December 2011

I don’t know if I jinxed everything by writing that previous post, or if, like Flip Flop Girl said on text in the early hours of the morning to me when I was having a breakdown and she stayed with me (via cellphone texting) through it, I just happened to hit on a growth spurt… but last night broke me.

Things were going well and I was optimistic, until about 9:30p after a feeding when I asked Mr. W if he could help me put Allie (dozing in my arms) to bed, and I was tired so I was just going to stay up there with her. We all went upstairs, and she started crying hysterically. After a few minutes of this, she managed a couple of “leh”s in her crying so I figured, she drank very little from one of my breasts, so I’ll put her back on that one. She probably wasn’t done before she fell asleep. So I did that, and she had her nightcap, and dozed. Then when she was transferred from my arms to bed, she woke up screaming and crying. She cried from 9:40p straight through to 11pm and we tried EVERYTHING — swaddling, shushing, pacifier (she rejected it repeatedly), gripe water, rocking her in the rocker she sleeps in on Mr. W’s side, putting her in the cosleeper on her back on my side, and at 10:40p, because she was crying “leh” repeatedly altho I’d just fed her, I heated up some previously pumped breastmilk and bottlefed her. She drank 55 ml (nearly 2 ounces!) and refused the last 5 ml, but resumed crying “leh.” I couldn’t believe it. How could she take so much milk, refuse to eat more, yet not be full, and still cry for more? What was going on? I was totally freaked as she cried “leh” continuously in between screams.

It was a battle of wills — Mr. W was determined to get her to sleep in either her co-sleeper or rocker bed, she was determined to stay up and scream. He rocked and rocked and shook and shook the beds — both of them. She’d doze fairly often, then moments later, a small whimper and then the usual wail again. It was so discouraging. Knowing he was trying to get her to sleep on her own, I didn’t pick her up, but I was so torn and stressed, and seeing how stressed Mr. W was and upset and frustrated just made everything so much worse. The guilt came back and I found myself apologizing to him again and he told me to stop being sorry, he wasn’t mad at me.

Finally at 11pm, by rocking the cosleeper (which isn’t designed to rock) and having on both the vibration and music attachment, she was quiet for about an hour. Then at midnight, she started all over again. I was curled at the end of the bed sobbing at this point, not knowing what to do, and Mr. W came running up in a flurry and shook the cosleeper again. That didn’t work this time. He changed her diaper despite her not really needing it because he didn’t know what else to do, shushed her as he carried her around rocking her on her side, she didn’t stop. She went for almost an hour more.

This morning I was awakened at 6am by sounds of her restlessly moving around and sucking, but she wasn’t crying. Mr. W mumbled that she was up doing that since 4am. But I know I hadn’t fed her since 10:40 pm’s bottle, and I felt like I needed to feed her, but I also knew Mr. W was trying to sleep in this lack of crying and if I picked her up and fed her, the cry cycle may start all over again, and I couldn’t handle that frustration and tiredness from him again. So I laid there, crying to myself, until I got up and stole downstairs to leave a message for the lactation clinic, begging for an appointment. Then I texted Flip Flop Girl and she consoled me, said it was a growth spurt, that everything was normal and fine, and to just feed her on demand. I took Allie out of our bedroom, locked myself with her in the nursery (which is rarely used), and fed her around 7am as I cried. Later I spoke to my cousin Jennifer, who said the same thing. The lactation nurse called back and said the same thing with a tiny caveat that hopefully she didn’t have an ear infection which would affect her ability to suckle from my breasts, especially if she had a stuffy nose to go with it (Allie was sounding stuffy a few days ago and these days, some of her wails have the sound of phlegm vibrating in the back of her throat). The lactation nurse gave me their earliest open appointment next Wednesday; meanwhile I’ve been crying from stress all morning. Every time Allie wakes up I nearly have a panic attack.

We took Allie for a short walk so I could get to my ATM and we stopped at a local bagel place for breakfast. I was so relieved to see Mr. W handling Allie lovingly as normal. I keep having a fear that because he was so tired and her crying was so problematic, that he wouldn’t like her or want to interact with her anymore. But that hasn’t happened. He comforted me and told me to stop listening to him and to do what I want, pick her up or not; he said he was like me in not knowing how to handle this baby because every baby is different, and that I’m probably better prepared than he is because I have maternal instincts. Allie was good and peaceful through most of the time out, only crying on our way home from the bagel place. We walked thru an isolated neighborhood and she fell asleep in the stroller after some minutes anyway.

