28 November 2010

how we are

So how are we?

Here I am with a beautiful miracle of a baby- yes, as expected, sleep deprived, yes, time deprived. Yes, challenged beyond belief at this astonishing little being who can only communicate in at least one language I do not know.

She smiles in her sleep and my heart melts, and I did not expect to be cracked so wide open, and feel SO TOTALLY VULNERABLE to all of my own feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, incompetence... I can now change a diaper masterfully, thank you, but there are so many parts of this that I simply make up all day long, every day and I do not feel I am gaining on it.

I am torn to pieces when Della cries and I cannot console her, especially while she is nursing... but Doug is masterful, patient, and is able to help her calm when I cannot. Sometimes I can stay very calm for longer than I would ever have expected but come evening time, well, all bets are off.

I hate that I don't know what to do, how to help, what it means, or how BAD it is for her-- really hungry? tired and can't let herself sleep? just frustrated? maybe just blowing off steam?
We do the happiest baby stuff- swaddling, really loud shushing, swaying, etc, and it does work (hurrah Dr. Karp) but it is hard to do that for hours. No idea how to keep her settled and still(?) once settled with noise and motion. Ideas are welcome.

Breast feeding is going fine and I am so glad it is working. Della was up over 9lbs this past week at her 2 week appointment which is great and is clearly thriving. But it is a little challenging just by being so frequent and so lengthy- an hour of feeding every two hours, with some multi hour marathons, and of course I know it will get better as she gets older but right now it is hard hard. We do get occasional longer stretches that are lovely (thanks Doug!) and I sleep when I can.

I am already dreading pumping, trying to get her to take a bottle (already failed on our first attempt), going back to work, being away from her at all.

Several of you asked about how I am writing at all in the new baby vortex-- I write by writing fast and not editing, stolen time during Doug's baby wrangling (he is singing and dancing with her in the kitchen)..

We are all wishing we had more time here, to just be, to settle in, but I have a month or so before I have to go back to work
and Doug goes into the office tomorrow
and Della will be 3 weeks on tuesday, how is that possible?

So things are amazing, wonderful, great, difficult, teary (me, gosh darn), teary (Della), fun as can be (Doug), and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Hormones suck ass though, I'm just sayin.

I did not expect to spend so much time crying or trying not to cry. No, no, not every day, not all day long, but tired+ crying baby+ feelings of inadequacy mean that gosh darn, every few days I come apart over something, feeling of extra tenderness, and then it is hard to get everything back under wraps the way I prefer. I am FINE being happy, but being sad/teary makes me feel horrible as you already know. I know it is hormones, and it is not always at all. I have many more moments of peace and happiness than sadness. But it still sucks ass.

So anyone out there have ideas for managing a fussy baby?
And I am open to ideas about how to prepare for pumping/bottle feeding during work hours.
Any favorite bottles for the discriminating baby?


Rebecca said...

this sounds exactly as it should. None of us ever knows what we're doing. The best advice anyone gave me is this: just do what you have to do at the moment you have to do it. We had a joke going for a while at our house: if no one is on fire or spurting blood, we're good. Pretty low standards, but it was all we could manage. It gets better. Really.

JB said...

The crying slows (yours, mainly, but perhaps also hers) -- your hormones will settle and you'll feel a little more confident as she grows and interacts with you. My little boy is 9 weeks now and I still have mini-breakdowns, especially at night as we begin no-cry sleep training (ugh) that will probably last until he's in college. But all in all, it gets better. :) You'll start to see patterns emerge and get better at anticipating what she needs, to respond before she cries, and this empowers everyone.

We're using Dr. Brown's bottles and recently found that the Medela bottles that come with the pump work just fine. He fought the bottle a little at first (he definitely prefers the source any time it's available, which is most of the time) but gradually got better at it. We just kept offering it to him for his last feeding before bedtime, and let Daddy give it to him so I wasn't taunting him with the closeness of the "source," and he caught on in a few days. Now his nighttime bottle and bedtime routine are his quiet time with Daddy, and he gets a bottle or two most days to prepare him for daytime feedings when I return to work.

Also, for sleep -- white noise. Buy a white noise machine or a Sleep Sheep and leave it on ocean or rain sounds (if "womb" is not a choice). Leave it on all night, not on a timer, so when she reawakens she hears the same sounds as when she fell asleep. It has done wonders and drowns out any external noise (our creaky wooden floors, the toilet flushing across the hall, the dog chewing a sqeuaky toy, etc.). We also do the "5 S's" but the persistent white noise has been a huge help.

And is there anything more incredible than watching your husband sing to your baby?

What IF? said...

Kate, I can so relate to the vulnerability you're feeling.

Recovering from the birth, not sleeping well, the hormones, figuring out breastfeeding, the adjustment as you're getting to know Della's cues, and the change in your relationship with Doug - it's all parts of an overwhelming puzzle, regardless of how much you wanted to become parents.

Add a fussy baby to the mix and it's a recipe for tears. I was there with 3 refluxing preemie babies - 1 with colic that lasted for months and months.

