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At Baby Evan’s 2 month check-up, the pediatrician made a passing comment that all the baby drool is the first sign of teething. I think he may have confused my stunned expression with a death threat (or maybe it was when I said “take it back or I’ll kill you” – I see now how that may be confusing) because he quickly amended his statement to “although it may still be months before it really starts!” Ever since then I’ve been on constant tooth watch. Every time Baby Evan was the least bit cranky or squirmy or his sleeping pattern changed or he wanted to nurse more or he wanted to nurse less or he stuck stuff in his mouth I thought “Oh here we go, teething.” And every single time his gums remained unbroken. UNTIL NOW. Dum-dum-duuuuum.
Yesterday morning at breastfeeding support group I was commenting on Baby Evan’s sudden desire to nurse ALL NIGHT* and my sudden desire to move to Ouagadougou (wow, my spellchecker knew that one!) – alone – when he suddenly clamped down on my finger and I found his first tooth. Subsequent attempts to SEE the tooth have resulted in the kind of bloody murder screaming usually only found in bad horror movies right before the girl in her underwear remembers running UPSTAIRS is always the wrong decision. So there will be no pictures of the tiny, sharp little monster that has turned my sweet baby boy into a hell demon. If you want to come hold him for a minute though, I’m sure he’ll be happy to gnaw on you so you can feel it for yourself.
We have a tube of generic baby orajel which seems to dull his pain enough that he can be distracted with toys or the dog, but I’m going to need a lot more. Like, gallons and gallons more. If I’m looking for a remedy more in the “crazy pants hippie” direction, wearing Baltic amber close to the skin is supposed to help dull teething pain and my favorite maternity store sells amber baby necklaces. I already have my share of teething type toys but poor Baby Evan’s tiny mouth isn’t quite big enough for most of them and we’re still not quite ready for solid food so teething biscuits are out. So it looks like I’m going to need some teething tablets. Do you think they still sell this kind?
*Last night I was trying to put myself back to sleep after YET ANOTHER nursing session by reciting all the poetry I know in my head. I was pretty proud of myself for getting half way through Longfellow’s Hiawatha until I got to the part where he kills the Jabberwocky. My sleep deprivation, let me show you it.
I don’t care if my breastfeeding offends you. I don’t care if your child sees my nipple while I’m trying to get the baby latched on. I don’t care if you think I should use a cover. I don’t care if you think it’s “gross” or “nasty” or “immodest”. I don’t care if you complain. I don’t care if you glare at me. Simply put, your objections sound like a personal problem to me. We can talk about it if you want, but don’t expect me to stop nursing the baby while I school you.
With all the pro-breastfeeding talk and ad campaigns and information out there, you’d think breastfeeding was something people actually supported. It turns out it’s not breastfeeding. It’s just breastmilk. Sure babies should drink human milk – it’s just such a shame it comes from those dirty, disgusting boobs. The worst part is it’s often women, even other mothers, whose delicate sensibilities are so offended by the sight of nursing. Women who themselves have been driven to bottles, either intentionally or subversively, by the sexualization of the word “breast” or the formula industry. (A whole other topic – from shady marketing techniques all the way to influencing government agencies to tone down support for breastfeeding.) Women who are so ashamed of their own bodies that they can’t stand even a glimpse of a breast doing what breasts are supposed to do. You know who was breastfed? JESUS. And I bet Mary didn’t use a Hooter Hider.
“Well then, go ahead. Of course you can nurse in public,” most people will say, “Just be discrete. There’s no need to go flashing your boobs around everywhere.” HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY SEEN THAT HAPPEN? EVER? Before I had a baby, the only person I had ever seen breastfeed, anywhere, at any time in my life, was my own mother feeding my baby brother. And you know what? I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER IT. I was seven when he was born and her nursing affected me SO LITTLE that it doesn’t even exist as a memory in my brain. Now I attend a breastfeeding support group, where 8 to 12 women all nurse their babies at once and not a single one of them uses a cover…and I can still count the number of nipples I’ve seen on one hand. Next time you see someone feeding her baby in public, try looking at her face instead of her chest. It’s not that hard, and might keep you from seeing those nipples you’re so worried about.
