Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On having children...

I discovered Storypeople in 1999, when I was dating this guy and his mom had the book on her coffee table.  I loved the weird, slightly creepy pictures and the cute, short stories that came along with them.  I loved them so much that I signed up to receive "story of the day" emails from Storypeople 6 years ago.  This morning, I received this story:


It's amazing how life and experiences just repeat itself over and over.  My mother herself was once a baby, a child, a rebellious teenager.  She would sneak out of the house, skip school, and smoke cigarettes just like I did.  And then she became a mother and I was her baby, her child, her rebellious teenager who did the exact same things she did to her mother.

It wasn't until I became an adult and a mother that I realized how tough it is to be one.  I see now how wise she was when she told me, on the day we moved for the second time in 3 years, that I will make friends again or when she told me, after one particularly rough day in school, that life beyond high school is so much more interesting.  I blew her off and accused her of not knowing me or my life or what it was like to be a teenager in the 90s.

My mother has been witness to the god-awful changes of puberty 5 times now, going through each door-slamming tantrum with aplomb.  Desmond will probably tell me one day that he hates me, he'll slam the door in my face, or sneak the car out in the middle of the night, just like I used to do to my mother.  And I'll smile and wait a few more years when he becomes an adult and a father and can look at me and tell me, "Mama, you were right."  I can't wait...

My boyfriend's a DILF

Seriously.

Anytime we go out in public and Billy's holding or wearing Desmond, all sorts of women stop and stare.  One woman even started walking backwards, her face in an "awww...how adorable!" expression, just to get a look at Billy holding Desmond.

Don't get me wrong, I get my fair share of stares (mostly from older ladies) and my fair share of women coming up to me when I carry Desmond, but they are particularly interested in Desmond and I'm just the thing that holds him up and can answer what sex he is and how old he is.

People, however, stare mostly at Billy and Desmond becomes the secondary attraction.  It's quite interesting to see how many women with glistening eyes and sappy smiles Billy and Desmond leave in their wake. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crying over spilled milk

Hand pumping is definitely more time-consuming and more tiring than using an electric pump, of course.  However, it has been working and I'm getting better at figuring out how to position it and when to switch from one breast to the other.  It does take me about 30 minutes to get only 4 ounces, but I look at the time invested as an opportunity to burn extra calories. 

So, for 30 minutes, I sit there and pump, pump, pump while watching House or True Blood (my latest guilty pleasure.  Seriously, the second I hear that southern drawl, the back of my tongue becomes a bit heavier and I could feel my throat and my mouth itching to say "y'all").  I proudly take my 4 little ounces of milk into the kitchen and either freeze it or refrigerate it. 

Well, last night as I was opening a container filled with 3 oz of milk, I accidentally spilled it all over our counter.  My heart stopped beating.  I thought of the pride I felt after those 30 minutes pump, pump, pumping and seeing the fruits of my labor and I thought of the hard work that went into those 30 minutes.  I yelled out several expletives and screamed in frustration.  Billy ran out of the room to see if I was alright.  As soon as I heard him ask, I started crying.  He came over to hug me and told me that everything was OK, that I could make more.  I nodded my head "yes," but wanted to turn around and put the pump up to his nipples and pump it for 30 minutes to see how he'd like it.  Instead, I took a deep breath, realized that he's just a man and that he's trying his best to console me and I calmed down. 

On another note, I was kissing Desmond's feet and he managed to scratch my upper lip with his toenails.   I mean, enough to draw blood!  That's what I get for making fun of his weird, long, big-toed feet. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Desmond's first bottle

Since I'm up at the school a few times a week, I've had to take Desmond with me to each class and meeting.  It's worked so far since he generally sleeps in his sling.  I don't know how much longer that will last, though. 

I wanted to wait until after 6 weeks in order to establish breastfeeding.  I chose to wait until past his 7 weeks to do it since I didn't feel that breastfeeding was actually established.  I've been pumping a freezing up a mini-stash (I have about 6 oz frozen) for when I actually go to school for a meeting.  I will be pumping at school if necessary or once at home and then refrigerate the milk. 

I was really worried about Desmond not accepting a bottle.  Many babies love the breast so much, they simply won't eat from anything else.  Desmond, however, took to the bottle like a champ.  I didn't want to be the one to offer Desmond the bottle at first because he may not take it from me ("What's this?  I KNOW you have the real stuff!") and because I still want to breastfeed him. 

Anyhow, this is a big step for the both of us.  Terribly exciting...well, to me at least.

Grandma Donna giving Desmond his first bottle.

He drank 2 oz in about 6 minutes!  We used the Avent bottle with the 1M+ nipple, which has two small holes for a slower flow.  If the nipple has too many holes and the flow is too fast, the baby may get used to a fast flow and prefer to bottlefeed over breastfeed. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pump up the jam...

Pump it up
While your feet are stompin'
And the jam is pumpin'
Look at here the crowd is jumpin'...

That's the song that plays in my head when I pump.  That's right!  I'm pumping now!  I started last week with the intention of building up a stash of breastmilk so that Billy can start bottlefeeding Desmond while I'm at school.

