Thursday, June 26, 2008

Routine Schmoutine

For some reason, I had it in my head that 6 weeks would be some kind of a magic time, a time when I could start counting on Violet to have somewhat of a routine. I'd be able to schedule my days around her needs:
"Sure, I'd love to meet you for lunch, but we'll have to schedule it before the baby's afternoon nap. If she's not resting by two o'clock, forget it!"
Not quite the case just yet...Instead, I accept no invitations completely instead relying on a soft commitment--"We'll try...Don't count on us."
The only thing I know for certain is that she'll want to nurse when she wakes up; be that at 5 am or 9 am, I couldn't tell you. She often falls asleep while nursing, but not always. Sometimes she sleeps in the car; sometimes the car seat makes her scream. The swing seems to have a hypnotic effect on Violet lulling her into a deep, long nap--except when it doesn't. She nurses somewhere between 6 and 60 times a day at no set time for no set length. We've gone out to dinner and had her sleep soundly in her car seat from appetizers through dessert. Last night we each ate alone while the other walked Miss Thing through the parking lot outside of Puccini's.

So, when Shawn asks me--should we go to Lowe's now, or do you want to feed her first?" his guess is as good as mine. I guess since I spend all my time with Violet, it is a safe assumption that I somehow know best what to do for her. Not quite. I am hoping that time comes soon, though, but now I have to go give her her pacifier which she loves. Except when she hates it.

***The lovely pictures were taken by Shawn's friend and coworker Kevin Conners. He put up with a very crabby Violet during the photo shoot. Check out his work at

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One Month Doctor Visit & 1st Fathers Day

Technically, Vi and I didn't make it in at 1 month; it was actually 5 weeks, not 4, when we sauntered in to the doctor to check on the babe's progress. Due to the stress and panic over Baby Violet's weight loss after her birth, I was eager to get an accurate measure of where she stands now.

Instead of taking the dear to a pediatrician, I opted to take her to my doctor, a family physician, since I already knew and liked her. I began to have reservations about the Doc when she told me that Violet's weight loss immediately following her birth (she dropped from 7 lbs 13 oz to 6 lbs 12 oz), while normal, was a little on the high side and warranted me supplementing Violet's diet of breast milk with a bottle or two of formula. Anyone who has read anything about breastfeeding or done it themselves would recognize this advice as being suspect. Especially in the early days of nursing, supplementing with formula is a quick way to jeopardize developing a healthy nursing relationship. Not only could giving a bottle cause the dreaded nipple confusion, but since breastfeeding is a supply and demand proposition, if the baby's demand for nourishment is being met at the bottle via formula instead of at the breast via human milk, Mom's not being stimulated to meet Baby's needs, and, "just that one bottle," will potentially turn into 2, 3, 4, and so on as Mom's body fails to be alerted that Baby's hungry!

I know it can be done (my friend Melanie nursed 3 of her 4 kids and started the early days with her son taking bottles as she had a horrific post-birth headache that lasted for days). I also know that nursing is not second nature as many of us believe it will be--it is natural, right?--and it takes the support of everyone around Mom and Baby, especially the Doctor. Duh. If the person you are trusting for medical advice is not encouraging you and is making you doubt yourself in those critical, frightening, first days, it is hard to tune that out. Fortunately for me, I had my own Mom, a former La Leche League leader (or the Big Boob, as we like to call her), my trusting husband, and my friend Amy's mom Terri, a lactation consultant, to teach me, encourage me, calm my fears and help little Violet become the all-star nurser she is today!

So when we got to Doc's office yesterday, I was thrilled to see VBP weighing in at 8 lbs, 12 oz, a gain of a full 2 lbs since her low at 5 days old. She was 21.5 inches, too, adding a full inch and a half to her height in just 28 days! Hooray! My totally breastfed baby is thriving-imagine that!

Then the raining began on the parade. Doc asks how feeding is going-"Great!" Am I pumping-"Everyday to build a supply for when I return to work." And then she suggests that I might want to start introducing formula "just once a week to get Violet used to it" in case my supply dwindles when I return to work in 7 weeks. HELLO??? Remember the little supply and demand relationship I talked about earlier? Yeah, that still applies. I told her we'll cross that bridge IF we come to it and left it at that. There are just so many things wrong with that suggestion, I hardly know where to start. First and foremost, it shows total disregard for my values. The doctor knows from our previous visits with Violet that nursing her is one of my priorities as her Mom. Second, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that "Babies are born to be breastfed." Instead of easing my transition into bottle feeding, my doctor should be giving me strategies to ensure that I continue to breastfeed for as long as possible. Like warning patients about the dangers of smoking or encouraging them to lose weight for optimal health, a doc needs to make sure patients understand not only the benefits of breastfeeding but make certain that they have the tools to actually do it! Now, I am more determined than ever to make it to 1 year nursing Violet!