Part of the stigma of breastfeeding is the straight-to-the-baby delivery system. Our culture is obsessed with food preparation. It’s just how eating is done. You buy food at the store, you bring it home, you mix it and you heat it. Formula is prepared the way we’re used to, the way we’re comfortable with, the way we’ve been raised to understand. Food preparation is so ingrained in our society we think things like unpasteurized milk and the raw foods diet are crazy. But why force a mother to add or subtract or mix or heat something when the perfect food at the perfect consistency and the perfect temperature is available on demand? IF SHE WANTS TO BREASTFEED, let her do it. (And you know what, if she wants to bottle-feed, just keep those opinions to yourself as well. I’m sick of that debate too.)
Believe it or not, my right to feed my child is an actual right. Your right to be offended is not. (Link to breastfeeding laws by state here.) EVEN IF the baby looks “too old” to be doing that. EVEN IF he’s old enough to ask for it. EVEN IF it makes you uncomfortable. EVEN IF you hate babies and never want to have any. EVEN IF ANYTHING.
The next time you see a mom nursing in public – and I challenge you to find one – tell her you admire that she’s doing the best she can for her baby and you support her. I guarantee you will make her day.
I got my first blog topic request – which is super timely as I am facing a total lack of interesting things to say this week. Finally getting all the junk off my kitchen counters is just not that inspiring. So today I’m going to talk about sleep for Shannon in PA. She has a 4 month old and is currently obsessed with sleep. This happens a lot when you have a new baby – you wonder if you have the only child in the whole world who (fill in the blank – doesn’t sleep, nurses 10 hours a day, poops neon green, farts like a fat man at a German food festival)(The answer is no). I know Shannon is hoping I will tell her the answer to all her infant sleep problems is just a few weeks away. So here you go: Shannon, I promise you that in six more weeks your baby will be sleeping 13 hours a night. Ok, now stop reading Shannon. Stop and go look at pictures of unicorns or something. Now that Shannon’s gone, I’ll tell the rest of you how Baby Evan’s sleep schedule works.
Since he was born, Baby Evan has slept on almost every surface imaginable…except for in his crib. When we first brought him home he slept exclusively in his vibrating seat or his swing (both by Fisher Price in case you’re keeping track of what products I recommend). After a while we started putting him down in the cradle my father-in-law built so he would get used to sleeping on a flat surface. Around 6 weeks E and I stopped sleeping in shifts on the couch and moved the baby upstairs to our bedroom where he now sleeps in a co-sleeper. Naps are still usually in the swing or in the infant carrier after a ride in the car. But when he’s really tired during the day, he’ll sleep almost anywhere, including that one time he slept on a table, especially if he falls asleep while nursing.
There is a LOT of advice out there on how to get your newborn or infant to sleep. Cry it out (abbreviated CIO on mommy message boards) is one of the most common methods, popularized by Dr. Ferber (hence using it is called Ferberizing your baby – which sounds more like turning your baby into a creepy talking doll with a beak than a sleep training method to me but whatevs)(I’m feeling very linky today)(And also full of parentheses). Dr. Ferber is a fancy doctor of sleep in Boston or something. I don’t own his book so I don’t know exactly how it works but I’m told it involves letting the baby cry for gradually longer amount of time until he eventually learns not to cry at all. Now, no offence to people who have used this method, but it sounds to me like using CIO is just teaching your baby that you don’t care if he’s crying. I also doubt my ability to ignore Baby Evan’s cries for long enough for this to be effective – I think my record is 20 seconds before I ran out of the bathroom with my pants unbuttoned to comfort him. And how is listening to a baby crying supposed to help ME get any extra sleep anyways?
What I’m trying to say is we haven’t done any real sleep training. We’ve sort of mashed together several different schools of thought to figure out what works best for us, but it’s pretty much Dr. Sears attachment parenting with a couple of Dr. Karp’s five S’s thrown in. But this only works for us because we have a pretty easy going baby and I don’t have a job – if you’re a working mom with a high maintenance baby I recommend not reading this since it will only make you want to punch me in the face.
At five months our schedule looks like this: 8 pm Baby Evan gets a bath in the sink, mostly to get as much dog hair off him as possible. After the bath he gets his last meal of the night, somewhere between 8:15 and 8:45 depending on when his previous snack was. All his meals still come directly from the boob so we get a little cuddle time in too. Usually around 8:30 we go upstairs and rock in the glider while I read him a book (last night was Make Way for Ducklings, the night before we did There’s A Monster At The End Of This Book and That’s Not My Reindeer).