Ideally, I would pump with an electric pump.  But those things are EXPENSIVE.  They run the gamut from about 200-300 bucks and come with a carrying case and all sorts of parts.  Since during my pregnancy I was on the student insurance at the U, I got limited benefits and the insurance company wouldn't cover any prescriptions (screw you, GM Southwest).  The fact that other insurance companies (Select Health, Blue Cross) paid for electric pumps if you have a prescription for them means that I've decided to switch.  I applied to Select Health and they denied me for a pre-existing condition.  God, I get so mad when I think about how screwed up our healthcare system is.  Rachael (my friend who lives in Canada), you're so damn lucky.  Billy and I have contemplated moving to Europe or Canada for the birth of our second kid (if there is one, mind you) strictly for the healthcare benefits.  I know that there are some drawbacks over there, but I consider $5,000 for a birth and currently being uninsured because of a preexisting condition a HUGE setback.

Thankfully, since Billy owns a business, he's able to get me on as his "domestic partner" without any preexisting condition exclusion.  It is about 140 dollars/month more expensive than I would have paid, but I don't have another choice.  Since open enrollment is in November, I am uninsured until then.

Once I do get insurance, though, I'm going to get that prescription and get me an electric pump.  Until then, I'm doing the manual pump.  And you know what?  It's not that bad.  It's not ideal and it takes some work, but it works well.  Christy had given me her old pump (an Avent manual pump), which is totally OK because you can take each part apart and wash it.  I wouldn't recommend using a hand-me-down electric pump, since you can't wash all the parts and there may be some contamination.  (Christy, feel free to correct me or add to this very limited explanation).

Funny thing: my left breast makes way more milk than my right.  I think.  I consistently get about 2 oz per pumping on my left and have only gotten about 1 oz per pumping on my right.  On my left, I can position the pump without a problem and go at it, but on my right, I constantly have to reposition it or else I get hickie marks around my nipple.  No joke.

Anyhow, I currently have about 6 oz frozen, of which I am very, very proud.  And yes, I have tasted it (so what?  It's not like I drink a cup of it, just a finger dip) and yes, it is very sweet.  I would say it's similar to vanilla soy milk. 

About 2.5 oz of breastmilk.  By the end of next month, I'll be sure to post a picture of my huge forearms.

Worst Day Ever...with a happy ending

I've had very few "worst days" ever in my life.  The first worst day I can remember happened when I was about 9 or 10.  My whole family went down to the Dominican Republic to spend time with my mom's family.  My 3 stepbrothers came along for the ride, including my evil (back then...we're great friends now) stepbrother, George.  George is only 2 years older than me, so throughout our entire childhood, we were at each others' throats.  One particular night, we were at my grandma's farm house in a small town in the DR (small enough that the electricity goes out every, single night and you have to sleep in beds with mosquito nets).  In my room there stood a crib, the very same crib I used to sleep in when I was little.  Since I was only like 4 foot something and weighed maybe 60 lbs, I climbed into it with my little brother.  We put the mosquito net over it and lied down.  George came over, looked into the crib through the mosquito netting and started laughing at us.  I got inexplicably mad and, before I knew it, my hand shot up and hit him in the face.  Seriously, not even a second passed before George hit me back right smack in the middle of my face.  Hard.  Worst Day Ever #1.

Worst Day Ever #2 involved kissing Ashley Bryant's ex-boyfriend in junior high school.  She got so mad at me and yelled at me in the hallway at school that that afternoon, I begged my mom to let me switch schools. 

Worst Day Ever #3 was in college.  My roommate Annie and I put it down on our calendar as the worst day ever, but I can't remember why.  It was probably a mixture of it raining and having to go to work (we worked delivering mail at the Hiram College Service Center) and there not being any Sloppy Joes at the Miller cafeteria for dinner that night. 

Worst Day Ever #4 was actually my entire year of law school.

Worst Day Ever #5 was yesterday.  Desmond would not stop crying the whole day...sun up to sun down.  He had to fart and poop so badly but had such a difficult time passing it.  When he would fart or poop, he would be content for about a half hour before he started wailing again.  No amount of comfort nursing or swaying and rocking would soothe him.  It killed me to see him in so much pain.  I tried everything I could: we went on two walks together and he still wouldn't fall asleep.  The only nap he took was 30 minutes long.  Barely long enough for me to do some laundry, wash the dishes, and take a shower.  I tried bouncing around the house, doing his toot exercises (making fart sounds while I press his knees up towards and into his abdomen), and swinging him upside down.  Nothing worked.  At about his 3 o'clock feeding, I made a panic call to my mother who chewed me out for being a wimp.  I swear to God she thinks that I'm the cause of his crying... "What are you doing to my baby?" she asks me :)

I counted down the minutes until Billy came home so that he could take over.  Billy usually gets home at around 6:30, but because of the stupid circus and the PETA demonstrators that come along with it, he didn't get home until after 7.  Because I nap with Desmond a lot during the day, I'm usually awake with him until his 2 or 3am feeding, which works well for me, if he naps.  Since he didn't nap all day, I went to bed last night at 11.  Billy took over taking care of Desmond and came in at around midnight to let me feed him.  After I did, Billy took him back and went into the living room to work on his essays. 

