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Posts tagged ‘fourth trimester’

12 Weeks Old

And I’m finally really feeling like that time has passed (instead of asking “where in the world did it go?”)  It seems… right… that we have an almost three month old.

This was a BIG week for K, as it was the week that I went back to work and she started at daycare.  We are lucky to have a prior relationship with our daycare provider and to trust her as much as you can trust someone else watching your child, so we were off to a great start.  K seems to be doing well on her daycare days (only three days a week) and our evenings following daycare have been SUPER pleasant, which is a happy surprise for us as we are used to grumpier evenings.  Seems the stimulation of the daycare environment is working out for her!  We are also happy because she gets to spend time with our friend’s child and said child has been working hard at her “big cousin” role and is already quite protective of K, apparently insistently telling our provider (her grandmother) to take care of the baby whenever the baby cries.

K is meeting more and more milestones each day.  We have had more laughs – including the laugh we are calling her first “real laugh” as it went beyond the heh-heh sounds she’s been making for weeks.  She is also “talking” to us quite a bit and I absolutely delight in the moments when she seems to make one long continuous babbling sound, complete with changes in pitch.  She shows more recognition of both of us.  She has also really gotten into grabbing and holding her toys on her playmat and attempts to bring them to her mouth; sadly, their position above her head mean that she pulls until they fly out of her hand and she ends up with her fist in her mouth, which seems to be an acceptable consolation prize nine out of ten times.  Her favorite song right now is “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” particularly the part where we do “all three.”  She has pretty good neck control, is capable of lifting her head off the ground for many many seconds, and at times can sit with less support, though of course she still needs a lot of it!  She is a master at scooting herself around on her back and has managed to get herself off of her playmat more than once (one time getting off the playmat, next to it, and in the opposite direction from her original direction – impressive!)

I am amazed at how much more capable she is of self-soothing and how much easier it is to get things done around the house, even with less time at home.  She is content to be by herself for longer and longer stretches, provided she has some form of entertainment, which can be as simple as watching us move around the house.  She is also calmer in the car these days (we went through a period where she would fuss and yes, scream, within minutes of the ride beginning) and is more consistently quite enjoyable to be around.

Sleep is still going well, though K is waking up once in the morning (before 7 am) since I’ve been back to work.  I generally enjoy that “middle of the night” time with her, though I am grateful that we’ve limited it to one wake up session thus far.  Swaddling continues to be our most effective sleep aid, though K does not immediately wake up when she becomes unswaddled and in the middle of the night I can put her back down even if her arms are free.  Nursing is also going well and pumping is going fairly well though my child is eating like it’s her job at daycare and I am working on increasing pumping sessions to meet her demand.    More on that later this week, I think.

Outside of daycare, fun adventures this week included going to the nursery, going to the pumpkin farm, and hosting a party, in addition to going to a beautiful state park today to soak up some gorgeous fall weather.  K loves being outside and especially loves looking up at trees.  She is not a fan of the sun in her face or too much wind.  I hope to get outside a lot more in the coming weeks before it gets too miserably cold for any of us… we can all use that time!

So we come to the end of K’s fourth trimester and look ahead to a wonderful future with her.  I am grateful for all of the time we’ve been able to spend together and for our little family and I must say, despite my concerns about bonding early on, I am quite content enamored with this little being.  She’s pretty wonderful and is definitely making our lives a better place to be!

 

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Then and Now

Being back at work this week I was incredibly struck by the difference between almost-40-week-pregnant me and mother of an almost-12-week-old me.

It was like time stood still, even as it clearly moved forward.

I was struck by the e-mails I received both in the week before I had the baby and in the week that followed.  The week before, I am a part of those e-mails, making plans and scheduling meetings like I’m not about to have a baby (the magic of not knowing when the baby will come).  I am full steam ahead because there was no way to plan to NOT be full steam ahead.   I remember the last midwife appointment, the Thursday before I gave birth.  Life was the same as it was the day before and as it would be the day after, moving along toward birth. The week after K was born, work life chugged along without me and I am absent from the conversations and decisions.  It is strange to me to think about life just continuing along while I was getting to know an entire new person who had just arrived in the world.  Not that it shouldn’t have, but finding a pile of unread interdepartmental mail in my mailbox that was important but is no longer relevant was slightly jarring.

