Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Changing Feeding Habits and Grossness

I am please to announce that we've gone from 8-10 feedings each day to 6. This is a major accomplishment in the world of my free time (until I gave the free time to Pratt & Whitney). I had been hurrying to feed Jackson when he started squirming at night, before he was really awake. Then a couple of weeks ago, he squirmed at 5am, but I was too tired to respond. We both went back to sleep for 2 hours until the next "scheduled" feeding. The rest of the morning, he ate every 3-4 hours instead of every 1-2. Since then, we've been doing the same.

I think Jackson was getting a little to eat at 5, and then when he ate at 7, there wasn't much available, so he needed to eat again soon after, and so on all morning. By skipping the 5am feeding, more milk was available at 7, and so one. Too bad I couldn't cut out the 3am feeding, especially since I get up at 5 now anyway.

The full belly means more milk is at the ready for spitting up. This leads us to the gross stuff (stop reading now if you don't want to know). I heard the period between pregnancy and infancy described as "the gross years". It may get worse, but for now, here are some of the latest low-lights.

This week, Jackson learned to perform projectile vomiting. He first did this after eating just a little bit and falling back to sleep. I put him down to try to change him and wake him up to eat a bit more. Just as I finished fastening the last snap, he got me. He also got the bed, further away than his toes. Those photos are "before" shots. The next day, he showed his daddy his new trick. Since then, we've been much more vigilant when it comes to burping.

I'm sure you are aware of the stuff called "Toe Jam". Jackson doesn't have it. He stores lint between his toes and fingers, but the jam is elsewhere. He has armpit jam, and has had it from the start--sloughed skin building up between the folds of his little armpits. More recently, he's developed neck jam. He grew an extra chin or 2, and underneath it I found the stuff. He had a bath this morning, and I had to go back later and clean out his neck. I'm vowing to be consistent in cleaning this out so it doesn't become something worse that I heard about at the Mom's Meeting.

Today, I was clipping his fingernails. Underneath them, he has black grime. I know its not dirt as in grit picked up out in the yard. He hasn't had the opportunity to collect much of that. By process of elimination, I believe that its skin scraped off his face and his family members. It also smells bad, similar to the neck cheese.


ps. We do a lot of laundry now. We used to do laundry once every 2-3 weeks. Now its done 2-3 times per week. It's also much easier to wash clothing than to put it away. The baskets are piling up! I'm signing off to put it away since my sweet Mabel decided it made a great dog bed.

2 Months

Yesterday was Jackson's 2 month birthday. Yes, the time has gone by incredibly fast, yes he's growing and outgrowing his clothes quickly. He's also getting to be much more fun. We're at a point where he's becoming interactive. Last month, I could give him toys and he would look like he was playing with them. This month, we can really play. Here are some of our favorite games:
Alligator kisses. I picked up a little fuzzy stuffed alligator from Old Navy. I slowly wiggle it up his body drawing the word "Alligator" out. When I get to his head, I kiss his face all over with the alligator and say "kisses". Jackson laughs and laughs.
Peak-a-boo. No need to describe this game. Jackson loves it. We've been playing mostly by covering Jackson's face, and he finds it hilarious. Today, I tried covering my face, and was rewarded with giggles. Yesterday, Jackson was lying there with the burp cloth over his face. He pulled it down and I said "Peak-a-boo". After laughing, he covered his face back up and did it again. First time--lucky accident. Second time--intentional?
Jackson still enjoys swatting at the bears on his pack and play. He can also be convinced to sit in his crib for the duration of the swirling musical mobile--Why doesn't this play music for more than 2 minutes at a time? This week, we pulled out the gymini for another try. He likes it. The pentapuss (I guess the toy company couldn't spring for the other 3 legs) is a particular hit.
Clap hands and shout "Yeah". Follow up by moving his legs and say "Run, Run, Run".
Good times are pretty easy to come by with the young.
ps. Here are today's stats: 14 lbs 10 oz, 25 3/4 inches long, 16 inch head.