I also wanted to talk about immunizations with the doctor as Vi would be on track to get a slew of them at her 2 month visit. You'd have to be living under a rock to have missed all the publicity about the possible link between childhood vaccines and autism. I have done some reading (not as much as I should have) about the topic and I fully expected the doctor to tell me that there is no proven link between the two, that vaccines save lives (they do), and that I should go along with the schedule proposed by the Center for Disease Control. So I wasn't surprised when she did (and cited numerous sources to back her including the American Academy of Pediatrics...where was their input during our breastfeeding conversation...?)What I didn't expect was the interesting logic she used to support her recommendations. When I asked about separating Vi's vaccines so that she could receive them over the course of several visits rather than 5 (FIVE!) in one day, the Doc told me they don't really like to do this. Not because it would leave a longer window for Violet to be exposed to one of these potentially deadly diseases like measles, but because the more often she comes in, the more we break from what is, in her words, the office "routine" for giving immunizations, the more likely it is that someone would screw up and give my baby the wrong thing. Inspires confidence, doesn't it?

I can feel it coming. I am becoming one of those moms I rolled my eyes at before I had Violet. I never questioned the one-size fits all approach to health care when it was just me, just my body being practiced on. But that just isn't good enough for her. I want beyond the best for Violet, like all mothers want for their kids. And apparently, in our case anyway, that may take being a little pushy and not worrying what everybody else thinks. Maybe even going against the medical establishment. And certainly, by nursing, going against the societal norm. So don't be surprised when you see Katie Couric talking to me on CBS Evening news at a "Nurse-In" at some airport to protest or marching on Washington with Jenny McCarthy. It can't be far off...

In the meantime, we enjoyed an extremely traditional, non-radical 1st Father's Day celebration for Shawn at Hollyhock Hill which is where the above pic was snapped.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baby Farts

Everything about Violet is delicate. Her hands are tiny with long, slender, fingers. Her nose would look at home on a doll. Her teeny-weeny feet are too small for all the baby shoes she's gotten as gifts. Her ears look like perfect, soft, little dollops of cartilage on the side of her head; like what a student asked to sculpt a miniature ear out of clay might make in art class.

So when she farts like a linebacker, everyone in the room is taken aback. Sometimes the farts are accompanied by actual poo, sometimes they fly solo, but it doesn't seem to matter which variety they are, those suckers are LOUD! After a month of hearing them, Shawn and I still aren't used to it. If he's holding her while she lets one, I still ask--"Was that you?" He does the same. It's just impossible to believe that such a dainty little thing can make such loud farts. You would think with an anus so small, the sound would be more high pitched, if not quieter. But, no, when she lets one go it could just as easily be my 200+ lb. brother as my 8 lb. daughter.

So, when someone asks me, "What has the biggest surprise of motherhood been?"--my answer would have to be baby farts.
For more pictures of the girly little thing,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Humanlike Critter

I'm starting to see how the myth that storks bring babies has stuck around so long. I'm sure it was created to get out of awkward sex talks with children, but the stork dropping a little cooing bundle off is actually about as believable to me as how Violet really got here. It also would be of comfort to new parents who were at a loss for what to do with a squawking newborn. "How should I know what she wants, Honey? The stork didn't leave any instructions with her..."

I'm wondering now if the nine month prep period alone should have been sufficient for us to be ready. I also wonder if moms who deliver their newborns vaginally have the same eerie sensation of just having a new creature suddenly living in their homes. Somehow, it seems like I missed the transition from pregnant lady to mommy. The whole hospital stay was such a blur and the c-section itself was like a dream so sometimes I feel like Violet just appeared.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very happy appearance! She is as cute as she could be. She is so cute, in fact, that she only seems partially human. It is like she is some sort of combination of all of the cuddliest things you could think of--puppies, monkeys, babies--all rolled into a soft, snugly ball! I just have trouble believing that, if Shawn and I perform our duties correctly, she will end up as a 100+ lb. human being someday. Inconceivable!! Clearly, we all start out adorable (way to go Mother Nature, she's definitely ensured the next generation has a fighting chance at being cared for just by making infants damn near irresistible), but then we just grow up. And while some of us remain attractive, no one gets to hold on to that other-worldly baby-cute. They truly seem like another species all together.