Thank God my mom came over around noon. She held Allie the entire time as I tearfully relayed the recent events to her (minus the outing). She said Allie’s an angel, and that she and my dad will always be available to help, I need only call her. She offered to babysit Allie so Mr. W and I could go for dinner for New Year’s, but I don’t think we’re gonna do it. No reservations could be made at with this late notice, I’d imagine. Then my mom told me stories about her early mothering experiences at age 24. She also told me it WILL get better, and I was dubious, until I realized I’m an only child so she was talking about ME, and I am not currently a crying infant. I was glad my mom was holding Allie and she was mainly sleeping — but every time Allie opened her eyes I felt my anxiety level rise, like I was going to have a panic attack. I was next to tears, had a headache and felt nauseated the entire time and still feel that way now. I think I’m seriously traumatized.

I might be counting my chickens before they’re hatched, but today, IT GOT BETTER! (College roommie Diana’s baby experience seems to be following ours at 2 weeks behind, so she’s been hoping to see a “it got better” post somewhere to give herself something to look forward to.)

My friend Lily had an extra copy of “What to Expect in the First Year,” so she sent it to me. In it last nite, I found a chart that deciphers baby’s crying. I already know Allie’s “I’m hungry” cry with her “le le leh”s. The rest sound the same to me, only differing in severity. The chart described the “I’m uncomfortable” cry as whiny, nasal, continuous, building in intensity, often accompanied by squirmy, kicky legs. She did that this morning, I changed her diaper, and found a poopy! YAY! An hour later, I used another chart description: an “I’m bored” cry starts off as cooing to try to engage the parents, then proceeds to fussing to get more attention, then bursts of indignant crying when she gets upset she’s being ignored alternating with whimpers. I also read that at this month-old stage, she’s got a wakeful time when she’s learning and gets bored with the same scenery after half an hour or so, so this morning, as she was in her swing, I heard her start the cooing sounds. I went to her and imitated her, which is supposed to encourage their language skills. It soon became fussing. I picked her up and took her to a different environment, talking to her, and altho it looked like she had a wrinkled brow as if she was about to cry, she suddenly stopped and it didn’t proceed to crying. YES! She soon started her straining squeals like she was pushing, so I gave her a belly massage and she was happy and smiley through it. I also took her cues of sucking on her fist, tested her cheek and lips with the backs of my fingers and watched her root around, so I fed her and she ate hungrily, BEFORE SHE HAD TO DO HER LEH LEH LEH CRY! And THEN…while I was feeding, she had a GIANT POOPY! I felt so rewarded. This ends her 3-day most recent poopy dry spell.

It was a busy day we had planned; I strapped her into her car seat carrier as Mr. W supervised and gave instructions (it wasn’t as hard as I thought), then practiced clicking the carrier into the car seat base in my car, took it out, and clicked it into the car seat base in Mr. W’s car. Then we went to our local Registrar-Recorder’s office and obtained a few certified copies of her birth certificate (prices go up January 1st! they’re $19 each now, will be $21) for putting her on our insurance and for other legal agencies. We had a healthy vegetarian lunch at Mother’s Market Cafe where she did fuss a little, but she was overheated in her carrier and fell asleep when Mr. W held her and gave her a pacifier. It make mealtime harder for him to eat and it made me nervous as I wolfed my food, but she didn’t have a meltdown or anything. She did have a meltdown in the car on the way to my rental property because it was a long drive and she was “leh”ing and I couldn’t do anything about it. As soon as we pulled into the garage I fed her from one side and she was fine, but I also understood why she was SO upset in the car — she was overheated and her entire back, neck and back of head were sweaty. After we met up with the next tenant, we went a nearby Costco and in the car she demanded loudly for the second half of her meal, so I fed her from the other side in the parking lot as Mr. W did the Costco run, and she fell asleep afterwards, sleeping all the way home.

Back at home, I watched her sucking her fist again, so I tested her, she rooted, and I fed her before she cried. Then as she fell asleep, Mr. W placed her in the carrier and she’d been sleeping there for at least a good half hour.

By the way, the “I’m in pain” cry starts out as a sudden shriek and is loud, high-pitched, and each scream is long (2-3 seconds), the baby having to pause to take in air in between the shrieks. For those babies that don’t use “leh,” the “I’m hungry” cry is short rhythmic cries, low-pitched, with a pleading quality to it. I’m hoping that as I get better at reading her and can prevent the crying, she’ll learn she can cry less and only use crying as a last resort. I did ask her as I fed her this morning, per Flip Flop Girl’s suggestion, to cry less and reassured her that she is priority and we will try to meet her needs without her having to bellow as she had in the past.