I was struck by the changes that have not been made, some of which are pretty major, and the changes which have been made, many of which are pretty minor.  There are different paint colors.  A new cafe for employees.  Changes in decor.  I left and it was the middle of summer and there was summer decor.  Now it is fall and there are gourds and pumpkins and fall colors.  Experiencing the change without seeing the transition is strange.

I was struck by the changes in my body.  My building has tons of windows and I spent my entire pregnancy watching my reflection as I grew from I-have-a-secret-that-no-one-knows to wow-you-are-so-big-shouldn’t-you-have-had-the-baby-by-now.  And to see myself first last week, with the baby in the carrier strapped to my chest, and then this week, with my stomach way down, was not surprising but was interesting.

I feel like an entirely different person since K was born.  And yet, at work, I’m expected to be very much the same person, at least professionally.  I am pleased that I still feel interest in my job, that I feel incredibly competent and ready to take on big challenges.  But I also feel separate, different, as I have this connection to this little person that no one else at my job has (with my little person, anyway).  I am not constantly thinking / worrying about K, thankfully, but I am constantly and forever attached to her and I feel that attachment throughout the day, pulling at my heart.  And getting these glimpses of who I was, even twelve weeks ago as I sat watching the Olympics and feeling K move around like it was her job, is so mind-bending.  I knew I had no idea how I would feel or who I would be and really, I had no idea.

The concept of a world without K is hard for me to fathom, despite all the evidence that it did actually exist.  Not so much imagining a time before she existed outside of me – that’s easy to remember when I’m woken up in the middle of the night or I’m driving across town to daycare, extending my drive home by an hour – but imagining a me before I fully knew all the wonder that is her.

 

There she goes…

Today K is at daycare while I spend my last day of maternity leave being available and getting things done that are more challenging with an 11 week old hanging around.

I was hoping that yesterday (our last day off together) would be beautiful and relaxing.  It started out that way as we went on a walk with my mother around a nearby lake.  But before I knew it, my car was making funny noises.  Then it sounded like the muffler was going to fall off.  It was an easy fix (that took a chunk of time) and we were off to the store to buy enough bottles for daycare.  At the store, I managed to bang my head – HARD – into the roof of the car.  We had lunch and came home and within a few hours I was feeling really sick.  So I ended up doing what I could to keep K calm and entertained until C came home and then spent the rest of the night feeling pretty bad.  C and I ended up staying up until the early morning, preparing for today, relaxing, and talking, so that didn’t help.

This morning, K woke up around 5 and then again around 7:30.  I nursed her (and didn’t want to let her go), cuddled her (and didn’t want to let her go), and finally put her smiling self into the carseat.  We took two cars, since C had to go to work today, and we were off.

At daycare, which is in the home of our friend’s mother and a place we have spent significant time in the past, our friend’s three year old daughter was SUPER excited to see us.  She screamed our names and shared that she knew that K was coming to daycare today.  I was super nervous and emotional and allowed C to do much of the talking while I nursed the baby one last time before handing her off.  (Did I mention I seriously considered driving past daycare and into the sunset?  And that I considered running out of the house with my baby?)  Our niece made it easier – I tried to stay extra calm not only for the baby but also for her (and laughed when she thought she was going to come with us!).  When it was time to leave, we said goodbye and I walked as quickly as I could out of that house and to my car, where I started bawling.  C was there, suggested that we maybe get away from the house and continue the conversation, and mentioned she had a present for me.

So we drove a couple blocks away and she got into my car, bringing with her a beautiful charm bracelet.  It was a wonderful surprise, full of symbolism and meaning, and I felt again so lucky and grateful to have her in my life.  She also gave me money from her father, who had given it to her so that I might get my nails done today before returning to work.  I am hoping to do that this afternoon.