back to work

For the last 2 months, I've had a schedule that cycled between feeding Jackson, napping, and wandering around the house--baby attached. Sure, I managed to squeeze a few other things into that busy routine, but that was the bulk of it. Last Thursday, I had a jolt to the system when I returned to work. The new schedule goes something like this: 2:30 wake up and feed Jackson, 5:30 there's a race between Jackson and the alarm to see who can wake me up, try to feed Jackson who is too sleepy to eat much so I still have to pump before work. 7:30 get to work, work, hope I can make it through the 10am meeting without sleeping too obviously. 11:00 pump milk, hope I can get by with just 1 session at work. 11:30 Work some more. 4:30 rush out of work to get home in time for Jason to leave and hopefully in time to feed Jackson instead of pumping again 5:30 say goodbye to Jason and pump again. Wander around the house with baby attached. 10:30 feed Jackson. 11:30 go to sleep and prepare to repeat. I've always felt the 8 hour work day was too long, and that sentiment has been reinforced. I am so very tired!

Here are the positives--It's kind of nice to have hands free and be able to do something/anything. I have very supportive coworkers. My boss is committed to helping me make this work, leave on time, avoid travel, work from home. (No, I don't think its career sabotage. He's also getting me visibility within the company.) My coworkers were excited to see me return. Granted some of their excitement was selfishness to speed the programs along or right sinking ships...but mostly it was sincere welcoming. There were even hugs! I also heard that someone would ask several times everyday when I was coming back.

I am also pleasantly surprised by the lactation room. I've seen a cubicle partition in the bathroom in another building, so my expectations were low. In my building, there's a little out of the way conference room. It is equipped with the following: locking door, fridge, sink, small sofa, desk, 3 chairs, blanket, convenient outlet, storage cabinets, wipes, breast pads, baby related reading material, and a community journal for the rooms occupants to communicate issues and tips. This is much more than I was expecting from my conservative and overwhelmingly male corporation. Maybe someday they'll cave and offer that onsite, subsidized daycare we keep asking for...

A few days after I returned, another person came back to work. He was serving a 6 week mission in Zimbabwe (Welcome back John!). My boss speaks of us both as having life changing experiences. I don't want to imply that my experience as a new mother in a cozy American house with heat, refrigeration, and water, plus access to large quantities of clean clothing is anything at all like the hardships in a developing nation. However, I couldn't help observing a few similarities. For both of us, life was moving at a much slower pace. In Zimbabwe, the people walk everywhere. It was 2 miles to the store. John said that after you returned with groceries, you'd really felt like you'd accomplished something. I felt the same way about the 1/4 mile walk to the mailbox. In Zimbabwe, John didn't have an oven, and due to the frequent power outages it was difficult to cook. PB&J was a life saver. I also have great difficulty cooking and rely on smoothies, granola bars, and frozen meals. In Zimbabwe there's a water shortage, so sponge baths are the norm and a shower comes with overwhelming emotions of gratitude and relief--I feel the same way.

It's cliche to speak of having children requiring sacrifice. It does. But I am grateful to be going through it here where the sacrifices are tempered by an overabundance of equipment, cleanliness, controlled environments, and support. I'm also grateful just to be going through it.



People have a tendency to imagine human characteristics on animals, anthropomorphisms. As I watch Jackson growing, I can't help but notice how many characteristics he has in common with animals. Embryos all look alike, whether its a chicken, a tadpole, or a human, they are very similar with tails, big eyes, and little limb buds. Internally, they're pretty similar, too. The organs have similar origins. Of course, it doesn't take long before the differences are obvious. But I have noticed several behaviors that are much like animals. Jackson grasps at my clothing and holds on with tight little fists--reminiscent of the way apes hold onto their mothers fur. When he's nursing, Jackson puts his hands up on the sides of my breasts like a kitten would to pat the milk and draw it down. These actions certainly aren't as effective for the human babies, but the similarities are there.

