Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dad sporting Rebecca in the CuddlyWrap
Greg wearing Rebecca in the Snugli

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Baby wearing

I am an advocate of baby wearing! Fun and convenient.
We have two types of baby carries right now. One is a Snugli. It is rugged with buckles and straps and is very easy to put on. Greg has a strong preference for this particular one, and it is the one that was deemed acceptable for my Fitmom classes by the instructor.
Our other type of carrier is a wrap. The one I have is basically an extremely long piece of semi-stretchy fabric in a spit-up friendly shade of tan. It is soft and can accomodate a variety of tying techniques. It is called the cuddly wrap and is made by Peapod creations (which is a Canadian company). I picked it up at the Extraordinary Baby Shoppe which happens to be located only a few blocks from my home. They stock cloth diapers, slings, shoes, breast feeding pumps, maternity and breastfeeding apparel and the store is run by a very friendly and helpful lady. When I decided I wanted to purchase a soft-type carrier (alternating carriers ensure that I don't always get sore in the same locations), I had an idea in mind (based on online research), that I would get a pouch style carrier. Basically, a pouch is the simplest style of carrier. It is worn like a purse and you just drop the baby inside. I decided that I would try carriers on with Rebecca rather than just order online. I was so glad I did. She detested the pouch and I wasn't particulary fond of it either. I also tried a sling with a metal ring, but again, we were not big fans. Ultimately, we went with the wrap despite the fact that I was really intimidated by it initially. The lady in the store brought out this incredibly piece of fabric which she tied about me in what appeared to be a very complex manner. While the idea of something simple appealed to me, in the end, I had to admit to myself that both Rebecca and I prefer the wrap. It didn't put any strain on my back, neck or shoulders, it was comfortable and she was quite snuggly and happy inside it. I decided to brave the learning curve and I am so glad I did! Now I have converted my Dad to the wearing of the baby. I will post a picture of this as soon as I can get Greg to upload images off our digital camera.
More info on babywearing:

Friendship and the new mom

Excerpt from an article I read today (on the subject of the value of friendship for women):

SW: What is the toughest challenge for pregnant women and new mothers when it comes to maintaining their friendships?

MP: Having a baby can be vastly wonderful, but it can be devastating to friendships. If you have a child and a lot of your friends don't, you'll feel like you don't have much in common anymore. On the other hand, it's hard for friends without kids to understand the hurricane of a new baby. They don't understand that you can't pick up and meet them for a drink, or take the baby to the mall on a Saturday. Your friendships will change when you have a baby, and I think it's really important to talk about that together. The women who have held on to their friendships were able to talk about the change and accept that their friendship would have a new shape.

The friend who did not have a child has to be more flexible, and understand that she'll have to give more than she gets for a while. As wonderful as a baby is, new mothers go into a crisis mode because it's so overwhelming. So, being a loving, giving friend is important. This new focus on the baby is not going to last forever -- the kid is going to go to school. One way to stay close is to be helpful: bring over dinner, offer to babysit. The kids shouldn't always be with you when you do something together, but once in a while it's a good idea.

On the flip side, the new mom has to be sensitive too. Even though the baby is the center of your life, realize that everyone is not interested in every minute detail of your baby's life. Stay interested in what's going on in your friend's life. Even though you may not be able to relate to her boyfriend troubles or work woes, you can still care about her feelings. So make sure the conversation is really balanced. And whenever possible, try to make an effort to head out to her turf. If the friend is having fertility problems, that can be really difficult, too. A new mom has to be sensitive to that, and not blather on about the joys of motherhood.

SW: Let's talk about how to make new friends after you have a baby. How do you find new mothers to be friends with?

MP: It's so important as a new mom to make friends with other new moms who are going through the same thing you're experiencing. Having a baby can be extremely isolating because you're just trying to get your baby fed, and figure out how to breastfeed, and how to give her a bath, and you're not thinking about your social life. Plus, a lot of women come from this incredibly rich social environment of working to being home alone with a crying baby. It's like a double-whammy. You're in the place where you live, but if you've been working you haven't invested a lot of energy into becoming friends with your neighbors -- you feel like a stranger in your own neighborhood. When you have a new baby you have a new job, which is making new friends.