It feels like 11 weeks has passed and it doesn’t, all at the same time.  I was surprised this morning how normal it felt to get out of bed with an alarm, encourage the dog to go outside, and get myself ready for the day.  Obviously, today is a little different than any other day I will be having in the near future (it will be rare that I have a day off that doesn’t involve C or K), but we still went through the routine.  Regardless, it is hard for me to transition from such a special time to such a normal time.  My life is dramatically different in so many important ways and yet I will be fully reentering a world where things have likely been fairly status quo for the majority of people around me.  A piece of my heart will be miles away, smiling, interacting, and learning about the world, and I will be busy at work, fortunately at a job I care about, but still work nonetheless.

Overall, it is okay being at home, mostly because I have so much to do and it is a good break to get it done (I’ve already been grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and cooking dinner for tonight, not to mention pumping).  I do think I will be able to manage it tomorrow if I can stay busy and focused.  But if anyone asks me about my baby – which most people are bound to do – I think I might fall apart.

It feels like the end of vacation and the end of such a singularly focused time.  K has taught me so much about being in the moment and loving the moment you are in and I hope I can take that with me into the next several weeks and beyond.

10 Weeks (plus 2 days)

How is my baby already up to double digits in weeks?!  How have we already spent over 70 days together?

I think I’m going to change the format of these updates to bullet style so I can get it all in without feeling pressure to, you know, write halfway decently.

  • K continues to be more and more social, engaging with her favorites mentioned in the previous weekly update (light up kitty, etc.) and engaging with people, cooing at them.  Her fussiness tends to be more lodging a complaint than yelling the house down these days, and for that we are definitely grateful.
  • She continues to sleep 6-8 hours every night, but has effectively pushed her bedtime back to 10:30 or 11:00 from a steady 9:00 during previous weeks.  We have continued to try to get her upstairs, ready for bed just before 9:00 pm and she will doze on and off from that point forward, but she will not conk out completely for a good hour.  At this point, while it’s annoying because we lose our special “alone-but-not-asleep-and-not-working” time, I’m not too worried because next week our schedules will change dramatically and I imagine there will be a shift at that point.
  • She has found her hands.  Actually, she found them before 9 weeks, but continues to enjoy them this week.  When she gets them into her mouth, she slobbers and sucks like a dog with a bone, loud enough that you can hear it from the other room.  We are on team “hope-you-fully-realize-what-a-good-self-soothing-strategy-this-is” as she will not take a pacifier and often likes to “nurse” (aka use boobs as a pacifier rather than for nourishment) for a while each night.
  • Swaddle and swing still make for good naptimes many days, primarily when there are many people in the house who are not me.  When I’m home alone with her, she will sleep for an hour here or there but not the long naps we were having.  I’m typing this by having her nurse on a boppy under my arms at the computer desk.  The constant on and off waking has also affected my ability to do much of anything for any period of time, including pumping during the day on any kind of schedule.  I have a small freezer stash and am hoping pumping goes well when I’m back to work next week.
  • She is way more engaged with her hanging toys on her play mat and seems to really “get” hitting them.  That being said, they (and everything else) only hold her attention for about 10-15 minutes before she is bored and ready to do something else, as evidenced by the complaint crying plus lack of desire to nurse or be cuddled followed by complete calm when she is introduced to a new activity.  Still, her ability to be “by herself” is growing and makes me feel more confident about daycare.
  • Smiles are frequent and fun!  Almost everyone tries to get her to smile.  We’ve found that the best strategy is to just hang out with her in the morning but, barring that, she sometimes smiles in response to syrupy voices, other smiles, rasberries on her cheeks, or playing hand games (itsy bitsy spider).
  • Contentment is all the rage, much of the time.  SO MUCH BETTER than 4-6 weeks, when each night was endless sobbing.  Now we get more shades of frustration: disappointment, boredom, annoyance.    Little whimpers that notify us that all is not right before any kind of full-on screaming.  Nighttime has been so much more enjoyable!

Overall, things are going well!  I feel so much more settled with our lives – settled with the constant changing and settled with the things that seem to stay the same.  I have found myself savoring our little moments together as our everyday time together dwindles but I have also found myself looking forward to the challenges of work (and work and motherhood).

