Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thank you for all of your wonderful encouragement and great advice. I'm realizing that the best thing someone can give to a struggling mama, aside from a full body massage and some sleep, is empathy. Just hearing that other people have gone through the same things and come out the other side is immensely comforting.

I'm pleased to report that the breastfeeding issues seem to have finally, finally, worked themselves out. Some things are still tricky (I know I'm supposed to start on the breast I ended on, but what happens if he finishes both breasts and wants the first one again, but only sucks for a few minutes? Do I start the next round on that one, even though it's gotten a lot more play then the other? Will that make them uneven and affect my milk supply? And when am I supposed to pump? After a feeding there's nothing left!) but after weeks of freak, I'm pleased to report that the kid is gaining weight. There was some concern for awhile - it took more than two weeks to regain his birth weight - but on Wednesday he weighed in at 10 lbs., 6 oz. He's also 2 1/2 inches longer. No wonder he eats so friggin' much. He has also made a full recovery from his scratched corneas but he doesn't seem to have learned much from the experience. I'm constantly pulling his fingers away from his eyes. This morning Matt told me that he looked down and Will was calmly sitting there with his finger jammed up underneath his eyelid.

Amanda has just run screaming from the room.

After all this you think I'd get a break but it seems that having the world's most adorable baby (next to yours of course) comes with a price, and that price is eight hours of nonstop crying. Yep, Will's got colic.

Anyone who's experienced colic has just run screaming from the room.

For those not in the know, colic is described as "extended bouts of inconsolable crying that last for three or more hours, at least three times a week, lasting approximately three months". The key phrase here would be three or more. According to my new favorite book, Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (thanks Doyce!) colic is "A burst of urgent, high-pitched screaming that can go on for hours. Each wail can last for four or five seconds, taking the baby's breath away. A lengthy pause follows while the baby catches his wind, then it starts all over again. The level can get up to about 100 decibels, about the same volume as a chainsaw or leaf blower." Or as my pediatrician put it, If you've ever dealt with colic, you understand how teenage parents do terrible things to their children.

Yep, it's that bad.

I always though that colic was just ramped up fussiness. Yeah, no. It is a bloodcurdling, skin crawling, I'mdyingI'mdyingI'mdying shriek that doesn't stop. It's called the "pain cry" because your baby looks like he's just swallowed glass. Eyes wide with panic, body either curled into a ball or tight and rigid, tears streaming down his little face... And it lasts for hours. Seriously, words cannot describe.

Luckily our doctor's office was being visited by a pediatric specialist (or as I dubbed her, The Baby Whisperer). This woman was an absolute lifesaver. She told us that doctors used to think that colic was caused by gas or some GI problem but they think it's actually caused by an underdeveloped central nervous system. In other words, some babies have a particularly hard time adjusting to life outside of the womb. (So that's why the kid didn't want to come out...) Colicky babies need to fall asleep but their little nervous systems simply won't let them. This leads to anxiety and exhaustion and desperation to find something, anything, that will help them sleep. In our case, Will becomes convinced that the only thing that will save him is the boob. Which means he's only calm when he's on the boob. Which means that he's parked at the boob. For hours.

Eight, to be precise.

That's right. On Thursday Will was on my boob for eight hours. He'd suck and suck and suck and suck until he started to fall asleep, but as soon as he'd nod off his eyes would pop wide open again. And then the wailing would begin.

For hours.

I know what you're thinking; That's insane! Just put the kid in his crib! I would never allow that! Trust me, if it came between that or throwing your child out the window, yes you would. Luckily Will doesn't have it every day. (Thank you, baby Jesus.) It also doesn't hit at night (again, thank you) and there are things that will console him (well, two things actually). At least something will calm him. Some babies, nothing will. My mother told me about a woman whose baby screamed so hard she ruptured her belly button and had to have surgery. Will's wailing is bad, but at least it's not that bad.

