Five months old.

(Make that, 5.5 months old)

I can’t believe we almost have a six month-old. It sounds so old! But I am loving watching this little guy become his own person. Every day is something new. It’s funny how I used to think we had an easy baby. I definitely do NOT think he is an easy baby anymore. To the contrary, he is proving himself to be quite the little handful, but I still love him just the same. I think he is going to be very smart, inquisitive, and will probably be the type to test his boundaries, if I had to guess from his personality. He will be keeping us on our toes, for sure!

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Stats: Somewhere around 16 lbs. It will be interesting to find out for sure in a few weeks when he has his 6 month checkup.

Sleeping: Ugh. Just… ugh. It’s getting progressively worse. I read a book last month called The No Cry Sleep Solution, as I had hoped to help him develop better sleep habits without letting him “cry it out.” I picked up a few good pointers in the book, but I think I’m moving on to a more aggressive approach, and I just downloaded Solve Your Child’s Sleep Programs by Richard Ferber on my Kindle. “Ferberizing,” as it’s commonly known, does require some crying, but I think it’s for the best, as it’ll teach him to self-soothe. I’m learning through reading, though, that it’s not quite as brutal as I initially thought. You don’t just ignore them and let them cry alone for hours on end. You go in at longer and longer intervals to assure them you’re there, without just resorting to picking up and nursing, which is the one surefire way to instantly calm him.

That’s the hardest part about this whole thing. It’s like, would I rather just give into him so I can get some sleep tonight? Or should I be strong, so I can get more sleep in the long run? I know the latter sounds like a no-brainer, but when it’s 3 a.m. and I’m exhausted and I’m up with him for the third time that night, and I have to get up in two and a half hours to put in a full day at work, it’s just so much easier to pull him onto the boob so I (and he) can fall back asleep.

One thing we did start doing a few nights ago, is we got rid of the Magic Sleep Suit. It was super helpful for the transition from the swaddle, but I think we reached a point where it was keeping him from putting himself back to sleep when he would stir, as it kept him in one position on his back. Think about it: when you wake up in the middle of the night, you probably change positions, roll over, and fall back asleep. Since he couldn’t get into any other position than starfish flat on his back, I think it made him fussier. I’ve noticed a slight difference since we got rid of the sleep suit … though I’m afraid to even type that out, for fear of jinxing it! But I’ll occasionally hear him whimper through the baby monitor and if I wait it out instead of going to him immediately, sometimes he’ll roll over and then fall asleep on his own.

Eating: Oh, one thing I forgot to mention in my previous paragraph, that I think may be affecting sleep, is the fact that he is definitely eating a lot at night. I previously thought he was nursing just for comfort, but I went out of town for a couple nights two weeks ago and D was on his own with Theo for the first time overnight, and Theo drank EIGHT bottles between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m.!! So clearly he is taking in a lot more calories at night than we previously thought (reverse cycling). To help this, I’ve been slowly increasing the amount I’m sending him in his bottles to daycare, in hopes of getting him a little more full during the day.

We also tried solid food for the first time last weekend! I was originally going to wait until he officially reached 6 months, but I figure any extra calories I can get into him during the day can only help. And he’s also been totally eyeballing our food whenever we eat, so he was ready. We’re starting with just one feeding per day of baby oatmeal cereal, and this coming weekend we’ll move on to pureed veggies. I picked up some carrots and avocado this weekend, and I’m planning to start making my own baby food. I’ve heard from some people that it’s better to start with veggies instead of fruit, so they don’t learn to only like sweets… and I’ve heard from other people that you should start with fruit instead of veggies because it’s an easier transition and is sweet like breastmilk. As with all things baby, there is SOOO much conflicting advice out there! So I figured carrots and avocados were a good compromise. They’re veggies, but they’re on the sweeter side of things (unlike broccoli, which can be a little bitter). We’ll see. So far he loves oatmeal, although more food ends up all over him, the floor, the dogs, etc. than in his mouth. But he’ll figure it out.

Likes/Dislikes: As I mentioned earlier, he is developing quite a personality, and is not shy about telling us what he likes and doesn’t like. Still loves bath time. Seriously, I’ve never seen him so happy as when he’s in the tub. It’s incredibly cute. He goes bonkers in his Jumparoo, and is starting to like tummy time a lot more, now that he can move. He isn’t crawling yet, but that’s coming very soon. He does pushups, rolls, inchworms and scoots around in circles. He’s also starting to get better about sitting up. I can balance him and he’ll stay for a few seconds before toppling over. He loves looking at any kind of screen, so we’re trying to be more careful about not letting him “watch” too much TV. This screen fascination has made middle of the night nursing a bit more difficult since looking at Facebook or playing Candy Crush on my phone was previously the only way I could stay awake. Now it’s often way too distracting for him, though, since he’ll pull off and crane his neck to look at my phone instead of nursing.

Mama: I’m down below my pre-baby weight. Hooray! I actually weigh less than I have in years, though my midsection still needs some work. I’ve had to give up running for the time being, simply because I haven’t had the time. I’m hoping to pick that up again soon. I’m still pumping at work, though I’ve had a few days where things have gotten busy and I either haven’t had time to do it as often as I should, or I just simply forget. I almost never get that “full” feeling anymore when I need to empty, like I used to. So it’s way too easy to go longer than I should between pumping if I’m not watching the clock. I’m trying to be better about this since I don’t want my supply to start dropping. I’m almost halfway to my goal of breastfeeding for a year.