I had my first bad-mom thought yesterday evening. I had read in various places, and learned in various babycare/birthing classes, that it’s normal to have an awful thought relating to the baby when you’re exhausted and your nerves are frazzled, and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother or that you’re going through post-partum depression or post-partum psychosis — like the moms who drown their babies or the one who microwaved her newborn (*vomit*) — unless you find yourself acting it out. Apparently a lot of moms imagine throwing their screaming infants out the window or something. That wasn’t my thought.

I was holding the most innocent-looking, peacefully-sitting sleeping infant in my arms after feeding her. She’d fallen asleep and I was sitting her upright, snuggled between my body and the inside curve of the Boppy pillow, and she was sitting with her feet neatly touching together, her hands obediently together on her lap. Her face was smooth and untroubled. She looked like she was kissing butt, how perfectly she was sitting there, breathing evenly in her sleep.

I took a photo of her beautiful form, and noted that the camera distorts the image, makes her head look way bigger than her body, and doesn’t do her form justice. And I thought, “This past month in its surrealness…if I were to wake up suddenly and realize it was all just a dream and I wasn’t pregnant, and this whole past year’s experiences just dissolve, I’m not sure I would choose to get pregnant.” The implications were so horrible I wouldn’t let myself explore much beyond it. I got to, “I’m not so attached to Allie right now that I would cry at her disappearance if I were to wake up and find that she never existed?” and stopped the thinking. I feel like the most rotten person for thinking I may take up an opportunity to change things if I were given a guiltless freebie. Rotten person, horrid mother.

I love Allie; it’s just so much harder than anyone had warned me it would be. And the ridiculous part is — I don’t actually think anything’s WRONG. I’m just submerged in a new game in which I’m unfamiliar with any of the rules, and the rules keep changing when I figure some of them out, and I’m not used to feeling SO lost and SO insecure about something so important. I constantly have dreams that I’m back in college and find myself suddenly on the eve of finals and realizing I’m completely unprepared and had done none of the required assignments or studying.

I never thought I’d be one of those moms who’d cry about this feeling, either. I really thought my optimism would just barrel me through. Now I’m instantly worried something’s terribly wrong when Mr. W merely shakes his head and rolls his eyes that I’m feeding her again after I’d just fed her a little over an hour previously, despite the fact that he has told me to stop taking cues from him. My cousin Jennifer said her 3-month-old had gone through a growth spurt and feeding frenzy every 2-3 weeks and that this is normal, and I’d read as much, but I still have these ridiculous fears like, “What if my baby is an anomaly and doesn’t actually know when to stop eating?”

Because of my insecurity causing me to take to heart every negative inflection from Mr. W, I almost feel better about his going back to work next week. Then I wouldn’t feel guilty about her crying upsetting him, or about holding her and letting her sleep in my arms after a feeding (he says I can’t hold her all day and he’s right, and I hope I’m not “training” her to only be able to sleep when held, but the fact is that she wakes up in 15 mins or less when we put her down somewhere after she’s fallen asleep, whereas she’ll sleep on me for 2-3 hours, and THAT’S got me concerned, too). But more than that possible tiny bit of relief, I mostly feel scared. 12 hours is a long time to be alone with the baby when I’ve been so dependent on Mr. W to take over things. I won’t have those long morning showers when Mr. W is playing with Allie after I’d just fed her; there won’t be another parent to soothe her crying or change a diaper if I can’t get there fast enough; I can’t leave her to get online or clean up or throw the changed diaper away immediately. I can’t make food for myself and then eat it uninterrupted. Worst of all, I can’t leave the house with her if I need to. I still have some days left. I’m going to train myself to use the baby carrier so I can free up my hands at home, and to use the car seat/carrier/stroller.

Thank God my cousin Jennifer lives a few cities over and has offered many times to come by with her baby to help if I need it, and has told me to go over whenever I liked until she’s back to work after maternity leave.

Christmas was spent at home in our pajamas. Allie was getting better with her screaming in that she still fussed but did it less often, with less severity and for much shorter periods of time. But as soon as Christmas Day hit at midnight, she wailed and screamed and cried and wouldn’t settle down for hours on end. This continued through Christmas Day until we were just exhausted; Mr. W made a few too many half-jokes about giving her away, putting her in foster care until she was older, or handing her over to other family/friends to care for until she was old enough to stop screaming. She finally settled down after a feeding, falling asleep in my arms, when my parents came over as they often do these days with box dinners for us. When she awoke, she got crabby again.