Mommy & Me exercise classes are a great way to meet new moms. There's a national group that has local chapters, called Mothers & More, which can also be a great support. I've also been reading about these movie theaters that are having "Bring Your Baby Day" -- that would be a fun way to meet people. You could organize a Mom's Night Out once a month -- get together with your kids or without your kids and connect that way.

Friday, February 17, 2006

One of the women at the fitness class remarked: "Your baby has more hair than my 2-year old!"

Getting back in shape - ugh

Yesterday I began, in earnest, the process of getting fit. This was on the heels of a decision that no matter how many sad old Taekwon-do competition t-shirts I had to wear, I was not going to sport one more bloody maternity shirt until I found myself preggers again. I am just sick to death of the same articles of clothing which I pressed into service not only all summer long, but throughout the winter as well. Besides, they are looking worse and worse on because of the maternity cut. No more baggy, drapey shirts with a seam under the bust which never goes under *my* bust. That's it, end of story.
So, I carted my lard-laden ass off to a Fitmom and baby free trial class. Despite the nasty weather (snow/icy craziness), I went. Greg was surprised and expected a repeat of the strollercize curse, but no - he did not fathom the depths of my motivation. And what a workout it was! What I liked best was that Rebecca was an integral part of the exercise: "put on your babies!". There was also singing, and while the class was tough (and made me uncomfortably cognizant of just how out of shape I have become), the needs of the babies were always respected. I am very sore today, and likely to be very sore tomorrow. I have registered for 12 weeks of classes.
Now, I fully admit that initiating my exercise regime while still having a throat infection is not the smartest thing I have ever done, but, the psychological benefits nullified the stupidity. I think I have been missing this aspect of my life, and it felt wonderful to get it back. The pleasant exhaustion of tired muscles has been absent for some time.
Clearly, I will need to work hard before I can show my face in the dojang again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Formula: Making restitution

I receive a letter from the fine people at Similac thanking me for reporting my problem. Included in the envelope were two coupons for free 900g of Similac Advance with Iron 0-12 months.
I am happy that they acknowledged me in some way, but I doubt I will make use of the coupons, given the nature of my experience. Nevertheless, I give them credit for doing something.

What Rebecca likes

As I have mentioned previously, Rebecca is now interested in her immediate environment. What really captivates her are curtains. She will stare, transfixed, at the curtains in any particular room of our house. It's strange, but I guess she appreciates the bright colours.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A full night's sleep!

Mom and Dad looked after Rebecca last night while Greg and I went to see King Kong. I hadn't seen a movie in theatre since probably the second trimester - so it was fun to be out on a date with my husband. Although - with the exception of one silver-haired couple we saw, everyone in the theatre was younger than us. It made me feel strange - I wanted to cry out "I'm still in my twenties". As Greg pointed out - even the employees were younger than us. Odder still was the thought that we were now someone's parents.
At any rate, all manner of little things during the movie reminded me of Rebecca. I found lots of parallels to King Kong himself - she can't speak, but she can express feelings in a patently obvious way nonetheless, and bascially she just wants to be loved and cuddled. I felt a bit guilty, and I felt especially bad when King Kong died. I knew she was in the best of hands, would not only be well cared for, but loved and snuggled, but I still felt bad. We stopped by my parents house after the movie (both Greg and I acknowledged that while it made more sense to go straight home, we couldn't bear to do it) to say goodnight to our baby - because the plan was for her to sleep over there, since we'd be returning to celebrate Dad's bday the next day - and allow Greg and I to have a full night's sleep (especially good idea since Greg had booked an early morning flight). I have to say - I slept like the dead (still have dark circles under my eyes - but one night is not enough to make up for weeks), and it was the best gift my parents could have given me. I had a little cry when we left their house - it was very difficult to leave Rebecca behind, but in the end, it was all o.k.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

