difference. (I had a breakthrough last week when, while she was out teaching, I ate dinnerS at 5pm and 9pm. They were small big hit the spot, and all and all a much better plan.) The worst has been the headaches, but even those are starting to subside. Hormones, I’m told. How lovely.

In other news, I used the workout room at my office Monday – the first real exercise to speak of in a while. Here’s hoping I’m turning a corner and heading back to my pre-preggers energy level, as promised by the midwives. Cross your fingers! This would make a huge difference in how I feel all over.

The weekend’s baby shower did bring up some questions for us – so many decisions to make! What kind of diapers will we use? Will we do the pacifier thing? And what about breast pumps, bottles, and so on. I watched as my old friend sifted through bags and bags of baby girl clothing and felt a strong desire to tell everyone we were having a boy, either way. Bah I hate all the girly stuff. Boy clothes are much cuter! Anyway, lots to think about. If anyone has suggestions, bring it on.

Coming soon: more on where to actually *have* this baby, how to find a good birthing class, how to overplan everything too early only to find your plans are shit, and many other exciting tales from two moms trying to find their way. I just wish there were more gay lady partners around to make my girl feel less alien and more normal. Thank god for y’all.

Warm wishes to all!

New Year, New Adventures in Babymakin’

O.M.G. Calling this business “morning sickness” is SO misleading. How did that happen? Who was so grossly misinformed? I read that it lasted all day, but I have to admit I didn’t quite take in what that would feel like. I guess it’s hard to imagine such a thing. I’m just so friggin’ glad to have this week off work (mostly) to flop on the couch, complain to my sweet gf, and try to figure out how to combat it. It seems like eating and moving both make me generally feel better, but funny how those are the 2 things I am feeling *least* like doing. Ahh the irony.

The good news is, I’m falling in love with naps. Never was into them before. Too busy in the head, could never really settle. Now I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. It’s wicked impressive.

Happy, warm, supportive hugs and well-wishes to all the parents-to-be out there. Great news of late! Very exciting. And for those whose time is yet to come, may this year bring with it the perfect little bean of your heart’s desire.

Happy New Year!

PS Quick poll: Feta cheese – safe or unsafe? (And don’t be swayed for my very strong desire for one answer over the other.)