9 Weeks (+1 day) or 2 months (+ 2 days)

9 weeks is a super delightful time!  K’s level of interaction continues to increase daily.  Morning is her favorite time, the time of day when I’m most likely to elicit the most smiles with the least amount of work.  She actively moves her head and eyes to follow C and I as we walk around the house or leave her in the arms of someone else.  She appears sort of excitedly knowing when I begin some songs (itsy bitsy spider is one such song) and seems to anticipate the fun of those songs.  K is significantly better able to hang out independently, which is a relief as we consider that daycare will begin in just a few weeks.  Her favorites around the house are her light up kitty on her playmat, the six panes of glass in our door, a painting on the wall, the giraffe hanging on her comforter on the wall, and her sensory firefly.  She also loves being outside and looking up at the sky and trees.  Neck control is better by the day and most evident when we practice “sitting” or have tummy time.

Nursing and sleeping keep going well and I doubt I’ll continue to comment on them in any extensive manner unless something changes.  While K spends most nights sleeping peacefully for many hours, we did have an every two or three hour wake up night last night.  I’ve gotten the hang of nursing in the dark and, as K is more efficient and I am more tired these days, I stay half asleep through the feedings (instead of reading).  She continues to nap daily in her swing and nightly in her bassinet and we can sometimes put her down half-awake and let her fall asleep (though we sometimes are on team cuddle – this time doesn’t last forever!).  I enjoy our nursing sessions, especially those in the morning when I bring her into bed with me and we snuggle (though I never sleep as well after that, making me glad that we don’t bedshare overall).

We are slowly preparing for K to be away from me.  I had two appointments last week, leaving her home with my mom for one and C for another.  I had another appointment today and she stayed with my mom for three hours (and took two bottles, 3 ounces overall).  While these times away do allow K to be with others (particularly my mom, who will be watching her each week), I don’t think that they are really fully preparing me for the challenge of returning to work.  I will say that it was marginally easier to leave her this week after last week went so smoothly.  I also will say that a part of my brain is consistently thinking about her, wondering what she is doing, and often imagining that she is doing many more amazing things than she actually is.  And while it is very hard to leave her, reuniting is very sweet and I definitely saw recognition and happiness in K’s face when I started a nursing session with her after arriving home.

Speaking of work, a part of me is definitely beginning to mentally prepare as these final days of leave wind down (the turn of the calendar to October, the first month I will be working since July, has jumpstarted some of this).  I am allowing myself to be excited about various work opportunities and interests and pushing down guilty feelings brought on by half of everything I read about the best way to parent.  I am accepting that both of us working is our reality (even though I say at least once daily that I don’t want to return) and that providing for our family is very important.  I am also reminding myself that I am very much an invested parent who will be spending lots of real quality time with K when she and I are together and that that kind of investment, while not the same as 24/7 care, is going to be amazing for K and me.

C and I are doing well and I can’t say how grateful I am that she is such an amazing partner and co-parent.  We’ve had a couple hard moments, but no more (and actually probably fewer) than the moments we had before the baby was born.  We tag team well (always have) and C comes home from full, stressful days at work and jumps right into baby care so that I can get other things done around the house or take a break.  We switch off throughout the evening and end the night with bath and book (usually) and bed.  I feel like having so much to do during the days has made our alone time without the baby that much more fruitful and important and I have loved some of the great conversations we’ve been having about all kinds of things.

Even as I look back at the past nine weeks wistfully (and shocked at how big my baby is getting!), I am very excited about the coming days and months and anticipating the kind of child, teenager, woman my baby will become.

 

Coming into my own

C always wanted children.  From a young age, she played with dolls and took care of babies and small children whenever anyone would allow it.  Over the course of our almost ten year relationship, I have witnessed her interact extremely naturally with every newborn and child she meets, comfortably holding the little ones in the crook of her crossed leg, making up games for the older ones to keep them entertained.  She is intuitive and natural and so so good at caring for others.