I heard Desmond crying and woke up from what I thought was about an hour and a half nap.  I looked over at the clock on the night table and it said 6:45.  I rubbed my eyes and looked again and realized that I had slept for roughly 6 continuous hours, 7.5 if you count my nap before my midnight feeding.  "Holy Shit!" I yelled.  As soon as I did, Billy walked through the door, bleary-eyed.  He had fallen asleep wearing Desmond on the couch.  He had stayed out there all night with the dogs to let me sleep as much as possible.  I fed Desmond and he stayed up for about an hour and then we slept from 7:30 in the morning until about 10:30.  This has by far been the longest I've slept without waking up to pee, or because my hips hurt, or to feed Desmond in, oh, like 8 or 9 months.  It was absolutely heaven and seriously the best gift ever.  Billy, you are by far the best boyfriend I have EVER had.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for hanging out with The Little Demon last night.  I will try my hardest this next week to be so super nice to you :)  Honestly, I appreciate it so much.

Today, there's a new bounce to my step and I'm a transformed woman.  It's AMAZING how much better I feel after a good night's sleep.  Small victories, my friends, small victories. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bathing a slippery, 9lb, crying infant...

should be required for every teenager as part of their sex ed class (under direct supervision, of course).  I think this would definitely make each and every one of them think twice about fooling around.  And for those of you thinking about becoming pregnant anytime soon, come on over to my house from around 7 to 10 at night and help me calm a screaming Desmond by giving him a warm bath.  Then make your decision to go ahead or wait a few years.

The first bath Desmond had was given by my mother, bless her.  She bathed him with ease, adroitly handling him, the water, the baby wash, and the rag.  I stood next to her, feeling rather helpless.  I tried to pay attention to what she was doing so that I could show Billy when we had to do it alone.  If it's any indication, Billy handles Desmond during bathtime; I'm in charge of pouring the water on Des. 

We use a little bath hammock that Christy gave us.  It works in the kitchen sink and in the bathroom.

My job: pouring water on Des.  My hand was totally on its way to make sure he didn't squirm away. 

I can't wait until he's old enough for showers.  Giving him baths is super stressful.  The only redeeming part of it all is holding his naked little helpless body in my arms.  Best. Thing. Ever.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My sleeping schedule

My sleeping schedule is messed up.  Since I try to take naps when Desmond does, especially in the morning, I'm super awake at night.  So, last night, at 3:13 in the morning, I'm trying to run around and sort 3-6 month-old clothes, sterilize the hand pump, finish the homework I've gotta do, and wash some dishes, when I see this:


Everyone and their husband always remark on how much Desmond looks exactly like Billy.  I always feel left out ("Hey!  I AM his mom, I'm not the nanny, and I'm not his stepmom!"), but when I see the both of them together, I realize that it really makes me happy that Desmond looks exactly like Billy (and exactly like Billy did when he was a baby, except Desmond's a bit more yellow like me). 

Here's a text I received from my brother last night:

Babies look a lot like the father for the first year of life.  It's an evolutionary thing to prevent fathers from abandoning their young. 

So, here's to hoping that Billy has evolved enough to not want to abandon his fussy child and even fussier girlfriend and here's to a messed up sleep schedule in exchange for capturing those beautiful moments.

Breastfeeding essentials

I've done several posts about breastfeeding: how good it is for babies and mamas and the challenges I've had.  I'm happy to say that breastfeeding is going a lot better for me now.  I still have a crack the size of Big Cottonwood Canyon on my left nipple (it used to be the size of the Grand Canyon) and it's still healing.  I'm still using a nipple shield (which has been a lifesaver), but I hope to stop using it soon.  It's not conducive to nursing anywhere in public because it takes a while to position it directly over the nipple.  And then, as soon as you get the baby positioned, he has a startle reflex and knocks it off your breast and you have to start over. 

Close contact nipple shield.  Can buy it on Amazon.com.  I use a small...it's got a 20mm diameter at the base.  There is an extra small, medium, large, and extra large.  

I bought three nursing bras to start: two of them are for comfort and one is for going out.  The comfortable ones are made out of a stretchy fabric and the back is like a sports bra.  


The other bra is not as comfortable, but doesn't come up as high as the comfy one so I can wear it with lower cut shirts.  

Medela nursing bra

Just today, I bought a nighttime nursing bra, since I've been sleeping in my two comfy bras and spending 24 hours a day in the same bra makes me feel kind of gross.  The nighttime bra doesn't have the front breast flaps.  You have to grab them and pull them aside, but there's a lot of give in the fabric and it's soooo comfortable to sleep in.  It's like a nightgown for your boobs.  It's great.  


I've also been using the Lansinoh nursing pads.  I have a few reusable nursing pads that Christy had given me, but because my nipples were cracked, they would stick to the fabric and it would hurt, no matter how much lanolin I would put on them.  The disposable nursing pads don't stick as much.  However, I was using just one a day.  I learned that you had to change them every time you leak because if you don't, the pads start smelling like sour milk or sourdough.  

I started using Neosporin on my nipples to help heal the cracks.  My lactation consultant recommended it and it's been really great.  I think it's sped up the healing.  She said that if I used the nipple shield, the cracks would heal within a week.  Well, 2 weeks later and they're not healed.  I think it's because even though I'm using the shield, Desmond still sucks a good amount of nipple and areola into the tip of the shield and each time he does that, it opens the crack up just a bit.  Gross, I know. 

I also always keep a burping cloth or small hand towel nearby the places I breastfeed to catch the drips and squirts of breastmilk that happen when I try to get Desmond to latch on.  They're a bra and clothing saver.  Also great if you don't particularly like the feel of liquid running down the skin pouch hanging over your pants.  

