Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dealing with the heat

I used to live in Texas, land of 100+ degree summers, so you'd think I'd be used to the humid heat by now.  I think everything changes when you have a baby, including your own relationship to the sun and heat.

Namely, I'm getting concerned that Cupcake is not dealing well with the summer that decided to show up full force on Memorial Day weekend.  How timely of it, right?  My poor child is only about to turn 8 months, and after living through one of the coldest and stormiest winters on record, she is probably ill prepared for the sweat and discomfors that come with summer.  What am I supposed to do?

I am also incredibly paranoid about MCAD and excessive heat.  I wouldn't even have thought the two issues were related, but then there was an online discussion on our FOD support group.  Some parents were concerned that in summer, their otherwise energetic children/toddlers struggle with low energy levels and muscle aches.  Note to self: must stop reading the FOD emails; they only worry me and feed hypochondriac tendencies I didn't even know I had.  Nevertheless, is there a relationship between MCAD and problems with excessive heat?

Our doctors never told us anything about it.  Now, that doesn't necessarily mean there's no connection, as I'm well aware that MCAD and FODs in general are a recent diagnosis and doctors are still finding out what the disorder entails.  So I need to observe my baby, and see if anything seems out of the ordinary.

She gets little sweat beads on her nose.  Do all babies do that?  My instincts say yes, but it also wasn't that hot when these sweat beads started (last week was in the low 80's).  We are also having trouble figuring out how much to cool the apartment.  She's been waking up in the mornings covered in sweat (that's bad, right?), so we're now turning on the window unit at night.  But is the air blowing directly at her?  Should we keep the house really cool and still cover her?  The other night she slept with only a onesie and her feet felt really cold in the middle of the night.  Aaaaahhhh, I hate second guessing myself, specially because the MCAD makes me paranoid about her body temperature (Also, I still prescribe by the old fashioned idea that being cold gives you a cold, and I don't want her to get sick from the AC, since she FINALLY got over her stuffy nose.  What, it's not the cold air, it's people's germs?  Shut up!  You can't convince me that sudden changes in temperature don't contribute to getting sick.)  
Why would heat exacerbate an MCAD problem?  Our doctors have explained that high body heat means more calories burned, which means less time before the body is fasting.  However, this assumption is based on fevers, when the body is actively fighting an infection, and the heat is probably an exothermic reaction to the energy already being spent.  That made much more sense in my head.  So fighting infection = calories burned, with a side effect of high temperature.   If this is all vaguely accurate, then the body being overheated from the outside (as in the sun) shouldn't affect it's internal sugar levels.  Right?

As for muscle aches or weakness.  I can't tell if Cupcake is tired because, well, the heat will tire all of us, or if she's having a harder time.  We were practicing standing while at the park, (she loves standing) and her legs felt as strong as always.  She's still not crawling, but I'm convinced that has nothing to do with muscle weakness.  Some babies just never crawl, and she looks like she might skip it altogether and start walking.  I have to keep observing her.

So, since it's gonna hit 90 today, how much water do I give her?  I want Cupcake to be hydrated, but I also don't want her belly to get full and then don't drink as much milk, which has all the nutrients and sugars that she needs in addition to being a refreshing liquid.  Do I feed her more often since she's sweating?

What about at night?  She's waking every 3.5 hours right now, and I'm exhausted.  I'm ready to try a little tough love in order to keep my sanity.  (This is a point of contention with my husband, who would happily respond to every stir and fuss, which... he's more than welcome to do, but I just don't have it in me at night.  So, do I let him deal with it on his own, or do we need to have a more unified front?)  But really, could she actually be legitimately hungry/thirsty at night because of the summer temperatures?  And if I don't nurse her all those times, am I affecting her glucose levels?

I don't really expect answers to all this, but it's so confusing to be a parent.  For everyone.  I wish she could just tell me what she needs, if she feels achy, if she's thirsty, if her neck hurts from the heat rash.  But I doubt she's even wrapped her head around the sun being the heat source, so I guess I'll have to wait on her info.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eating solids

Among the things I'm grateful for:  Cupcake loooves eating food.  If you're gonna have an FaOD child, where your doctors instructions are pretty much "make sure they're eating", it sure helps to have a kid that takes so well to food.

