Friday, February 27, 2009

Carlson Baby Ddrops

I was at Wholefoods the other day and made a happy discovery: Carlson Baby Ddrops, the vitamin D supplement I'd mentioned in my previous post. A friend got the okay from her daughter's pediatrician--I didn't even think to ask ours (sigh)--so it should be safe to use.

I'm glad to report that these drops are completely tasteless. There is a slightly sour odor, which might bother breastfeeding moms, since you're supposed to put the drop on your nipple (and let the baby suck away), but it really doesn't linger. The best part is that Baby Girl doesn't even realize she's taking a vitamin.

One thing: The solution is fairly liquid, and you need to have baby ready at the breast, right before you put a drop on your nipple, so you can quickly get that boob in his or her mouth. Also, be careful of sudden flailing arms--the first time I tried the drops, Baby R's hand suddenly flew out and went right through the stuff, and I didn't add another drop for fear of overdosage (which maybe isn't a real concern, but hey, I'm a first-time mom--leave me to my paranoia).

The only bad news is that the aforementioned friend's pediatrician also said breastfed babies need an iron supplement. Groan.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vitamin D Supplement for Baby

There are a lot of differing opinions regarding giving your baby a vitamin D supplement. Only if you live in Alaska--or Canada (love the sweeping geographical verdict)--some say. Just take a vitamin D supplement yourself and it'll pass through your milk to the baby, my friend told me. All a baby needs is a few minutes a day in direct sunlight, claim the old-schoolers. The Baby 411 Blog has a nice post that sums up the vitamin D situation.

Baby R's own pediatrician recommended a vitamin supplement for babies--which I did most dutifully go out and buy. And which, I acknowledge, has been sitting a few squirts short of full at the back of the medicine cabinet for months. Why? Because, at the time, the only supplement seemingly available was a foul-smelling liquid (apparently, it's the vitamin B that's the stinker) multivitamin called Poly-Vi-Sol. You had to give a whole dropper's worth every day, and it was so hard to administer to my little baby because she absolutely hated it: her whole face would scrunch up and turn bright red and she'd repeatedly stick her tongue out, as if to get rid of a bad taste in her mouth--not to mention the fact that she pretty much spit out the majority of what I painstakingly was trying to squirt in.

[Editor's note: Can I interrupt this post to say that my baby is crying her guts out right now and it's extremely hard to think, let alone blog? I've tried everything: fed her, changed her diaper, read her a story, held and cuddled her. Nothing. Hated it all (except the feeding). For any new moms out there, this kind of thing happens and the intense stress it invokes will churn your stomach and shave five years off your lifespan.]

But then I found out that last year, the AAP had upped their recommended vitamin D dose for children from 200 IU to 400 IU. Worried, I did a little online research and thanks to the La Leche League forum, learned about something called Carlson Baby Ddrops. You just need to give baby one drop--applied on the nipple, for example, for breastfeeding moms. Sounds easy and painless, and I'm going to try to find it tomorrow, if the stress of my still-wailing baby doesn't first cause my brain to explode.

Update: I found the drops at a local supermarket and wrote a short review on it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baring All

So I'm sitting on the couch in the living room--the place where I spend the majority of my resting hours, now that there's a baby in my life. There's a little watery sunlight coming in through the window and there's a chill in the air, but I'm topless. Blogging topless (about to breatfeed--I just wanted to add. It's not like I blithely sit around half-naked for the tingly pleasure of it).

Here's the thing about being a new mom. It's going to seem as if you're constantly in some state of undress or other. If you're breastfeeding, then get used to the girls hanging out, fully exposed, for many hours of the day. Even if you're not, though, amongst the many activities that baby will seem to purposefully interrupt, such as eating, sleeping, emailing, etc., changing clothes will be another. And you'll find yourself rushing to your screaming baby's side, wearing maybe a scarf, one sock--and your panties, if you're lucky. If the people in the building opposite ours were of the pervy, binocular-wielding variety, they'd get an eyeful.

My next-door neighbors surely get an earful, since the soundproofing in this apartment--yeah, there isn't any. As if piercing infant cries and badly sung (by me) songs aren't enough to endure, the people on our floor might also be unfortunate enough to overhear such choice tidbits that I call out to my fussing baby as: "Okay, okay, look! I'm taking off my shirt. Look, your favorite breasts!" and "Okay, okay, just a sec. I'm just going to the bathroom. No good? Okay, here, I'll let you watch me."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Being Baby-unwise

I was recently talking with yet another of those parents whose babies sleep through the night (grrr) and she recommended the book On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo. Let me tell you, I'm the furthest thing from a competitive parent. I don't care if my girl is the last in the bunch to start rolling over, crawling, talking, etc. But every time I hear, "My baby's been sleeping 12 hours since the day she was born!" (okay, an exaggeration--babies that young aren't supposed to sleep that long), I feel this crushing sense of panic, like I've seriously screwed up somewhere along the way. And a sleepless parent is a desperate one. So of course any advice from a parent with a STTN (sleeping through the night) baby must be followed posthaste.

