I started writing this May 4th. I finished May 24th. Welcome to Motherhood.
Now that I am 12 weeks (15 weeks) into life with Gideon, I feel like I owe you an eternally long blog. And you probably won't make it to the end (I wouldn't). But this is the first time I’ve actually sat down, typed with both hands, in the next room from a contented baby, before midnight (29 minutes to be exact). So I’ll write as long as this sluggish body will let me. And I’ll try and hit on the good stuff. Like the color of my baby’s poop.
THE BEST TOY EVER
This new flirty grin is making all things right in our world.
I felt like I fumbled my way through the first two months of mommy life, but I'm now joining the “club” with all of you other mothers. I understand things like: leaving the house without a stitch of makeup on (and not realizing it until the end of the day), the loss and recovery of a jaw line, how fierce your desire is to freeze time, the blessing (curse?) of sonic ears, and the need for tummy control in a swim suit. I get it all now. I also feel like my life has just begun.
ACID REFLUX. And a DAIRY ALLERGY.
Some of you know that Gideon had some complications in the beginning. They were relatively minor, but they felt way major to this first-time mom. At about four weeks, I noticed that his saliva was sort of bubbly, his spit-up was projectile and while he slept he made these baby bear grunting noises. I brought all of these to his doctor’s attention and she diagnosed him with acid reflux. Acid reflux?! He’s four weeks old.
We altered my diet a little bit (no beef, no tomatoes, limited dairy) and tried to treat it naturally, but over the next two weeks it worsened, so we put him on Prevacid and maintained the changes in my diet. She also encouraged me not to ride in the car by myself with him until his swallowing reflexes were stronger because he could choke and stop breathing. “Just watch and if you see him turning blue, pull over and aspirate.” TURN BLUE?! Try that on for size. Every time he breathed I thought he was choking. And if I did have to travel alone with him, my lungs were tight and my entire body gripped the steering wheel. Oh and she told me to buy a couple extra aspirators to put around the house.
I bought seven.
It took about six weeks to get his reflux “managable” (though not completely under control), but in the midst of it all, I noticed that his stools (here’s the baby poop part) had a sort of green tint to them and they were a little slimy. Aren’t you glad you’ve read this far? I again made an appointment (only one week later) and described it to his doctor. As soon as I said the word “slimy” she echoed to me emphatically “Slimy?!”. I knew we were in trouble. She has that face that rarely changes expression and the temperament that doesn’t lend itself to drama (of which I know nothing about). So she asked her nurse to test the diaper I had just thrown away. About five minutes later, the nurse peeks her head around the corner and says, “It’s positive.” “Positive for what?!” I said. With her face returned to it’s natural, calm expression she says, “Blood.” The tears start. (“Lady why aren’t you freaking out?! You just told me my child has blood in his stool.") She reassured me that it is more common than I realize and that we have to eliminate all dairy from my diet (even the hidden stuff...like milk powder in taco seasoning, say wha?) because my child has a milk protein allergy and that’s what’s causing the blood. Dairy? Really? Okay.
My main concern was that I was going to have to give up breastfeeding, but she reassured me that if I cut out dairy it would eventually fix the problem. I just had to be patient and rest in the fact that God designed babies’ bodies to be fairly resilient to issues such as acid reflux and milk protein allergies. But in my mind, it was one more thing to monitor. This initiated a deeper battle against fear for me and I had to repeatedly refuse it possession of my thoughts.
NEW DIET. What I couldn't do for myself.
So after leaving the pharmacy with Gideon's reflux medicine, I met Debra at Whole Foods to begin my education on how to live dairy-free. Debra has been gluten, dairy and sugar free for over a year now (yeah, I know what you’re thinking…what does she eat? You’d be surprised). Debra said something so profound as we went around Whole Foods looking at labels, filling my basket with soy butter, almond milk and vegan chocolate chips. She said, “This may be God doing for you what you couldn’t do for yourself.” She was so right. Just eliminating dairy has created awareness in me about eating more even more natural, organically grown food.
I am the type that doesn’t diet or if I do I cheat with ice cream. But I knew up front that I had to do this all out because I want what’s best for my child. No cheating. Initially, giving up dairy was really hard (and I still have moments). I missed cheese, butter, milk, sour cream, ICE CREAM, and regular chocolate. But as the cravings subsided I’ve molded my palette to enjoy other things. Lately, my favorite treat (also thanks to Debra) is frozen strawberries, pecans and almond milk blended into a thin smoothie. It is divine. I crave that like I used to crave Blue Bell (Californians you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Blue Bell). And I'm now proud to say that after two months of absolutely no dairy, Gideon had his first blood-free poopy diaper, verified by his doctor. Success!
“We vote three times a day…I think it's one of the most important battles for consumers to fight: the right to know what's in their food, and how it was grown.” Food Inc.
In this process, I made two other decisions for our family as well. How I purchase meat and produce.
I now buy meat that has been fed non-genetically modified grain, given no hormones or antibiotics and is sold from a trusted source (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Central Market). And I am trying to purchase all organic produce.
I’ve purchased “all natural” chicken from regular grocers for the past three years (Tom Thumb, Kroger) and after trying chicken from Whole Foods, Tom Thumb chicken doesn't hold up. Since making the switch, I can attest to such a significant difference in the texture, tenderness, flavor and fat content between the two grocers’ “all natural” options. The difference in price increase is only $1-2 per pound. Not to mention, Whole Foods is very committed to total integrity in the tracking their food sources---the way it’s grown, fed and processed. This integrity is evident every time I cook it. I used to think going organic and paying attention to every little thing you put in your body was extreme and frankly expensive, but I’ve price compared and a lot of organic/natural options have gone down in price because we’ve created more of a demand for them.