So, if you want to minimize weeks of sore breasts and having to shower hunched over because even the pressure of the water directly on your nipples hurts, make sure you read up on how to breastfeed and what signs to look for that things are not going well.  And if you hurt or are in doubt, consult someone (LLL leader, lactation consultant, your doctor/midwife).  You'll be so so so much happier that you did. 

Open Letter to Desmond: Weeks 5 and 6

Dear Desmond,

Boy, do you hate your car seat.  There have been several times this past week where I have considered walking a few miles to wherever just so that I didn't have to be in the same car, alone, with you.  I love you to death but my goodness!  You've got a pair of lungs on you.  When Billy and I go somewhere together, I sit in the backseat next to you and try my hardest to divert your attention from whatever it is that's bothering you.  Sometimes it works...other times, not so much.  :)

You're still fussing a lot, but now we know exactly how to placate you.  Every night, I or your dad put you in a sling or a wrap and walk up and down the driveway with you.  Sometimes, if you are especially fussy before 10pm, we take you and the doggies out for a long walk until you quiet down.  The fact that the days are getting cooler scares the crap out of me since walking around the neighborhood when it's snowy and icy out will be next to impossible. 

Not looking forward to putting Desmond in winter clothing.  They're so bulky!  

You have been getting really big boogers.  Well, big for a baby.  Most of the time, you love getting your nose sucked by the little bulby booger-sucker thing.  When I do it, you gasp and look shocked for a second and then relax.  You also started making some eye goobers.  Your baby acne is subsiding, but there's still a few left and when I stare at your sleeping face (which is a lot of the time), I have this insatiable urge to pop them...but I don't.  

My hair hasn't fallen out noticeably...yet.  My mom says that once your baby makes eye contact with you, that's when your hair starts falling out.  I think you have made genuine eye contact with me.  Initially, you'd look at me in the eyes for only a second or two and move onto my hair (your favorite thing to look at.  I know because anytime someone with dark hair holds you, like my brother Sergio or my friend Suzi, you just stare and stare and stare).  Now, however, you look directly into my eyes for more than a few seconds.  

And then you smile.  And then my heart melts.  You usually smile when I talk to you in a high-pitched mommy voice.  You open and close your mouth as if you're trying to talk back to me.  It's amazing how silly little things like that make me want to call everyone I know and bore them with the minutiae of our days together.  On the other hand, there are some times that I feel like calling my mom and bribing her to come back and stay with me so that I could get some rest.  

I look at your pictures of you when you were just a few days old and I get tears in my eyes because you're so much bigger already!  It's amazing how time flies and how fast you grow.  Your hair has been falling out on the top but has grown more in the back.  You really look like an old man.  Another person today mentioned how they wanted to call you Benjamin.  That makes three people who think you look like a Benjamin.  Must be the whole Benjamin Button connection. 

I am starting to think that you look more like this guy:

Detective Andy Bellefleur from True Blood.  Both he and Desmond have the same male-pattern baldness going on.

My poor baby's hair!  In Colombia, they shave babies' heads so that their hair can grow back in fuller and more luxurious (I guess).  They do the same thing in other parts of the country.  My Thai friend Woot just shaved his 5 1/2-month-old's head.  

Today you had your first golden-yellow turd curds in weeks!  I was so excited, I almost passed out.  I also realized today that a little bit of coffee goes a long way to help me get through the day.  I bought my first ever coffeemaker (15 bucks at Smith's) and two bags of starbucks coffee.  I make a pot, pour the coffee into an ice cube tray, and then put the ice cubes into a glass filled half with regular milk and half with chocolate milk.  It's so effing delicious.  And that little bit of coffee does the trick.  

You are starting to go a little bit longer in between feedings.  A few weeks ago, I fed you every 3 hours.  This past week, you went 3.5-5 hours in between feedings!  I sometimes worry that you're not getting enough to eat, but you seem to be growing out of your clothes, so you must be growing well.  




Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9 months of payback?

This past week has been really great.  We took Desmond to his first concert: Boyz II Men at the Utah State Fair.  We went to the Avenues Street Fair and also to the Greek Festival (where, unfortunately, they charged us 40 something dollars for 2 trays of Greek food).  Desmond behaved really well and I think enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of all the festivities.  We also managed to squeeze in buying a car as well!  Here's the new addition to the family:

2007 VW Passat Wagon

We drove all the way down to Provo to buy it.  I've only been to Provo once before and I hope it's the last time I go.  Desmond cried pretty much all the way from SLC, about a 45 minute drive.  It was torture.  I guess he didn't believe in "Happy Valley" either.  

Anyhow, the state fair is something to behold.  What's not to love about the smell of funnel cakes and pig poop, the abundance of young men wearing wranglers and belt buckles, women with sparkly belts riding rodeo-style on horses, cheap chotchkes for sale, and more than a few slightly overweight women with too much makeup and in too little clothes walking around in booty shorts and heels.  *sigh*  There's nothing quite like it.

Anyhow, we went strictly to watch Boyz II Men...and eat a funnel cake.  It was awesome.  By the time we got there, there were no more seats left, but we hung out around the periphery and could hear them just fine.  Billy, Baby D and I were jamming out to "Motown Philly," the perennial end-of-school song "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday," and  we belted out "I'll make love to you" to each other.  Seriously, picture how funny the scene is: two people in their late twenties at the Utah State Fair holding corn dogs and funnel cakes, the guy is sporting a pregnant belly (from wearing Desmond) and they're slow dancing all junior high style.  It's no wonder we were getting the weirdest looks from everyone.  There were several people that remarked on Billy wearing Desmond.  I'm sure they had never seen a man wear his infant in a wrap.  One woman even came up and asked if Desmond was real.  As if Billy would just be carrying around a baby doll.