Okay, that’s about it for now. Here are some pictures from the past month:

This is what happens when Daddy dresses him. Yes, that is a nightgown he is wearing as a shirt.

This is what happens when Daddy dresses him. Yes, that is a nightgown he is wearing as a shirt.

Bathtime!

Bathtime!

Doing pushups for his girlfriend Ava.

Doing pushups for his girlfriend Ava.

Mastering the art of the selfie.

Mastering the art of the selfie.

Theo and Ava.

Theo and Ava.

First Sounders game.

First Sounders game.

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Go Sounders!

Yum, oatmeal!

Yum, oatmeal!

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Meeting cousin Ryder

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Happy Halloween!

Four months old.

Mr. Theo is now four months old (actually, I’ve put this off so long that he’s closer to 5 months now). I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I can’t believe how fast he is growing up. He is really developing quite the little personality and is starting to look more like a little person every day. I couldn’t pick a favorite picture this month, so here’s a mini-collage from his photo shoot. I think it perfectly captures how active he is. He just does not sit still!

4monthsStats: 15 lbs (52nd percentile), 26.26 inches long (90th percentile!). Our boy is long and lean — who knows where he got that from, since those aren’t terms I’d use to describe D or me. It’s funny how he doesn’t weigh that much in relation to his length, yet everyone always comments on what a chunky baby he is. He does have a lot of rolls and the most adorable chubby thighs. 🙂

Sleeping: He is going through a pretty bad sleep regression, which, in talking with other moms seems to be pretty normal for this age. Some have referred to it as the 4 month wakeful period. Essentially, a lot of babies get so distracted by everything during the day that they don’t eat as much as they should, and then at night when it’s dark and quiet and there are fewer distractions, they choose that time to eat. He’s also been dealing with a cold for about 4 weeks now, so the frequent night wakings could be just because he doesn’t feel well. I’m starting to really get tired of the sleep conversations, though. It seems like whenever anyone finds out I have a baby, their first question is, “how is he sleeping?” And when I say he still wakes up 2-3 times per night, it’s like I can hear their silent judgment. Or maybe I’m just imagining it. But really, why does everyone seem to expect that babies this age should sleep through the night? Sure, I’d love to get more consecutive hours of sleep, but I just have to remind myself that babies who sleep through the night are the exception, not the rule, at this age.

I did start reading a book on sleep habits, called The No Cry Sleep Solution. I’m not quite ready to do any official sleep training at this point, and I waiver back and forth on whether I believe in letting babies “cry it out” (which is what’s involved in traditional sleep training methods). This book is more about understanding baby sleep habits and finding ways to support healthy sleep without letting them CIO. One thing we are doing is trying to get him into more of a bedtime routine, and are putting him down earlier than we were. Whereas before we were just taking him to bed when we went to bed (usually around 10), we realized that he was pretty cranky in the evenings and could probably benefit from an earlier bedtime. So now we try to get him down around 8, and that seems to be going much better. It doesn’t make him sleep any longer, but he’s not quite as fussy in the evenings, and it gives us some time to relax sans baby, or get stuff done like dishes or a little bit of work. I call our routine the “four Bs” – bath, book, boob, bed. I’m hoping the repetitiveness will help him to fall asleep faster over time, and the book I’m reading says a good bedtime routine is crucial. I do worry sometimes, though, that the bath and book rev him up instead of calming him down. He LOOOVES bath time, but that usually involves a lot of squealing and splashing. And he gets really excited when I read to him, and tries to turn the pages himself and everything. So I’m not really convinced it’s a relaxing activity for him. We’ll see how it goes after a few more weeks, and if we’re not seeing any improvement, we may experiment with a different routine.

Another new development on the sleep front since last month, is that we ended up getting that Magic Sleepsuit I mentioned last time. It’s wonderful! Again, it doesn’t make him magically sleep through the night, but it does seem to help him to fall asleep faster, and he doesn’t flail around like he was with the swaddle, and I’m not worried about him rolling over and ending up face down in the mattress like I did when he was swaddled. He is a rolling machine these days, which made swaddling unsafe.

One thing we are struggling with a bit now are naps. He takes a pretty good nap in the mornings, but really protests his afternoon nap. I’ve been working with daycare to try to get him into somewhat of a consistent routine that we can carry over on the weekends, but he is just such an active baby that he really doesn’t want to miss anything. It’s something we need to work on, because he gets pretty crankypants in the evenings when he doesn’t get an afternoon nap. But napping is another thing that book is supposed to help address. I’ve just started the book, so I’m hoping we’ll learn some new tricks.

