Baby & Body: 8 month update

Today* is perhaps not the day I should begin to draft this update, as the babe was up at 3:30, 4:45 and finally 7:15…and I am feeling, how shall we say, less than charitable towards parenting at the moment. Teething, developmental leaps, holiday schedule disruptions and nap transitions all suck for sleep.

Let’s take those menaces one by one, since that’s the only way my brain can function enough to type at this point. Especially since coffee has been making me a bit too anxious lately to be worth the much-needed caffeine jolt.

Teething – as previously mentioned, the bottom two came in without much ado, but the next ones (assumed to be top two) are not coming without a fight. After realizing that I had given her a single bedtime dose of Tylenol more nights in a 2 week period than I hadn’t, I grabbed some hippie shit from the pharmacy to make myself (and hopefully her, of course) feel better. The Camillia liquid does seem to help, while the Hyland’s gel doesn’t seem to make much difference. Wrapping a crushed ice bundle in a washcloth and securing it with a hair elastic is her current favourite teething toy and provides good daytime relief. All her problems (like all of ours, I’d say) seem worse as she is trying to go to sleep, so that’s when we break out the medicinal guns. Or we wake up at, say, 3:30 with a whiny baby grabbing at her mouth and ears.

Developmental leaps – first came actual, proper, crawling on hands and knees, then came trying to sit up on her own. I mean, she has been sitting up without assistance for a while but I’m talking about getting to a sitting position on her own. This, she clumsily started and then perfected in about 2 days. It’s enjoyable in that it gives her more independence and options for positions to play in. The downside is that for the first week or so the urge to sit up was so compelling that she would do it constantly – including when she should have been lying down to sleep or when she first stirred upon waking – thus fully keeping her awake instead of allowing her to lounge and resettle. Anyways, this was all very much towards the tail-end of the month so I’ll save the next steps for the next update.

Holiday disruptions – having visitors, having lots of places to be in a day, and plans that extend beyond bedtime are all sleep-killers. Sloane has always been one of those “sleep begets sleep” kind of babies. Meaning that when daytime naps suffer, so too does her nighttime sleep. Which sucks, sure, and I know for most people that nighttime sleep is the holy grail, but honestly, the daytime naps themselves are just as important to me since this is when I get to do fun things like showering, eating and housekeeping. Without naps the whole operation crumbles  Which leads into…

Nap transition – around this age, babies start to transition from 3 naps to 2 naps. I’ve always had a tough time counting Sloane’s naps because she’s always had a bit of a weird morning routine (due to mutually agreed upon laziness) and I’ve paid more attention to her sleepiness cues than the clock when I’ve put her down to nap. This sort of non-routine routine has historically worked well for us. On a good day (which until the last few weeks was called a normal day) she would typically:

-go to bed at 7:30 pm

-wake somewhere between 6 and 8 am to nurse

-fall back to sleep in my bed for a couple hours, typically waking around 9 or 10 am.

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (11 or 12pm?) For an hour or two

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (3 or 4pm?) For an hour or two

-bedtime again.

I guess if you count the first going back to sleep after nursing as a nap, then she was pretty much on a 3-a-day schedule. Which was regular enough for my own flexible needs, but irregular enough to make it tough to plan a bunch of activities or meet-ups with other people, day after day – which was a challenge over the holidays with visiting family and various events. A situation compounded by the fact that she was sometimes skipping or “cat-napping” (or crap-napping?) one or more of her usual nap times. Making me question whether she needed a bedtime adjustment and/or to consolidate the 3 naps into 2 longer naps with longer awake times between them. Sometimes that worked out great and other times not at all, which I think will be the case until she eventually adjusts into the 2-a-day habit. An adjustment that just wasn’t happening with people rattling about the house and us running all over Hell’s half-acre. We’ll see how she goes as life returns to normal…for a few weeks until we go to Mexico for 2 weeks. Oh boy.

What else? Food…the slow mo intro to solids has picked up momentum. While she’s still nursing 4 or 5 times a day, she’s also now eating solids at two meals – it varies a bit. She will now eat almost anything you put in front of her or in her mouth. I have a few frozen purees that I pull out from time to time and do buy the odd pouch or jar of food (gasp! I know) but for the most part, she is eating what we’re eating, either in whole or in part. Or sometimes in semi-mash. I feel like this entire feeding topic may be a whole other post so I will leave it at that for now.

As for me, I have nothing to say for myself that you haven’t already heard. This may be the worlds longest post-partum plateau and I’m okay with it. Teeth have definitely added an element of danger to the nursing game these days, although she is yet to properly bite me. Yet. There were a couple light bite downs that were not great, and an overall general scrapiness that is not totally delightful. But, it’s OK so far. I’m still not feeling terribly energetic these days, and to that end it seems about time to get back on top of taking some of the supplements that have helped in the past. Maca being one that really helped when I was in the first trimester. And still more water. If I could get a weekly saline IV drip, I would.

