Bottoms Up

You know what I miss? Vodka.

I really freaking miss vodka.

I think it’s pretty cruel that the universe has Donald Trump running for president of the US while I’m too damn tired and breastfeedy for the vodka that would make his constant presence in my Facebook feed even remotely tolerable.

Donald Trump is everywhere. Someone please make him go away.

Even better, someone please talk some sense into my in laws. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to keep my mouth shut when I scroll past these things on Facebook?

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Sigh.

Here’s some cute baby to make up for the Donald Trump-ness of this post.

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Six Months

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It’s been six months since we embarked upon the epic journey that is parenthood. Can you believe this little girl has already been here for half a year? The days all seem to run together. It’s exciting and heartbreaking all at once.

Little miss has been sitting up unassisted for a few weeks now. That amazes me. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she couldn’t even hold her head up?

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She’s having a blast with solid foods. So far, she’s tried sweet potato & yams, broccoli, apples, avocado, butternut squash and carrots. Her absolute favorite of the bunch is yams. Carrots were probably her least favorite. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was stressing about breastfeeding? Oh wait—it was yesterday. And the day before that, and the day before that…

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We think she’s cutting a third tooth. It’s on the bottom toward the back right of her gums which is confusing us because we thought the top front teeth were next. But she has a big bump down there and she’s been chewing and drooling up a storm, so we really do think it’s a tooth. Leave it to Charlotte to throw us a curve ball. It’s her specialty!

Our little girl has turned into a bouncing fiend. We have this fisher price jumperoo, and she goes crazy in it. Seriously nuts. It was kind of expensive compared to the other jumpers out there, but it saves me in the morning when I’m alone with her and trying to get ready for work. The down side is that it’s gigantic and actually doesn’t fit through our doorways, so it is a permanent tacky plastic fixture in the living room. That said, it safely occupies my baby, and I would but it again a thousand times over.

Bouncing baby from Molly on Vimeo.

 

She also enjoys bouncing in this, which is wonderful when we’re in the kitchen or trying to do something at the computer.

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She even bounces while nursing which is awkward and uncomfortable, but pretty hilarious. If she can find a way to brace her feet against something—say, the arm of a chair or my thigh—she bounces.

The only thing Charlotte loves more than bouncing is her own reflection. Whether it’s the mirror, the selfie option on our iPhones or Facetime, the kid is hooked on herself. She cracks me up. If she’s upset, all you have to do is move to a mirror or whip out your phone and she is instantly transformed into a smiling angel. (And if it’s your phone, you have about 30 seconds before she tries to eat it.)

I haven’t said much about our nanny here on the blog, but she is a godsend and we love her. Charlotte absolutely adores her. This morning, she practically jumped out of my arms to get to the nanny when she walked in. Given how hard it was for me to go back to work and leave my baby in the care of a stranger, I am just so, so grateful that this is where we’ve ended up. I would still give my right arm to be able to be home with her, but this is certainly the next best thing.

Sleep is still absolutely awful. The night before last, we had another night where she just didn’t sleep. At all. Then she also refused to nap yesterday, thus compounding the sleep problem. Last night, we were so desperate for all of us to get some rest that we moved the Dock A Tot into our bed and she slept with us. It was still an average lousy night (she was so tired that she went down at 6:30 and then woke up at 8, 12, 2, 4 and finally 5:15), but at least some sleep was had and when she fussed I didn’t have to get up to calm her. I actually felt pretty good this morning once I got going, which just goes to show you how awful my usual level of sleep deprivation is.

If we could just get her sleep patterns under control, I would be the happiest mama ever. Being Charlotte’s mother is absolutely amazing. She is so fun and filled with so much personality—it’s an absolute joy being with this little girl. I count my blessings every day.

The Straw

Last night was night 5 of our attempt to sleep train Charlotte. Up to this point, we’ve had some success and some challenges–all to be expected when you’re totally upending your child’s sleep situation.