Eating: Still loves to nurse, and is taking a bottle like a champ. Only complaints in the eating department are that he likes to nurse a lot at night now, and he is starting to get a bit more particular about the conditions in which he nurses. He doesn’t like being covered, which means when we’re out in public he tries to rip the cover off, or will sometimes fuss and not latch on right away. But it’s manageable. It’s funny how I always thought we got such an easy baby — but really he just hadn’t grown into his personality yet. He’s definitely not shy about telling us what he likes and doesn’t like! Which brings us to…

Likes/Dislikes: He always wants to be upright these days, and only likes the swing for naps now. He likes to sit in his Bumbo seat, and I think we’ll get him a high chair soon, even though we won’t be starting solid foods for another month or so. He always wants to be right in the middle of the action, so we need somewhere to put him while we’re in the kitchen or eating at the table. He doesn’t like his pacifier much anymore, which is a bummer since it means I’m his pacifier, but I suppose that’s one less thing we have to break him of later. He LOVES the ceiling fan, and has also started noticing screens lately – our phones, iPad, laptops, TV, etc. He loves to watch football (just like daddy!). I think the different colored uniforms contrasted with the green field must be fascinating to him. Yes, we let our baby watch TV with us. Surely we must be rotting his brain.

Mama: I can officially say I’ve lost all the baby weight – yay! My stomach skin still looks all loose, though, and I still have a bit of a pooch, so I certainly won’t be rocking a bikini anytime soon. Good thing it’s almost October. 🙂 We’re going to Hawaii in February, and I’m hoping my body will have bounced back by then. I recently started a Couch-to-5k running program and I’m hoping that’ll help me build some muscle tone and maybe shed a few more pounds. I’ve also been taking Stewie running with me, and I think that’ll be good for him. He’s always been sort of a nervous dog, and I worry that his nervousness could make him less tolerant to a grabby toddler when the time comes. I worry a lot about the dogs in general, to tell you the truth. They have pretty much ignored Theo for the most part, though Maggie grumbled a little bit last night when Theo was on his blanket on the floor and turned to face her. She got up and moved, which was the right thing to do — and I hope to teach them that walking away when they’re tired of the baby is always the right choice — but it did bother me to see her do that. I’m not one of those people who gives up on their animals when a baby enters the picture. (I do dog rescue for crying out loud – how hypocritical would that be?) But I never could have prepared myself for the love I would feel for this tiny human we’ve created and just how protective I would be with him. I hope we can continue to work on building the dogs’ tolerance of Theo and making him a positive thing to them. We’ll certainly have our work cut out for us once he’s mobile, though!

Okay, that’s about it. Next week he’ll be 5 months old, and I’ll try to be a little more timely with that post! Here are some of my favorite photos from the past month.

Hanging with Uncle Robbie

Hanging with Uncle Robbie

With Auntie Danielle

With Auntie Danielle

Fishing with Dad.

Fishing with Dad.

Go Cougs!

Go Cougs!

My boys.

My boys.

Watching the Seahawks.

Watching the Seahawks.

Three months old.

True to form, I’m late on the monthly update. But this time I’m only six days late, so it’s getting better. At least the photo was taken on the exact day:

3monthsI can’t believe how big he is getting! And I think he is starting to look more and more like D. I am going to try to find some baby pictures of D for comparison.

Okay, here’s what’s happening at three months…

Stats: 13ish lbs. I weighed him in a very unscientific way of stepping on the scale with and without him and subtracting the numbers and I got about 13 lbs. I would have thought he would have been bigger by now, but I know the scale may not be that precise. Will be interesting to see how much he weighs next time he goes to the doctor, which I think should be around four months.

Sleeping: He actually gave us two nights in a row of sleeping through the night a couple weeks ago! And then just when I got my hopes up that this was going to be the new normal, he totally regressed. He’s now back to waking up every 3-4 hours, and we’re having some issues with the swaddle. He fusses and can’t fall asleep unless his arms are immobilized, yet he wakes himself (and consequently, us) up a few hours later, grunting and busting his arms out. It’s sort of a lose-lose situation. If I don’t swaddle him, he can’t fall asleep. If I swaddle him, he won’t stay asleep. I did some searching online and found a few recommendations for a product called the Magic Sleepsuit. It kind of reminds me of the snowsuit Randy wears in A Christmas Story. Supposedly it partially immobilizes their arms so they don’t flail around so much or wake themselves up with their reflexes. It’s $40, though, which would be worth it if it works (sleep is a glorious thing), but I’d be afraid of wasting my money if it didn’t help. I may check Craigslist, Ebay and consignment stores and see if I can find one used – less risk that way!

Eating: I’ve documented our breastfeeding struggles here and here. Thankfully, we seem to be getting into a better groove now! Theo is eating 4 to 5, 3-ounce bottles while I’m at work — usually four at daycare and one D feeds him before I get home. He’s taking a bottle great now, and I’m finally pumping enough to get him through the next day, and even usually have a couple surplus ounces I can scald and freeze. I’ll be going to a friend’s wedding in LA in October and leaving Theo home with D, so my goal is to have at least 90 ounces in my freezer stash before then. Shouldn’t be a problem at the rate I’m going now, which is a relief! T is still nursing every 2-3 hours when we’re home together, though I’ve noticed he sometimes gets a little fussy at the boob now. Hopefully he isn’t starting to get frustrated with the slower flow. Bottles tend to have a faster flow than the breast, so sometimes babies can get too used to bottles and frustrate easily when they can’t get the milk as fast from the boob. That would be just our luck! First he prefers the boob and doesn’t take a bottle, and then he prefers the bottle and won’t take a boob?! Knock on wood that’s not the direction we’re headed!