And things are looking up - we've now gone three days without an episode. I read The Happiest Baby On The Block when I was nannying and we've been following his technique with great success. (And downloadable white noise has saved. our. lives.) This week and the next are supposed to be the peak of the pain scream so hopefully we'll have some relief soon. In the meantime I'm catching up on a lot of TV. Seriously, this writer's strike cannot be resolved soon enough. I can't believe I'm saying this but this season's Rock of Love might be too skanky even for me. (Say, what has Bret done to his face? And where's all the pleather?!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It breaks my heart

A quick question for all who've breastfed -

Did any of you struggle with milk production? Maybe Will's just going through a growth spurt but I've had to start supplementing with formula a couple of times a day because no matter how much I feed him it doesn't seem to be enough. He'll feed for 45 minutes, drain both breasts, and still root for more. I put him back on hoping maybe there's still some milk somewhere but he just pulls and tugs and cries for milk. I try to hold him off for a bit (maybe my boobs will refill) and slap him back on, but of course the poor kid gets nothing. So I've had to supplement which kills me a little. I know it's fine but I can't escape the whole Breast Is Best thing. Hell, the formula ads even say it! I've tried to build up my milk supply by pumping after feedings but the kid drains them. At best I get 3-4 drops. (The woman from La Leche League actually told me to spoon feed him those drops. "They won't satisfy him, but the might hold him off until your breasts refill." Uh, okay. OR I could actually give my child some freaking food.) My boobs never leak, I never get those glorious battleship breasts... I've worked with a lactation consultant and a postpartum doula. All I think about is breastfeeding, all I do is breastfeed, I obsess about breastfeeding... and yet I don't make enough milk. It's upsetting.

Did any of you go through this or were you those lucky women who made milk constantly? Some people dream of winning the lottery, I dream of being someday producing enough milk to freeze...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Got blood?

A few nights ago when I was feeding Will, I looked down and saw something disturbing. Blood was oozing out of the side of my baby's mouth.

Do I even need to clarify the level of freak?

I pulled Will off, trying to figure out how he'd managed to cut himself on my boob when I noticed that it wasn't him that was bleeding, it was me. Instead of milk, my nipple was leaking blood. Will (not being one to stop a feeding NO MATTER WHAT) kept frantically rooting for the boob, which only succeeded in smearing blood all over his face. If you've ever wondered what a baby vampire would look like, I can paint the visual.

Luckily - oh so luckily - I had actually read about this. Some babies can suck so intensely that they actually pull blood. All the books say that it's perfectly normal (?!?) and as long as there's no pain you're just supposed to continue feeding.

Uh, okay.

Shoving your bloody tit back in your infant's mouth? Not something one soon forgets...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There's more where these came from!

Oh. My. God.

The parenting books would so not approve...

Needless to say, he didn't stay like this once we put him in the bath.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm with the bandanna.

Oh there's so much to talk about! Will's heartbreaking cuteness... the fact that he hasn't pooped in six days... that g-d birth story... But who cares about all that? Rock of Love is back and it's whore-ier than ever!

As most of you know, I loves my trash TV. I was hooked - nay, glued - to Season 1 of ROL. The bandannas! The backstabbing! The boobs! While I was thrilled to hear that my beloved, bedazzled Bret Michaels would be back for Round 2 ("Last season I had some Rock of Like, and plenty of Rock of Lust, but I still haven't found my Rock of Love") I was a little concerned. Would the show lose it's delicious blend of unintentional hilarity and baldfaced smut? Would its sweet, delusional frontman start playing for the cameras and lose his charm? Would every rose still have it's thorn?

No, no, and yesssss!

And the girls? Oh the girls... It always shocks me when seemingly intelligent, attractive women go on shows like this. It's not like they win anything, except perhaps an unfortunate venereal disease. (And speaking of winning, what the hell is Megan, winner of by far the best season of Beauty and the Geek, doing here?! You won $25,000! On a show that purported to be about brains! I'm so disappointed...)

FYI, I promise to post more baby pics as soon as I can figure out how to do it. And as soon as I get a nap.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

If you think I've forgotten about the whole Britney debacle, you are sadly mistaken

Where the hell is that g-d birth story?!

I know, I know, the posting has fallen a bit. (A bit?!) As I mentioned, it takes me roughly five days to get one of these things done now. My life is all about trying to keep a very, verrry fussy baby from going ballistic until his next feeding - and that's about it. This child fights sleep like nothing I've ever seen. From 3 in the morning until Matt gets home and takes Fightin' Irish off my hands, all I do all day, every day is rock and bounce and sing and swaddle and and try to shove him into the sling (you sure you don't want in? You sure?!) and beg and plead... and spend many hours feeling ridiculously sorry for myself. It's lonely, this stuff. I'm not sure what I thought it'd be like, but being trapped in the house for 20 days (again, who's counting) wasn't quite what I pictured. ("Welcome to motherhood, sweetheart.") That said, my little redhead is delicious and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world...