On the up side: When she does sleep, she’s sleeping in her crib (in the Dock a Tot). The nanny has even been able to put her in her crib for naps this week.

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The down side: She has absolutely zero ability to self-soothe. She’s still full on waking up at least 3 times a night (although that’s a big improvement) and she still requires a great deal of physical contact (hand on the chest, hand cupping her face, or both) for reassurance at least another half dozen times.  She has been awake for 2 hours around 1 or 2 am every night since we started.

That was nights 1-4. We were hanging in there. We were figuring out patterns and creating a game plan to address the down sides. We were celebrating our (albeit limited) success.

Then last night happened. Night 5.  She. Would. Not. Sleep.  For the first part of the night, she would fall asleep for 15-20 minutes only to wake up again just as we were falling asleep. It started at 10:30. By midnight, Catch decided to change her diaper and Charlotte completely lost her shit and started screaming bloody murder. I was sitting in our bedroom, and I lost my shit. I threw a pillow at the wall and yelled some expletives that included the words “fucking go to sleep.” Catch yelled at me from the nursery for yelling. Charlotte kept screaming.

I took a deep breath and went into the nursery to try to calm her while Catch finished getting her diaper on. From there, Catch walked with her around the living room and got her calm again. I went into the bedroom and SOBBED. I’m talking full on hiccuping sobs. I cried like I haven’t cried in I don’t even know how long. I don’t even think I ever sobbed like that in those first miserable weeks postpartum. We’re talking full on breakdown.

I cried because I was tired. I cried because I was frustrated. I cried because I feel like she’s never going to sleep. I cried because I felt like a failure. I cried because my in laws are arriving tonight and staying until Sunday and I am in no shape for company. I cried because I’m still battling thrush and it’s worse now and the pain is just awful and I’m so tired of it. I cried because I was crying.

When I calmed myself down again, I made my way to the nursery where Charlotte was wide awake sitting on her play mat chewing on a book and shot me a huge wide-mouthed, 2-tooth smile. At this point, she’d been up for about 2 hours.  We’d been dealing with about 2 hours of being awake on the other nights as well, but nothing like this. The other nights she was drowsy–she let us rock her and sing to her. There were repeated attempts to put her down in her crib those nights. Last night, she was so awake that putting her in her crib was laughable. She wouldn’t allow us to rock her. She wanted to be upright. She didn’t want to lie down. She fought us every step of the way.

Finally, after about 30 minutes of play time, she started to show signs of drowsiness. We decided that she’d have a few ounces of formula and I’d nurse her to top her off. By 1:15, I was able to put her back in her crib. And then she woke up at 1:30, 1:45, 2, 2:15, 2:30… and that’s when we gave up. We have to be up for work at 5 am, and so far we had managed maybe 1 hour of sleep. At 2:30, I picked her up from her crib and took her with me to sleep on the couch. Usually the couch is foolproof. She sleeps.

But not last night. Nope. She laid in my arms tossing, turning, fussing, outright crying, demanding to nurse… and we continued like that until Catch appeared with my coffee and told me it was time for me to get in the shower.

I’m not looking for advice right now. I’m so tired of sleep advice that I will probably throw something at the next person who tells me we “just need to _____.” I just need to vent. I want there to be a record of how desperate I feel right now. I want someone to feel exceptionally sorry for me because on top of sleep training, my in laws are coming and I have to be pleasant and social until Sunday when all I want to do is collapse in a heap in the corner in my pajamas and cry to my own mom.

 

The Dock A Tot

Our Dock A Tot arrived on Tuesday. 

  

(A very brief pre-dinner nap–I laid down with her right after I snapped this photo and that’s when she woke up.) (Pardon the snowflake flannel sheets that totally clash with our bedding.)

Anyway, for those who were wondering about it, I’ll just say that in the last 2 nights, it has not been the solution to our sleep issues. 

