Monday, October 25, 2004

Trying to Catch Up

Let’s see… some random stuff to get caught up.

Orion’s first “real” outing was to Carpinteria for my cousin Julie’s wedding reception when he was about 3 weeks old. She got married on a cruise ship, but decided to have a family get together at the state park there. The trip went surprisingly well considering he was not a fan of the car at all in the beginning. He would scream almost every time we went anywhere, but he didn’t cry hardly at all for this trip. It was nice to see so many people that I had not seen for a long time.

Some milestones:

At 1 month he started making all kinds of g and b noises, which apparently is very early. Along with the classic goos and gaas, he said baaay beee one day. It was pretty funny even if it was an accident.

He also started his social smiles at 1 month and is now quite a smiley little guy. Eskimo kisses, tummy tickles and peek-a-boo games are usually sure winners.

Right at 5 weeks his hand gestures became noticeably purposeful. We bought him one of those “gyms”, the things that arch overhead and have stuff that hangs down. He consistently swats at this one rattly thing that dangles down.


Little Man – this one started right after birth. Not sure where it came from. It was just the first thing that came out of my mouth.
Eyeballs and Bright Eyes – Daddy started calling him these when he was in quiet alert states.
Bug – this was one from Fanny that has really stuck – don’t ask me why. Maybe it is because it is short and easy to stay. It has also evolved into bugaboo sometimes
Big bruiser – another Fannyism
Then there are the 1001 names that go with him being in a fussy mood. They have either the root grumpy or fussy and go something like this…
Grumpilufigous, Grumpy Gus, Grumpy Britches, Grumpyhead…
And the related Fussilufigous, Fussy Gus… you get the picture

Boy, this kid has a lot of nicknames.

Well, now I have noted down everything I wanted to up until this point. Now this can become a real journal hopefully.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A Visit and some Buddhist Musings

My friend Darcey came to visit me today. She is somebody I know from the CUUPS group at church and is also the minister that married us! And she officially rules because she is the only person who brought me something when she brought the baby a gift – a nice bath collection. It was great to have a visitor, especially one who has raised 2 boys. We had an interesting talk about the whole family bed concept. All the “experts” seem to be supporting it these days, including Dr. Sears, who says it builds greater trust and better sleep habits in later years. But it seems to me that a balanced approach might be the best way. Both of Darcey’s boys continued to need her help to fall asleep until they were about 10 years old after having slept with her for an extended period in the beginning. It is really too early for me to be worrying about it regarding Orion, so I guess I will just play it by ear for now.

Back to the past:

There is something that happened when Orion was exactly 13 days old that I want to be sure to remember. A lady named Dee had been there during the day. She was another reference from Octavia and I really liked her, but she wasn’t available full time. One of the things she showed me was the best way to hold a newborn and when she left that day I sat in the rocking chair with Orion like that for awhile.

As my mind drifted about I had two separate but related thoughts. I was already sleepy and my arms started to get tired and I couldn’t help but starting to wonder about how many hours I would eventually spend in that rocker. I decided that was not a very good way to look at it, so I changed my focus and started to think about being in the moment. It came to me that my son is 13 days old and will never be that age again. From that perspective, just sitting and rocking him became a magickal thing and I thought that no matter how much he cries or fusses in the future I will be able to recenter this way.

Being in that focus of the moment reminded me of an article I had read recently in The World magazine. There has been a very Buddhist slant to much of the writing there in recent years. The author was talking about the concept of mindfulness and gave the example of doing dishes. The proper mindset is not to do the dishes in order to make them clean, but do the dishes just to do the dishes. It occurred to me that rocking the baby was a perfect parallel. Instead of rocking Orion in order to get him to sleep, I should be rocking him just to rock him.

These concepts are so simple, but the simple things in life are often the most profound.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Things Noticed Around 2 to 3 Weeks

Orion’s vision seemed to be better than is expected at that age. He really spent a lot of time gazing at certain things, especially the black metal spirals that are inset in our headboard and make a contrast against the lighter wall. He also loved looking at the pictures I had hung over the changing table. I didn’t think of it when I put them together, but they are perfect for a newborn because they are black and white. The changing table has become one of his favorite places to hang out. He is also definitely attracted to orange and red. Oh yeah – one other black and white thing he liked to look at was the heating/AC vent on the ceiling above our bed. That was another way I knew he could see farther than the 8 inches that is standard for newborns.

We were able to hire a doula to stay with me during the week. At the end of 2 weeks off for Ron, he was planning on taking at least another week off. His boss decided they were desperate for him to come back and offered to pay for full time help for the next 4 weeks! We got some references from Octavia and chose a woman named Fanny Brown. She was perfect for us because she was willing to do whatever we needed and even has 3 dogs of her own at home. Our puppy, Kona, was just over 6 months at this point, so we needed somebody who could deal with that energy.

One of the first things Fanny commented on was how Orion would suck on his own fist for comfort. Supposedly babies are not supposed to start doing that until they are about 3 months. He did like getting swaddled though as most newborns do. Ron didn’t think he did, but we had just never done it right. Fanny showed us how to do it so his arms were held better and it definitely made a difference for sleeping. Newborns tend to wake themselves up because of the way they jerk their arms and they end up sticking their hands in their faces. One problem though was that he was pretty much too big to be swaddled in the standard size receiving blanket! Fanny knew of a certain brand that was bigger, so we got some of those and had some success for awhile.