Two days before Christmas, I had managed to go alone to the mall to get my parents two sets of double-walled glass teacups that they’d liked. While I was there, I also got Mr. W L’eau Par Kenzo cologne (he’s a cologne fiend) and a waffle recipe book so he could get more use out of the waffle iron he’d recently acquired. I was wondering how to secretly wrap this stuff while caring for a baby and with Mr. W also home when I stumbled upon a donation-run giftwrap station in the center of the mall, so I gladly handed the stuff over and was done with everything as soon as I walked out. The mall was getting crowded by the time I left.

We exchanged gifts on Christmas evening, with Mr. W looking surprised when I brought a box out from under the tree with a card and handed it to him. We had somehow developed an unsaid understanding that we weren’t getting each other presents. Then he got up and went to the tree, dragged out a large “prop” box that was supposed to be empty, and handed it to me. Everyone loved their stuff; he got me a super-nice sheet set that I had fallen in love with at our massage place the moment I laid down in the luxury. I had considered buying it from the massage spot, but the price tag turned me off. He spoils me. And speaking of spoil, my parents got me a denim Coach bag and an “Allie” necklace with her birthstone and my birthstone; they got Mr. W a Coach wallet-slash-cellphone-holder and a Coach beanie. My mom proudly announced she did all her Christmas shopping in one store.

Today, Mr. W got up at 7am after Allie’s morning feeding and went to the gym. Allie went back to sleep and seemed to wake up a few times, making her usual gurgles, fist-in-the-air stretches, squeals, bicycle legs, all with her eyes closed, and falling back to sleep each time. She slept so well I managed to go downstairs and have some breakfast on my own before the cat did his yowling thing and woke her up for good. I had just finished feeding her brunch (which she asks for by peppering her cries with “le! Lehhhh!” It sounds very French) when Mr. W came back and suggested I get ready for an outing so we could have a bite out and take Allie for a walk.

It was beautiful outside today, sunny, although a little arid for my tastes. We drove to San Juan Capistrano and had a nice lunch al fresco at Sundried Tomato Cafe. Allie woke up in her stroller and fussed. Once the pacifier lost its power to console her, I decided to take her into the restroom and change her, as she was squirming something wicked, too. My first public changing experience with her was pretty unpleasant. There was no changing table, so I had to place her on the marble counter between the two sinks on her changing pad. She screamed and scratched and writhed the entire time, probably because she was uncomfortable as it was freezing in the bathroom. Then I couldn’t find the diapers in the daddy diaper backpack Mr. W brought. I must’ve unzipped 7 compartments before I found an inner pocket. She was meanwhile sliding off me as I had to hold her with one arm, and clawing my chest and neck to ribbons and deafening me with her wails. Finally, the deed done, I exited the bathroom, rather embarrassed as I was sure people in the restaurant were wondering who on earth was killing a baby in the bathroom. Thankfully, the bathroom stayed empty while I was in there (I wouldn’t go in if I heard that, either) and the moment we walked out into the warmer restaurant, Allie was silent.

We then braved the mall again to return a set of the glass teacups; my parents took the gift home and found a crack in one. Allie started crying her “Le! Lehhhh! Le!” in the car so I fed her in the backseat really quick, Mr. W put her in a harness-type carrier, and wore her into the mall. We bee-lined to the tea store, did the exchange, and bee-lined back to the car. Allie slept in the carrier the whole time. Whew.

And with that, we concluded our first Christmas holiday with a baby.

My little girl turned a month old today! I can’t call her “little” anymore, though. Mr. W slapped a tape measure on her today, and she’s 23 inches long (that’s a two-inch gain in a month since her birth!) and her head measured 14.5 inches. I noticed when I looked at her around the 3 week mark that her hands looked double in size, because one tiny hand used to wrap around the upper half of my thumb, and now it wraps around my entire thumb. Last night, she stretched from crown to toes nearly end-to-end in her playard co-sleeper. Looking down at her today, I was almost startled at how big she looked in my arms. No, we didn’t take a photo today, but we have some from our Christmas photo shoot(s).

From December 8, 15 days ago, I tried to get some shots that I could use on Allie’s birth announcement card. (As always, rest mouse pointer over photos for captions.) These are outtakes:

From December 13, 10 days ago… Mr. W’s son came over and we tried to get a family shot so that I could make a Christmas photocard. It was NOT easy to get 4 adults AND a baby looking decent, looking at the camera, and all at the same time. Observe:

So apparently, only Allie was ready in this shot.