In fact, Catch might have thrown it across the room at 3 am. 

I’m waving the white flag, folks. 

One of the outcomes of Saturday’s meeting with the lactation consultant was this:

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We started Charlotte on solid foods on Saturday night. (She’ll be 6 months in just under 2 weeks.)

The main reason I scheduled our visit with the LC was that Charlotte is still nursing hourly. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s reached a point where I’m certain it’s not just a leap or a growth spurt. It’s been like this for months and I can’t take it anymore. I feel totally trapped. I basically spend my evenings and weekends nursing her. There’s no time for me… no time for the house… no time for sleep… no time for anything but feeding the baby.

I was ready to quit. So, so ready to quit. Throw in the thrush and the teeth marks and I had about a thousand and one reasons why quitting was truly the logical thing to do.

The trouble with quitting is that I just can’t bring myself to do it. I should quit. Anyone in their right mind would quit, but I think we’ve established here plenty of times over that I’m not exactly in my right mind.

So, off to the LC we went.

She suggested three things:

  • Get her started on solids sooner rather than later.
  • Give her some formula before bed.
  • Work on boosting supply some more. Introduce shatavari and malunggay.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard two of these things mentioned as sleep solutions a million times over, and usually within one sentence, you see that it’s a myth that has been debunked one way or another. Formula-fed babies sleep longer. Babies who eat solids are better sleepers. Blah, blah, blah.

The thing is that we’re not trying these things with the aim to get her to sleep longer. We’re trying them in an attempt to get her to nurse less frequently. Sometimes, that may mean a bit of extra sleep by default, but I’m more interested in being able to take a shower and dry my hair without having to nurse a baby in my bath towel right smack in the middle of those two things.

Anyway, Saturday night we officially kicked off baby-led weaning with some roasted sweet potato sticks. It went as expected. She swallowed exactly one mouthful and spent the rest of the time picking them up, pushing them around on her plate, and dropping them on the floor for the (seriously excited about this stage) dogs.

It’s way too early to make any real observations about these changes. It’s only been 2 nights. We’ll see what happens. For now, we’re enjoying watching our baby play with food. She’s having fun participating in meal times, and that’s really all I wanted from BLW. If she starts taking in more food and nursing less frequently at some point, that will be an added bonus.

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Some bonus cute:

Look how well she’s sitting up! She played like that for a good 20 minutes the other night!

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Packers baby was a good luck charm on Sunday.IMG_3187

Par for the Course

On Saturday morning, I sat on a couch as not one, but TWO lactation consultants stood over me staring at my right nipple.

You know what you don’t expect to hear from a couple of women who look at nipples all day every day?

“I have never seen that before.”

What are they referring to?

Teeth marks.

I have teeth marks on my nipple.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I’ve been having quite a bit of pain when nursing ever since Charlotte got her two bottom teeth. After ALL of my breastfeeding research indicated that there is NO WAY I could possibly be feeling those teeth while nursing, I chalked it up to the thrush I’ve been battling. (It goes away for a week and then comes back. It’s been fun.) THEN, I saw it—a very clear red mark exactly where those bottom teeth fall when she’s nursing and in the exact shape and size of those little razors.

But no. It’s not possible. Kelly Mom, La Leche League, and pretty much every other breastfeeding resource on the internet says that I will not feel baby’s teeth when she’s nursing unless she actually bites me. Particularly not the bottom teeth, because her tongue covers them.

So when I mentioned it to the lactation consultants when we were there on Saturday, they both immediately shot me down. No way, they said. Not possible. Gotta be something else. Can we see?

But as they stood over me and stared at my poor nipple, they both exclaimed, “That’s a tooth mark! I have never seen that before!”

Isn’t that every woman’s fear when it comes to medical professionals examining various lady parts? That someone will tell us we’re weird and they’ve never seen that before? And we all talk ourselves out of our worries by telling ourselves that these people have seen EVERYTHING, and they have probably seen our brand of crazy a thousand times and will immediately have all of the answers.