One of the best things about this month is that Sloane has started to act like she really likes me. I mean, I know I’m her mom and she is bonded to me because she needs me…but now it’s like she really likes me – getting so excited when I enter a room or come home and reaching for me or crawling to me for some love at regular intervals. It’s nice to know the feeling is mutual. And big baby smiles go a long way when you are so tired you put the milk away in the pantry.

*as always, today is not really today, as it takes me a few to write a post. So fear not, this zombie day is behind me and baby has actually resumed napping properly since we have returned to normal post-holiday life.

Baby & Body: months 6 & 7 update

In not blogging for just over a month I missed an entire month’s update and cruised right on by the next one too – hence, the combined update. And you know, I can’t even be bothered to be apologetic about it because life has just been too damn much lately between travelling two weeks in a row and being sick twice in a row (one quick but brutal stomach bug, one bastard of a cold).

While Sloane thankfully missed out on the stomach virus, she was the one who gave me the cold, and a sick baby is no fun at all–less so when you are sick yourself. She’s been sleeping like crap because she can’t breathe through her nose (which means she also can’t suck her thumb to self-soothe) and (I’m guessing from my own symptoms) she’s also had a sore throat and headache. Good thing grape flavoured baby Tylenol turned out to be her poison.

Sickness aside, big changes these past two months include the arrival of the first tooth on November 6, followed up by the second one a couple weeks later for a cute little bottom middle set. Teething this time around didn’t seem to cause a lot of grief as both teeth sort of popped out as a bit of a surprise to me. At her 6 month check-up and vaccination appointment (which was actually right on her 6 month birthday) she weighed in at 17.5 lbs and 26 inches tall. I’d guess by now she is up to about 19 lbs and at least an inch taller.

She also became a highly proficient roller and wriggler and went from okay to leave unattended for a few moments to “can’t take your eyes off her for a second” in a matter of days. Like most healthy, red-blooded babies, she has a death wish and is magnetically drawn to hazards big and small. Current dark obsessions include pulling the floor lamp to the ground, yanking the CO detector out of the wall and/or sticking fingers in the now empty socket, scouring the ground for loose change and buttons to choke on, reaching fragile limbs into the mechanism of the gliding chair, rolling towards the top of the stairs, grabbing at cat whiskers, and sleeping face down in the mattress. Close to the 7 month birthday mark she made big strides towards crawling with a sort of rudimentary army-crawl, belly-slither technique that greatly increased her speed in reaching her death trap of choice. Fun!

Long story short, time inside the house can be a bit of a nightmare at the moment – with not a lot of safe space for her to explore before I have to redirect her from danger. Rescuing her every 20 seconds (and often pissing her off in the process) makes for an awfully long day and lots of running back and forth between rooms if I’m trying to do anything else. Imprisoning Safely securing her in a Jolly Jumper or Exersaucer is the only relief, but she only tolerates jail safety for small blocks of time. Although I’m not overly excited about returning to work, I won’t lie: there have been several days in the past couple of months where I have waxed nostalgic for my out-of-the-home job (what a break! how civilized! soooo easy! The grass is noticeably greener at my office!) Time outside the house is loads of fun though, as she’s always happy to be gawking at things and socializing with every passerby. Particularly if said passerby is a boy/man. She loves dudes and beards, so this whole hipster era is really working out well for her/us. We flew to Toronto to visit my brother and his kids and Sloane was happy as a clam to be out Bjorning or strolling all day long, riding the subways and streetcars and hanging out in restaurants. Similarly, when we took her to Banff shortly afterwards, the hotel, pub and outdoor swimming pool life suited her perfectly (until she got sick – and with the exception of the first night in the terrifying, rickety, possibly-haunted, hotel-provided crib).

The other big development was our slow-out-of-the-gate introduction to solid food. Because of her healthy size and appetite for boob, I had incorrectly assumed that she would be stoked to eat some real food at the recommended 6 month mark. Nope. She just wasn’t that into it. If I tricked her into getting some food in her mouth, she would begrudgingly swallow it, but she had no real interest and wouldn’t eagerly open her mouth for much. I have to say, this didn’t bother me in the least. If she had been being selective or picky it may have (I have issues with picky eaters and dread having one) but because she was just altogether uninterested, I figured she just wasn’t there yet. Every other milestone she’s hit of her own volition and in her own good time, and I figured when the time was more right she’d let me know. I still kept offering solids (kind of half-assedly) but it was more of a token effort to keep up the exposure than to actually accomplish any feeding. Then, right around the 7 month mark, she was suddenly into it. She’s still mainly a boob girl, but will pretty much try anything I give her and is definitely more excited about it all.

As for me, I’m tempted to take a pass on commenting at the moment. I went through a phase where I was feeling really good about myself (maybe the best I ever have) but now that I’m coming off of 3 weeks of travel, sickness and loads of one-on-one time with Sloane I just feel worn out. One of those “sick and tired of being sick and tired” kind of phases where it shows on your face, in your posture and in your attitude – but I know that it is just the sick and tired talking, not a lasting state of mind. Nothing a few good sleeps, a gallon of water, an industrial humidifier, a vat of eye cream, a lb of concealer, a babysitter, and professional lighting can’t take care of.

