Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Big Week

It has been a big week at our house.  Here are the highlights:

(1) Sunday: HP decided to take a pacifier.  He doesn't always take it, but he has put himself to sleep with it at nap time on more than one occasion.  (We don't offer it to him unless he is napping.)

(2) All week: HP is mastering sucking his thumb/fingers.  These first two are big because it means that he can soothe himself to sleep instead of nursing to sleep.  Amazing.

(3) Tuesday: HP slept through the night.  We put him down around 7pm and we had to wake him at 5:40 so we could catch the bus for me to go to the dentist.  I couldn't believe that the time he decides to sleep through the night is the morning we have to wake him up.  Lame!  Since then he's just been waking up once a night.  Hopefully he'll permanently drop that last feeding in the next month or so.  For now I'm just glad to know that it is possible.

(4) Friday: HP took a bottle (!!!).  I have mentioned in the past that he has refused to take a bottle.  To be fair to him, we haven't been pushing the issue very hard.  Most of the information I read suggested that someone besides the mother offer the bottle, so we had mostly been trying when Henry was home.  Since Henry leaves for work the same time HP wakes up and then doesn't get home until 1-2 hours before HP's bedtime when he is semi-fussy, there were few opportunities during the week to give the bottle a good try.  I would try myself during the week, but honestly, I found it frustrating to pump milk, try and feed it to him, have him refuse, and then clean the pump/bottles.

On Friday I decided that we needed to be making more of an effort.  I want to get out of the house without HP sometimes, and if I want to make that happen, I need to commit to working on the bottle.  He had taken two long naps in the morning and was in a good mood.  I pumped an ounce, tried to feed it to him, and instead of just mouthing the bottle and letting the milk dribble down his face like usual, he latched right on!  Amazing!  Then I pumped two more ounces and he took that no problem as well.  I pumped a little more so Henry could feed him when he got home, and he downed it once again.

Yesterday morning I pumped a full bottle and left to grocery shopping solo while Henry watched him for a couple of hours.  The weather was cool and perfect for a bike ride to the newly opened package-free grocery store.  It was glorious.  HP was fighting his nap when I got home, but he had taken the full bottle.  Success!  Now I need to think about what I will do with my newfound freedom.  Perhaps take a yoga class once a week?

(5) All week: HP's been sleeping in his own room.  We made the switch on Friday the 7th and haven't looked back since.  Henry and I love having our room back.  I don't regret co-sleeping for the first two and a half months of HP's life, but I am happy for him to be in his own room now.  I think we all sleep better because we're not waking each other up in the middle of the night.  For further evidence of that point, please refer to point number three.

(6) Monday, Friday, and Saturday: HP took three long naps this week: one for 3.5 hours on Monday morning, 2.5 hours on Friday morning, and 2 hours on Saturday afternoon.  I'm sure there are many children for whom this is the norm, but HP has had a lot of trouble sleeping for long periods of time.  He has been taking several (usual 4-5) short naps instead of fewer, longer naps.  The long naps are great for him because he is so much better rested and great for me because I can accomplish a lot when I have a large chunk of time.  Before I felt like my whole day was spent trying to get him to go to sleep, starting a project, then abandoning it a few minutes later when he woke up, which was no fun for either of us.  Here's to hoping those naps become more regular as time goes on.

I thought it would be easier to get HP on a regular napping schedule, but it's been a real challenge.  I stopped worrying about it after HP's two-month well-check when our pediatrician said that it's complete normal for his sleeping to be erratic during the day at this point.  She said that he should fall into a consistent pattern around four months, and not to worry as long as he seems happy.  Hearing that relieved a lot of stress for me.  I was starting to feel like a bit of a failure when he wasn't napping well during the day, despite my best efforts.

All in all, it's been a great week with lots of big accomplishments.  We're very proud of you, HP!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lunch Date with Dad: Failure x2

For the second week in a row, HP and I have had lunch with Henry.  Last week we met him at the office so he could introduce HP to his coworkers.  He was an angel the whole bus ride there.  Before we went up to his floor I nursed him and changed him to try and prevent any unnecessary meltdowns.

Turns out there was no stopping the meltdown train.

As soon as we walked into the building, he started crying.  I tried to feed him again, but he wasn't interested since he was already full.  My theory is that he hated going into the cold building after being sweaty from being pressed up against me in the wrap in the heat of the day.  Regardless, he made quite the scene.  His screams echoed throughout the stairwell as we made our exit.  When I put him in the wrap so we could head to the park across the street to eat lunch, he immediately quieted down.  I should have thought to try that sooner, but it's hard to think straight with a crying child in your ear.  Once we left the building and arrived in the park he was sweet as could be, cooing and smiling on the blanket.  Little stinker.

Take two of "operation eat lunch with dad" happened yesterday.  I was headed to Whole Foods to get ingredients for Henry's birthday cookies.  (I hate making cookies.  Hate it.  I find the whole process incredibly tedious.  But Henry loves cookies, so for his birthday every year I make them.)  I had the bright idea to have Henry meet us at Whole Foods for lunch since his office is nearby and there's a nice place to sit outside and dine.

Once again, HP was on his best behavior the whole bus ride and while we shopped before his dad arrived.  When we were ready to eat lunch?  Nothing could stop the crying/fussing.  We had to take turns holding him and walking him as the other diners looked on.  Not exactly what I had in mind in terms of quality family time.  As we left I told him that maybe we probably shouldn't try and have lunch together again until HP is 12.  Or older.

When we arrived at the bus stop the kid fell asleep, slept most of the ride home, then was alert and happy.  I think he was overstimulated, tired, and couldn't put himself to sleep.  We left for Whole Foods right after he woke up from a nap so I thought we'd be safe, but clearly it was still too much.