Well allow me to be the ones to burst your bubble, because I have tooth marks rubbed into my nipple. For real. And the best advice they could give me after ruling out a tongue tie and various other issues is to try a different nursing position and to maybe give it a go with the nipple shield for a while.

Now, if you’ll just humor me for a moment, please imagine me standing on top of the tallest building in Los Angeles with a megaphone screaming WHY ME?! WHY DOES THIS SHIT ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME?!

30-ish years from now, I will be sitting with my daughter as she holds her first baby explaining how when I was a breastfeeding mom, I had to walk miles uphill in the snow BOTH WAYS. And you know what? I’m not even exaggerating.

Breastfeeding: 999999999  Molly: 0

5 Months

I haven’t posted a 5 month update because I haven’t had time to edit her 5 month picture, but to hell with it… we’re just going to go crazy and post an unedited photo and talk about what being 5 months is all about.

The 5 month picture…

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The 4 month picture for comparison!

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Charlotte was 5 months old on December 23rd. Does that seem as crazy to you as it does to me? Sometimes when I’m pumping, I’ll scroll waaaay back on my phone and start with our very first pictures of her. It’s just amazing how much she’s grown and how fast the weeks go by.

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Our happiness these days is very much dictated by the state of C’s teeth. She cut her first tooth on December 26th, and her second tooth on New Year’s Eve. There’s still a lot of teething action happening, and we’re not sure whether it’s being caused by the existing two teeth just breaking through more or if there’s another tooth on its way that we can’t see yet.

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What? You don’t let your baby use wine glasses as teething toys?

Teething has been causing some problems. Most noticeably with sleep and nursing. It often really hurts her to nurse. She’ll start out very enthusiastic and hungry for the boob and then once she gets going she starts crying. It breaks my heart. Our lactation consultant (and also Dr. Google) recommend giving her something cold to numb her gums just prior to nursing, but C absolutely hates cold things. Cold teething toys and frozen wash cloths all prompt immediate screaming.

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Sleep issues abound around here. Part of it is courtesy of teething, and part of it is that she’s very “princess and the pea” about where she sleeps and how. The 2.5 hour dog bed nap was a pretty strong clue the other day. I’ve been eyeing them for a month now, but I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Dock A Tot. I cannot even BELIEVE how much money I spent on what is essentially a dog bed for babies, but I decided that you can’t put a price on sleep. Her bassinet and crib cost more than this thing and she’s not using either one of those, so as shocking as the price tag is, I really don’t feel too bad about it.

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She is sitting up so well these days. She still falls over, but she’s getting stronger and more balanced every day.

Rolling over appears to just not be her thing for now. She can roll over—we’ve seen her roll both front to back and back to front—she just seems to not really feel the need to do it very often. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve personally seen her roll!

Her favorite song in the world is still Itsy Bitsy Spider. She will smile the second she hears it start. I don’t know what it is with this song, but I guess I’m stuck with it. Why does it have to be a song about a damn spider, though?

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She’s pretty solidly in 9-month clothing, although some of her 6-month size onesies still fit. Anything with legs definitely has to be 9 months, though.

My little one is long and lean. At her 4.5 month visit, she was in the 16th percentiles for height/weight ratio, but the 97th for height alone. She has round cheeks, but the rest of her is really pretty scrawny. Not much baby fat on this one. Part of me worries, but the pediatrician assured me that it’s common for breastfed babies to thin out a bit at this stage. In the back of my mind though, the mom guilt is convinced this is my fault and that she’s not getting enough when she breastfeeds. We see a LC about this on Saturday.

We went to the zoo for the first time on New Year’s Eve. She had expressed such an interest in the goats at the end of Catch’s parents’ street that I thought maybe she’d get a kick out of the zoo animals. Turns out she was pretty indifferent. We got a zoo membership anyway, though. It was still a nice family outing and she was plenty worn out from the excursion!