Except maybe at 3 am.

We've already had a bit of drama Chez Bebe. On Saturday night we had our first Emergency Room visit. On Saturday night my newborn screamed and writhed for almost FIFTEEN HOURS STRAIGHT. Before you think we're terrible parents, we went absolutely apeshit trying to figure out what was wrong. We called his pediatrician three times with no response. Finally the on-call doctor called us back and told us to get our asses to the hospital. Let me tell you, a New York City emergency room on a Saturday night is straight out of Scorsese. Gunshot victims, homeless people wandering around, screaming at the air ("They want to send me for a psych evaluation! I been drinking for four weeks straight! I don't even know how I got here!"). Elderly patients were piled next to each other like corpses, the halls lined with people on stretchers, moaning... Yeah, exactly the place you want to bring your newborn. Luckily they took pity on us and bumped us to the front of the list. Our doctor was great and straight out of Central Casting for Hot Young Doc (pulled back dreds, tasteful tats). He was incredibly gentle with Will and tested everything, including his eyes. I almost stopped him (why would his eyes cause him to curl into a ball and writhe?) which is why it's best I didn't consider med school; turns out that my little man managed to scratch both his corneas with his little baby nails. According to the baby ophthalmologist it's one of the most painful things you can do (you cornea has more nerve endings than any other place on your body) but after a few doses of antibiotic ointment and loads of Infants Tylenol, he's doing fine. It wasn't fun but hey, at least I got out of the house.

Oops - the creature is stirring. Time for boob. More when I can!



Oh man...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Was blind but now I see

Welcome to the world of BETTER PLACE. After two weeks of misery and self-defeat, I'm back in fighting form. And by "fighting form" I mean "zzzzzz..."

Sorry if I worried anybody with my earlier, hormone-induced rant. Clearly one should not blog while freaking. Thanks for your great, great advice and reassurance. You guys are so smart. And gorgeous. Have I mentioned gorgeous?

I met with a postpartum doula yesterday and I'm feeling all kinds of better. It definitely weren't cheap (I've gotta get into the doula racket) but seriously, best money I ever spent. So after fourteen days of weeping and flailing and gnashing of teeth, what was the problem?

Nothing. Turns out I'm fine. How embarrassing is that?

You'd think I'd have learned a thing or three, being a nanny for so many years but, eh, not so much. I was under the mistaken impression that whenever Will cried or rooted for the breast he must be hungry. So I'd feed him. And feed him and feed him and feed him. Needless to say, after three-hour sessions at the Boobtown Buffet (followed by hospital grade pumping), my titties were starting to squeak. Because he would still be fussy even after all that time at the boob, I assumed I wasn't producing enough milk to meet his neigh-on-10-pound needs. And let me tell you, a sore, sleep deprived, filled-to-the-brim-with-grade-A-anxiety Ali is not pretty. Has anyone seen that clip of a self-medicated Paula Abdul weeping hysterically over having to design costumes for the Bratz movie? Before I gave birth I thought it was hysterical. Now, I completely understand.

Among a myriad of other useful things, Wonderdoula showed me how to get him to latch without pain, how to put him in the sling (I HAVE ARMS AGAIN!) and helped me formulate a plan so I can actually consider leaving the house. (14 days. But who's counting?)

So yes friends, I am back. I'm still working on fumes but at least I'm here. And here is good.

Birth story to follow!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baby blues suuuuck

Sorry I've disappeared but I seem to be trapped in some unidentifiable level of Hell. Scratch that. It's quite identifiable - Breastfeeding. I'm working with a lactation consultant and a post-partum doula to try and figure out why it's not working. Not to be a total downer (sleep deprivation makes me weepy) but not being able to do something that's so fundamentally part of being a woman makes me feel like a complete failure. It's totally irrational I know - breastfeeding has little to do with good parenting (my mother didn't breastfeed me and she's the best parent in the world). Still, lacking Mother's Milk, as it were, hits hard and deep.

Did anyone else go through this?

More when I'm in a better place.