Went straight to the nearest library that had this book and power-read through the thing standing up while balancing my RTEN (refuses to even nap) baby on one shoulder. I hadn't gotten more than a few pages in before I was ready to shoot myself in the head for being--again--the worst parent in the world. (I admittedly wanted to take out the annoying Chelsea--the fictitious and, naturally, perfect baby whose parents adhered to the dictates of the book--while I was at it.)

The author of Babywise tells the reader, repeatedly, that a seven to nine-week-old baby is more than capable of sleeping seven to eight hours a night. And if they can't, then it's All your fault, you miserable excuse for a parent.

My baby is 13 weeks old and she only started sleeping four hours (a grand triumph, I had thought at the time) at a stretch since, um, a few days ago.

The truth is, though, I think my baby is doing okay. Yeah, that's right: I'm going to take the defensive here and say this book might not be applicable to everyone--namely, our family. In addition, although the book warns against on-demand feeding and its detrimental effects on a baby's sleep habits, and instructs parents to take the lead and decide when it is time for a baby to sleep, eat, or be awake, it just doesn't seem realistic. I mean, I can tell my baby, "See here, young thing, you are going to take a nap" until I am blue in the face, but she'll just lie in her bassinet screaming "Up yours" in her very concise baby manner, for however long it takes for me to get the message.

The book also warns that initially, there will be crying and protests. So for one nap, yesterday, I tried to let the little pookie cry it out--for 15 minutes. She cried through the allotted time and then I went to her. If you could have seen her swollen eyes and tear-drenched face, or felt her little body shuddering with her sobs--you would have shot yourself in the head, too.

Although we certainly aren't progressing apace of the wonder babies whose parents are "babywise," I think my little girl is gradually getting the hang of this whole Night is for Sleeping concept. Now, the only problem is getting her to nap in the day time. Whole 'nother can of worms. Sigh.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cute vs. Loveable

I used to wonder all the time whether people with ugly babies realized their babies were ugly and loved them anyway, or were they completely blinded by love...or some biological mechanism that ensures people don't abandon their offspring. So, while I was pregnant, I was very curious to see what I'd think of my own baby.

Well. I can confidently say that my baby is very cute. I'm kidding--sort of. The truth is, sometimes my baby is adorable--like when she's bright-eyed and beaming first thing in the morning. But when she's crying and her face is all pinched, I can admit she's...less cute.

The fascinating thing though is that while I love my daughter every minute, it's when she's at her most awkward or less than photo-perfect--like when she's naked and you can really see how disproportionately huge her head is in comparison to her body (like a Pez dispenser) or the squinty, duck-lipped expression she has, accompanied by emissions of snorts, whinnies, and farts, when she's just woken from a deep sleep--that I feel equal parts overwhelming tenderness and ferocious protectiveness. I think it surely must be a biological safeguard.

My Baby's Already Growing Up?!

The hospital where I delivered sends me a weekly e-newsletter on my baby's development, and this week, week 12, I learned that a three-month-old baby is no longer considered a "newborn." My baby...she's already growing up.

I thought about the first outfit she outgrew, a few weeks back, and how small and funny (in a cute way) she used to look in it--because it had this high floppy collar but she really doesn't have much of a neck--and I felt a sentimental pain in the heart when I realized I didn't have a picture of her wearing it.

Isn't it funny how you can miss someone who's with you every single minute of the day?

What Schedule?

A few weeks back, a bunch of us new parents planned to meet up to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with our babies in tow. How, you ask? Much to my amazement, a few theaters kindly hold movie-viewings several days a month in which screaming, pooping, breast exposure, and people getting in and out of their seats a lot in the middle of the movie are all very acceptable.

It was an evening show, however, and quite a number of people emailed their regrets that they'd be unable to attend, stating a conflict with "bed time" as their reason. I remember being puzzled, since surely it didn't matter where the baby slept, as long as it did. And in my case, my baby is always happiest to slumber in my arms--which is what we did during what turned out to be a very long movie.

More recently, I repeatedly saw emails from members of my Las Madres group in which moms begged off one event or other because the meeting time clashed with nap time. Again, I was mystified. For Baby R, nap time seemed random and arbitrary. All I knew is that if we went out, she *would* fall asleep at some point. Did it matter when, where, or how?

This is when I started Googling "baby" and "naps"--and discovered that I'm a bad mother. Again. I don't know, am I not doing enough homework on Baby Raising 101? Maybe I'm the only person in the world who didn't know this, but even newborn babies--like dogs (being a dog owner and now a mom, I swear I could write a book on the similarities between the two)--appreciate a set daily routine, so they know what to expect and are reassured.

My god, my poor baby has been awash in a sea of chaos and disorder since the day I brought her home!

From what I read, the purpose of set nap times is to forestall those bouts of fussing and crying that occur when baby is over-tired, or even too worked up to fall asleep. Supposedly, babies that nap well in the daytime sleep better at night, as well. Lightbulb!

So, as bad as I am about this sort of thing, I've dug up a notepad and am trying to note down the times when Baby Girl starts giving me the sleepy cues: rubbing at her eyes and head, looking distracted, etc. The point is to see what times of the day she is consistently getting tired and then trying to get her ready for a nap about 15 minutes earlier. And there you have it: nap times.