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Everyone needs zebra print pants for their first trip to the zoo. Too bad the pants didn’t actually make it to the zoo courtesy of the disposable diaper she was wearing!

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We have a new stroller as of two days ago. My mom has a Britax Affinity (the red one above) that I have vastly preferred over our B-Agile (it’s what we took to the zoo), and Catch ended up finding us one in absolutely perfect condition on Craigslist for $100. The new stroller is a much smoother ride than our old one, and now we’re comfortable letting her ride in the stroller without the infant seat. She looks like such a big girl without the infant seat! It just amazes me!

All in all, this little one is thriving. We have plenty of kinks to work out, but it’s all much more manageable if I remind myself to take things one day at a time. Today’s hardships are temporary. Ten years from now, I will probably miss nursing my tiny baby in the middle of the night.

From the Trenches

Sometimes, I wish I could just rewind and go back to being pregnant. I miss the anticipation of motherhood. I miss my misguided idea of what it would be like.

I can’t believe I’m saying that I’d like to be pregnant again because we all know that I was not pregnancy’s biggest fan, but man… those were simpler days. When I think back to my last 10 weeks or so, it feels more like a warm blanket. I wish I had appreciated those days more because these days just feel like a cold bucket of ice water.

Don’t get me wrong. I love our baby. I love her more than I ever believed it was possible to love another human being. She fills a space in my soul that I didn’t even know was there. When she is happy and cuddled up against me, I feel like the best version of myself. I was meant to be her mother and she was meant to be my baby.

But motherhood? It’s hard. It’s making marriage hard, too. Hell, it’s making life hard. I’m a terrible employee. I’m a terrible mom to our dogs. I’m a terrible wife. I’m a horrible homeowner. All so I can be a mom who is barely getting by on a wing and a prayer.

I’m grateful that Charlotte won’t remember these days. I’m grateful that she won’t remember the night that I lost my cool when she started to cry as I was trying for the millionth time to put her down to sleep. I’m grateful she won’t remember me sobbing in the car on the way to Christmas Eve dinner. I’m grateful that the pictures from her first Christmas show a normal happy family instead of overtired, stressed moms who are walking on eggshells and a baby who is teething and refuses to sleep.

I’m glad that I couldn’t imagine this. I wouldn’t have wanted it if I could have imagined what it would really be like, and I would have missed out on the most amazing thing ever just to avoid some hard times.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

OK, disclaimer before I post this on the internet for everyone’s judgmental eyes to see:

I don’t need to know why this is bad / dangerous / wrong / etc. I know perfectly well that it’s a bad idea. I know why it’s dangerous. If your comment is going to include a lecture about my parenting decisions, I don’t need it. I am sleep-deprived and miserable right now, and I don’t need any words that will bring me down any lower than I already am.

Now, I will share.

Charlotte hasn’t been sleeping well. Still. She’s cut two teeth since Christmas, and we are pretty much just in a state of chaotic, grumpy, sleepless, feverish misery over in our neck of the woods. There’s your back story.

On Mondays, C is with my parents. My mom texted me a while ago to tell me that C had been asleep for over an hour. I was ecstatic because I knew my mom would never sit there for that long so it meant C had to be sleeping independently.  Here’s our conversation:

Mom: She’s been asleep for an hour & 10 minutes and counting.

Me: Awesome! Is she in the pack & play?

Silence

Eventually…

Mom: Don’t be mad. I haven’t taken my eyes off of her…

  

Folks, that is my daughter sound asleep on a Costco dog bed. 

I really have no words for this. She’s been asleep for over 2 hours now. Clearly, she’s very comfortable with this arrangement. I don’t even know what to think. How did it ever occur to my mom that the dog bed would be a viable option for a nap? 

Now, the question that remains is whether there are any baby sleep products on the market that will mimic the comfort of a dog bed. If there are, I am about to become their newest customer.