I saw an article this week saying that humans are born with brains 25% of the adult size where as most animals are born with brains 80% of the adult size. It was in a la leche league magazine, and their point was that humans should breast feed until the child is 2 or 3 and catches up with the rest of the animal kingdom on brain maturity. No mention was made of the relationship of brain size to body size or the fact that compared to the rest, humans have ENORMOUS brains. Perhaps they should've gone with some ratio of brain size to body mass. Or brain size to milestone, but that's confusing since so many mammals are born walking (one up on us) and blind (one down).
One more note on brain size. Jackson was born with a such a sweet little heart shaped face. Now he has a long oval head. Two reasons--first, he's been growing extra chins, and second, the rapid brain growth and development has stretched his forehead.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tuck and Roll!!!

There is an episode of "Friends" where Ross gives Chandler advice on how to snuggle with his girlfriend, then get her away from him after she falls asleep. He called it the "tuck and roll". It didn't work for Chandler (he flipped his girlfriend off the other side of the bed, too much roll I guess), and it doesn't work for new parents either.

It should be obvious to any new parent why you would want to tuck and roll your baby. If you can get him to sleep by himself for even half an hour, you can catch up on all those things you've wanted to do since he was born. Dishes, laundry (too..much..laundry...), perhaps catch up on your own personal hygeine. But that baby can't understand why you don't want to pack him around 24/7.

The consequences of a failed tuck and roll are dire. Do you remember that scene in the first "Indiana Jones" movie where he tries to quickly switch the golden idol for a bag of carefully measured sand? That is a pretty good illustration of the tension inherent in attempting the tuck and roll. That's not to say that darts will shoot out of the bedroom walls, or that a giant stone ball will chase you down the stairs and out the front door. But failure to execute a perfect tuck and roll will result in something worse. A very real look of betrayal from an infant can cut like a knife. We are still perfecting our technique, and welcome advice on how to best execute this magical art.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How'd they do it!?!

It's been nearly two months and it's about time for Daddy to weigh in. I have really enjoyed watching Sheree, Christine, my Mom, Nicole, and all our acquaintances reactions to this cute kid. My reaction has been exactly the same. I think he's the most adorable baby in the history of time (if I do say so myself), and I can't get enough of him. Then something happened.

I think that all the stress of getting a child in to the world healthy and happy provides a great buffer to a lot of the realities of having a child. We were so relieved (and exhausted) to finally meet him, feed him, and yes, change him, that we really didn't think much beyond eat, burp, change, sleep, repeat. After a while though, you get your feet under you and your mind starts to wander. Looking down at this sleeping angel, I started thinking about what a good job our parents did raising us. We might never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but Sheree and I are good people. We work hard, are kind to kids and dogs, recycle, respect our elders, vote regularly, drive defensively, and pray for peace in the world. Now I'm not going to get into the whole "nature vs. nurture" thing, but I think our parents and family had a lot to do with who we are. Looking down at the chubby face of my son, I have to ask myself "How the HELL did they pull it off!?!" Cuz' I know that they didn't have any more or less access to books about babies and child rearing than we have. Nobody taught them classes about teaching kids values, kindness, hard work, responsibility, etc. But they taught us well. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm terrified! This little boy will look to me to teach him how to be a man. I hope I can do as well as my parents and grandparents did.