2 month checkup and first vaccines

Rebecca now weighs 11 lbs 12 oz, and she is 22 & 3/8" long. Everything is perfectly fine. She continues to be fussy at the end of the day, but apparently, babies build up gas as the day progresses, so we are now going to try ovol drops in order to help settle her tummy.
I gave Rebecca a dose of baby Tempra about an hour before the appointment, as recommended by my GP. The drops are banana flavour (not that she can appreciate that). It seemed better than cherry. At any rate, the vaccinations consisted of two shots - one at the top of the left leg, the other at the top of the right leg. The immunizations were diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenzae type B, and pneumo conjugate. My job was to hold down her arms and other leg while the nurse administered the shot. Just the act of restraining Rebecca's limbs was enough to render her upset. For the first shot, she cried at about mid-range. Afterwards, I picked her up and cuddled her and all was forgotten. Then it was time for the second shot. I think she knew what was coming. This vaccination seemed to be a little more difficult for her to endure. She screamed and cried so hard that her face turned a shade of red I have never seen before. She was not as easily consoled afterwards. Eventually she settled down and didn't even complain when I buckled her into the car seat (I suppose the agony of being put in the car seat has diminished by comparison to the trials of immunization). She was dead silent until we got home, but she had a special look on her face just for me - a look I can only describe as one of extreme reproach. Hopefully the betrayal will soon be forgotten! At the pharmacy, a lady stopped me just to say that I make beautiful babies (her turn of phrase couldn't help but remind me of the goo and slime that initially coated our little monkey - but I did not share those details with her and simply thanked her for the compliment).

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Becca update - spit bubbles and "off" formula

Rebecca now blows spit bubbles and will sometimes drool. More interestingly, she is starting to be able to fall asleep regardless of whether she is being held or not (hooray!).
Furthermore, she has finally developed an interest in the rattles that hang from the beam above her vibro chair - in particular the plastic pig. Rebecca likes to watch the rattles swing, and seems to have figured out how to make the chair rock so that this occurs. This produces smiles and happy goo gaa noises.
We have had to switch brands of formula for Rebecca after an unpleasant experience with Similac. For economical and practical reasons, we purchase formula in large containers, in powder form. For some reason the last container of Similac we purchased was not right. It smelled "off" despite an expiry at the end of the year. Unfortunately, I noticed the smell of the formula only after having mixed it up and fed Rebecca several bottles. I have a very keen sense of smell, and finally went back to the container and confirmed that something was not right. Rebecca had also been behaving oddly - obviously hungry but repeatedly rejected the bottle and being overly fussy in general. I called the 1-800 number on the container and spoke to one an RN who confirmed that it is possible for the powder to go "off" if stored at too high or too low a temperature. I am supposed to purolator the bad container to them (at their expense). I have retained samples of the contents for myself because - well, I suppose I am not a trusting individual. At the end of the phone call (which incidentally took place in the wee hour of the morning), the nurse made a series of Similac sales pitches which I found particuarly distateful under the circumstances. I informed her that I was no longer interested in purchasing their product. I can't say how horrible I felt about feeding Rebecca bad food. I was simultaneously capital A angry - maybe I will look over the regs and see how these products are controlled. As a consequence of our experiences, we have switched to Nestle's Good Start formula which smells right and has caused no problems (and supposedly is easier for babies to digest). Once we switched - the old Rebecca was back (as Greg so aptly put it). The only remaining issue is that despite multiple washings and sessions of sterilizing, the bottles and nipples seem to retain some of the "off" smell. I don't know how I should proceed about that - there must have been some permeation of the plastic - from which (if I put my chemistry hat on) - I should be able to deduce something about the nature of the "off" component (or components I suppose). Unfortunately, I am unsure what I could use beyond soap that would not pose a risk to Rebecca. Vinegar - with many subsequent rinses??? We gave the lot number of the formula to employees at the pharmacy where we purchased the product, but I doubt they have done anything about it.

Friday, February 3, 2006

This hat no longer fits on Rebecca's head!