Price comparison: Okay, I’m about to step off my soap box… Yesterday I bought a head of organic red leaf lettuce for $1.99 and organic Gala apples at $.99 a pound.
Red leaf lettuce an exact price match to the “non” organic option at Tom Thumb and the Gala apples at Whole Foods were a dollar cheaper. Extra Virgin olive oil, red cabbage, pecans, and ground turkey are also on par with my mainstream grocers.
Our grocery receipts tell farmers what to produce and how to produce it. It’s easy to think that my little bag of organic apples has no influence on the apple orchards of America, but it's not true. When we are individually proactive, our collective voice reaches these farmers. Eventually prices go down ($.99 a pound folks) because we've created more competition in the market.
Okay okay, just one last thing and I'll stop…about a month ago, I was in Costco buying apples (we eat a lot of apples) and my only options out of all varieties were organic. AT COSTCO! I almost peed my pants. Our warehouse grocers, that only sell in bulk, are counting our votes. Okay, rant over.
BREASTFEEDING. God's diet pill.
I was convinced that this would be a huge painful undertaking. Not entirely true. Painful, yes. Impossible, no. Initially, my toes would curl every time Gideon latched on. It hurt badly. Waaaay baaaadly. But just like the lactation consultant said, “Give yourself a month and everything will normalize.” Three months later I have no pain and no regrets. And it's a walk in the park compared to pregnancy.
One of the biggest challenges was finding the right nursing bra. I tried underwire, but they cut off my milk supply. And I got to discover this when my child crawled up my chest refusing to be comforted. Fun.
The Anita soft cup bra is what I ultimately went with. And Target's nursing tanks (better than Bravado).
I haven't worn a soft cup, non-underwire, since the 6th grade.
Ladies, these are so comfy.
I'm close to my pre-baby weight and I credit breast feeding to a lot of it. They say you burn 500 calories a day. I hope it will get me to my goal weight...which is 17 pounds further.
My hair is falling out my the fist fulls. Is this normal?
When Gideon was about two weeks old, every time I picked him up there was a sharp pain in my wrist. I started using my left hand as my predominate hand when carrying him and picking him up and sure enough, the pain moved to the left wrist. I thought I was getting carpal tunnel. But when I mentioned it to my friend Violet, whose baby is four months older than Gideon, she said she felt the exact same thing! We discovered that there is a condition called De Quervain syndrome and it's commonplace among new mothers. I've worked with it, trying to strengthen it, and my wrist feels good today. We'll see...
As a mother, I have had four moments of what I consider "measurable" success. The first was when I delivered vaginally and didn't have to have a C-Section. The second was when my milk came in. The third was Gideon's first clean, blood-free stool. And the most recent was getting him on a consistent sleeping schedule.
At about 9 weeks Gideon was sleeping an eight to ten hour block during the night. I decided to read "Baby Wise" and be more intentional about his nap and wake time. I found that most of what they suggest in terms of "Parent Directed Feeding" was what we were already doing. He was eating every two hours and sleeping through the night. I just didn't have his naps and bedtime on a consistent schedule. At twelve weeks, I decided to be intentional about it. I took his feeding times from every two hours to every three hours. And I followed the order: eat, play, sleep. It took six nights (right in a row) of 45 minutes of howling, screaming, my mother is an abuser, type of crying before he went down the seventh night without a peep. The first night I felt cruel. The fifth night I sat in the hallway and read four magazines, helping him soothe himself in between pages. Now he goes down almost every nap and bed time without a whine. And he's sleeping about twelve hours. Actually, last night I kept peaking on him (in the dark room with his sound machine on) and he was looking around, content just to lie there, for AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES. Not a whimper. It worked.
CREATING MY OWN STRUCTURE.
I am not one who gravitates to regiment. I don't stick to routines. I am not entirely disorganized, I need a clean house, but I get easily distracted and swept up in the “moment” with worthwhile endeavors (like re-decorating my mantle):
and forget boring things (like folding and putting away my laundry...uh my least favorite chore):
Living in a small apartment with a baby is a constant picking up of onesies and burp rags and his huge car seat. Things get cluttered so quickly. So I’ve tried to safeguard my laziness by declaring Monday as my homebound day, dedicated to cleaning and doing laundry. So far, I’ve done this five weeks in a row and it has helped me start my week off on a good foot. (But I still never get every piece of laundry folded and put away.) The idea is to get what I don’t love to do out of the way at the beginning of the week. And a clean space frees me up to take care of other things without feeling overwhelmed.
LESS IS MORE.
This is my new mantra. Again, when living in such a small space, things can get congested quickly. So I just repeat my mantra all of the time…in decorating, cleaning, organizing…
FIRST THREE MONTHS. Baby product must haves.
These are my top, can’t live without, baby products. All of which I wasn’t sure I would use.
Aden and Anais Swaddling cloths. Both muslin and bamboo.
I love how breathable they are because my baby loves to sleep like this:
Plain white cloth diapers, which serve as a liner for my changing pad. This way I don't have to wash the cover every other day and I can dry that little baby bum before I put on his A&D ointment.
My Little Lamb Swing. Graciously on loan from baby Laila. This has been great almost from the very beginning. If I need to cook dinner or vacuum or whatever, he loves to sit in it and rock and look at the turning mobile.
And the Nap Nanny, acid reflux wedge. This stopped the baby bear grunts (which turned out to be a sign of discomfort) right away. And it has helped him not spit up as much or cough at night.
Okay, so this blog has been entirely consumed with my child the past few months, but I’ve been crafting and renovating and decorating and I plan to post all of it soon. Bit by bit.
If you made it to the end I applaud you. And here’s your reward.