Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Likes/Dislikes: BOTTLE UPDATE

We found the bottle we like best now, and it isn't something we have to jimmy together like the Playtex/Gerber hybrid I talked about earlier. This is the Avent bottle (4 oz.), with the stage 2 nipple (with two holes, for babies 1-2 months old). I bought it today at Target, cleaned & sterilized it, and used it for the first time at his lunch-time feeding-- and it was amazing! He only took 10-15 minutes TOTAL to finish the whole bottle. With the other bottles/nipples, he was taking 45 minutes to an hour to finish it off, and sometimes he only ended up taking 2 oz. after all that time. I've fed him twice so far with the Avent, and both times he took less than 15 minutes to finish eating. Amazing! This is really going to make feeding time a lot less frustrating. Woo-hoo! The only downside is that the bottles are expensive... it was $9.98 for ONE 4-oz bottle at Target, and I'm going to have to get a few more now. Yikes! But at least we found the bottle that works, and we can stop trying all of the other ones. And at least he eats a full 4 oz. with this one, and without burning a ton of energy in the process. :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Anniversa-month, Ethan!

I can hardly believe it's already been one month since he was born. And I can't believe I'm still having such a hard time saying his name; instead I say "the baby" or "Baby," because I just haven't gotten used to his name yet. Maybe it's because he's so small yet; he just doesn't seem big enough for a full name, for some reason. I remember we felt the same way about my niece Leila; she seemed too small for her name at first. Or maybe it's we who are too small; we can't see the huge personality tucked inside that tiny body, and we simply see an "infant" instead. I know that I will eventually become accustomed to saying "Ethan"... I probably just need to say it more often (practice makes perfect, right?).

It's strange... sometimes, when I look at him, I am amazed all over again that he's here, that we actually have a child, that I'm finally a mom, that I am responsible for this little human being now. But then, other times, it seems like he has always been here, has always been part of the fabric of our lives, woven in between us and through us and impossible to disentangle... That's actually what I feel most of the time. People keep asking me "Wow, can you believe you're actually a mom now?" But I think it's really their own feelings of shock that they are trying to get at, not mine. I think that must be why we have 40 weeks of pregnancy-- so that we can get used to the idea of parenthood slowly, daily, bit by bit, until it becomes such a natural thing that you don't even notice when it became a permanent part of you.

I never knew it would be like this, that's for sure; this feeling of everything being so right, so sure, so complete. He has only been here with us-- on his own, I mean, out of the womb-- for one month, but I can't imagine my life without him. I don't know what I would do without him around; I don't think I'll ever be able to hear another story about a parent losing a child without losing it. He was so dear to me while I was pregnant, but now that I can see his face, feel his warm little body pressed up against me, touch his delicate hands and feet, and hear him making those little grunts and sighs that babies make, he is even more precious to me-- if that's possible. What did I do to deserve this beautiful boy? I feel so honored to have the chance to be his mother... I just hope I can give him everything that he deserves, and be the kind of mom he needs.

On that somewhat sappy note, I'll sign out. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What's the opposite of nursing, again?

Or as I like to call it, an exercise in frustration. It has been really disappointing to me that Ethan never wanted to nurse. He never latched on, despite multiple nurses and lactation consultants assisting, despite the nipple shield and the soothing music and variety of holds (football, crossover, side-lying, etc.), despite my fervent wish to be able to breastfeed... he just wasn't really interested. In fact, it was tough to get him latched on to the bottle sometimes! Still, even though I was sad that I missed out on that experience, there were some things I won't miss about it. Like engorgement, for instance, where your breasts feel like they've been stuffed full of heavy stones and then punched several times. Those also began to look like I was wearing the famed torpedo bra of the 1960s; ugh! I couldn't sleep on my side or hug anyone, my chest was so tender. I realized later (at a lactation consultant appointment) that they were so engorged because he wasn't nursing. The pump could only do so much to relieve that, too; I had to go the old-fashioned way with hot and cold compresses and pray for the best.

There was also the telltale feeling of "oh, I guess it's time to nurse/pump!", which was something like having electricity hooked up to your chest and then having the voltage slowly increase until you express milk one way or another. That was a doozy, especially when you started to realize that it was time to pump, but you were stuck somewhere public and far from home. Argh, the pain!

So maybe my boy was trying to help me out by refusing to nurse. Maybe he was doing me a favor, in some way... yeah, that's how I'm going to think of it from now on. ;)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gaining Weight-- Finally!