It's not anything we've done, I'm afraid, she just likes putting things in her mouth and swallowing them.  Our current routine is that I breastfeed her when she wakes up from sleeping (roughly 9:30, 12:30, 4, 7, 9:30), and twice a day, about an hour after she's had her milk, I give her solids.  We're going with the idea that under one years old, food = fun, and she isn't really getting nutritional value from the food.

And it is fun.  It's amazing seeing her taste things, make faces of curiosity when we introduce new foods, sometimes she even grabs her own spoon and puts it in her mouth.  When we are out and she sees us get out her plate and a banana, she gets super excited and eager for her food.  Where does it come from?  How does she know so well what food entails?

We started her when she was about 5 1/2 months old, and at the time we'd have about one meal a day, and at that only a few spoonfuls.  She wasn't 6 months yet, but she was just soooo curious about everything that went into our plates and mouths, it seemed only fair.   By now she has two meals a day, of about 4 oz each.  I guess she could eat more, but I'm taking it easy.  Sometimes she doesn't even finish her 4oz, and other times it seems that it's not enough.  It changes per day, probably in direct relation to how much she's been jumping on her exersaucer.

So far she loves bananas (and she can eat an whole one, where in her stomach does that even fit?), apple sauce, pears, apple slices, her favorite by far is sweet potatoes (I can mix them with anything to introduce a new food), butternut squash, carrots, yellow squash, peas, parsnips, and she'll tolerate brown rice when it's mixed with a vegetable.  She also tried spinach (mixed with apple sauce, she loved it), but it seemed to not agree with her digestive system.  Ditto for yogurt, which gave her explosive diapers, and I don't really enjoy cleaning doodoo from onesies, so I don't think she'll be eating yogurt for a while.  We tried avocado a month ago and she didn't like it.  Time to try it again....

I make all her food, and so far it's been very easy.  A couple of times a week, while I'm making our dinner, I'll steam or boil a veggie for her, and them I'll mash/blend/food mill it.  Then I freeze it in ice cube trays and store it in zip lock bags.  When it's time for her to eat, I just warm them up in the microwave.  Too simple right?  I was expecting to put more effort into making her food, and I'm happy to report that this is simple stuff. 

So far, Cupcake  hasn't had a single jar of food, which I'm pretty proud of.

She'll be 8 month next week, and we're ready now for the next stage.  Some chicken, maybe beef, and more grains?  Chunkier purees?  Her food is pretty chunky as it is, so I'm not sure how to proceed next.   Suggestions?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stuffy Noses

It's normal, right? The stuffy nose issue?  Because right now we have the stuffy nose that will not go away. 

Some days it's better than others.  Today, for example, it's like a dripping faucet and it's all I can do to catch the snot bubbles are they explode out of her nose.  Then again, yesterday she was pretty good and we were able to attend a wedding reception.  I'm not too concerned over the ramifications of another mild cold, since Cupcake has proven to have an awesome immune system and doesn't seem too upset or debilitated by it.  The only aspect that really affects her is sleeping.  It seems the stuffy nose doesn't let her nap well, which results in having a cranky baby that seems always a little tired.

Actually, today I've tried an experiment.  After having two weeks of stuffy noses and nap-time being all over the place, I'm trying to figure out if she's cranky because she's not getting enough sleep, or if she's achy/sore, and that is causing her to both be cranky and unable to sleep.  It's a cause and effect issue, ya know?  So I've given her some Motrin this afternoon, and she's down for a nap, so far over a half hour.  I don't like medicating my child for no reason, but seriously, if she doesn't get some good naps in there, she'll be in no condition to fight whatever is causing her runny nose.  Medicine is your friend, I really believe that.  Additionally, Motrin isn't a sleep inducer, merely a pain reliever, so it wouldn't help her sleep on its own.

No fevers, though, so there's no concern of an MCADD crisis.  Just good ol' traditional stuffies.  It's still clear and runny, which makes me think it's not a cold... allergies maybe?  I've also heard some kids get stuffy noses when they're teething.  And if she's working on a tooth (it'd be the top one), it would explain soooo much.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wedding Reception

Today we went to an afternoon wedding reception, the first time we've gone to a formal event as a new family.  I wasn't too worried, because it was an afternoon event, (as opposed to an evening full out gala), a nice party with food and drinks for all the people who weren't able to fly across the country for their actual wedding 4 months ago.