At the Greek Festival, one woman came up to Billy while he was wearing Des and, without looking up at him, pulled the fabric from over Desmond's sleeping face and touched him!  Can you imagine?  When people reach out to touch the baby when I'm wearing him, I automatically stiffen and step back.  What the hell are they thinking?  I want to reach out and give these ladies (because it's always women who do it) a good ol' nipple twist to see how they like their important bits being touched.  The funny thing is that while I was pregnant, only a few people ever touched my belly.  I had braced myself for the rude onslaught of belly touching, but it never happened.  There were a few women at the Hispanic Market that touched my belly and one gypsy woman in Lithuania pressed a few roses on my belly and gave them to me (scared the crap out of me until I realized that she was blessing the baby or something).

Every time Billy wears Desmond, a woman will turn to me, wink, and say, "Serves them right!  You spent 9 months pregnant and now he gets to feel what it's like."  I laugh and go along, but the truth is that wearing Desmond provides Billy with much needed bonding time with his son.  As soon as he gets home from work, Billy will put on the wrap and hang out with Desmond.  It warms my heart that my amazing baby daddy would step out in public looking like a pregnant man and not give a damn.

For your viewing and listening pleasure, here's some old-school feel-good music to make your day that much better:





Friday, September 10, 2010

Fancy bags...

Several times a year, I do an assessment in my head about what I would take with me if my house were burning down (in no order of importance): Desmond, the dogs, my laptop, and pictures.  I just did another reassessment and have added one more thing to my list: my diaper bags. 

We have two bags: one's a manper bag and the other one is a much fancier bag.  The manper bag we got as a shower gift.  It's made out of recycled plastic and it's orange with a brown interior.  This is the bag we use when Billy and I are out and about and he has to hold Desmond's stuff. 

However, when I have to hold a bag, I hold this:

This was a gift from my little brother John and his girlfriend, Katie.  Katie is a designer at Kate Spade, so she gets major hookups.  Beside my laptop and my engagement ring, this is probably the most expensive thing I own.  John and Katie lovingly shipped it in this huge box and inside the box was this diaper bag in another bag, like how expensive shoes come in a bag.  

So, thank you, John and Katie, for giving me what is probably the fanciest gifts I've ever received.  I feel really posh when I wear it and wish I had fancier things to go to.  Hmmm...now that John lives in Brooklyn with Katie, maybe they could take me and Des out for a night on the town where I could wear a dress and maybe some heels and this bag.  Just a thought.

Too cool for me...ah, to be young again :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9 products for new mommies that I love!

Desmond is officially over 1 month old.  I'm finally getting into the swing of things with Desmond: I can anticipate his feedings and can generally read his hunger cues; I've become adept at changing his diaper at 3:45 in the morning with only a very dim nightlight to shed light on the process; I can put him into a sleepy wrap without Billy's help; and I can handle him without fearing that his head is going to flop off.  Things are a hundred times easier than they were 4 weeks ago (just like everyone said).  However, there are some products that if I didn't have them, my life would definitely be almost as tough as it was back then. 

1)  I can't iterate how important the sleepy wrap is to my sanity.  I wear it when I'm at home constantly.  In the morning (OK, early afternoon) when Desmond and I finally stagger out of bed, I change him, hang out with him until he needs to be fed, and then plop him into the sleepy wrap.  Desmond is what we like to call a "substantial needs" baby: not yet "high needs" but not yet "good" baby.  He fusses the most when he has to poop or pass gas, which seems like he needs to do just about anytime he's awake.  I would say that he sleeps 15-18 hours in one day.  Half the time he's awake, he is fussing.  He will, all of a sudden, screeeeeaaaam and clench his fists and turn red in the face and bring his legs in.  The only surefire way to stop his fussing when he has to poop or has gas is to nurse him or to put him in the wrap if it's been to close to his previous feeding.  I walk up the driveway to get the mail and come back and he's out.  It's fantastic!  I would highly recommend the sleepy wrap to anyone at all, but especially those mothers with substantial needs babies.



2) V-8 V-fusion is made of 100% juice and has 1 whole serving of fruits and vegetables in each can.  It is 170  calories per can and is made of things like strawberries, bananas, carrots, beets sweet potatoes, grapes, and oranges.  I usually have 1 can while I'm nursing in the afternoon and the rest of the day, I'll drink water.  I also keep a bag of nuts and dried fruit (from Costco) within arms reach for a handy snack that I could eat one-handed. 
3) I don't know what it's called, but it's this blanket-type thing that's about 2ft x 1ft and has a fuzzy side and a plastic side.  We use it for our late night diaper changes.  It was given to us by our friend Sara.  I guess it's the same thing as a changing mat, but this one has a dual function: the plastic side can be easily wiped off (Desmond likes to pee when you take his diaper off and his farts are sometimes sharts) while the fuzzy side can be used to soak up pee spots in the bed. 

4) Wipes warmer.  I know some people think they're a waste of money and they complain about the warmer drying out the wipes, but Desmond wiggles and fusses less when the wipes are warm.  It's especially nice when I'm doing changes in the middle of the night and Desmond is kind of groggy.  Before the warmer, Desmond would startle awake the second the cold wipes touched his poor bum.  I try to put myself in Desmond's socks: I would HATE cold wipes against my privates, especially after being woken up from a food coma. 