Baby and Body: Month 1 Surprises

Big picture-wise, it turns out I wasn’t terribly delusional about what having a new baby in the house would be like. By and large, it’s been how I envisioned the experience to be – for better and for worse – just fleshed out in vivid colour and detail.

But as always, it’s the little things that sneak up on you.

The bleeding. Again, with the bleeding to lead off a post. After nine months of missed periods, your body makes up for it with the heaviest, longest period of your life. Asshole. Yup, even if you delivered via c-section you will still have to shed blood, mucous and uterine lining. A delightful trifecta called lochia because everything pertaining to your body, pregnancy and childbirth has to be the grossest sounding word possible – and it lasts for 4-6 weeks. It’s actually shocking how much you bleed at first. Sort of a steady stream with the occasional gush (especially when you nurse or when you get up after sitting or lying down for a while). Oh! And clots! Mustn’t forget those. Isn’t this a pretty and poetic post?

the afterpains. Turns out, contractions don’t end just because labour is over. Your uterus still has to shrink back down to its pre-baby size and does so by continuing to contract for 10 days to two weeks. Personally, I only noticed it for the first week or so, again, particularly when I was nursing. It’s weird – and almost a little bit triggering – to feel like the nightmare most beautiful experience of your life is starting all over again.

The tranquilizer dart effect. everybody warned me (with regards to breastfeeding) about being crazy thirsty and to arm myself with a giant water bottle. This has been true, I drink an unreal amount of ice water out of a spill-proof adult-sized sippy cup now, but it’s the insta-NyQuil effect that caught me off guard. I just realized that it doesn’t really happen any more, but for the first couple of weeks I’d be nodding off like a junkie the instant the baby latched on.

the adrenaline rush. I’m here to tell you that “sleep when the baby sleeps” is the biggest crock of shit ever. It may be good advice, but it’s not realistic. Not that I wasn’t tired, I was fucking exhausted a lot of the time, but I wasn’t sleepy. I was absolutely wired. For like, a solid week, I couldn’t slow my brain or my body down. There are scab-covered meth users taking apart old VCRs who are more chilled out than I was. There was CONSTANTLY something I needed or wanted to be doing for the baby, around the house, or for myself. I had to keep consciously telling myself, “you just had surgery” and it still didn’t stop me from cleaning my house.

And the truth is, in the twenty minute intervals when you’re not looking after baby or doing chores, sometimes you just want to have a bath, text a friend or browse Instagram to feel human and connected to the outside world instead of taking a pointlessly short nap. At one point I read a list of postpartum psychosis warnings signs and “feeling no need for sleep” was on there…as you can imagine, that really helped calm me down.

the crying hour. This refers to the hour of day at which I would spontaneously (but predictably) cry – not to crying for a whole hour. Because that would be crazy, obvs. This was quick and dirty…clock strikes 9 pm, bawl for 10 minutes, done. Like actual clockwork. And it wasn’t out of sadness or even frustration (though I did that too at times) this was just a sheer overflowing of emotion that needed to be released through the old eyeball valves. I would just look at Sloane and suddenly couldn’t stand how beautiful she was. The one thought I had over and over was, “nobody deserves something so nice.” It sounds so dumb now, and certainly not very poignant, but it was all I had.

the insatiable hunger. I have never been hungrier in my life than I was in the week after having a baby. Granted, in my case I had gone through something like a 24 hour fast followed by a couple days of barely eating. And breastfeeding makes you ravenous on top of all that. The first few nights we had her at home I was up multiple times in the middle of the night shoving whatever was handy in my mouth. Entire cans of Pringles were consumed in bed. I ate things like chocolate croissants (note the plural) and hot chocolate with whipped cream for breakfast. And I didn’t feel one tiny bit bad for it either.

the other craving. The same hormone that starts your contractions and gets your milk flowing also helps you bond to your baby. That oxytocin is a multitasking motherfucker. It not only helps you feel attached to – and in love with – your baby, but it also creates intense desire for further contact…effectively causing you to become addicted to your baby. I had heard this, but of course didn’t really get it until she was born and I found that I physically craved holding her. I would also smell her – like, really smell her – taking giant whiffs of her head.

I recently read Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” and there’s a part where she says of her two boys, “I swear, if I could eat my children, I would. I’d consume them like some beast in a Hieronymus Bosch painting, but in a friendlier, more momlike way. Their little bodies make me salivate. It takes everything I have not to swallow them whole.”

That about sums it up.

Even when I was near my baby constantly, if she was in her stroller or car seat, after a while I would need to touch and cuddle her body-to-body to satisfy the urge. Doing so felt strikingly similar to the sensation of something like lighting up a cigarette after a long plane ride. One night, when I had gone for an actual nap and left Sloane and Andrew downstairs, I woke up and called down the stairs that I was awake and ready for him to bring her up to me. I went back to the bed, and in the (maybe) 5 whole minutes it took them to come upstairs I lost my mind. What was taking them so long?! I need my baby…Right. Now. By the time they got to me I had tears streaming down my face and could barely choke out, “I just missed you guys so much”. It’s crazy town. Of course, it was also around 9pm ish…