After the books I wrap him up in a swaddle (THIS IS THE SECRET TO SLEEP. SWADDLE. SERIOUSLY, DO IT. We had to buy a bigger size a month ago and he breaks his arms out of it around midnight but it keeps him asleep through his 10pm and 11pm REM cycles, which means I avoid at least one extra feeding. I’m probably the only person whose baby is still swaddled at 5 months but I have no intentions of quitting). Once he’s all wrapped up I turn off the lights in the nursery and sing Baby Evan a song while I rock him to sleep. It usually takes one time through “The Book Of Love” (my baby loves Peter Gabriel) and about thirty seconds of shushing before he’s totally out. By now it’s somewhere between 8:45 and 9:00 pm. I put him in the co-sleeper in our bedroom, turn on the monitor and then go back downstairs for some baby-free time until I go to bed at 10.
When Baby Evan wakes up around 2:30 am for a snack I roll him into bed with me where he stays until he wakes up for breakfast. Mornings are the most unpredictable – some days he needs to be fed again at 4 and goes back to sleep, sometimes he makes it until 6:30, but he’s usually up for the day before 7. I’d say this nighttime schedule has been the same for about a month now, with no signs of changing in the foreseeable future. I’m totally ok with the current bed-sharing situation and cannot imagine trying to breastfeed in the middle of the night if I insisted on going into the nursery every time. I’m usually sound asleep again before he’s even done and almost never remember bringing him to bed at all. E is also ok with it since it means he never has to handle any night feedings. (His current work schedule is crap and involves him being gone for bedtime but when he was home he did that whole nighttime routine himself EVERY NIGHT so no accusations of slacking off on his part.) Once Baby Evan outgrows his co-sleeper we’re going to have to rearrange a little bit – maybe use the crib, maybe just go to full-time co-sleeping, maybe try to end the middle-of-the-night feedings. We’ll just wait and see how it goes, since the only certain thing when it comes to babies is EVERYTHING CHANGES. As soon as you have a routine or a schedule or a plan, it changes.
If you’ve made it this far and you are NOT Shannon, I am really impressed. If you are Shannon, go buy a swaddle and good luck with everything. And thanks for the request!
*This is the made up song I sing when the baby won’t calm down. It goes “sleepy baby go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. Sleepy baby go to sleep so mom can get some rest” and it works almost every time. I think it’s the ultra-soothing hypnotic tone of voice I sing it in that helps – although maybe he’s just impressed into silence by my musical genius.
My thrush seems to be improving, but since my milk letdown (the squirting across the room part) is still kind of painful I decided to take everyone’s advice and fight the yeast from every angle. I called my doctor for the Diflucan and a prescription for All-Purpose Nipple Ointment. APNO is like the Holy Grail of breastfeeding problems, the one magical thing that will solve all your issues and make you nurse forever. Unfortunately, the pharmacist has to order two of the ingredients so I have to wait two days.
In the meantime, I tracked down some gentian violet ($4.97 at CVS, ask at the pharmacy counter). It’s amazing, said the breastfeeding experts, but watch out it stains. It really works, said my lovely commenters, but it turns everything purple. You definitely need some, says the internet, but about the color… It was a lifesaver for me, said my pharmacist, but my baby’s face was stained for months. So I got a little bottle and started using it last night.
I’m scared to take Baby Evan out in public, since the bluish tint on his lips combined with his fair skin makes him look sort of…dead. The good news is he could star in ATTACK OF THE ZOMBIE BABIES no problem. Hollywood, we’re awaiting your call.
I realized over the past three months I’ve had almost NOTHING positive to say about breastfeeding. Which is easy to understand considering I’ve gone through latch problems, bruised nipples, huge swollen porn star boobs, nipple shields, refusing a bottle, endless night feedings, plugged ducts and now thrush. I’ve made breastfeeding sound about as much fun as a drug-free root canal. But I am determined to do this. I am steadfast in my decision that breast is best for me and no matter how difficult my body and my baby make it, this is something I CAN DO.
I can’t give up. I won’t. I am convinced it will only take me one more week (just one more…) and then all this pain and frustration will pay off. I’ve seen little glimpses of what my breastfeeding relationship with the baby can be like. Days when things are going well and he’s the happy, smiley baby who loves to cuddle and is growing like a champ. And I feel like the milk he’s gotten so far has done all the magical things breastmilk is supposed to do. He hasn’t been sick, despite spending the first few weeks of his life in hospital waiting rooms. He’s never had an ear infection. You could almost set your watch by his poop. He wasn’t colicky. He’s hitting all his developmental milestones like clockwork. I couldn’t ask for a healthier baby.