5) Gumdrop pacifier.  I was really hesitant to get Desmond a pacifier because I didn't want him to have any nipple confusion.  I already was struggling with breastfeeding, I didn't want to make it any worse for myself and for Desmond.  However, Desmond would scream bloody murder when we put him in the car seat.  On the short(ish) trips up to the U, he would scream the whole way and then automatically quiet down the second I took him out of the car and held him.  The whole crying-baby-in-moving-car scene is exactly the thing that made me never want to have kids when I was younger.  It makes me super nervous to be in the car with him; it gives me anxiety any time I know I have to go somewhere.  It's so bad, it's gotten to the point that I won't go anywhere unless I have to if Billy's not driving and I'm not sitting in the back seat next to Desmond.  So, I went to Lactation Station and told the lady who worked there of my carseat woes and she recommended the gumdrop pacifier.  This is not your run-of-the-mill pacifier.  The "regular" pacifiers have a sort of flattened nipple shape; the gumdrop has a sort of cylindrical, circular shape that helps babies not have any nipple confusion and that minimizes orthodontic problems.  Desmond does not like it, but accepts it if he's hankering for some sucking action.  We hardly use it; we whip it out only when he's inconsolable and he's not yet ready for a feeding and in the car. 

Get the gumdrop pacifier at Lactation Station here in Sugarhouse or at http://www.gumdroppacifier.com/

6) Fuzzibunz Diapers. These diapers are spectacular!  They cost a pretty penny (around 18 bucks a pop) but are so worth it.  To start our cloth diaper wardrobe,  we bought a bunch of the actual cloth diaper inserts to put in the covers (we bought 6 bummiez and thirsties covers).  For our baby shower, Julie, a dear friend of Billy's mom, was super generous and got us 6 Fuzzibunz diapers.  Once Desmond was born and she found out that he was a boy, she bought us 6 more diapers in different shades of blue!  The reason why we love Fuzzibunz is because they're all-in-one, meaning that you stick a fuzzy insert into the lining of the diaper and the baby wears it once and you put it in the pail.  We refer to the Fuzzibunz as Desmond's fancy pants diapers.  They're super soft inside, so I'm sure Desmond loves the feeling of the lining against his skin.  Finally, the poop rinses off the inside so easily!  These are by far our favorite diaper...

www.fuzzibunz.com

7) Toilet sprayer.  Totally makes it so easy to rinse off baby poops from cloth diapers.  We've had to get used to the pressure from the sprayer, but otherwise, we love it!


8)  Billy's not a big fan of it, but I love the sleeping gowns!  Trying to get Desmond into a footed sleeper:


 Trying to get this on in the middle of the night is a nightmare and takes so much time.

I so prefer the gown.  It's super easy to just pull up the "skirt," change his diaper, and then pull it down.  No buttons, snaps, or zippers to deal with.  Definitely a must for nighttime changes.


9) Finally, the book The Baby Book by William Sears has been an amazing resource.  A few nights ago, I was reading the chapter on fussy babies and one of the things it said to do was to grab your baby by the hips and swing him upside down, swinging him side to side, slowly, like a pendulum.  It definitely helped to quiet Desmond down, so we'll add it to our repertoire of wearing him and patting him on the back to help him mellow out. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baby Zoolander

More than a few people have commented on the looks of my Little Demon.  I call him my little Lizard Monkey Man. 

When Desmond was just a few days old, all of his newborn pants fit exactly like this.  We would have to roll the pants at the top and at the bottom.  

Other people have said (and I kind of agree) that Desmond looks like the old-man baby from Benjamin Button.  

However, the best comparison I have heard so far is that Baby D looks like Zoolander.  


Which is why we're (OK, not WE, but I'm) thinking about dressing Des up as this for Halloween:


Using this costume (without the top, of course):


If there is a Zoolander 2, I'm totally going to send this audition video in (Desmond is 10 days old in this video and already a budding actor):
video

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lullabies that work!

I only know a handful of lullabies: 2 are in French, there are a few English ones, and a few are in Spanish (but I only know like a third of the words of those lullabies: one is about a brown duck, another about some baby chicks, and the last about a woman who gets married to an "enanito").  So, most of what I sing to Desmond are made up lullabies set to famous tunes (for example, when we change his diaper, I sing "the Pet Show" to the tune of "the loveboat.")  Desmond likes Michael Jackson songs.  We dance together to Billie Jean and it helps him poop and burp.

However, Desmond's favorite lullaby is this Bollywood version of Michael Jackson's epic song, Thriller:

In the spirit of applying to MBA programs...smart-assery at its best

Billy is currently applying to several MBA programs across the country.  He has devoted countless hours to studying for and taking the GMAT, researching programs, and writing essays.  This is his third time applying to MBA programs: the first time he applied was in 2006.  He applied to 4 different schools and got rejected at each and every one of them.  A complete FAIL, right?  Well, not really.  He ended up staying in Utah for a few more years and meeting me, so it all worked out in the end.

He made the mistake of applying without having the necessary requirements for business school (he had limited work experience, a lackluster essay, and wasn't even sure why he wanted to go to business school, which was apparent in his interview).  The second time he applied, he got into Tulane University.  He was supposed to enroll last fall.  However, one thing led to another, we fell in love, and he decided in May to stay to allow me to complete my PhD.  Things ended up working out in the end: he bought Higher Ground Learning, which will end up boosting his resume even more, making him a more competitive candidate for the programs he's applying to. 