Allie already had enough of posing, and Son is losing focus fast. Daughter obviously was ready to go. =P

After many mediocre or less fruitful attempts, the stepdaughter predicted that “this next shot is it!” …and then Allie sneezed. “NOOOOOOOOO!” Stepdaughter cried.

We *almost* got the shot we wanted in the following one, but we weren’t sure if Allie gazing adoringly at her mommy would satiate people’s desire to see what Allie’s face actually looks like.

We decided to turn the camera so we could get a tighter shot on the group, and Allie actually looked at the camera at the right time, but Mr. W didn’t account for how tall he is when he set up the shot.

Finally, this is the shot we went with:

By the way, Allie’s fancy dress is an adorable onesie with a tutu attached, and it says “Santa Baby” on the shirt, not that anyone could tell cuz Allie keeps clasping her hands in front of her chest like an opera singer. And of course we learn after closer examination that I should’ve been sitting on the higher chair, but whatever. We were done with all the effort.

I wrote an email to Allie’s pediatrician yesterday morning explaining about her gassiness and lack of poopy. She was on her 5th day of being a pea-shu. At Rebecca’s suggestion, I’d started drinking half a cup of prune juice a day (and it’s done stuff for ME, but hadn’t yet done anything for Allie); at lots of people’s suggestions, I’d cut out gassy foods from my diet, such as onions, beans, cabbage, dairy. Allie’s gas issue seems better — she fusses still, but has her hysterical fits much less, and now settles down more easily and it doesn’t take 2+ hours of comforting her anymore to get her to stop crying. She still wakes from sleep fussing here and there, though. The pediatrician’s nurse wrote me back late afternoon saying that the doctor is out of the office that day, but that after the 3rd week of life, a breastfed infant can go 5-7 days without pooping, and it’s okay as long as the baby doesn’t appear to be in pain. Previous nurses and doctors were all unconcerned at Allie’s prior poopilessness because her stomach wasn’t distended or hard and she was tooting, which means no blockage. They say she’s just using up all the nutrients and her body isn’t wasting anything to expel, and she’s peeing plenty so she’s not dehydrated. But that was when she skipped 1-3 days. The nurse went on in her email to tell me that if I’m concerned and the problem continues, I can get some infant glycerin suppositories and put half a pill in Allie.

Today makes 6 days of unpoopiness, so I went out this evening in search of the said suppositories. CVS drugstore had individually-packed liquid glycerin doses, but specified it was for children 2-5 years of age. I considered using half a dose, but how do you half-dose liquid? And what if there’s a specific reason this is not labeled for babies, such as the concentration was stronger?
I walked from there to Ralphs grocery store. They didn’t have anything useful. “Little Tummys” stomach medication; “Little Noses” sniffles medication; “Little Colds” cold medication…where was “Little Anuses?”
I drove to Walgreens Pharmacy. They had the same “Little” collection and liquid glycerine for 2-5 year olds. I was about to leave, but then asked to be directed to a pharmacist so that I could at least ask before I gave up. I had to wait behind 2 idiots who took up nearly 15 minutes each with their stupid issues (one picked up her prescription, then asked to check on a prescription for her mom, which the pharmacist confirmed was in the system and filled but was ordered at a different branch, so the lady wanted to transfer it to this branch, but didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it, then decided she wanted it anyway, then asked for a demonstration on how to use it even tho it was her mom’s; the other lady had issues with her insurance not letting her get 2 refills’ worth of meds at the same time and made the pharmacy call her insurance and doctor). Too bad they didn’t turn around to read my Happy Bunny shirt, which read “Make the stupid people shut up!” I finally got to explain my dilemma to the pharmacist, asking if I could just squeeze half a bulb’s worth of meds into Allie. The pharmacist took me to a whole different section of the store where they were apparently hiding the infant glycerin suppositories, and instructed me on how to cut one in half and insert it, warning me sympathetically not to overuse the product because we don’t want Allie dependent on it for bowel movements. Because of this warning, I decided to buy the product but wait until after the 7th day of poopilessness before administering it. (On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…)

“Okay, Allie, you have one day to poopy on your own before I stick something up your butt,” I told her when I got home.
She poopied less than an hour later. I keep kicking myself for not simply ASKING her to do something earlier, like when I kept complaining she wasn’t coming out into the world but the day Mr. W simply ASKED her to come out, she started my contractions that night.