Personality: He is sooo much fun. Smiles all the time and just loves to look at everyone. He’s getting really interactive. If you smile, he’ll smile back. If you talk to him, he’ll babble back. Sometimes he’ll babble up at me while he’s breastfeeding, and it’s just the cutest thing. I tell him not to talk with his mouth full (never too early for manners!). Just the other day he scratched his head and it was the funniest. He’s been dealing with cradle cap and it must be itchy. I can’t explain it, but it’s just so cool to see little him do the most ordinary things. He gets more and more “human” every day!

Likes/Dislikes: Still loves being changed, and loves bath time too. He prefers to look around and be upright most of the time. We put him in his Bumbo chair for the first time a couple weeks ago, and he loved it! He used to love his swing, but he seems to be falling out of love with it, and I think it’s because he’s too reclined to really look around. He’ll still nap in it when he’s really tired, but forget about using it to calm him when he’s fussy. The swinging motion used to calm him right down, but now putting him in the swing while he’s fussing will make him quickly escalate from fussing to screaming. He is starting to like his crib more, even though he still doesn’t sleep in it. He likes to look up at his mobile, though, and sometimes I’ll put him in there while I hang clothes or tidy up his room. Lately he’s been going through a phase where he just wants to be held most of the time (upright, of course). He’ll fuss if you set him down, or even sit down while holding him, but if you’re standing and he’s able to look over your shoulder, he’s happy as a clam. I’ve been watching a lot of TV while standing up lately…

Mama: I’m feeling pretty much back to normal now, though I’m still nowhere near bikini ready and my weight loss seems to have stalled out at around 4-5 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. I haven’t really done much exercise, though, and hope to change that soon. It’s just so hard to find time since my workdays are long and when I’m home, I just want to spend time with my baby. I think I may start up a “Couch to 5k” program next week, though, and take Stewie running with me in the mornings on the days I work from home. I think the dogs have been feeling a little neglected lately!

That’s about all for now. I’ll wrap this up with some recent favorite photos:

Theo and his daddy in matching swim trunks.

Theo and his daddy in matching swim trunks.

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“Is that my foot?”

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All smiles.

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Talking to his great grandma.

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Business casual, pants optional.

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Sitting in his Bumbo seat.

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Sleeping like an angel.

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“Watching” the Mariners in his Bumbo seat.

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Bath time!

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Like father, like son.

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Nomming on his toy.

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My two sons.

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Trying out the Jumparoo.

Moo, part two.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently ran into a pretty big hurdle with breastfeeding: the discovery that my milk contains too much lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats, causing the milk to go bad quickly. Well, I’m happy to say that despite having to start my freezer stash over from scratch, I’ve gotten in a pretty good routine of scalding my milk, and it’s only slightly more inconvenient than normal pumping.

Unfortunately, after going back to work last week I came to the realization that I’m not pumping as much as Theo is eating while away from me. As I mentioned earlier, he ate everything I sent him with on day two by 2 p.m. I had sent him with the entire 14 ounces I had pumped the day before. Since I had pumped three times the first day (9 a.m, noon and 3 p.m.), I decided to up my pumping sessions on day two (9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.). Still got 14 ounces. On top of T eating those 14 ounces at daycare, D fed him about 6 more ounces from my meager freezer stash before I got home. So it appears I need to be pumping about 20 ounces per day to keep up with his demand while I’m away.

Well, crap.

I had no prior indication that I might have an issue with supply. Theo eats like a champ when he’s getting it straight from the boob. And he’s gaining weight beautifully, according to our pediatrician. Also, ever since he was about 4 weeks old I’ve been doing one extra pumping session per day for the purpose of building a freezer stash, and I would regularly get 5-6 ounces out of that session, which felt like a good amount to me. Unfortunately, what I discovered after going back to work and pumping 3-4 times per day is that my pumping output gets progressively smaller throughout the day. In order to continue feeling him breastmilk exclusively while I’m away from him, I need to be consistently getting 5-6 ounces from each and every session. And ideally I’d be getting more than that, so I can continue to stash some extra in the freezer for backup.

So, over the weekend I went on a mission to increase my supply. Here’s how:

  • Nurse, nurse, nurse. Best way to increase supply is to empty frequently. And the baby is the most efficient way to empty. So I’m trying to feed Theo as much as possible and am letting him eat for as long as he wants. (And now that I’ve returned to work, he’s been eating more frequently and averaging about 45 minutes per session, versus his usual 15-20 minutes)
  • Pump after nursing. After T finishes, I hook up to the pump for an additional 10 minutes or so. Most of the time I get less than a half ounce total, proving that the baby really is pretty efficient. But I’m combining the milk from all these bonus pumps and by the end of the day I have about 2-3 ounces that I can add to my freezer stash. Plus, even if I’m not getting much, the idea is that the pump will stimulate me to make more. Here’s hoping it pays off, because it’s super annoying. Have I mentioned how much I really hate pumping? Not to mention, once I finish one of T’s marathon nursing sessions, pump, and then clean pump parts and store my milk, it’s almost time to nurse again.
  • Lactation cookies. I got this recipe from the lactation consultant at the hospital after T was born, so I went ahead and made them on Saturday. They contain oatmeal, brewers yeast and flaxseed, which are all supposed to boost lactation. And they taste pretty good! Don’t have to twist my arm to get me to eat cookies!
  • Beer. Another piece of advice from the hospital’s lactation nurse was to drink a beer per day. Again, don’t need to twist my arm! I’ve been doing this almost every day since T was born, and now I’m definitely making sure I do.
  • Fenugreek. This is an herbal supplement that’s known to boost milk supply. Supposedly the side effect is that it makes your pee and sweat smell like maple syrup. I haven’t noticed anything yet, but it’s only been two days.
  • Water. I’ve been trying to up my water intake, as that’s supposed to help with supply. I’ve never been very good about drinking the recommended 8 glasses per day.
  • Oatmeal. Along with the oats in the lactation cookies, I’m eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning.
  • Longer pumping sessions. I was pumping for 15 minutes per session, but I’m stretching that to 20 minutes, in hopes of squeezing just a little more out. I’m thankful that I have a hands free setup and my own office with a door so I can keep working while doing so.

Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed a difference just yet, but at least I’ve had the weekend to get a few bonus pumps in so I had enough milk to send with him to daycare this morning. I just hope today’s output is enough to feed him Tuesday, or we may need to start thinking about supplementing with formula. It’s really something I had wanted to avoid, but I need to remember that formula is not the devil. Feeding your baby is feeding your baby. I just wish my body would cooperate so I could feed my baby the way I want.

Back to reality…

Last Thursday I went back to work. There were many tears involved; mostly mine.

I knew it would be hard to leave Theo, but I actually was proud of myself for only shedding a few tears when I dropped him off the first day. It was nice to see coworkers again and I was actually feeling pretty good about getting back into the swing of things, until I got an email from D, letting me know our daycare provider had called to tell him Theo was refusing the bottle. Suddenly, all the emotions I had been doing a good job at holding back came pouring out. I had to close my door and have a good cry. Why did I have to come back to work? Why do we have to live in such a high cost of living area where we need my income? Why couldn’t I have been born in a different decade where moms were expected to stay home? And since I had no control over any of those things, I blamed myself: why couldn’t we have done a better job getting Theo used to a bottle before starting daycare?

I managed to pull myself together long enough to get through a call, and then I closed my door again and called our daycare provider to check in. She said Theo was doing a little better with the bottle, but I could hear him crying in the background. It broke my heart and I had to have another good cry in my office. Thankfully D was able to leave work early to go get him, and said he gulped down a bottle once he got T home. Who knows why he resisted the bottle so much at daycare – maybe it was just the unfamiliarity of it all – but I was finally able to relax, knowing he was at home with his dad and at least wasn’t hungry anymore. When I got home that night, he nursed for a really long time, and then wanted to eat again about an hour later and got in another long nursing session. He also woke up twice that night to nurse. I’ve heard of babies “reverse cycling” when they start daycare, and I think that might be what he’s doing. So, just when I really need to start getting more sleep, it looks like I may be getting less until T gets used to his new routine.

Thankfully D has a flexible schedule, because he ended up having to pick T up early again the next day. This time, instead of refusing the bottle, he had downed everything I had sent him with by 2 p.m. So we’re still figuring things out, and I need to make sure I’m pumping enough (more about that later). The good news is, dropping him off the second day was ten times easier than it was the first day.

So, yeah… about pumping. Pumping at work will definitely take some getting used to. Aside from carving out time in my day to do this 3-4 times, it’s just plain weird. I texted D on my first day and told him I was topless in my office. His reply: “A raise is a raise. The glass ceiling isn’t going to move itself.” (LOL). I will say, on that first day I was especially thankful to have an office with a door where I can cry and/or go topless as needed. Now there’s an odd sentence!

The good news is that I’ve set some boundaries with work that I think will make being back at work more manageable. While I used to regularly stay past 6 p.m. and not get home until 7:30 or later, I told them I would be leaving at 5 p.m. every day, and would log on again from home if I needed to finish anything up. I’m also going to work from home two days per week. Prior to maternity leave I was already working from home on Tuesdays, so I’ll continue that, and will also have a floating WFH day that I’ll determine on a week-to-week basis, depending on meetings. We’ll still have T in fulltime childcare since I can’t watch a baby and get work done at the same time, but at least I can get 3 hours back in my day by eliminating my long commute.

So, while the first day was pretty rough, I must say I’m feeling much more confident about maintaining a work-life balance. I think I can actually do this whole working mom thing!

Theo on his first day of "school."

Theo on his first day of “school.”

I am woman, hear me moo!

Long before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It’s just one of those things that I knew would be important to me for numerous reasons: the health of the baby and increased immunity, the cost (formula is expensive, yo!), helping me get back in shape (can’t argue with burning an extra 500 calories a day while sitting on the couch!), and just the overall emotional bond. Not that women who bottle feed don’t bond with their babies – I’m not trying to start a mommy war here – but there is just something about holding the baby skin to skin, knowing you are providing him with all the sustenance he needs to grow… it just felt like a right of passage to me as a mother. It’s a personal choice, but my goal was to do this for one year and try to avoid formula altogether.

I wasn’t naive to think breastfeeding would be all puppies and rainbows, though. I suppose one of the benefits of being some of the last of our friends to have a baby is that I’ve been able to learn a lot through everyone else’s experiences. I can’t think of one friend who didn’t have at least a couple hurdles to get over in her breastfeeding journey. From poor latch, to engorgement, to cracked and bleeding nipples, to mastitis, to diminishing supply, I had heard it all, and so I read up on everything I could get my hands on. I went into this feeling like I was pretty well-prepared. So it’s ironic that the one issue I didn’t study ahead of time would prove to be my biggest challenge.