And Cupcake looked a-dora-ble!  I know I'm biased, but she was the cutest baby within a 10 block radius.  She had a white dress some Argentinian friends got her from a nice boutique there (so it has that wonderful handmade quality), and a white headband.  Usually I'm against headbands, and think the poor babies in them look like their head is split in two, but I take it all back, the headband really tied the outfit together.

Also, another gigantic milestone: I fit into my pre-pregnancy lil' black dress!  Just one of the many amazing things about breastfeeding, at least in my case I eat, eat, eat, and I keep losing weight.  I want to keep nursing her if only for the extra calories it burns (and the health aspects for the baby, of course, I'm not THAT shallow).

I don't know what the bride and groom's family must have thought about us, though.  We were the only people with a baby, we sat her at the bar while she was munching on apple slices, then put her on a baby carrier so she could nap while we still mingled, I drank wine, then we found a quiet side room and breastfed her (while still in my cocktail dress), then we danced around with her.  Did we achieve looking carefree and delighted with our own daughter, or were we those crazy parents that start the cautionary tales?  I don't want to find out.  We had fun, our friends were happy to have us there, and it was a wonderful afternoon.

At the end of the day, we are true attachment parents.  Our baby goes wherever we go, and as long as her needs are met (food, sleep, clean diapers), her entertainment can be following mom and dad around.  I think she had a blast, and the moment she began to be fussy I put her in her baby carrier so she could feel close to me and protected.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lots of little things

It's been a weird week, with all the rain and us having the slight sniffles.  It's just enough to keep us home bound, only venturing nearby in the neighborhood and going a bit stir crazy.   I have nothing specific to write about; just wanted to do a general state of the union.

- On Wednesday we went a baby sing-along in a neighborhood cafe, and Cupcake LOVED it.  A few weeks ago we'd gone to check out a music "class" for babies (I have an entire rant on classes for 6 month olds, but I'll save that for another day), and she was wholly uninterested.  So we went to this sing along as a lark, since it was raining and it was only 2 blocks away.  Cupcake was mesmerized by the songs the entire 40 minutes, and I got to chat with some friends that had gone too.  Win-win for everyone.

- We've been battling the mildest and stubbornest of colds since last week.  It's just a stuffy now, that will. not. go. away.  Aaaargh!  Cupcake seems to be dealing fine with it, her mood is unaffected.  But it's messing up her sleep, since the stuffy nose will wake her up, and force her to spit out her pacifier.   All the wonderful progress we'd made a couple of weeks ago with her 1.5 hour naps?  Pretty much gone.  At this point we're back to rocking her to sleep.  I mean, anything to get the rest her body needs.

- I might be over-dramatic, but I went ahead and called her metabolic doctor for advice on what to do.  That's why they're there, right?  They told me to not worry about it if she didn't have a fever, but IF she got a fever, her new L-Carnitine dosage is 2.5 ml three times a day.  Man, I'm glad she doesn't take it everyday, or we'd be going through it like crazy.  They also reassured me that as long as she eats something every 2.5 hours, her sugar levels should be fine.  And yes, a snack of solid food does count.

- We've been having crazy naps all week because of the stuffy nose.  It seems the discomfort wakes up Cupcake before her sleep cycle is finished, so she's been waking up cranky yet unwilling to go down again.  I've been rocking her a lot, and it really feels like her sleep is regressing.  Isn't there supposed to be an 8 month sleep regression?  I really hope this is it.

- Cupcake is standing like crazy.  No longer happy just chilling on her butt, she must now stand at all time or else.  Which results in me having to be behind her at all times, because ma'lady hasn't figure out how to fall gracefully yet.  We've gotten her foam tiles for the floor (about time), and they look wonderful, but still, must watch her closely.  I have a feeling we're gonna skip crawling altogether, she's seriously ready for walking.  Any minute now....

- We might be working on another tooth.  There's nothing visible on her gum, but she's drooling like crazy.  Will it appear soon?  It'd be lovely if it could explain why she's having such disturbed sleep.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On blogging

I'm wondering what direction this blog is going, as I don't seem to be writing with as much fervor as the beginning.  It's always like that, right?

When I first started, I wanted a place where I could sort out all my thoughts and fears associated with Cupcake's MCADD diagnosis.  I was exhausting Nate with all my freak outs, my over analysis of her schedule, my tireless googling of information, and I wanted a safe haven where I could. Just. Vent.  Also, I began to realize that there were very few happy MCAD stories out on the internet, and I'd found barely two blogs that mentioned having a diagnosed child.  Actually, there were some happy stories on the FOD Support groups, but they were these paragraph long blurbs of kids that were still doing well (as opposed to the stories of children who had succumbed to undiagnosed MCADD).  I wanted to see blogs of people going about their menial lives, dealing with a metabolic conditions yet grappling with regular parenting decisions.  So I took Ghandi's advice (be the change you want to see in the world), and made my own blog.

