From the monthly archives: April 2012

An ode to the Lovey. We haven’t come up with another name for it yet.

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I figured it would take longer for Gabe to grow attached to a lovey, but he seems to be well on his way already. It’s a small square of velour blanket with a frog head and arms in the center. Perfect for him to grab onto, pull into his mouth, and squeeze between his arm and his body. Does he really comprehend an attachment at this point? I have no idea. But of all his toys at the moment, this one is most certainly his favorite.

When you’re pregnant, people give you lists upon lists of things you need, things the stores only say you need, and they make sure to interject what did and didn’t work for their babies. And we all know that really, when it comes down to it, babies are individuals and just because something works for one doesn’t mean it works for another. But here are the other products that are working for us right now:

1. The Swing
We have the Fisher Price Luv U Zoo, which we picked primarily because it plugs into the wall, where most other swings run on batteries. Gabe loves his swing, and takes at least one nap in it every day. Maybe not the best habit to get into, but it’s working for us for right now. His naps seem to last longer when he’s sleeping in the swing, and the swing can soothe him when we’re too tired to keep holding or rocking him.

2. Bouncy Chair
A great way to set him down somewhere near us, and keep him semi-upright and right in the middle of the action. Michael and I use the bouncy chair quite a bit when we’re eating dinner and Gabe isn’t taking a nap. If he’s a bit fussy, we can usually get him a bit calmer with a bit of bouncing in the chair, and the vibrations help to soothe him as well.

3. Noise Machine
Recently, while Gabe and I were staying at my in-laws for the night, my mother-in-law brought out a cosleeper that she had purchased while I was pregnant. Unfortunately, Gabe was too big to use it at that point–but the sound machine that came with it has been a savior for us! We’ve attached it to his bed (right now he sleeps in his pack & play in our bedroom), and I’ll switch it to the “womb” setting when it’s bedtime. Whether it’s the womb noise itself that soothes him or just the white noise I have no idea, but it does seem to work if he’s already tired.

I’ll probably add to this list in future posts. What are some baby items that really worked for you? Which ones didn’t work at all?


 

We went over to Grandma and Grandpa’s for burgers tonight.

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And while Grandpa was working at the grill…

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Gabe was having fun in his port-a-crib. After dinner, we had cheesecake, and then Gabe got some entertainment.

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In the form of Grandpa making funny faces. Always a Gabe-pleaser.

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Smiles, laughs, and giggles. All night. Well…most of it. He does have to keep us on our toes, you know.

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When we aren’t having him test out his own toes. Forget sitting up and crawling…this baby is going to go straight to walking! With Daddy’s help, of course.


 

There’s little as sweet as a baby who’s fallen asleep nursing. I look at Gabe now, I think about how our nursing relationship has developed over the past few months, and I feel nothing but joy–that we made it work. It wasn’t remotely easy. The first few days after he was born were so hard for us both. At the hospital, seeing nurse after nurse after nurse, I was only ever confused, and never secure. Was his latch correct? Why was I in so much pain?

For every nurse who told me that the pain was normal, another nurse told me that I shouldn’t feel any pain while breastfeeding. Combine that with the general stress of becoming a new mother and overcoming the trauma of childbirth, and I was a complete wreck–so much so that, during one of our nursing sessions soon after we came home from the hospital, Gabe’s latch hurt me so badly that I sprang a nosebleed. Now, if you know anything about how the third trimester of my pregnancy went, you’ll know that by then nosebleeds were old hat to me–but it was also my breaking point. Nursing Gabe wasn’t working.

So I turned to my pump, and Gabe moved on to a bottle. I pumped every three hours at least, sometimes more, depending on Gabe’s demand. My supply kept up with him, Michael was able to aid in feeding him, and I got a break from his latch–but that didn’t mean I wasn’t miserable. For every nighttime feeding, I lay there in bed, wishing I didn’t have to pump. Once Michael went back to work, things got worse. I’d give Gabe his bottle, prepare his next bottle, set up the pump, get started…and he would start crying. He needed a diaper change. He needed another burp. He needed me, but I was tethered to the pump and could do nothing for him. So many days, my pump schedule got out of whack because I was anxiously awaiting the “perfect” times to begin pumping.

This went on for a very long and draining five weeks (was that it? Really? But I just double checked. It felt like so much longer). At a routine checkup, Gabe’s pediatrician suggested that his latch may have improved, and I should try getting him back on the breast, at the very least for my convenience and happiness. I approached the transition with fear. Would he accept me? Would he hurt me?

He didn’t hurt me. But he didn’t accept me. In fact, once I realized from the few times that I did get him to latch on again that his latch had improved and he could nurse without causing me pain, I wished that I hadn’t even tried. Because most of the time, he flat-out rejected me, refused to latch, screamed at my chest. To know that we could make it work, but to not be able to make it work, was a new kind of pain. I felt like a failure. I chastised my earlier self for giving up on our burgeoning nursing relationship so early. Maybe if I had given it more time, I wouldn’t be going through this now, I reasoned. Michael, logical husband that he is, reminded me that the me back then that turned to pumping needed to stop nursing to escape the pain. But the me that was trying to get her baby back on the breast could only feel the sting of rejection at that very moment.

But I was also resolute. I had given up before, and I would not give up now–not when I knew that we could make it work. And every resource I found online did reinforce that this kind of change could take time. I reached out and found a lactation consultant who offered her advice and wisdom. I could tell you all the things she suggested, but I couldn’t tell you what worked and what didn’t work. The only thing that seemed to really click was to change over Gabe’s bottles from Dr. Brown’s to Breastflow. The new bottle had a nipple system that required Gabe to treat it like he would the breast–that is, suction alone would not get him milk. And of course, it re-taught him how to eat properly from me.

It took about a week, but we finally got it, and at this point, Gabe has been nursing for three months. We’re now to the point where we’re comfortable and at ease with this eating thing. In fact, I’m dreading starting Gabe on solids, because our system is practically effortless–and most certainly painless–at this point. And then I get the questions from Gabe’s doctor about how long I’m planning to nurse. To be honest, I, too, was always disturbed at the thought of a toddler or young child still breastfeeding.

Then I got educated about extended breastfeeding and baby-led weaning. And I do believe it’s best, barring unforseen complications, to let Gabe decide when he wants to stop nursing. The benefits are far too great to force weaning on him before he’s ready. That may sound outrageous to you. Many things sounded outrageous to me until I became a parent. When I was younger and my mother told me that my sister and I were cloth-diapered, I responded in disgust. No way would I ever use cloth diapers! And of course, if you know me personally (and chances are very high that you do), then you know that not only do I cloth diaper Gabe, but it’s become a bit of a passion of mine. If Gabe’s taught me anything in the few months he’s been with us so far, it’s been to keep an open mind and go with the flow.

Is there anything you’ve changed your mind about since having a child (or any other event)? What are you doing now that you thought you’d never do before?