As I mentioned previously, we had a couple small hurdles to get over at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey, including a bad latch and falling asleep at the boob. Once we got over these issues, though, we were able to settle into a good groove and I actually began to enjoy breastfeeding. I counted myself lucky for the relative ease of it. I didn’t even leak. I was comfortable feeding whenever and wherever, thanks to my nursing cover, which I love. So much easier that packing bottles, since I can’t accidentally leave my boobs at home.

When Theo was about four weeks old, I started pumping once a day. I needed to start building a freezer stash that we could use when he went to daycare, or if we wanted a night out. We gave him his first bottle, and he did okay on it. The flow was a little faster than the real deal, so I  ordered some slower flow bottle nipples, and he seemed to do great. For the next few weeks, we gave him one bottle per week, to keep him in practice. Meanwhile, I dutifully pumped every day, and even though I really hate pumping, I had built up quite an impressive freezer stash, and I recently estimated I had about 300 ounces squirreled away.

But after a few weeks, we got lax on giving him his weekly bottle, and when I dipped into the frozen stuff for the first time last week to have D give him a bottle, he outright refused it. In fact, he was screaming, he was so hungry, but just wouldn’t take the bottle. I think I got my first dose of what’s known to working moms as “mommy guilt.” As I sat there listening to him cry, hooked up to my cold, noisy, mechanical pump, tears streaming down my face, all I wanted to do was comfort my baby. And if it weren’t for the fact that I’m returning to work in two weeks, it wouldn’t be so important to get him to take a bottle. I had these visions of him on his first day of daycare, scared, hungry and wanting his mommy. It was too much for me to handle, and I unhooked from the pump, snatched him out of D’s arms and put him to my breast. He immediately calmed down. It was one of the most emotional moments I’ve had since he was born. I can’t describe it, but as a mother, there’s just something so primal about the need to feed your baby. Listening to him scream from hunger pains broke my heart into a million pieces.

At first we thought the bottle itself was the problem, since we hadn’t given him one in a couple weeks. So D and I vowed to start giving him bottles more often to get him used to them again. We had a few different kinds, so we experimented with different bottles. We weren’t having much luck. After a few frustrating attempts, I wondered if maybe it was the milk, since the problem seemed to have started at the same time we started feeding the frozen stuff. I gave it a sniff and – wow – it smelled terrible! Sour, metallic, and slightly soapy. Dipped a finger in and tasted it – yuck. No wonder Theo was refusing. But, since I had never made a point to smell or taste my milk before, I had nothing to compare it to. So I quickly pumped a small amount and smelled it – no odor at all. Dipped a finger in and tasted it – it tasted sweet. Clearly something was wrong with the frozen stuff. I vaguely recalled reading about this in one of my books, so off to the internet I went. From everything I read, it sounded like I had found my problem. Essentially, some women have too much lipase in their milk, an enzyme that breaks down fat, causing the milk to take on a bad flavor in a short period of time. It varies in extremes – for some women, this happens mere minutes after expressing. Others can store their milk in the refrigerator for a few days before it starts to go bad. But in all cases, freezing doesn’t do anything to slow this breakdown, so while most women can freeze their milk and store it for months, the only way to freeze milk when you have excess lipase is to scald it first. This involves bringing the milk to almost but not quite boiling, and then cooling it quickly.

Sound like a lot of work? It is. So in addition to my anxiety about leaving my baby, going back to work and pumping 3-4 times per day, and missing the special time T and I have breastfeeding throughout the day, now I have an extra step to take in storing my milk. Not to mention, those 300 ounces of liquid gold I’ve worked so hard to pump are now useless. That part was especially devastating. Anyone who’s breastfed knows how valuable that milk is. I’ve cried before over accidentally spilling 6 ounces while transferring it to a freezer bag. And now I have to throw out 300 ounces? Kill me now. If only I had tested my freezer stash sooner, I might have been able to prevent all this waste. I have heard that milk banks will take milk with excess lipase, as it’s not harmful; it just tastes bad. Milk banks use it to tube-feed babies in the NICU, so it doesn’t matter what it tastes like. It’s also combined with other milk, so the lipase is diluted anyway. It’s something I need to look into more, but I would feel better about donating my stash than just throwing it all away. What a waste.

So, over the past few days I’ve been defrosting milk from various dates just to make sure it’s all bad (it is), and conducting a series of experiments to find out just how much of a grace period I have after pumping. If my milk will stay good until the next day, then I can essentially just pump each day at work for the following day, and on Fridays scald my milk for Monday. And any excess that I pump that is more than he’ll need the next day at daycare, I can scald for rebuilding my freezer stash, and hopefully D and I can have a date night someday. However, if my milk goes bad within less than 24 hours, then I’ll have to scald nightly. And if my milk goes bad shortly after pumping, I’ll have to find a way to scald at work, or possibly use formula while he’s at daycare. The problem with supplementing with formula, though, is that without pumping for every feed, my supply will drop, or possibly dry up altogether.