I, meanwhile, was never sure about children until I suddenly was… and even then, I wasn’t.  I did not play with dolls as a child and I did not help care for my younger siblings when they were babies.  I have fairly good intuition with children, particularly latency aged children, and I love playing with and talking to infants and toddlers, but give me a newborn and I would get nervous and uncertain, worried that I might break them and confused about what to do.  I babysat for one baby in my teen years and all that involved was going over after she had gone to bed and sitting in the house watching cable, maybe occassionally warming a bottle or changing a diaper.

So it of course makes sense that when the baby was born, C’s intuition kicked into high gear and I… floundered a little.  I liked holding my baby and I quickly got over fears that her neck was going to bend in half, particularly after watching the midwife and lactation consultants handling her, but then… what?  At the end of the first few days, I cried and told C that I had no idea what to do with the baby… because in a lot of ways, I didn’t, as she had handled diapers and clothing and care as I had worked at nursing and healing and coping with the overwhelming emotions that I was having.  She showed me how to use the cloth diapers and how to swaddle based on her own new and limited experience and I gradually took on more of the responsibilities, feeling a bit like an imposter compared to my quite-talented-at-baby-care wife.

Over the weeks that C was at home, she and I tag teamed quite a bit and I took on more and more of what she was doing, just to try it, but she was still handling many of the non-nursing activities, often while I was nurisng.  For example, she would pack the diaper bag and get the carseat ready while I fed the baby and then get the baby settled in the carseat while I would get myself together to head out the door.  In this way we were super efficient (and dealt with minimal baby fussiness) but I didn’t pick up the childcare skills as quickly.  That being said, C’s support allowed me to focus heavily on building my nursing relationship with the baby, which was at times very frustration and challenging.

Cue C’s return to work.  Suddenly, for many hours a day, I was the sole provider for the baby.  There was no tag-teaming for food or diapers or responding to cries.  C’s first day back, I had a morning dentist appointment and had to get us together and out of the house (while also caring for Wonderdog, who can be quite needy).  Despite my mother’s help watching the baby while I was in the dental chair, it was a rough day, culminating with a cranky K due to missing a nap and both of crying in frustration (her for three hours, me after three hours).

But then something magical happened.  We got up the next day and made a go of it again.  And we began to find our own rhythm.  I quickly improved on all of my baby care skills (they weren’t that terrible to begin with, honestly, but there was definitely room to grow).  And as we have had to learn about each other without C’s support, the bond between has gotten deeper (it doesn’t hurt that K is also far more interactive these days!) and we have developed our own way of being together, our own patterns.  And I love it, because it makes me feel connected… and competent, which is not how I always felt in the days and weeks after K was born and C was so naturally caring for her while I was awkwardly trying to get a shirt over her head (okay, okay, that’s still a little awkward but I’m getting better!)  It’s the silver lining (and more) of C going back to work – I still wish she were at home more and we were bonding together, but I’m also getting this very special time with my little person.  And it helps me be better with going back to work (at least one of the five days of the week) because C will get to have more of her own time with the baby and continue to build their special relationship.

 

 

 

7 Weeks :)

… and the living is… sort of easy?  Maybe?  (I apologize in advance for the quality of writing of this post).

This week, K has continued to have improved interactions with us… meaning she smiles at us (especially in the morning, when her mood is especially sunny) and seems much more interested in the world around her.  She seems to have better focus and continues to look at lights and contrast but also will look at (literally) books if we hold them in front of her.  Neck and head control are improving and she can go quite a while with her head held away from my shoulder if she wants to see something (or let me know that she’s hungry, thank you very much).  She has also been very interested in being kept entertained and held at almost all times – we are working on finding times when she can be put down and enjoy herself (giving her mamas a little time to enjoy themselves – or at least clean up the house!)

Nursing is going well.  I pumped this week for the first time and have set a “pumping date” with myself once a day (I am upping it to twice a day this week).  I don’t get a whole lot of milk at most sessions and I keep trying to convince myself to relax, but it can be challenging when you are staring down an empty bottle illustrated with hatch marks that let you know just how much you are not pumping.  I also chose my pumping time to be in the morning, thinking there would be more milk but not thinking about managing the baby and pumping at the same time since C is now at work.  So many times I’m nursing the baby, putting her down, and then trying to pump while also keeping the baby entertained enough to have the peace to pump.  I may try to tackle pumping and nursing at the same time this week, but that is quite a lofty goal considering that currently I have to hold the pump with one hand and the baby with at least one hand, not to mention turn the dials on the pump.  We’ll see how it goes!