I am now convinced that Allie has colic. Mr. W’s solution to that is to ban me from Wikipedia, but that doesn’t change the fact that Allie has well over 3 hours daily of inexplicable fits of crying — in fact, she could cry 2.5 hours straight at a time immediately after a feeding. She’ll pull off me to cry. Her diaper’s changed, she’s burped and fed, swaddled and cuddled, but she’s angry about something we can’t fix. We finally just let her cry, unresolved, after 2 hours of unsuccessfully trying to calm her down in the wee hours last nite (altho after she did, she slept solidly and went 7 hours between nighttime feedings). The pacifier works intermittently, but within seconds she’d spit it out and wail. If she’s not asleep or eating, she’s screaming and crying. I feel bad for always trying to get her to sleep, but that’s the only time anything could be done when she’s not clawing and scratching the heck out of my chest and deafening me with her red-faced rageful wails. Supposedly colic self-resolves in 3-4 months. That seems like a lifetime away.

P.S. I told a friend today that “I’m doing okay. I’m convinced Allie has colic, and depending on how much rest I’ve had, it sometimes threatens to break my spirit. It probably karmically balances out the extraordinarily easy time I had with pregnancy and labor. Well, I don’t want to ‘owe the universe one,’ anyway. It might decide to take it in the form of a teenage Allie misadventure.”

We took Allie Cat to work on Friday, just for a visit and to get some business done, pick up a check, etc. The only person I told ahead of time was my court reporter Louise, and she told my judge. I didn’t want to get swarmed at work with the baby, but I figured once I got there and got situated, I could call specific people to have them come to me. At Louise’s suggestion, we got there at lunchtime, when we figured most people wouldn’t be around. Oddly, NOBODY was around. On my floor, my judge’s chambers were dark, and Louise’s office light was on with the door slightly ajar, but she wasn’t there, either. That’s really unusual; those two are almost always in through lunch. Mr. W wandered around while I walked Allie around my courtroom and he found that it was a ghost town everywhere. Turned out people were upstairs in the Judges’ Lounge for an annual karaoke holiday party. Mr. W went up there and snagged some people and sent them down to me, knowing I didn’t want to bring a newborn around to a crowd upstairs. (Turned out Louise went to Costco and my judge had called in sick because his back gave out and he couldn’t move. I should call to check up on him. As for Mr. W’s work-related errands, he’d called his supervisor before we left, and she told him, “Don’t bring the baby to the office! Everyone’s sick!” so that took care of that.)

It was rather risky taking the baby out in public this early, and went against the pediatrician’s advice, because she has no immune system, yet, and this is flu season. Plus, who knows what diseased inmate a bailiff was searching just before he came out and saw us. But everyone at work was really great and kept their hands off Allie, only standing over her or sitting next to me and watching. It made me think of all the times I’d reached out and touched babies’ hands, now wondering whether their mothers cringed as I did that. My impression is that no one usually brought out a 3-week-old for me to interact with, though. I’d feel better once Allie reaches the 2-month mark and could get her vaccinations.

She had a little meltdown while I was alone in my courtroom with her. She screamed so hard she echoed off the walls. It was a good thing the floor was abandoned. I gave in and gave her the pacifier when I couldn’t calm her down, so by the time the first coworker came down to see us, she was calm and sleepy. Soon, as lunch ended, people returned to the floor and more friend-coworkers were located and they came down, also. At one point I had to breastfeed her, so I did that in my reporter’s office for 2 minutes before she let out some wet-sounding toots. I stopped, brought her into the courtroom and asked Mr. W to get a diaper and the changing pad and to meet me in the jury room restroom. Yup, sure enough, poopy! Yay! I understand; court sometimes bugs the crap out of me, too. She was so comfortable after that, after we finished feeding, she fell asleep.

People gave the usual obligatory “she’s beautiful” compliments, some said she was a “mini-Cindy,” and some said they could actually see Mr. W in her. I asked, “Where?!” There was a consensus that she resembled him about the chin and the outside of the mouth. Mr. W was a proud papa totin’ her around, showing her off. I’m so glad we were able to find that fertility clinic and do the ICSI procedure; I’m glad I don’t have to find out what it’d be like if Allie had none of his DNA. I’d probably feel guiltier when she cried and made Mr. W tired, and he may feel less connected to her and not play with her as much or give her those little kisses on top of her head as often. And it’d sure be awkward if people claimed they could see him in her features.