So this morning after pumping, I did my first scalding. I hope I did it right. I’ll need to pump and scald a couple times per day between now and August 1, when I go back to work, so I have enough milk for his first day and a little extra for “insurance.” It’s not going to be an easy road, and switching to formula would probably be the easier route, but this is something that’s important to me, and it’s the path I’ve chosen to take.

Moo.

Two months old.

Well, so much for blogging more frequently. Theo is now two months old. Actually, as of today, he’s 10 weeks. So much for blogging on time too. Time is just flying by, and I can’t believe I go back to work in two weeks. In some ways I’m looking forward to it. I’m definitely looking forward to having more money again, and I’m also looking forward to some adult interaction and putting my brain back to use. But in many more ways, I’m really dreading it. I’ve grown so attached to this little guy and I can’t imagine leaving him for 11-12 hours every day, including my commute. Thankfully I’ll be able to work one day a week from home, and even though we’ll still need full-time childcare, at least I can get 2-3 more hours back in my day by eliminating my commute. I may see if work will let me do two days a week at home. If I only had to go into the office three days a week, I think this whole working mom thing may be manageable. Hard to believe next monthly update will be after I go back to work!

Okay, here’s what’s happening at two months…

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Stats: 12 lbs. 6 oz.; 24 inches long; head is 15 inches around.

Sleeping: We’re getting about 4 hours at a time at night, which means if I nurse him right before we go to bed, we usually get one middle of the night wake-up around 2 or 3, and then an early one around 5 or 6. Once I go back to work, this will be the point where we get up in the morning, but for now I usually try to get him to go back to sleep for another couple hours and then we’re up for the day around 7 or 8. I’ve been better about not falling asleep with him in our bed during the night, though I do usually snooze with him in our bed for that last stretch in the mornings. It’s not a really sound sleep, so I don’t worry as much about his safety. D is also out of bed for work by this point, so I make sure T has plenty of space and is away from the blankets or anything that could harm him. He’s still not very good about napping in the crib. Every time I try to transfer him there he wakes up, and he won’t fall asleep if I put him in there awake, so it’s usually just easier to let him nap in his swing or on the couch.

Eating: He is getting much better about eating efficiently and staying awake through a feeding. He is spacing his feedings out closer to 2.5 to 3 hours now during the day, and 3-4 hours at night. During the day he will eat from both sides for about 10-15 minutes at a time, though we occasionally have a marathon session, where he nurses for up to an hour, half-asleep, mostly pacifying. I don’t mind, since I usually don’t have anywhere to be, and the nursing isn’t uncomfortable to me anymore. In fact, I really enjoy nursing now. Hate pumping, though, and I’m not looking forward to going back to work for this reason. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable nursing in public, thanks to my nursing cover. I find myself nursing in parking lots quite often since he always seems to get hungry while we’re out running around!

Personality: He is really getting fun, and his personality seems to develop more and more every day. I think he will be a very active baby, despite previously thinking he was going to be very chill. I do still think he will be pretty easygoing, as he doesn’t seem to fuss nearly as much as other babies I see. He does not like to sit still, though, and he constantly wants to be looking around. He is smiling a ton these days, and it never gets old. Each smile gets me so excited as if it were the first time. I’ve heard of baby smiles described as “parent crack” and it’s absolutely true. I find myself making a fool out of myself with silly faces and voices, just to get that fix and one is just never enough. He is cooing and “talking” to us quite a bit now too, and it’s fun to carry on “conversations” with him. He doesn’t really like his tummy time, and the pediatrician said that’s something we need to work on more. He has good head control when he’s upright but he should be getting close to the point where he can push himself up and support himself on his elbows while on his tummy, and he isn’t doing that yet.

Likes: Still likes having his diaper changed. I mentioned this to our pediatrician and she said her son was like that too, and that they called it his “reset button.” It’s a good description, because even when he’s fussy, he’ll calm down and give me a smile when I change him. He is really starting to like bath time too. I’ve started giving him a bath once a day and it’s so fun to watch him splash and smile up at me. He also really loves to stare at his own reflection. Can’t say I blame him – he’s a pretty handsome dude!

Dislikes: He seems to have regressed a bit on taking a bottle, which is something we’re working on – we need to get this problem fixed before I go back to work. The bottle thing is turning out to be quite an issue, which I’ll go into detail more about in a separate post. His gassy issues we were dealing with last month seem to have subsided, thankfully. He still gets a bit fussy when he has a big burp or fart he can’t seem to get out, but he’s gotten more efficient about working them out himself, I think.

Mama: I’m feeling pretty good these days. Still about 5 lbs. away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but my clothes are definitely fitting better. Still won’t be rocking a bikini anytime soon, and I’ve got a little bit of a gut that wasn’t there before getting pregnant, but I feel pretty good about my ability to work that off. I just got my IUD placed today, and that was SO much easier than getting it placed the first time around. I had heard that it would be less painful after having a baby and boy, was that the truth! The first time I thought I was going to pass out from the pain. This time it felt about as uncomfortable as a PAP.

Looking forward to some of the next milestones, such as laughing, rolling over, and getting some more head control! Every day he becomes more and more like a little person, and less like a cute little lump. As cliche as it sounds, he is truly growing up before my very eyes!