With nursing, we have tried to introduce the bottle with very little luck.  We have tried during less-hungry-but-almost-hungry times and also during definitely-hungry times.  I have been in the room and out of the room (on another level of the house).  We have tried different bottles.  And different positions (held close, held further away). And each time so far (three tries), K might go so far as to play with the nipple in her mouth before losing her mind over it not being my nipple.  It is hard for me because I listen to the baby fuss and even cry in frustration and it is hard for C because she is just trying to feed the baby.   Any suggestions for what might help would be greatly appreciated!

Sleep during the day has been a struggle at times.  We have gotten into a routine of a short late morning nap and a longer afternoon nap but K can be tricky to put down during the day, especially if we are out and about or otherwise miss the beginning of what would typically be the period in which napping might begin.  Swaddling and rocking seem to help her get to sleep and stay asleep during the day, but at times she fights the swaddle and, if she wins, she will wake up sobbing and have difficulty going back to sleep.

Sleep at night is  going very well.  We have gotten into a great bedtime routine which includes frequent nursing up until bedtime (to address some of the bewitching hour blues), a bath (on most nights), a book (sometimes while nursing if K can’t tolerate just doing “nothing” while the book is read), and an extra long nursing session (as in 30+ minutes of K nursing heavily at first and then drifting off).  She is then swaddled and put to bed, usually slightly awake but drifting.  It has been working pretty great and we have had a couple nights where she has slept until 4:30 or 5:30 am. We did try to do a “dream feed” on Wednesday or Thursday night and quickly realized it was futile – even when she was unswaddled and had a diaper change, K stayed sound asleep (and slept until 4:30).  Just as well for us as I imagine I will be trying to go to bed earlier once I am back at work.

As I’ve mentioned about 100 times, this week C went back to work.  It has been very challenging for me at times – like when K cried for a couple hours straight on Monday despite my best attempts to soothe her – but overall, I have enjoyed the opportunity to build my relationship with K.  When C was home, she was (blessedly, wonderfully!) taking on a lot of the tasks outside of nursing, and having to do all of them solo has given me an opportunity to build skills and interact in a different way with K.  It has also been a good brain challenge, figuring out how to get us all (including Wonderdog) out of the house for a walk or timing a feeding so we can get out of the house to a scheduled adventure.  This past week, we went to the dentist (with my mom’s help), had my boss come visit, went for a walk around a nearby lake, and had lunch with a friend whose baby is exactly a week younger than K (so refreshing to have someone to talk to who is in pretty much the same place).  On C’s days off, we spent time hanging out together, including driving all over the place on a fall adventure yesterday.

Overall, I think C and I are doing fairly well considering the challenges of getting into a new rhythm of her working and me being at home.  It is difficult to be in such vastly different places with such different demands on our days (as compared to when we were both home and were equally focused on the same goal).  It is also hard to fully “get” the stresses that the other is under because C has not spent whole days home alone with K yet and I have not been at work yet.  I do think the 9 pm bedtime, with a couple of hours of “us” time afterward, has been super helpful in keeping us connected and giving us both  adult time and I am grateful that we have had that time this week.  Our biggest challenge so far has been feeding ourselves at night, partially because we failed miserably at grocery shopping last week and partially because it is hard for me to cook when K needs so much attention and it is hard for C to cook after a long day at work (and really just wanting to come home and see K before she is settled in for the night at my breast or in bed).   While this new time is special in it’s own way, I do miss the time we had together and I am not quite as reluctant about my own return to work when the alternative is 24/7 baby time (though I would be FAR less reluctant if return to work was just part time days that would recharge my critical-thinking-and-interacting-with-adults-in-a-different-way battery without keeping me away from my daughter for the best hours of her day).