I took Ethan in Monday to get weighed, and he's up to 7 pounds, 12 ounces. Then, at his doctor appointment today, he measured 7 pounds 14 ounces-- with his diaper on, but that pretty much confirms that he's around 7.12 lbs. Yay! Took him a little while, but he's on track, thank god. I'm so glad that he's gaining weight and eating well and just generally healthy. And what a calm baby, too; he's so zen about everything, a very laid-back kid. One more area where he takes after his dad, among the many others; I mean, he has his dad's eyes, eyebrows, chin; his dad's legs and his dad's wavy hair; he is really relaxed and doesn't seem to care much about eating, just like Joel. What is from me? His monkey toes, and the fact that his second toe is a smidgen longer than his big toe, just like me. Oh, and he might also have dimples; we are just starting to see his smiles, so that has yet to be confirmed, but I think I caught a glimpse of a dimple on his right cheek. Speaking of smiles and dimples, I can't wait to hear him laugh... how exciting life has become!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bottle Update

The Nuk bottles aren't working for Ethan any more. In fact, I wonder if they ever were! We thought they were great because he kept his latch and didn't inhale quite as much air with them, but it was still taking 45 minutes to an hour just to drink 2 oz. of milk. We decided to try the Playtex slow-flow nipple with the drop-in liners, but those drop-ins require some sort of Masters Degree in engineering in order to keep them from sliding or bending to the point where the milk spills out everywhere. And then, even when the liners worked and the milk stayed in the bottle on the way up to him, he would end up spilling a ton out of his mouth while drinking-- our precious, valuable, priceless milk! Liquid gold! Stuff it took actual *work* to access, using the pump 8 times a day! As you can see, we didn't like the drop-ins. Hated 'em! So then we rigged up our own combination of parts-- it's a Gerber bottle with a Playtex slow-flow nipple. And it works wonders! He eats twice as much in half the time, and hardly spills anything out while drinking. Perfect! Now we just need to get more than one bottle...

UPDATE: I just found out that the 5 oz. Gerber bottle we love has been discontinued. Ugh! And we tried the Playtex VentAire (tilted bottle), but don't like it much. Guess we're back to the Gerber-Playtex combo, at least for now.

Baby Feeding Update

As you may have noticed by my previous posts, we are on a different track with Ethan's feedings. In fact, we have just been on a different track this whole time, apparently! I really had a lot of expectations about this pregnancy and delivery, and things turned out very differently than I thought they would. During my pregnancy, I never got morning sickness, or gained a ton of weight, or got more emotional than usual (probably because I'm already so emotional!), or got major cravings, or ended up with stretch marks criss-crossing my abdomen, or anything like that... all the things I *thought* would happen, didn't. Then, towards the end, the things I never thought I'd have to go through happened-- the constant bleeding, the urgent visits to the Family Birthing Center, the emergency C-section, and then, after all that, my baby didn't seem to want to nurse. How could that happen? I was going to breastfeed my baby, no matter what! And then he was born, and just was not interested at all. In the hospital, it was actually getting scary for a few days there, because he was refusing to eat, and the nurses were adamant that I breastfeed-- even though he refused, and would end up very distressed, crying, red-faced, and shaking, every time we tried.

I had my own crying bout, because I was so sad and disappointed that it just wasn't working, and (silly though it might sound) really felt like I was just a failure as a mom so far. First, I couldn't give birth, and now I couldn't breastfeed. I felt like I was going to miss out on everything that "motherhood" means. Joel tried to stay positive, but ended up having to bluntly tell me to get over it, because my negativity wasn't helping things at all. And after a long, hot shower in the hospital room, I finally started to feel more at peace about the situation. Neither of us, in the end, cared about how he got fed-- as long as he was getting food and gaining weight and staying healthy. Whether or not it came from me was immaterial, as long as he was doing well. And that really helped me come to grips with the feelings I had about missing out on the labor/delivery process and breastfeeding; the bottom line was, our son was alive and well because we had a C-section instead of vaginal birth, and now he was going to be able to thrive because of bottles rather than breastfeeding. In the end, that's all that matters.

We did go through several different attempts to get him to breastfeed, but it just isn't working. Either he doesn't stay latched long enough to get the amount of milk he needs, or he stays on so long that he's actually burning more calories than he takes in-- causing him to lose weight. At this point, we are pumping, giving him milk in a bottle, then supplementing with formula as necessary, around 8-10 times a day. I'll keep pumping as long as I can, but I doubt I'll be doing it once I go back to work. I still wish I could just feed him directly without having to do this pump-bottle process, because that would be so much easier, but the cool thing about bottle-feeding is that Joel gets to connect with the baby during meal-time, too, not just me. Not to mention the fact that Joel also can get up by and go feed the baby whether I'm there (or awake!) or not. So there are benefits to bottle-feeding... and I'm sure one day I'll get over the fact that I didn't get to breastfeed. One day. /:)