I want to respect his need to nap at home and get the rest he needs, but I also need to leave the house on occasion.  It's been a challenge for me to find the balance of meeting both his needs for sleep and my need for social interaction.  I know it will be easier when he's older and on a more regular nap schedule, but for now?  It's hard.  He is currently in a pattern of taking several short naps instead of a few long ones, which makes it even more difficult to find those windows of opportunity to leave the house.  We're working on it.

I remind myself that this phase will be gone in the blink of an eye.  For now, we'll eat lunch with Henry on the weekends.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Postpartum Body

I am now more than two months postpartum.  Honestly?  The recovery has been easier than I expected, but that could be because I had heard horror stories from other women and expected the worst.  I was fortunate in that I didn't tear, which is a miracle considering I pushed for just under three hours.

Adjusting to my new body has been a process.  I'm still a few pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I am comfortable with where I am.  I was at the lowest weight I think is healthy for my body prior to conceiving, so adding on a few pounds?  No big deal.  That's not to say I wouldn't eventually like to get back to where I was, but I'm not in a rush--especially since I'm breastfeeding.  When I look in the mirror, I feel comfortable with what I see.

Well, comfortable until I look at my midsection.  It's the one part of my body that still doesn't feel like "me" after giving birth.  I look down and think, "Whose body is this?!"  I used to have a fairly deep innie belly-button that Henry referred to as the "bottomless pit". After giving birth it might more accurately be called the "deep, dark, pit of despair where nothing that enters can ever return"since the mounds of jiggly, stretch-marked flesh now well up around it instead of the taut-skin of my former life.  Sigh.

Please don't misinterpret what I am saying.  I fully recognize how amazing it is that I was able to grow, carry, and give birth to a child.  I am in awe every time I think of it.  I will happily accept a little more jiggle for the joys (and frustrations) that come with motherhood.  That said, I need to process what happened to my body and how I am handling those changes.  I generally consider myself to be someone with a positive body image.  (A big thank you to those who have reinforced what's important in life: my parents, husband, and friends who all value people for who they are and not what they look like.)

Pregnancy, childbirth, and life postpartum have required me to intentionally and continually check-in with myself to see how I am coping with all the changes occurring in my body.  How do I feel about gaining 40 pounds during pregnancy (yes, 40)?  How do I feel about having feet so swollen that the act of standing forms rolls of fluid-filled flesh around my ankles?  How do I feel about the absence of abominable muscles post-birth that made it feel like I could touch my organs?  How do I feel about my stretch-marked abdomen?  Accepting my body for what it is right now, not just what it could be, is a constant effort.

Here are the numbers.  (I hesitate to even write out this part, because I think it can be misinterpreted.  The reason  I decided to go ahead is because I have found it so helpful when other bloggers have shared their weight gain/loss journey during pregnancy and postpartum.  For me, it reinforced the fact that every body and pregnancy is completely different and that we need to embrace and accept how our individual bodies cope with growing, and recovering from growing, a human being.)  I gained 40 pounds while pregnant.  I erroneously assumed that I would only gain 25-30 pounds since I am active and eat well, but that clearly was not the case.  I was right on track to gain 30 pounds until the third trimester hit, then I started gaining two pounds a week.  I found it a little worrisome, but what can you do?  Since I wasn't eating junk, I wasn't overeating, and I was still active, so I tried not to stress about the weight gain too much (which is admittedly easier said than done).  

Turns out a lot of what I put on in the last trimester was water weight.  I lost 27 pounds in the first week, some of which was obviously HP and the placenta, but a lot of which was excess fluid.  I remember getting out of the shower one day after giving birth and telling Henry, "I have supermodel legs!"(which clearly, I don't).  I knew my feet were retaining a lot of water, but I didn't realize how much my legs were as well.  I was shocked to be able to see my calf muscles after they had disappeared for months.  Silly as it sounds, I also remember exclaiming, "Look at how skinny my feet are!  I don't think my feet have ever been this skinny!"

Since that initial drop in the first week, I have been losing a little bit more than pound every two weeks, which seems like a reasonable and healthy rate of loss.  At ten weeks postpartum, I have seven pounds to go to be at my pre-pregnancy weight.  I am not "dieting", but I am very conscious of eating whole, unprocessed foods instead of junk (although I do indulge on occasion since I believe that food truly is one of life's greatest pleasures).  I do well in the morning and evening, but struggle to sit down and eat a meal for lunch.  I feel pulled in so many directions, that by the time Henry comes home I realize I have only snacked throughout the day.  I need to be better about that, since eating a real meal at midday as a significant impact on my patience and mood by the time the evening arrives.

Finding time to exercise has been a bigger challenge for me than eating healthy.  I do not want to exercise to speed my weight loss, but to feel more like the old me.  HP and I have started taking walks (almost) every morning.  Sometimes they are only 15 minutes, and sometimes we go as long as an hour.  Most of the time we around out for 20-30 minutes.  I miss doing yoga.  I miss biking.  I miss the way I feel after lifting weights.  I know I could be doing all of those things, but I am struggling to fit it into my day.  HP does not have a regular nap schedule at this point and requires a lot of help to go to sleep.  When he does nap I feel like there are twenty things I need to accomplish around the house, or I just want to sit, read, and collect myself.  Using that time to exercise has not happened.  I am hopeful that once he gets into a regular routine I can set aside one of his naps to do a yoga video or lift weights.  Right now I am giving myself grace as I adjust to caring for a child.

So that's where I am, for now.