One of the first schools he ever applied to was Cornell University.  Unfortunately (but fortunately for me and baby D), he didn't get in.  So he wrote this in response (he wrote it to Duke as well, but Duke didn't respond):

 December 21, 2006

Liz Riley Hargrove
The Duke MBA Daytime
Office of Admissions
The Fuqua School of Business
Duke University
1 Towerview Drive, Box 90104
Durham, NC 27708-0104

Dear Liz:

The rejections committee at The Thomas Household has met to comprehensively
review your rejection letter for my admission to The Duke MBA class of 2009.
Regretfully, after a careful review and consideration of your rejection letter, we
are unable to accept your rejection of my application.

We appreciate the time and effort that was taken to review my application and to
complete the rejection letter. This was a difficult decision for us, as competition
to deny my admission to MBA programs was especially rigorous this year.
Unfortunately, due to the unusually high volume of rejection letters we received
this year, the committee was forced to accept rejections from some fine
institutions.

I thank you for your effort to reject my application to The Duke MBA and wish you
the very best of luck in your future rejection letters. I’ll look forward to receiving
an acceptance letter shortly.

Sincerely yours,

William Thomas
Duke MBA Class of 2009

This letter elicited a response from the dean of admissions who personally called Billy and had a long conversation with him where he gave him some advice and pointers on his application and implored him to apply again in the future.  I guess being a smartass can get you places...sometimes. 

On being a first-time mom and grad student...it IS possible!

I have no idea how many posts I've written complaining about how difficult my life is.  I think every other post is just me whining "blah blah blah my life is so hard blah blah" about pregnancy and motherhood.  It's a wonder anybody reads this blog ever.  Well, I've decided that from now on, I'll try to limit the whining to a minimum but still be absolutely up front and honest about my crazy and mundane experiences (disclaimer: today was the first day that I've actually felt really happy.  Giddy, even.  I'm hoping that my hormone imbalance has balanced out and that I'm back to my chipper old self pre-getting-knocked-up.  Either that or I'm experiencing some severe mood swings.)

When I first found out I was pregnant, my first thought was "Crap.  How am I going to finish my PhD?"  Ok...I lie.  My first thought when I found out I was pregnant was "Crap.  My mom's going to kill me" and then I thought about finishing my PhD.  At the time, I was just wrapping up my master's project and had graduated with an MSPH (masters of science in public health).  I was riding the higher education wagon and loving every minute of it.  I decided to pursue a PhD because I wanted a career in research (hopefully in reproductive and perinatal epidemiology).  I guess sex and pregnancy were fascinating to me looooong before I ever conceived.  Fancy that.  I pretty much love learning.  Counting pre-school and my brief stint in law school, I have been in school for 22 of the last 29 years.  I love it.  If I could, I would be a perpetual student and just learn, learn, learn and never work.  But alas, applying to graduate programs every few years is such a bore, so I guess I'll have to finish at a PhD.  :)

Anyhow, pre-Nachmond (Nacho/Desmond), I was taking course loads of 13-16 credit hours.  I wanted that PhD and I wanted it before I turned 32, dammit!  That meant taking a certain amount of credit hours each semester and hoping that my dissertation wouldn't take longer than 2 years to complete.  I had it all planned out: I would take 6 credit hours this fall semester and 9 in the spring, when Desmond was old enough to be left in the care of other people for longer than 2 hours.  I remember telling this to a good friend of mine in the Division and she told me to forget it...I shouldn't sign up for ANY hours in the fall because it would just be too much with a new baby.  "I'll think about it," I'd say.  But secretly, I was stubborn and knew that I had no choice but to keep with my plan in order to stick to my original timeline.  So, I signed up for 6 credit hours. 

Here's how it's been working so far.  Every Monday and Friday, I have to make the trek up to the University, a 20-minute drive from my house.  On Mondays, I have to make it up to school by 11am for a meeting with my mentor for my research practicum and then I have a work meeting at 1 (I'm still working 10 hours a week as a research assistant.  What?  I've sweat and toiled and worked really hard on this project...PLUS, I'm getting data for my dissertation from it).  On Fridays, I'm up at the school by 11am for my PhD seminar class that lasts one hour.  I've also signed up for a 2 credit-hour independent study class that I could do on my own time.  How do I do all of this with a one-month old?

Not so easy.  I'm incredibly lucky that the Division of Public Health at the U is so supportive of me and the fact that I've just had a baby.  I cannot leave Desmond alone until I start supplemental bottle feeding (with pumped breast milk, of course).  I won't start pumping and bottle feeding until after Des is 6 weeks old.  Until then, I bring him with me to meetings and to class.  I have to time my mornings at home to make sure that I have enough time to feed him and get myself together before we leave.  That way, he's more likely to spend the whole time at school sleeping.  I carry him in a sling in class, so that at any sign of frustration, hunger, discomfort, etc, I can try to soothe him or walk out of class and nurse him if necessary (I haven't yet mastered the art of breastfeeding in general, much less in public). 