Of course Ghandi was talking about much larger issues, and this is just me venting out on the internet, but a girl can dream, right?

Nate doesn't want me to use our real names or post pictures.  I understand where he's coming from, since it should be Cupcake's decision to share her medical information on the internet.  However, this places me at a slight disadvantage if I use this blog as a networking tool.  Other people post photos, and I feel like I'm being standoffish by not reciprocating.  Is this why I'm having a harder time building my own online community?  Or am I just not reaching out enough?  And do I even want to?  I feel strange commenting on people's blogs if I haven't met them in person, or reaching out to them when I'm withholding images of ourselves.  But I'm also not comfortable broadcasting personal information to the world.  I'm very private, yet I'm blogging.  How does that work?

I want to keep writing.  Even though as time goes on, MCAD feels less and less like a pressing issue.  Which makes me wonder if I should just make this a document of Cupcake's first years, or if I should stay within the filter of our lives through her metabolic condition.  Either way it's serving it's purpose.

I know some people are finding the blog from googling MCADD.  I hope this can help you see how our family is dealing with it, and how "normal" our lives can be. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Schedule

I'm trying to figure out a new schedule for Cupcake, and I'm still hesitant to try it out.  I'm not sure why.  

She's fine, we're fine, let's not rock the boat, right?  Except that now she's sleeping longer naps (finally!  hour long naps!), and because of solids we need longer time between feeds.  I'm trying to not interfere with her breast milk intake, so I'm not feeding her food less than an hour before she's due to nurse.  This, of course, presents it's own set of logistical problems, because she'll oversleep, or we have plans out of the house, etc etc.  If my entire life was only about her food and sleep we'd be fine, but as I've discussed a couple of days ago, I need some other distractions in my life. 

Thankfully, her MCAD hasn't presented itself in a dramatic way, so we can be a bit more flexible now with her feeds.  We can go 6 hours without food, which gives a gigantic leeway throughout the day, and it's a bit overwhelming to have such freedom.  I'm realizing now that many of our early schedule/parental decisions were based on her medical condition.  I'm also realizing that we set up a day schedule about 5 months ago and haven't updated it too drastically.   It's time.

For starters, she's waking up earlier now.  Her nighttime sleep is now about 10pm - 9 am.(not straight through).   I'm thinking of going 3.5 hours between daytime feeds instead of every 3 hours, and I'm hoping that the extra half hour will give us more breathing room between nursing sessions.

I'm also torn because I always wanted to be one of those attachment parents who feed on demand (it's the best for milk supply, right?), but when we got the MCAD diagnosis we had to change our plans.  Not that you can't feed on demand with an FOD, but the practical implications were too much for me.  In order to make sure she wasn't going longer than 3 hours throughout the day (we'd been told 3 -4 hours, and we decided with our metabolic doctor to do 3 during the day and 4 at night), I would have to keep track of every time she was eating.  It was so stressful to have to worry of when she ate last, where the notebook was, had it been too long, not long enough, finally I just decided to set up a schedule and stick to it.  It was the best decision we could have made.  We had regular nursing sessions, I knew what to expect, and I wasn't constantly concerned that she would go into fasting mode.  However, now that she's 7 months old I can actually feed on demand, since the threat of fasting isn't as imminent, but I fear that I won't recognize her hunger signs and I'd be overwhelmed by deciphering is she's hungry, tired, bored, achy, etc.

So.... I'm gonna run through some options and see if they logistically work.

9 am wake up ... 9:30 milk  ... 10:30 food ... 10:45-11:00 am nap (wake up at noon?)  ... 1pm milk ... 2pm food  ...  2:30 nap (wake up at 3:30?) ... 4:30 milk  ...6 pm nap (wake at 7pm?) mmmm... usually she nurses at 9:30, but that would be 4.5 hours from her last session, and though that's acceptable by MCAD standards, I don't think it's gonna work for for her.     