Of course, those things could have nothing at all to do with the breastfeeding. I can’t prove anything. Scientists (and mommy bloggers) can argue themselves red in the face about the health benefits versus exaggerations versus the boob Nazis versus exhausted, frustrated mothers versus pushy, overbearing formula companies. I don’t want to be part of the debate. I have no comments and no contempt for anyone who uses formula. I don’t care what you feed your children. I care what I feed MY child, and my child is breastfed. Painfully, exhaustively, happily, exclusively, proudly, hourly, lovingly breastfed. And it is, actually, awesome.
I think I have thrush. It’s a yeast infection you can get on your nipples and in the baby’s mouth from, well, lots of things, but I think I got it from damp nursing pads or wearing my Lilypadz at night. My nipples are burning like crazy and look very pink and shiny and even though Baby Evan’s latch is finally right it still hurts every time he eats. GAH. I’m doing everything the internet suggests to try and get rid of it on my own (seriously, you don’t want to know) but tomorrow I’m going to ask my LC to look at my nipples. Wow. I can’t believe I am eagerly awaiting my chance to have a 65 year old woman look at my nipples. Having a baby really does change things.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH GROWTH SPURT AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Baby Evan nursed for an hour and a half tonight and is already at it again. If my nipples don’t get at least a 6 hour break tonight I’m concerned they’re going to pack up and leave tomorrow morning. Like, NO WAY DUDE, we didn’t sign up for this. Your baby needs as much milk as four babies? GROW ANOTHER SET.
Yesterday went like this: bad, good, really good, bad, really bad, NAP, good, really really good, super fun good, sorta bad, really bad, OMG will the screaming never end bad, EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP.
Since our Friday night plans got cancelled because of thunderstorms, we wanted to check out the Harbor Festival yesterday. Our town is celebrating it’s 350th anniversary and has been holding events for the past few weeks. They’re doing parties and lectures and walking tours of the mansions and gardens and there’s a tall ship down at the harbor and unfortunately I have made it to exactly zero events. As of today I have still attended zero, because I have a three month old. Baby Evan just didn’t give a crap that there were balloons! and pirates! and cotton candy! and a drum and fife band! None of those things interested him more than my boob, so with my handy nursing cover I fed him on a park bench. It went pretty well. It would have gone better if I’d had a pillow. Or if it hadn’t been a million degrees. Or if the drum and fife band hadn’t fired their muskets right when I got the baby latched on. causing him to almost rip my nipple off.
In the evening, we packed up the baby and some lemon bars and went over to E’s former co-workers for a cookout. We set up camp in the baby-corner with four other sets of parents and had a great time lying in the grass surrounded by kids and dogs and food. We made it two hours and one feeding before my back started screaming in pain and my head felt like it was going to explode. Baby Evan was grumpy from being awake for too many hours and once the yelling started I knew it wasn’t going to end. Although he napped in the car on the way home, he was too hungry to sleep for long and I spent the rest of the evening nursing him almost constantly to keep him from wailing. At 11 pm I gave up and turned him over to E hoping I could get a couple hours of rest. At 7 am I woke up and found both my boys had slept in the living room and I had gotten EIGHT HOURS of sleep for the first time in 12 weeks. I needed it. Today we’re going to do nothing structured and just let baby (and E) nap as much as he wants.
Baby Evan’s outfit is a hand me down from when my brother (now 20) was a baby.
Using my nursing cover.
I’m going to tell you something you didn’t want or need to know. You’re probably going to think it’s gross and weird. Technically, you are very wrong to think that. Technically. But even I think it’s a little gross so for the first time ever, I’m giving you the opportunity to NOT read something. Here comes the break, only click if you SERIOUSLY want to read about it.
I don’t know why I thought this would be easy. With eight zillion resources online and books and support groups and lactation consultants, plus about two years of blog reading where breastfeeding was discussed at least once a week, I thought I was totally aware of how things worked. I took a class. They gave me a CERTIFICATE. Unfortunately, my baby obviously wasn’t paying attention, since he absolutely refuses to latch on. He either falls asleep with my nipple sort of drunkenly hanging out or he gets supersupersuper excited and thrashes his head around like a crazy person making squeaky noises until he gets milk all over his face – but none in his mouth.