We used Dr. Karp's techniques too, but sometimes *nothing* worked. After a few hours of colicky screaming, we would simply take turns, because nobody can handle not being able to console a baby. It's so hard, and makes you feel utterly helpless.

If you find you're becoming completely overwhelmed, hand her to Doug, or lay her in her crib for a bit while she cries, and just go outside for 5 minutes to take a few deeeeeep breaths. Finding your equilibrium again amid the screaming is such a challenge, but it always helped me to take a break and refocus.

Earplugs or headphones with music helped take the edge off too.

Sometimes, we'd have our colicky baby in a Bjorn and walk with her on the treadmill. The jiggle and white noise helped soothe her. *Not* holding her with our arms must've helped too, because she could be upright (no spitup), straight - no pressure on tummy - and suspended (they get overstimulated when being held too long).

Sometimes, we bounced gently on an exercise ball.

Sometimes, we had her in a swing.

In the beginning, gripe water helped our girls through the worst witching hour screaming, and so did gas drops.

I tried almost every bottle on the market, and love love love the Dr. Brown's (glass) bottles. They have an internal vent so babies aren't sucking against a vacuum and swallowing extra air.

Della may also be sensitive to something you're eating. For me, a diet that would work for my babies was the hardest part to figure out!

This too shall pass. Hang in there! And email me at ginnegaap[at]yahoo dot com if you just want to let off steam or comisserate or whatever. I'm no expert, but the experience is still fresh enough that I may just be able to help you avoid some time wasters.

Oh, and pumping is fine. No fun, but fine. If I could do it for a year without the joy of breastfeeding to help balance it out, then you can *definitely* do it! You'll be fine with returning to work. Really.

Kate said...

K likes the medela bottles and wide-base nipples. I'm not sure how to get going with the pumping, since I pumped after every feed from 2 weeks in. I guess that's one way to boost your supply. I've heard of others who will pump one side in the morning after nursing on the other side, or who will pump once in the middle of the longest sleep period in the late evening.
The tears and all that are totally normal and will soon settle.

sprogblogger said...

I'm sorry it's so hard, so challenging. If it helps, she'll probably get better at nursing so it won't take so long, right around the time she can go a bit longer between meals - for us, it meant that one week we were doing almost nothing but feeding, and the next week, it felt like we had all this free time since he was eating for 40 minutes every 3 hours instead of for 90 minutes every two hours.

No advice on pumping/bottles, since I still haven't been able to convince Henry that milk in a bottle is as good as milk from the source. But I'll be reading your comments with interest & cadging tips for us to use, too.

Thinking of you oh-so-fondly and wishing more of the good and less of the not-good - certainly for fewer tears for both of you!

babyinterrupted said...

I echo the advice about the Sleep Sheep; it's been great for us. Our girl really likes bouncing, which gets tiring after awhile, so a friend suggested getting an exercise ball and bouncing on that; it's like freaking baby heroin. She loves it, can't get enough, and when you combine it with the shushing and/or singing...magic. Bottle-wise, we've had good luck so far with Tommee Tippee bottles for sensitive tummies; dad usually gives it to her, which works better. He's often able to calm her better than I am, which I think has a lot to do with me smelling like food and confusing her at times.

As to the emotions...I've noticed a return to more stability in the past week. I still cry much more often than I used to, but it's getting better.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you have your miracle. About the fussiness, try a swing. My baby has colic, gas and GERD and it is a life-saver to have the swing. I cannot even breastfeed her because she has such severe GERD that she refuses to suck. I am pumping exclusively and feeding it to her out of a bottle. The ones we use are Dr. Brown's with the level 1 nipples. It imitates breastfeeding.

Fussing for hours could mean a number of things: colic, GERD, lactose intolerance. But chances are she is just fussy. Is it at certain times of day? Try the total elimination diet to see if your food is the issue. Good luck. I know this is not easy - I cried endlessly for 2 weeks after her birth.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say above - also try Little Tummies gripe water and gas drops. That can help a lot too. Hope this helps.


Aisha said...

This part, this newest part, is the hardest part. After six weeks it stops getting HARDER and at three month it starts getting EASIER and EASIER. Promise.

Go on Amazon and purchase "Momma Zen" she writes beautifully, lyrically, poetically about these beginning steps and her words soothed me in the hardest times.

Hang in there- you're a great mom and love is the most important part of parenting, and you have that- in spades.

B. said...

My first three weeks were by far the most difficult. It seemed like the baby was ALWAYS nursing, but it hurt so much and she didn't always appear to get what she needed... But something clicked at three weeks. All of a sudden, nursing got easy, and then I had time to nap, and she had a fuller belly and slept better so everything improved from there.
When it was warm enough to venture outside, I learned that a baby's cries feel so much louder, and penetrate more deeply into you heart, when you're indoors. Especially in the cozy room decorated and filled with everything for her, where she's supposed to feel safest and most comfortable. I used to walk with the baby... long walks around the neighborhood with her strapped to my chest (if she was in a relatively good mood and allowed me to Bjorn her) or cradled in my arms. Her cries were not so loud or piercing in the vast space of outside, and she would calm quickly then doze. I don't know if it was the fresh air or the constant movement, but it worked. I know it's cold out now, so you may not be able to do much walking outside, but if we get a nice Indian summer kind of day, I hope you can give it a try. Has Della had her first "hike" yet?