9am wake up ....  Milk between 9 am - 10 am based on hunger cues  ... 10:30 am food  ... 11:00am nap (wake up 12?)  1:00 milk  1:30 food   2:30 nap (wake up 3:30?)  nurse 5 pm  6 pm nap 8:30 milk? .... won't work, it's not her bedtime.

I'm gonna try working back from her bedtime.

9:30-10  pm last milk.....   7 pm milk   6 - 7 pm last nap.  3:30 pm milk  nap 2:30-3 pm   12 noon milk  9-10 food.... this looks all scrambled, but to put it in order:

wake up: 9 ish.   
Milk: 9-9:30am   
Nap: 11 - 12  
Milk: 12 noon   
Food: 1 pm   
Nap: 2:30-3:30pm   
Milk: 3:30pm   
Food: 4 pm  
Nap: 6-7 pm  
Milk: 7 pm  
Food Snack: 8:30pm    
Last Milk Feed: 9:45pm
Bed: 10 pm
Dream Feed Milk: 12midnight
Milk: 6am

I realize that the 6 hour span between midnight and 6 am is a bit of a joke at the moment, but that's what we're aiming for.  Let's give this slightly modified schedule a try... since it's based on the natural schedule she seems to be taking.  We shall see how it works.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Finding a balance between motherhood and me

I keep having this anxiety feeling that I'm doing it all wrong.  I don't know where it's coming from.  Up until now I've been a pretty confident parent, owning the things I didn't know and celebrating the issues we solved by the seat of our pants.  I know that parenting is something you figure it our as you go, and I've been fine with it.

I think I'm having issues with what parenting is doing to me.  What is happening to "me."

Though I love my identity as a mom, I've never wanted it to be the only thing that defined me.  I am a mother, a wife, a sister, daughter, traveler, and for a long time I was a designer, professional, student, etc, etc.  Of course, this isn't groundbreaking, and everyone is made up of many parts of themselves.

It's more of a realization that mothering is currently completely eclipsing my other parts, and I'm mostly upset about how its affecting my professional identity.  Long before Cupcake came along I had a career, a master's degree and a professional path.  Shortly before I got pregnant I was laid off  due to the US economic crisis and spent some time figuring out how to find gainful employment again and taking underpaid freelance work just to stay active in my field.  It's not like Cupcake ruined me professionally and took me away from a thriving active career.  We were even glad I got pregnant so quickly, because it meant I could stay home with her until the economy recovered.  No cost of opportunity to be home with the baby.

There's a part of me that feels time passing me by.  Taking care of a baby/child is all consuming, there's little in the day left for me.  And I struggle to find help for the house, have an afternoon off, I'm filled with anxiety if I am doing the right thing.  Namely, should I pay someone to watch Cupcake and/or clean the house?  Or were we really stupid to not have done this sooner?  These are opposing views, I know.  I'm just on edge, like I'm letting myself go and by the time Cupcake is a toddler I won't know the way back to me.

We've been debating moving back to our home state to be closer to family.  Mmmm.... debating is not the right term, we've decided to move back when Nate fulfills his work requirement to be licensed.  And I'm filled with a combination of feelings: on one hand, I'm glad we're going back closer to relatives who want to babysit and help out, but I'm sad to leave this amazing city and neighborhood, and resentful that we still have to wait a few months, and fearful that once we move back I'll be able to find a job and then I have no excuse for my malcontent.

My husband is wonderful about giving me time off, and being there for me.  I fear that as I wallow in self pity, I'm not able to offer him the same level of support and affection.  I don't want motherhood to eclipse my role as a wife.  How do other people balance it? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On milk supply

I'll be the first to admit that we've been very lucky regarding breastfeeding.  Cupcake always had a good latch, and though it might have been painful at first, she always got the milk she needed.  And when you're told your baby can't go into fasting, that latter point is very important.  I also had a ridiculous amount of milk.  My letdown was forceful, and would spray people a couple of feet away, and I just has milk.  Oodles of it.

Ahhh, the early days.  I would pump just to relieve the engorgement, and we ended up with 15 extra bottles of milk in the fridge.  Things didn't settle down until about 2 1/2 months, when I still had tons of milk, but it was a lot more under control.

Luck.  Just luck.  Sure, we did our part, having Cupcake feed within an hour of her birth and feeding around the clock on demand those first couple of weeks.  But we also gave her a pacifier within a week (baby loooooooves to suck suck suck) and put her on a feeding schedule once we got her MCAD diagnosis.  I'm also bad at remembering to drink water and eat.