Unfortunately, the question of *how* I make my baby amenable to the idea of lying down, let alone going to sleep on a surface that isn't my chest or her Fisher Price Nature's Touch Cradle Swing, is a different story. The various online sources suggest darkening the room, singing lullabies, reading books, and so on. Baby Girl has let me know that she is not so easily snookered. So, for now, nap prep consists of either rocking her to sleep in my arms while singing spottily remembered slow songs ("Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, nor even apple pie.") or placing her in the swing and singing over her fussing until she knocks off.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saying "I'm tired" when you have a 12-week-old baby is hard because it just doesn't accurately convey the mental state that being sleep-deprived for that long can put you in. Baby R still wakes in the night anywhere from every hour to every three hours, and although I can't seem to stop doing it myself, the greatest piece of advice I'd give is: Don't look at the clock. It just hurts more.

New parents naturally gravitate together and, lately, I've been encountering a new clique whose members have the privilege of cooing the magical words, "My baby sleeps through the night." On the one hand, I understand the elation they must feel: To be able to get five or more hours of sleep per night...I get dizzy contemplating the luxury. After months of going without, who wouldn't want to shout it from the rooftops? But it is too cruel to share this indiscriminately. For god's sake, can't you just enjoy it quietly amongst yourselves? Why rub my bleary face in it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eye Color (11 Weeks)

I noticed this morning that Baby Girl's eyes have changed from the dark gray she'd been born with to brown. I can't believe how suddenly it happened.


Had a small-largish fight with my husband this morning. Recently, our magical Fisher Price swing--the only thing my baby girl will sleep in for more than an hour, besides a set of warm arms connected to a walking body--has been deemed too-dangerous by the hubster because the baby's upper body is starting to flop over while seated in it. I think she's trying to sit up without having yet perfected the whole holding-your-own-head-up thing. Anyhow, this means she's back to waking up every two hours in her bassinet (I should be grateful she's sleeping that long in there, since she won't do that in the daylight hours) throughout the night and this left me weaving drunkenly about the room this morning, as I tried to rock her back to sleep after a feeding.

So when she woke up less than two hours later, I asked my husband to take her for a while. If it were me, I'd have picked her up and walked around with her a bit. My husband pretty much tucked her under his arm and tried to go back to sleep. No surprise that she continued fussing. Our daughter is not one of those babies easily placated merely by being close to a warm body. No, it has to be an upright, moving body.

So there I was, trying my best to sleep despite the little cries and sounds of struggle beside me. And then the inevitable words from him came: "Honey, I think she's hungry." My husband is overly enamored by the mighty power of the breast and its ability to instantly quieten our little girl. Unfortunately, this means any time she starts crying, he turns to me to fix it. I think he's terrified of the possibility that he could attempt to comfort her and fail. What I wish is that he would give it a go anyways. He rarely holds her in his arms, always turning to various "tricks"--toys, making loud silly noises, the mobile, and, until recently, the swing--to quieten her. I'm not one to begrudge my baby a little boob comfort, even if I know she's not really hungry. But this morning, I was so staggeringly exhausted, I just wanted 15 minutes more sleep.

If he had just taken her into the living room and tried walking with her a bit, or changing her diaper, or just talking to her (scarcely 11 weeks and she's already quite the chatterbox, especially first thing in the morning), just to give me a little more rest, I would have been so grateful. But in the end, I dragged myself up, the baby ended up back on my breast, and I ended up pissed off at hubby. And he gave me the usual defensive speech about how the problem wouldn't come up if I kept pumped breast milk in the fridge. While it isn't a bad idea, I worry that every time our daughter cries, he'll simply turn to the bottle as a quick fix.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One-Handed Blogging

I'm in a position I most often find myself in these days: sitting stiffly on the couch, laptop balanced on my thighs, 11-pound baby balanced on my chest. She's asleep, sprawled out, head steadily boring a hole into my breastbone, totally relaxed and yet her little fist maintains a grip on the sleeve of my ratty brown bath robe. Her hair, which for unknown reasons maintains itself in a most splendid fauxhawk, softly tickles my chin; but at 10 weeks, I notice it's not quite the gosling down she had as a newborn.

Oh god, my chest hurts. My baby girl may only be in the 25th percentile when it comes to weight and height, but her head's a different story. It's big and very heavy, and I recently bought a neoprene wrist-support band because all that lifting and holding of my still-floppy headed dumpling has caused a constant ache to develop.

The posts in this blog might start and end abruptly because I have a two-month-old baby who often and abruptly needs something. And it's always at a critical moment, like when the microwave beeps to tell you that your lunch is ready, and even though breastfeeding makes you ravenous and the nuked rice is going to be plasticky by the time you get to it, you drop everything and go to the baby. Same thing with blog posts: If I wait to finish and publish a post later, I'll end up never blogging.


This blog is mostly for me, so I don't forget all the little things that have happened since my daughter was born. I'd love it though if any of what I write about ends up being helpful to someone out there.