Allie has started sleeping longer and longer during nighttime. Between midnight and 9am, she was at about 4 hours between feedings in her 2nd week, then in her 3rd week, she went to 5.5 hours one night, 6.5 the next. We were elated. The 3rd night was last nite. She finished a feeding at about 12:30am, and didn’t have her next one until about 7:15am; another nice long stretch…except this feeding was odd.

I had noticed a couple of days ago that often, instead of latching on right away, she’d smack around and have trouble getting suction started. It almost seemed like she didn’t really want to feed, but I don’t feed her unless she’s crying and showing signs of rooting, so I know she was hungry. What was this, nipple confusion? We’d been using the pacifier a lot since being told we could and should. So last nite, she had a harder time latching on, then things went normally for a few minutes, and she pulled off herself in frustration and cried, hard. It was an angry hungry cry, as if I were depriving her of feeding but I wasn’t. We switched sides, and she went awhile, and the same thing happened. Mr. W suggested maybe I wasn’t producing enough milk anymore. Just to see, after she was off and having her fit, I left her with Mr. W (where she cried and was unable to sleep until 2:30 am) and pumped. I got something like 5mL out from both sides collectively, which is ridiculous. What happened to the days when I was producing 2.5+ oz per side? (30mL = 1 oz) I thought about what I’d been doing differently.

When I pumped behind my feedings, my milk supply increased so much that I was engorged and leaked often, and Allie couldn’t drink enough to relieve me all the way. I stopped pumping and made her go 5 minutes on each side to relieve both sides somewhat, hoping my body would realize I was overproducing and cut back. The last couple of days, she was going up to 8-9 minutes each side, which was odd as usually 5 minutes were sufficient to get her in a food coma. After not feeding for over 6 hours overnight (the equivalent of missing 1-2 feedings in the day), I woke up engorged, a rare feeling these days. She latched and fed just fine, went 8 minutes on one side, then after I switched her, she went only a few minutes on the other before dropping off in the old comatose pattern. I got up and pumped out the rest, and got 18mL from the one she spent little time on, 5mL from the side she started on. Wow. I know she didn’t drink 2.5 oz (75mL) in the time she spent, so my production is WAY down.

I guess I’m going to have to find a happy medium. Pumping too much = too engorged within a couple of days. Cessation of pumping = insufficient milk supply within a few days. Oops. I’m going to try pumping daily, but just in the morning, and see if that helps. If nothing else, I can slowly build up enough pumped milk to supplement again if need be. 🙁

Her other problem: pooping. She only poops once a day or so (instead of the guideline of up to 6 a day), and often skips days. She pooped once yesterday, but skipped the 3 days before that. I’d jokingly called her a “pea-shu,” the mythical Chinese creature with the head of a dragon and the body of a lion, depicted in statuettes with its mouth open and used for luck in bringing in money, as it eats but has no butthole to poop out what it takes in (yeah, you read me right). The doctors and nurses are unconcerned as her abdomen is soft and she’s passing gas, so that means she doesn’t have a blockage problem; they assume she’s just using up all the nutrition she gets and creates little waste product. But she strains and sometimes cries from pain or frustration trying to push out gas, so Mr. W is thinking she doesn’t know how to poop. The doctor said to help her feel her anal muscles by bicycling her legs and then raising her knees to her chest for a few seconds in cycles as she lays on her back, but doing this often makes her spit up. When she’s empty enough for us to do this, of course she’s hungry and crying to be fed. So now I have a baby who has forgotten how to latch, and hasn’t learned how to poop. What the heck.

I don’t know if this is a normal part of new motherhood, but I feel lots of guilt today. Allie’s been crying on and off all day, except when she’s eating or sleeping. I feel guilty when I’m not holding her. When I’m holding her and can’t get her to calm down, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for not cleaning up around the house more even though I’ve been constantly tidying up any chance I get. I feel guilty for not making healthy meals for the family. I feel guilty when I eat because I’m not doing baby duty when I’m eating. When I’m holding Allie I look around and feel guilty for the pacifier laying on her swing, the box of diapers and changer stuff not put away and out of view, the baby blanket not folded, the burp cloth laying strewn across the couch. When Mr. W has Allie in his arms I feel guilty for his taking baby duty even though I’m taking out the trash, loading or unloading the dishwasher, heating up some food for him or us to eat.

How do people survive the first month?!

It’s amazing what you can get done between diaper changes and feedings…as long as they can be done on the phone.