Baby Galileo

We received a Baby Einstein DVD as a gift, entitled "Baby Galileo". I assumed it was created with the "cram info into young children" mentality, which I believe feeds off parental fears of having unsuccessful or stupid children. I don't really respect that - I saw some very young children at my former music school who were being pushed to extremes by their parents - and for whose pleasure? Since Rebecca is now inquisitive and I was curious, we watched about half of it.
Frankly, it was adorable.
It is very basic, with little spoken, but beautiful or interesting images appear, accompanied by well-loved classical music. Baby Galileo is a little kangaroo puppet that is insanely cute.

Goo gaa

Every so often Rebecca makes sounds now that sound more like language. In the past week I have heard a "gaa", a "goo", a "wo", and "ein". At first I thought it was my imagination combined with lack of sleep, but now I'm sure.

Supply & Demand

I have managed to decrease my milk supply enough that I don't habe to pump anymore. I also no longer soak my shirts when Rebecca cries. According to my GP, it will still take a few months for milk production to actually stop. The whole process was a little tricky. If you don't do it properly you risk clogged ducts and mastitis - and yet there is precious little info out there on how exactly to go about it.

The wheel is spinning, but the mouse is dead

As many know, I toiled away on my MSc. in a vascular biology lab at a heart research institute for several years. Nevertheless I failed to set the alarm bells ringing in my head when the lactation consultant suggested I take grapfruit seed extract pills on top of my doses of nifedipine. I suppose I was so desperate for pain relief that I left my brain behind.
Mixing grapefruit stuff (sections, juice, extracts) with heart meds is BAD. To put it simply: they compete for an enzyme, and the grapefruit is victorious. So what? So... blood levels of the drug end up being higher than they should be. Now, add on a synergistic drug treatment that has a loading dose four times the size of the regular dose (precious fluconazole!). Is that why I am suddenly so tired? Hard to be sure with so many other contributing factors (baby night feedings!).
All I know is that I am booting the grapefruit seed extract treatment. Thats not to say that it isn't useful - there is some interesting research out there to be sure - but it's overkill now and potentially dangerous. Also, I just noticed that the brand we bought has ecchinicea added, which is known to interfere with birth control pills (mind you, so are some antibiotics). I have also shelved the gentian violet.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Rebecca update: almost 8 weeks

Rebecca continues to develop rapidly. It's a little bittersweet - she is so wonderful and cuddly right now, but before I know it, she'll be racing around the house.
We have noticed a major change in Rebecca's behaviour lately: she seems to be able to focus on objects that are further away. Also, she has a keen interest in the world around her and spends time examining objects in her environment. She appears quite inquisitive. Maybe she'll be ready to enjoy her wrist rattles soon - who knows! I have no doubt that when I take her in for vaccinations next week, she'll be weighing in at 11 pounds. It used to be that Rebecca was as long as Greg's forearm, but now she exceeds that length. Her hair continues to lighten and is now a light brown with some red in it. Her appetite has increased and she is more deliberate about indicating when she has had enough food (she uses her mouth or tongue to push away the bottle). She is able to lift her head for quite a long time on her own now - although she can't raise it forever. Rebecca's upper body strength is building nicely. If she is lying on my chest or stomach and she grows unhappy with her current positioning, she will use her legs and arms to pull and push herself along my body until she reaches her desired destination. If I am sleeping with Rebecca on me and she determines that she needs to be fed, she gnaws at me or she headbutts me in the neck. It is a very effective technique for getting my attention.
As for me - a heads-up for those of you who may breastfeed in the future: fluconazole is expensive! Fluconazole is a medication used to treat Candida infections of the nipple. Two week's worth of treatment cost a whopping 200$!!! On the advice of my physician, I am continuing with nifedipine for one more week, and then stopping. My blood pressure is on the low side of normal as a result of the nifedipine treatment (it is a calcium channel blocker after all). The fluconazole is slightly synergistic with the nifedipine, so I have to watch for dizziness or other signs of low blood pressure and I have to be sure I keep my fluid intake high.