And maybe it's all catching up with me now?   I seem to be having some milk supply issues.  I don't know if I have a "problem" per se.  All I know is that Sunday night, at Cupcake's 10pm feed, I had no milk.  Nothing.  No let down.  Nothing was coming out.  And Cupcake is frustrated, crying, and refuses to keep sucking on an empty boob.  I freaked out, and Cupcake was crying, and it was horrible.  We ended up giving her the last bottle of expressed milk we had in the fridge.

I had all these fears of my body failing me.  Similar, in many ways, to how I felt my body let me down after the C-section.  I imagined all my fears of Cupcake going hungry, of having to switch permanently to formula, to having her reject my boob.  In reality, none of these are tragic, and 7 months is not a crazy time for a baby to wean to formula.  I just wanted to be more in control of that process.

 By the time I dream-fed her at midnight, after two hours of feeling very upset and down, I had milk again.  And the next morning my milk seemed to be back to normal.  Or normal enough to satisfy my baby.  So... I make milk again?  The what....?

I'm not sure what happened, but I have theories on the culprit.  On Saturday Nate and I had some wine, I forgot to stay properly hydrated the whole weekend, I'd worked out earlier that day (which, once again, hydration), my time of the months had just started that afternoon (blegh), and Cupcake is now eating solids, which is supposed to affect milk production.  This was probably a perfect storm of milk problems.

I know the weaning process starts with the first bite of solid food.  I know that as time goes by she'll need less and less milk.  It was just so scary to have no-thing come out.  I've been drinking water like crazy, so hopefully this won't happen again quite so dramatically.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Letter to my baby: 7 Months

Dear Cupcake,

I can't believe you're already 7 months old!  For some reason, this age feels "old".  You're now an established baby, who sits, grabs things, rolls, laughs and is the perfect age to appear in toilet paper commercials.  It feels very strange to see you as this little girl, as opposed to the blobby baby you were just 4 months ago.

You're eating food now, and you love it.  Besides avocados, which you refused to eat, you've taken great to everything else.  I make all your food, and you eat as if your stomach was a bottomless pit.  Seriously, where does it go?  You're also getting really smart at figuring out where the food is, I think you recognize your plate, spoon and bib.  Also, you seem to take it in stride when we feed you outside or anywhere that's not your high chair.  Last weekend you ate while we were at an outdoor cafe, and as soon as you saw the banana and your plate, you seemed to know what was up.  And then you finished the whole banana.  I like to think it's because you're super smart, but I might just be a tad biased.

You are also very adventurous.  If life were up to you, you'd probably live it all upside down.  Unfortunately, we have to sit you up once in a while.  You also love going to the swings.  How do I know this?  You laugh the entire time the swing is moving.  Last week we also tried taking you down the slide while you were on my legs, and you LOVED it.  Maybe you've taken after you mom, who loves roller coasters?  Only time will tell.

The weather is getting nice now, and we are going on play dates in the park.  The outdoors seems to agree with you.  You'll stay out for a long time entertained looking at people and chewing on your toys.  You are no longer fussy at play dates or seem wary of other babies.  As long as we are outside, you'll happily play alongside them, and even grab your toys back if one of your friends tries to "borrow" them.  I know you should share, but at this point I'm just happy that you recognize a toy and lean forward to grab it back.  Sharing will come later.  Don't worry, we will parent you.

You see your dad a lot more in daylight, now that the days are getting longer.  You get so happy when he arrives home from work.  You smile and your feet begin to kick.  Then you spend the rest of the evening being held by him.  You like it and he does too, and it's giving him huge biceps.  Also, this is the best time for him to flip you upside down and make you do the kinds of acrobatics your mom is not quite ready for.

Things are good, Cupcake.   We love you sooo much, and you continue to grow, smile and be healthy, which is what we want for you.  You're just such fun now that you babble, try to stand, and play.  Sometimes I feel like the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes in one day.  Except I've always liked Christmas, so don't worry about that.

You have no idea what summer is, but I have a feeling you're gonna really enjoy it. Get ready.

With lots of love,

Your Mom

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Breastfeeding and biting

Cupcake has two bottom teeth. And yes, they are adorable, and we are in awe of how well she's growing.  She's eating food, getting teeth, trying to stand, babbling left and right, and still seems to have absolutely no interest in tummy time or crawling.

So what's the problem?  She's started to bite.  Hard.  When I'm nursing her.