So, to mommies and daddies everywhere, and to mine and Sheree's in particular, THANK YOU! We love you all! Please HELP us!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Last night was the reunion class with the families who took childbirth classes with us. We came in to get back together and to share our birth/horror stories with the current parents-to-be. Our babies were all due within days of each other and were born within 1 month between March 25 and April 25.
When we were taking the classes, we were all quiet, exhausted parents-to-be fighting to stay up all the way to 9 O'clock once a week. Last night, everyone was excited and chatty, eager to show off our beautiful children.
Despite being so close in age, the babies really vary in size. The oldest baby,Gracie, is also the smallest at just 10 pounds. I was humbled in my complaints about how big Jackson is. AJ, who was born 10.5 pounds, weighed over 18 pounds at his 2 month appointment. He looks it. I expect Jackson to come in at a paltry 15 pounds when he hits the scales next week.
For expectant parents, the concensus is: Don't be induced. It's a rough way to go and is apparently very likely to end with an unplanned C-section. Pay attention when you learn the breathing exercises. You may laugh at the illustrations of pushing positions, but the more ridiculous looking ones are also the more effective.
When you take your babies home, make sure you have on hand: A breast pump if you plan to breastfeed, you will probably need this right away. A front carrier, wrap, or sling so that you can have hands free as you pack the baby around outside of your body, but still occupying the same space in the front of your torso. A bouncy seat so you can set the baby down and shower. And a well stocked freezer, there'll be no time for meal prep.

Beach (Grandma Pat comes to visit)

Jackson's Grandma Pat and Uncle PJ came to visit over the weekend. Unfortunately, Grandpa Bill couldn't make the trip. While they were here, we took Jackson for his first trip to the beach (not just the rocky shore). We went to Hammonasset State Park in Madison. It's one of the few sandy beaches in the state. The crabs are molting, and there were little crab shells washed up along the beach. Beyond the beach, the roses were blooming, and the air had a wonderful frangrance of ocean breeze and rose.

Jackson was dosed with kiddy sunscreen (very sticky stuff, which gives his skin extra luminescent from the titanium dioxide). This was also his first day wearing his sunglasses. They're a little big and slide down his nose, but he didn't fight it.

I ignored his Daddy's protests about the cold and let Jackson experience the sand in his toes and the waves. When the waves came up, Jackson would let out little gasps of surprise, and I'd help his jump up away from the water. As the water receeded and carried the sand away from his feet, his little toes would curl up. We tried to make a path of babes footprints in the sand, but he's just not heavy enough to leave tracks yet. We'll save that for another day.

This is Jackson exhausted at the end of the day and after 3 outfit changes.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Baby Wearing

We went sling shopping last week. The carrier we have been using was OK, but the straps slip so after an hour, Jackson would be riding near my hips rather than my chest. He's also at a weird size for it, big enough to put his legs through the leg holes, but in that position, too short to see anything. So we went to the baby store to try carriers and see what we like.

This was an adventure in and of itself. I multi-tasked trips. For us, multi-tripping is not just something the energy saving articles say you should do to save gas. We live out in the sticks, so its a necessity. But the timing was bad, so when we got to the store, Jackson was hungry. Fortunately, the store is very progressive and had space to nurse him. They also had diapers available, and since I didn't want to go back to the car, I tried one of their unbleached cotton, chemical free diapers. Then we tried on carriers. I tried the wraps, but I didn't like all the extra fabric involved and although they say they're secure, I'm afraid that the fabric would slip out of the rings and we'd have the same trouble as before. So I settled on the sling. I was still trying them when all of the milk Jackson drank worked its way through his system, and blew right out the top of the feel-better-about-landfilling-this-diaper. Lucky for them, we were currently wearing the sling I'd opted to buy.

Jackson really likes it. He can sit forward or backward or sideways. When he grows his legs can hang out, and I can swing him over to my hip or even my back. It folds up tightly, and there are no straps to worry about adjusting or buckles to fuss with. Supposedly I can feed him in this discreetly in public. So far, I haven't been able to manage that. If anyone has tips on how, let me know, but I don't think there's enough room. The sling puts pressure on my shoulder and spine, but I'm hoping my muscles compensate and that goes away.