Since Baby Evan needed to eat immediately after birth because of his body temp and low blood sugar, I did the one thing I swore I wouldn’t do and allowed the nurses to give him formula. It felt like I had failed my child only ten minutes after bringing him into the world. From that point on it only got worse. My lactation consultant Andrea – the one I luuuuuved from class and was so looking forward to working with – no longer works in the birthing center. She went and got a new job just a few days ago. I feel personally abandoned. The first night after the birth the baby stayed in the nursery for observation and when the nurse would bring him in to feed she just dropped him off and left. I had no one to help, no one to tell me what I was doing wrong, no one to explain how to FIX IT. I may be a first time mom but one thing I definitely know is babies need to eat. It’s pretty much their only job in life – and my only job is providing Baby with food – so when it’s not working on either end we are both miserable.
By Wednesday morning – Baby Evan’s 3rd day of life – I couldn’t stop crying. Every time I thought about breastfeeding, or held the baby, or tried to get him to latch with absolutely no success I had a little breakdown. It didn’t help that despite my failure my milk came in and my boobs are literally like two big cantalopes stapled to my chest – rock hard and so swollen I can’t put my arms by my sides. My baby book says you should establish a breastfeeding routine before you start to pump. The nurse at the hospital said I should pump a little first so the baby could get a better latch. I thought pumping was for women who had to work, not moms who’s ONLY to-do item is Breastfeed on Demand. I also had no idea how my little hand pump worked since I hadn’t planned to use it.
We needed to get things set up with the Navy health care pediatrician yesterday, since the on-call ped wanted me to have his billi levels checked (a fancy way of saying he looks kind of yellow) within 24 hours. I won’t give you the whole horror story about how totally incompetent practically everyone we dealt with was, but lets just say the baby no longer has virgin ears. His first words may be “useless douchebags”. The whole process took three times as long as we thought and we didn’t bring any formula to supplement my attempted feedings. I actually had to leave the waiting room and go cry in the car while E almost got himself in a huge amount of trouble by yelling at an officer who kept telling him the baby couldn’t see the doctor until all the systems updated. Most of the time I love my socialist health care. This was not one of those times. When we finally got to see the Navy doctor I scared her by being such a wreck. Since the cure for jaundice is poop, getting the baby to eat was now everyone’s top priority. Super. Now someone PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO DO THIS.
Luckily, someone did. The pediatrician gave me the number for a lactation consultant who we called before even leaving the parking lot. In a 5 minute phone conversation I went from panicked to FINE. She said of course I should pump if the baby won’t latch. She also told me to put some hot compresses on my enormous swollen boobs ASAP – which is the best advice about anything I have ever gotten ever – and we made an appointment to see her today at noon. I managed to pump enough to feed Baby Evan all night. E and I took turns sleeping – 5 hours each, and he actually let me have 6 – so this morning I felt great. We went back to the doctor (A+ for baby improvement!) and everyone was much much less scared of the hysterical woman clutching the diaper bag and sobbing.
At noon we met with our amazing, fantastic, reassuring, incredibly knowledgeable lactation consultant Carol. (BTW, if you ever thought teaching women how to breastfeed sounded like the ideal job, you might want to look into it. Although we got a military discount and some insurance companies help to cover it, the cost for a consultation is $100/hour. And you get to look at boobs all day!) Carol taught me about magical nipple shields. It turns out that my body is SO EXCITED to make milk my boobs have swollen and my nipples have practically disappeared. The baby can’t latch on to flat nipples. But if I correct them with this soft little plastic nipple-shaped cover, he is AWESOME at feeding. He actually eats so much so fast I have to pull him off and make him slow down. A nipple shield saved my life. THREE DAYS of panic and crying and worrying my baby would die was cured by a $4.99 piece of silicone.
After our meeting with Carol, a visiting nurse provided by the Navy and Marine Relief Society came over to check on me. She brought lots of great information, not just about breastfeeding but about our options for choosing a pediatrician and getting the baby covered by our health care. She’s going to keep calling and coming to check on me at least once a week, which is really reassuring, since after our final jaundice check-up tomorrow Baby Evan won’t go to the doctor for another 2 weeks. Basically, I am no longer worried about anything baby related. It’s going to take a while for me to really get the hang of breastfeeding but the fact that things have improved 1000000000% in the last 24 hours is a good sign. Next week I’ll probably be feeding while walking around. We’ll hold off on feeding while juggling chainsaws until at least month 2. And after I learn to juggle.