Michele said...

I can offer my 2 cents on 2 of your 3 questions.

Soothing: We found that our kids HATED swaddling. Like really REALLY hated it. Now, at almost 15 months old, Maya likes to have her butt patted and her back patted in an alternating rhythm. Bobby likes to be rocked and snuggled tightly. Both enjoy "Danny Boy" with their names (and for M, "boy" becoming "girl") being sung. In fact, that song is our night-night hero, for every naptime and bedtime.

Bottles: Born Free and Dr. Brown's. LOVED them. Glass was our preference, but the plastic wasnt bad and worked well when the kids started holding their own.

Anonymous said...

Run, do not walk, and get the fisher price little lamb swing. It swings from side to side and plays nature music, which emulates white noise. Zach sat in that for hours and I was scared it was too much - but as Dr. Karp says in his book - it is not too much and they were swinging around in us for months. I just let him sleep in there when he could.

Pumping at work. Hmmm. Hormones. Not enough time in a day. Stress. That is why I quit pumping and then nursing at 5 months. I still grieve not nursing and wish I would have kept that up and supplemented with formula but it is so hard with two and there is so much more guilt associated with that. You can only do what you can do - and try to just do that and not forcing anything.

Bottles - we spent about 500 bucks testing out all different bottles. Playtex ventaire advanced WIDE was the fit for both of our babies - the wide is nice since I was nursing - those other nipples seemed much too narrow and milk would go everywhere. Definitely try the wide of anything that you choose. The playtex ventaire advanced does have more parts, which is a pain, but it is worth it.

You are amazing. It is hard, this motherhood thing. It will kick your ass on a daily basis but it is also the most amazing fulfilling thing. Ever. Would do it over a million times.

karen alonge said...

bless your heart! sending lots of love your way.

here's an article I just love about how to 'be with' a crying baby. many of my clients have found it to be helpful - maybe it will also resonate with you:


there are some podcasts on the site that I also really like:


you might enjoy Responding Well to Crying

lots of love,

tireegal68 said...

Dearest Kate, I haven't been able to write about any of this yet, but I've been there. Mostly hormones / PPD and it sucked so bad. Today she is six weeks and one day and I turned a corner of feeling confident and not weepy on our trip to the pediatrician's. Isobel is not fussy per se but she does have gas and spits up a lot. I still haven't figured out how to help her - different positions and our doctor said we can give her weak chamomile tea by bottle or syringe.
You are right, nights and evenings are the worst and when it's bad hand her over to Doug and walk away. Do you have people coming over? I emailed all my friends and worked out a schedule for them to come sit with me for stretches of time. Some of them bring food, some do laundry, some hold the baby while I do a chore or have a shower. I tried to do one new thing - pump, bottle feed ( Susan does this - still no success) every few days - baby
steps! Don't be too hard on yourself - our hormones are
completely effed up! It will get better. I felt like a horrible mother for putting her in the vibrating musack playing fish.er price bouncy chair but it gives me short spurts of hands free time and she likes the vibrations. I still have not tried the Moby Wrap but I am determined to master it this week! Gotta go - crying baby! Xo

Kristin said...

Kate, this recent post by Kelly Rae Roberts came to mind when I read your words here: http://kellyraeroberts.blogspot.com/2010/09/colic-solved.html

I have no idea whether it applies to Della, but just in case it does, I thought I'd send the link.

Sending so much love. Your honest words here are such a gift.

Emily Erin said...

While many other babies loved swings, my girl loved her bouncy/vibrating chair for the fussies, and sometimes she'd doze off in it.

Also, if you just want someone to commiserate with I LOVED Anne LaMott's Operating Instructions. Pee in your pants funny and honest about the stress and trials of a fussy newborn. It made me feel like less of a failure after I read it, and more like one more clueless Mom who was just figuring it out on her own.

Not sure if any of this helps, but know that there's lots of love and patience with yourself coming your way as you adjust to not always being able to 'fix it' as much as you might want to. (You'd think that infertility would have gotten us used to this futile state, but somehow it didn't). Hugs from here!

Brid said...

My son is six and I still cry at the drop of a hat! However, the sad has gone away... now it's more of an emotional response to things like kindness (not even extreme), babies growing up, and books (wait till you get to The Giving Tree).

Jack needed me on soy milk when he was breastfeeding. Everything else (cheese, yogurt, etc...) seemed to make no difference and he was fine. He even drink regular cow's milk now with no issues.

We would also put him in his car carrier, place it on the dryer and turn that sucker on. The mild vibration along with the gentle white noise... miracle! Only drawback is staying close because, of course, you don't want that bundle vibrating her way to the edge!

Sorry I haven't passed on my congrats and best wishes before... just popping over from another blog.
Sweet baby love!

Brid said...

Oh... I also used to sway him quite vigorously between shadow and light... this worked like a charm; I don't know, maybe it was sort of like a car ride.
Good luck. No matter what happens, everything will be fine eventually!