There isn't much different functionally between the various sling brands, but the one I chose is made by Hotslings. As an added bonus, the sling was designed by a mother a few years ago, she grew the business up as a cottage industry, and the sling is still made in country. The fabric is either domestic or imported from factories that guarantee fair wages.

ps. The sales person recommended cloth diapers as a way to prevent blowouts. I'm suspicious since I remember my mother using cloth diapers and the mess and hassle involved. But she swore they are no longer my mother's diapers. The fabric is thicker and more absorbent, pins are a thing of the past, and there are many types to choose from. She also claims that while he's eating only breast milk, there's no need to prewash, I can throw the whole mess in the washing machine. I'll be looking into this. If I'm brave enough to try it, you'll be hearing more.


I finally did it. Three nights ago, I got Jackson to sleep following all the rules. He slept swaddled, on his back, in his own bed. I thought it was the beginning of a new era for us where we'd no longer be breaking the sleep rules that will save his generation from the dread SIDS. The next night, I swaddled him all up and put him in bed, and he refused to sleep. So I handed him off to Jason for a few hours. He brought him back, I fed him, swaddled him, and put him in bed. He slept for an hour, then squirmed so much that I caved. I pulled him from his bed, and placed him in mine, on his side-belly to belly, under the covers, near the pillow, and we slept.

I wish I could follow the rules and get some sleep, but here's the secret. Babies don't like to sleep on their backs and alone. I don't blame them. I don't like to sleep on my back or alone either. The experts say that SIDS incidents have decreased 50% since they started the "Back to Sleep" campaign 20 years ago. But talking to other parents, I know that babies don't really sleep according to the rules. The "Back to Sleep" campaigns also coincides with the widespread use of baby monitors and avoidance of second hand smoke. I think the AMA should survey parents and find out what really reduced the incidents of SIDS and restore common sense to the sleep routine. Until then, I'll do whatever it takes to get a few hours of sleep each night, and keep hoping my baby sleeps soundly and safely.
ps. Congratulations to Jackson's friend, Braeden. He's the miracle baby who does sleep on his back, in his crib, alone, and even goes to sleep awake.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Feats of Strength

Jackson has a few new tricks. He wants to be mobile. I'm trying to humor him, but I do not want this to happen anytime soon! He's too young, they don't make knee pads that small, we haven't child proofed, so many reasons for him to stay stationary. So far, these are his skills:

I mentioned rolling over previously. He hasn't showcased this since. But he's moved on to other feats of strength. First, there's the little baby push ups. Then there's standing with his parents holding him loosely for balance--no, not for support--balance. And then there's scooting. He hates "tummy time" no longer. OK, he still hates it, but he does like to scoot. He wants to push with his legs. He hasn't figured out how to dig his toes into the ground. Instead, he'd like you to put your hands against his feet so he can push against them. While his legs push, he grabs the blanket with his tiny little fists, and pulls. Doing this, he can gains some serious ground. While we play this game, he grunts like a body builder, and his little toes become all fuzzy from the blanket lint. In the photo, he just looks mad, but trust me, he's traveled 3 feet.

Life Imitates Art

The Utah Museum of Fine Art has nice little collection of Flemish works. Several of them feature the Madonna and child in the very humanizing act of nursing. The subject matter is surprising no matter how many times I walked through the exibit. One painting is particularly enigmatic, "The Virgin Nursing the Christ Child" from the Studio of Peter Paul Rubens. It shows Mary squirting milk from her breast at the child. I've looked at it many times and wondered why she would be squirting milk at the baby. Not only that, but I believed that milk needs to be sucked out, maybe a few drips leak out on their own, but the breast isn't generally pressurized.
This painting no longer puzzles me. A few days into my pumping routine, I noticed that after the milk started to flow, it would spray the sides of the pump. It sprayed only when the pump was in the suction phase. And then it happened. I should say that it started happening. A couple of times a day Jackson gets showered by the milk. He starts to feed, then changes his mind and spits out my nipple. But its too late, milk is squirting him in the face and dripping down his little chin. It sprays out like a water balloon with a hole in it. I have to tell him he's struck milk, and he should open his mouth to catch it.

Why don't they warn new mothers about things like this? Mention it casually, or add a few lines to the breast feeding books to note it. Do not be alarmed, but this will probably happen...