On Fridays, Billy goes into work at 10 so that he could watch Desmond while I get ready for class.  Once Desmond starts taking a bottle, I'll be able to drop Desmond off at Billy's work or Billy will be able to come home while I go to meetings and class.  On the other days, I'll stay at home with Desmond and when Billy gets home from work, he takes over the majority of baby duties so that I could relax a bit and get some work done.  We are extremely lucky that we can compromise so easily with childcare duties.  The fact that I don't have a "real" (read: 9-to-5) job and the fact that Billy has no boss telling him what to do makes it really easy for us to care for Desmond on our own.

Our lives are definitely busier than they were before; the fact that we had a baby hasn't slowed us down one bit.  And although things were overwhelmingly difficult the last few weeks, things are getting better.  We are getting used to the fact that we don't "sleep" anymore, we nap; that we sometimes sleep in baby pee and spit-up; that almost every moment that Desmond is awake, he's crying; that we spray poopy water out of the toilet when we try to wash out Des's dirty diapers; and that I spend most of my day constantly aware of the dull pain in my breasts from breastfeeding.  But we keep on doing the things that make us happy: watching House and The Daily Show, going out for iced chais and iced mochas, taking a walk with Desmond and the dogs, and visiting with family and friends.  That helps me keep my sanity...well that and the mimosas I had for brunch this morning. 

Overall, I'm starting to enjoy motherhood.  I am finding that the most mundane and banal things that Desmond does ("he had a yellow poopy diaper/touched his toy on his own/held his own head up for 5 seconds/smiled/looked at me/burped/tooted") are the highlights of my day, yet I still try to have time for things that interest me (school) and for my baby daddy, since without him, I wouldn't be able to pursue my crazy dreams and passions (truly appreciated, Bill!) 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Open Letter to Desmond: Week 4

Dear Des,

This week you are finally able to turn your head towards sounds (usually the sound of my voice) and can follow objects (lazily) with your eyes.  You make the best spit bubbles ever.  You have this way of streeeeeetching where you arch your back so far back that your head almost touches your butt.  Your face gets super red when you do that.  It also gets super red when you scream your head off, which you have been doing increasingly more and more throughout the week.  It seems that you scream and scream and scream when you are trying to poop.  We sincerely hope that this is a phase.  We are in utter disbelief that babies don't know how to poop or fart...they have to learn how to do it.  Unbelievable.  How hard could it be?  Pushing out something that's the consistency of pesto (and looks very much like it) shouldn't be that hard to do.

I'm just starting to get the hang of things with you: feedings are going a lot better with you and you are sleeping more consistently than ever before.  Sometimes you'll even go 5 hours in between feedings!  You love looking at Pirate's face...he tries to lick you sometimes, but I won't let him get too close to your face.  Your baby acne is starting to go away but you're starting to get baby dandruff.  You've been up to the University a few times now and I'm certain that your spongy brain is soaking up all sorts of doctoral stuff, like fellowships and maternal health.  By the time you're 4, you'll be publishing your own papers.

Your abuelita HATES that we do this, but we call you the Little Demon all the time.  When we say it, she reprimands us and says, "You're not a Demon.  You've got Baby Jesus in you!"  She loves you very much and hates that she can't be here all the time with you.

You loving your abuelita...

You giving your abuelita some attitude...

Your little bum is adorable!  It kind of looks like an old-man butt, but you're filling it out quite nicely!  All that breastmilk you're gobbling up is definitely helping out.  (P.S. I know you're going to hate me one day for posting pictures of your bum on the internet, but it doesn't show your face, so it's OK!)

Old Man Butt.

My dear friend Josh sent me a congratulatory message on facebook recently.  The last sentence of his message was this:

I want something to live for that is bigger than me.

It struck something inside of me and has stayed with me for the past week.  I think that the transition between being a woman and being a mother has been so incredibly difficult that it has kept me from bonding fully with you.  That sentence has made me realize that I would do anything to protect you. My heart breaks every time you inadvertently smile at me or when you quiet down to listen to me babble to you or when your eyes light up (I think) when I lift my shirt and tell you you're about to get your "milkies."  Your life and your experiences in the future ARE bigger than me and worth protecting with every ounce of my being. 

Ramblings Overheard this week:

Dr. Stanford at one of our study meetings:
"He's such a good baby!"
Me:
"He's showing-off."

Me, to your abuelita:
"Mom, he's crying so much!  Like hours upon hours!  I'm losing my mind...please come back, please!"
Your abuelita, to me:
"No he's not.  My baby's a good baby."

While visiting Billy at work:
Emily, one of Billy's office managers:
"He's got such big hands for a baby!"
Me, to Emily, not thinking before speaking:
"He's got a big peener, too!"
Emily:
"Yeah, I bet."
Billy and I look at each other and wonder what in the hell she meant.  :)

There's something in the water

Out of the 4 people that I know were pregnant along with me, 3 of them had babies in August.  Colleen, who I know through my baby's godmama Jen, was due 2 days after me.  She had a beautiful baby girl, Luna Mae.  My little brother's girlfriend, Katie's best friend Dani (who I know strictly through her blog) had her baby 2 weeks early on the 24th, a gorgeous little girl named Ava Madelyn. 

Finally, my very own sister-in-law, Melanie, had her baby 3 weeks early!  Her due date was September 7th, but little Nico Ivan decided to make his appearance in the world on the 21st of August.

 Look at all that dark hair!  He got that from my brother but he looks just like his mom :)

Congratulations to each and every one of you amazing mommas!  It was awesome experiencing my pregnancy alongside yours...