Fanny also taught me a number of other tricks – some baby related and some not, such as:

Use a Q-tip to apply cream to the babies bottom – sterile for him and no mess for me.
Viva paper towels are amazingly absorbent and make great changing table accessories, especially for boys…
Put your sponges in the dishwasher to sterilize them. Gets rid of that yucko stink they always get right away.
Tuck a receiving blanket very tightly around a baby right after you put them down to sleep in a crib - this makes them feel like they are still being held.

There is a little bit more that relates to the first few weeks, but I want to get another entry in so I will save it for next time.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Friday, October 15, 2004

First Week or so - Trials and Tribulations

One of the first things I noticed about Orion was that his frenulum was very long – all the way to the end of his tongue – it actually pulled and made a dent if he tried to stick it out. I was surprised Rasmia didn’t say anything about it and I was kindof out of it so I didn’t mention it. I thought I had remembered reading something in the Dr. Sears book about that interfering with breastfeeding, so I looked again and sure enough that is what it said. He seemed to be latching on OK, but I was still worried because I had gone through such a hard time with Sarah when I thought I was doing it correctly then as well. Our wonderful DO, Razmig Krumian, had agreed to pay us a house visit and when he saw it he said that this was about as bad as it gets. He definitely recommended having it clipped and gave us the names of a couple ENTs.

The first couple of days seemed OK although he didn’t sleep too much. He seemed to only be content sleeping on my chest and I couldn’t sleep that way. Maybe I had gotten too used to sleeping on my side at the end of pregnancy. It also seemed like I was just wound up because I couldn’t sleep anyway. I remembered being the same way the first day or two with Sarah. With a newborn you just worry about every little sound they make. After a few days I got seriously tired and then I was falling asleep sitting up even! So at that point I was able to lie down after a feeding at night and usually get him to go to sleep with me. Actually he started sleeping at night almost right away. I did the same thing I had done with Sarah, which was to keep all the lights out or low and no talking. Somehow that seems to communicate that it is sleep time and it is the only thing about Orion that has stayed consistent.

The biggest trial we faced turned out to be connected to breastfeeding. Within the first week Orion started to get into inconsolable crying spells at night. I thought he was already starting with colic and was getting mentally prepared for dealing with it for a few months. I have to admit I felt bad because I thought I had done every possible thing recommended to avoid colic. Once he started crying he would go for a few hours and not eat the whole time. One night, out of desperation, (or call it mother’s intuition) I said we should try to give him a bottle of some of the milk I had pumped. Ron got it ready and Orion sucked it down in about 30 seconds. I was shocked. Here we were rocking and singing to our baby and it turned out he was starving. Not only did he drink it down but he ate more from the breast and then slept for about 4 hours straight afterwards. The poor thing was sleep deprived because he had to spend so many waking hours eating to try and get enough food. I had been to so many breastfeeding seminars, La Leche League meetings and read books about breastfeeding and not one of them ever said a baby might refuse the breast with a bad latch. All I had heard about was possible soar nipples, low weight gain and increased air intake. So at this point I knew the frenulum was a much bigger issue than we had realized and we really stepped up the efforts to get it clipped.

I made an appointment with Dr. Mikaelian. The first one got cancelled because he was called away on emergency. I was getting a bit panicky at this point because we kept needing to give Orion bottles and I was worried about running out of pumped breast milk. He also seemed to be getting increasingly fussy at the breast. At first we only needed to give him about an ounce to take away his frustration and then he would go right back to the breast, but sometimes it would take more than that or not work at all.

We decided to consult a lactation consultant and she turned out to be very helpful. She gave me some good tips about how to get the baby going and how to get some extra milk into him. Through this whole time, Octavia was also very helpful and made herself available at any time. She also put me in touch with another consultant who talked to me over the phone. I also spent some time talking to the La Leche League people. Although nobody could really solve our problem until the procedure was done, it was just comforting to talk to other women who were encouraging. I felt like giving up at some points knowing that I was frustrating my son. It seemed like it would be easier to just pump and switch to bottles, but I kept pushing through. The day finally came to see the doctor and of course it turned out he would only do an office visit. I had just assumed the procedure would happen on the same day because it was so minor. At least he squeezed us in at the next available date and we only had a few more days to wait.

There was not an overnight difference because I think Orion was so used to being frustrated at the breast, but things did get slowly better over the next few days and we were getting by with no extra bottles. Some of the other things that really helped me were listening to music I found really moving, especially the Leap of Faith album by Kenny Loggins. Babies can sense frustration and tension, which I would experience every time he refused the breast, so I needed to focus on calming things. Certain songs made me very emotional and I noticed that would often trigger a letdown. The other thing that was a huge help was keeping an image of The Star card from the tarot in my mind. This card represents to me a sense of channeling the positive energy in the universe through myself and out to the rest of the world. When meditating on thid image I could relax better and picture sending that calmness to Orion. I would physically lower my shoulders to release the tension. Ron would usually hold his hands if they were flailing around and send him calming energy as well. Sometimes I found it depressing to think I needed breastfeeding to be a two person job, but I mentioned this to the consultant and she said it is surprising how often that is the case in the early weeks.

Despite all the frustrations, I was often filled with a sense of overwhelming joy and love. Sometimes it would be so strong that I would just sit there and cry. I telling Ron that I was crying from happiness because I was worried he would think I was depressed. Above it all, I know how fast the first few years disappear, so no matter what the trials are, they will be gone before I know it.

Saturday, October 9, 2004