I always told myself I would breastfeed for 6 months, and if everything was going well we would continue to a year, at which point she would wean to cow's milk.  (Dont tell the La Leche people!  They'll tell me to not wean so early).  So the question is, would biting be considered "not going well"?  Because it hurts.  Really, it does.

She'll usually suck normally, but sometimes she just chomps down, and I pull her off the boob and try for my most authoritarian "no!" like the books say to do.  And she just finds this hilarious.  I don't think 7 month-olds understand the concept of consequences yet.

I like my boobies.  I want to preserve them.  So Nate and I have decided to give it a week.  Cupcake has 'till this Saturday to get used to her new teeth and stop biting the boob that feeds her.  Otherwise, I think we're gonna have to start weaning to formula.   I want to keep breastfeeding, but enough is enough.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sleep regression

I'm at the end of my rope.  I just can't be an effective night-time parent.  From everything I've heard of how motherhood changes you, I guess I was expecting that my body would go through some chemical adjustment that would let me be sleep deprived but still functional.

No such luck.  I still struggle at night, and if I don't get 7 hours of sleep I'm an emotional mess.  When I was pregnant we were aware of these issues.  Nate is a total superhero who can function on 4 hours of sleep, then go to work, come home and fix all the door hinges and still have energy to listen to me go on about my day.  So before Cupcake came into this world we agreed that he would be on night duty, while I was in day duty.  At the time we imagined him resettling cupcake a couple of times a night and maybe giving her bottled breast milk.  Meanwhile I could sleep and not get migraines. 

Then reality hit.  Cupcake needed to feed around the clock, so I was just breastfeeding her around the clock.  And because I was feeding so often, I couldn't really get enough pumped reserves, which meant I wasn't getting a break at night.  And so on, and so on.  All of the sudden our nighttime plan wasn't really working.

Before I ever thought of having children, I remember talking to a couple of women with babies who said that after giving birth your relationship to sleep changes.  You no longer *need* as much sleep, your needs just shift naturally.

This is not biologically true, in my experience.  I still need sleep to function as a sane productive person.  And after almost 7 months of getting up during the night no matter what, my body is giving up.  It's done.  Finito.

Last night Cupcake woke up and cried for about an hour and a half.  We have no idea what was actually wrong with her.  Teething?  Growth spurt?  Allergies?  Cold?  Gassy?  Digestive issues?  Separation anxiety?  She'd cry, and our usual system of patting her wouldn't work, so Nate would pick her up, and she'd calm down, then the second he'd try to lay her down on her crib she would start the crying again.

After 45 minutes of this he also gave up (I had thrown in the towel a long time ago and told him I was fine with just letting her cry).  And we did what I swore I'd never do, attempt to let my baby cry herself to sleep.  We were there, next to her, and Nate had his hand on her chest, but still.... I can't believe I was ok with it.  I was just sooooo tired.

She whined and moaned for about 20 minutes, then it looked like she was going to sleep, then she started to cry loudly, went back to sort of sleeping and then she started screaming hysterically at about the 35 minute mark.  And my husband is much more sensitive than I am, because he just couldn't take it.  I ended up feeding her at that point and she zonked out (and stayed asleep for over 4 hours!).  Too little too late though.  And I honestly don't think feeding her at the beginning would have helped, she'd just eaten an hour and half before, she wouldn't have been hungry at the beginning.  After the hour and half, then yes, totally legitimately  hungry.

I don't know what to do.  I don't want to keep co-sleeping.  I was happy with it before, but now she likes to stick her hand in my mouth as she drifts off to sleep and it just hurts. The crib next to our bed was working, but now she doesn't seem to be ok with it.   I don't have the stamina to get up at night, but I don't agree philosophically with CIO as a means to self sooth.  I'm at an impasse.

This little 18 lb princess is kicking my a$$.  Though she didn't seem happy with last night's fiasco either, at least she had the decency to wake up cranky and not well rested.  I know, I know, it wasn't pleasant to deal with her in that mood, but I think I would have been really annoyed if after such a horrible night she was all smiles as if this was the most natural thing in the world.  The fact that she didn't enjoy it either gives me hope that this is not the "new normal."

I have faith that at some point this will all sort itself naturally.  After all, my parents never sleep trained me, and at some point I learned to sleep through the night.  And I've never met a teenager that needs to be rocked to bed, so it does stop.  Just... when?  How much longer will this go on?