Same love.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled DOMA (defense of marriage act) unconstitutional, forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal. I’ve always been a proponent of gay rights, and becoming a parent has only reinforced this for me. Looking at Theo’s sweet face and wondering what sort of a man he will one day become, I can’t imagine him being denied the right to one day marry the person he loves, whether that person be a woman or a man. It breaks my heart to know that other parents have lost their precious children to things like hate crimes and suicide because people can’t accept people for who they are. I like to think that Theo will grow up in a more tolerant society.

The following song/video from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was released a while back, but in light of today’s news, seems appropriate. A beautiful tribute to love in all forms.

One month old.

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Can’t believe my baby is one month old! Well, he is actually 6 weeks old. I’m a couple weeks behind on writing this, though the photo was taken June 9, at exactly one month old. I’m officially resolving to blog more often, even if it’s just quick posts/photos. I think the idea of trying to capture everything in a big update is keeping me from writing in a timely manner. It’s just simply too hard to find time to sit down and write a long post, especially since he’s been going through a bit of a fussy period lately. It’s sort of hit or miss as to what kind of a day we’re going to have. When he’s happy, I hate to ignore him, and when he’s fussy, he doesn’t like to be put down. Either way, as soon as he falls asleep I have to decide whether I want to shower, pump, clean, nap or do something for myself. Usually there’s only time to do one before he’s awake again. As of right now he has fallen asleep on the couch and I’m afraid to move or I’ll wake him up. But maybe I can finish the post before he does! photo

(Side note: it’s now three days later – he only gave me about 20 minutes in the photo above and I’ve only had a few minutes here and there to write since then!)

Okay, here’s what’s happening at 1 month…

Weight: 11.4 lbs

Sleeping: We’re only getting about 3 hours at a time since he wakes up to eat frequently, but he has gotten to a point where he usually goes down easily at night, and will go right back to sleep after eating. Sometimes we both fall asleep while nursing, since I’ve mastered the side-laying feed. I’ll wake up and realize it’s been over an hour and we’re both snoozing, sometimes with my boob still in his mouth. While it’s helping me to get more sleep at night, it does make me a bit nervous when I fall asleep like that since I’m afraid of smothering him with my giant boobs. He’s sleeping well in his Pack and Play next to our bed and I’m trying to get in the habit of having him nap in his crib during the day, but most of the time he ends up falling asleep on the couch, in our arms, or in his swing.

Eating: He’s eating like a champ. Still gets a bit sleepy at the breast, but will usually make up for a sleepy feed by pigging out at the next feeding. We’re feeding on demand but he tends to eat pretty regularly every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. He’s given us a couple 4 hour stretches at night and one 5 hour stretch, though. The extra sleep feels awesome, though my boobs feel like they’re going to explode when I wake up.

Personality: It’s fun to see little glimpses of his personality developing, and I’m excited to find out what kind of a person he turns out to be. I think he will probably be pretty chill. He tends to get fussy in the evenings, but he also has been burping and farting a lot lately, so I think a lot of his fussiness is due to gas. Otherwise, he mostly only cries when he needs something – usually a boob or a diaper change. He definitely has days where he’s fussier than others, but I heard the average baby cries for 3 hours a day and he’s nowhere near that. So even on his “bad” days, I know he’s really not that bad. He is really easy to take places, since he tends to sleep great when there’s a lot of noise around him.

Likes: He HATED having his diaper changed for the first couple weeks, but now he loves it. In fact, if he’s fussing, he’ll actually calm down now when you change his diaper and will stare attentively at you while you change him. He likes his pacifier okay, and it will sometimes calm him when he’s fussing, but he won’t always take it, and he tends to spit it out quickly. He really likes his swing and his activity mat, and loves to stare up at the dangling toys. Above all else, he loves the boob. Even when he isn’t hungry, that’s the one surefire way to stop him from crying. Unfortunately, he tends to get a bit frantic and gulp a lot of air while he sucks when he isn’t hungry, which causes more gas, which makes him fussier, so I try to find other ways to calm him if possible when I know he isn’t hungry.

Dislikes: He’s a pretty easy going guy, so there isn’t a lot he doesn’t like at this point. He isn’t afraid of being held by other people, and isn’t even fazed when the dogs bark. About the only thing that really pisses him off is gas. If he needs to burp or fart (or poop), his face goes beet red and he fusses and grunts until he can get some relief. Poor guy. I may ask our pediatrician if there’s anything we can give him to help with the gas. I’ve heard mylicon drops can help but haven’t looked into it enough yet.

Mama: Recovery for me has been a bit rough, and slower than I expected it to be. At 6 weeks postpartum I’ve only recently started to really feel like myself again, though there are some things that are just… different than before. I think I’ve pretty much destroyed all my pelvic floor muscles and those will take a while to rebuild. I’m not loving this postpartum body and I still have about 7 or 8 lbs to go before I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I have my six week checkup with my doctor next Tuesday and I’m hoping she’ll clear me for exercise so I can start getting back in shape. As of right now I’m feeling pretty squishy and weak. I went bathing suit shopping yesterday which was seriously depressing. I knew I would definitely be wearing a one-piece this summer, but I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to find something I’m comfortable in. I did finally find a suit at Nordstrom that was WAY more money than I would have normally spent (usually I can find cute cheap suits at Target or Old Navy). I’m having some pretty serious buyer’s remorse and will probably keep the tags on until I really need to wear it, and keep my eye out for something cheaper before then so I can return it.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up before Theo wakes up from his nap!