Last day to pay property taxes before late penalties is today, and when we refinanced our house to take advantage of lower interest rates, the mortgage company insisted on taking money out for a tax impound account. Last week, Mr. W and I both paid property taxes online for our separate rental properties, and then this weekend he thought to check on our house’s tax status. It showed “unpaid.” Weird, because when he checked our mortgage’s impound account online, it reflected that the correct amount of property tax was taken out of the impound account to pay taxes on November 17. Where has the money been for the past month? Both our rental properties already have a status of “paid,” so we know the tax website is updated. It was unnerving to see this on a weekend when nothing could be done and no one could be contacted until the next weekday. This morning after our pediatrician appointment, I actually managed to find a live person calling the mortgage company. She investigated the situation and confirmed that a consolidated check (which I gather means they paid for multiple properties with one check) was sent out to the tax collector in November, but that the check is still “pending.” The parcel number for the property is correct. She opened up a request for the tax people to call them to see why the check hasn’t cleared after all this time, and assured me that with the check number and a date/time stamp for receipt of the check from the tax people in the mortgage company’s records, we would not be charged a late penalty.

I also received a text from Maggie’s awesome husband Tom, whom I’ve burdened this month with practically being the management for my rental property. With his professional contractor connections, he’s been coordinating, supervising, liasoning, even participating in getting my property ready for the next renter. Josh and his wife moved out earlier this month and the next renters, a coworker with her adult son, are ready to move in at the end of the month. That gives a couple of weeks for a contractor to repair the drywall on the ceiling where it’d been leaking every rain since the flatroof had been done and scrape the popcorn off the ceilings to replace with ceiling textures, patch the nail holes on the walls, and for another painting contractor to paint everything. The problem was that the roofing company which did the flatroof, despite coming out many times after significant ceiling leaks from rainfalls, kept insisting that the leaks weren’t coming from their work on the flatroof; they say it’s coming from the composite shingle sections. Tom, however, took advantage of the rain today and crawled into the ceiling “attic” section and found the leak. It was coming from the flatroof section, he said 4 feet from the composite roof sections, which were totally dry. I called the roofing company as my roof was still under their warranty, told them the same leak is recurring, and where Tom described it was coming from. The receptionist remembered me and said they knew exactly where it was coming from — the drain. I said no, not according to my contractors. I explained the situation about the work being put on hold while the ceiling leaked, and hearing the house is vacant, the roofing company offered to go there immediately to check out the leak. Within half an hour, I received a call from Bobby, the roofer guy. He was at the property, had gotten in and seen the ceiling hole, the ladder set up to go in there, and the bucket holding the drippage, and he said he still thinks the leaks are coming from the composite roof and not their work. “Maybe your contractors didn’t know that the composite roof extends out over that section,” he said. It sounded like he didn’t go up in there the way Tom had so he didn’t see what Tom did. Bobby said he wanted to bring someone back with him later today or tomorrow morning so he could have one guy on the roof while he tapped on the ceiling at the leak site to figure out exactly what was above the leak — flatroof or composite roof. “He is wrong,” Tom texted when I told him what the roofer said. “I could see the entire comp section starting at the transitional metal flashing and it was dry. Leak was on flat roof side of mansart. Possible seam leak where it curves up onto wall?” I’m sure Tom’s right, but if Bobby needed to be proven wrong to himself, I was going to let him. He’s aware all workers have been told to stand down and work halted until the leak could be repaired, so that the ceiling could be closed, so that painting could be done, and people could move in.

I also made appointments at Kaiser’s optometry department for me and Mr. W. Unfortunately, along with a $10 copay, there is a $80 mandatory fitting fee for contacts, and Kaiser won’t release contact prescriptions until they know the contacts have been properly fitted. I’m trying to find a live person to speak to at the optometry department at Costco cuz I think even with an eye exam paid for out-of-pocket, they can beat $90.

Our crib people seem to have forgotten they still owe us the railings and accessories that will turn Allie’s crib into a toddler bed. Mr. W called the company and they’re going to try to deliver the missing pieces later this week.

On top of my productive phone calls, I also received a phone call from the fertility doctor’s nurse, checking up on my delivery, asking whether the baby ended up being a boy or girl, and asking for details to relay back to the doctor. She said the doctor remembers his patients and would love to see photos, and to meet Allie. She invited us to come by after Allie’s had her 2-month vaccinations. Meanwhile, I promised to mail them a birth announcement, which I designed and ordered the end of last week and should be receiving this week. I would recommend that fertility clinic to anybody. Everyone I know who has gone there got pregnant first shot. Excellent customer service, as well.

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