Posted in Infant, Parenting

What Do You Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed?

Because that’s how I’m feeling right now.

I don’t know how to go about writing this.  I don’t want this post to seem like I’m wallowing in self-pity, but something needs to come out and this is one of the only ways I know how.

I just got off the phone with my partner who announced that he’d be home around 7.  I wasn’t even able to finish the conversation in a civilized manner; I hung up quickly and burst into tears.  I don’t remember ever being so emotional, but these past few days (or weeks, or months – honestly, I don’t know) have been trying.

I feel as though I can’t catch a break.  When my son was a newborn, I was nursing for hours at a time, then he hit a growth spurt, then we started having problems with gas, after that we entered the “wonderful” world of wonder weeks.  Then came sleep deprivation due to prop dependency (where I was getting up 10+ times a night for a month just to put the pacifier back in) followed by sleep training, a tendonitis for me, teething, a growth spurt/wonder week combo and now, teething again.

I feel like all I do all day is try to function.  My son has taken to screaming at different moments; I never know when it’s going to happen.  Sometimes it’ll be for naps, or at bedtime or when he wakes up in the middle of the night.  Other times it’ll be when I sit him down on the floor or when I change his diaper.  It’s maddening because it just goes on and on and on.  And then, I have people around me asking me how are things.  All I can say is “good” (that *is* the correct answer, right?).  What do you want me to say?  I have no idea what an easy baby and what a difficult baby are like.

I’ve never had so many headaches in my life.  I’ve never cried so much in so few days.  My home is a mess – even by my standards – and I feel so alone – and feel guilty about it.

I’m lucky enough to be on paid maternity leave, I gave birth in November and am only going back to work in August.  My partner tries to help with a lot of things, but I think he’s feeling a little overwhelmed with how to manage work (he’s been having to put in extra hours), house chores, and this little human that’s taking up so much room in our lives.  I go out because otherwise I’d go crazy, but while I’m going out, I’m not taking care of the house and I’m not resting.  I love my son to death and I wouldn’t go back to my pre-baby life; he brings too much joy in my life.  But sometimes, like right now, I just feel like I’m losing it.

How do you stay at home moms/dads do it?  How do you working moms/dads do it?  How do you single parents do it?  Please tell me that I am not the only one.

I never thought that becoming would be easy.  But I also never thought that 6 months in, I would become an emotional mess at times.

There.  I said it.  I feel somewhat better.  I think.

Posted in Infant, Newborn, Product Reviews

Baby Product Review #3: The Kissy Booboo Teddy Bear

You’ve heard of magic bags right?  You know, those things that you can stick into the microwave to warm up and then use on aches and pains.  Well the kissy booboo teddy bear is just that, but for babies.

The company was first started in 2005, but the work that went into it began in 1997, when the president of the company gave birth to her child.  Her story is an inspirational one.  Her daughter was born with neurological problems and digestive system problems which required her to undergo surgery.  She was in pain and her mother was determined to help her daughter find relief from it.  Looking into natural pain-relief, she found a cereal mix that she stuffed inside of a teddy bear shaped sac.  The kissy booboo teddy bear was born.

I’ve used this product on my son a few times, especially when he is grunting and crying through tummy pain caused by gas.  It has really helped him as it provides both heat and slight pressure that seems to relieve his discomfort.

At under 20$, it is fairly inexpensive and can be used both as a cool pack and a warm pack.  The sac has a cute teddy bear shape that is small enough to fit over a baby’s tummy and the bear comes with its own swaddle blanket (so cute!).

Oh!  For those of you who, like me, don’t own a microwave oven the good news is that you don’t need to buy one just to use this product!  Though it takes a bit longer, you can warm it up in the oven too.  Just start your oven at 350 F, once it is at the correct temperature, turn off your oven and put the teddy bear (don’t forget to cut off the tags) in the oven for 3-4 minutes.  It will be just the right temperature and will stay warm for a while.

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There is my son showing off his teddy bear. Don’t mind the scratch on his forehead, those darned baby nails just keep growing and growing…

Posted in Infant, Newborn

The Almighty Pacifier

It’s funny how such a seemingly insignificant object can create a world of doubt in my head.  Seriously, I feel like the “Pro” team is playing a game of ping-pong against the “Con” team.  It goes something like this:

Pro – vs – Con : 0 – 0

+ Pro : Studies have linked the use of pacifiers with a reduced risk of SIDS.  –> 1 – 0

– Con: The continued use of pacifiers into toddlerhood increases the risk of recurrent ear infections and misaligned teeth.  –> 1 – 1

+ Pro: When it’s time to wean the baby away from his/her sucking habit, it’s easier with a pacifier than with his/her thumb.  (I remember my mom cutting off the nipples to all of my sister’s pacifiers to show her that they were broken.  I don’t think that cutting off a child’s thumb would be a good solution 😉 ).  –> 2 – 1

– Con: If the baby falls asleep consistently with the pacifier, it may take a lot more time for everyone to be sleeping through the night as if he/she wakes up to find that the pacifier is gone s/he’ll likely cry for it meaning that mommy or daddy will need to get out of bed over and over again to put the thing back in their baby’s mouth.  –> 2 – 2

+ Pro: A pacifier can satisfy a baby’s need to suck (giving mommy’s breasts a break!).  –> 3 – 2

– Con: If given as soon as the baby cries, the pacifier may steer a parent away from the real reason their child is crying (such as hunger).  –> 3 – 3

And the list goes on…

Though I’m still unsure whether I like them or not, I do use pacifiers.  But I use them on my own terms.  I’ll use it if:

  1. My son is inconsolable (usually because of gas) and I know he is neither hungry or soiled.
  2. My son has gotten to the point of being overtired and is otherwise unable to fall asleep (yup, I’ll have swaddled him, rocked him and turned on his white noise before giving it to him).
  3. When boyfriend and I are in the car and my son’s crying his head off.  I’ll go sit beside him in the back and stick in his pacifier because a hysterical baby is a risk for a car accident.

What about you?  Do you have a clear position on the use of a pacifier?

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Posted in Infant, Newborn

Impeccable Timing, Charlie Boy!

Ok so today was my postpartum appointment with my OB/GYN and of course, seeing as I am a part-time stay at home mom, I had the pleasure of attending it with my wonderful (almost) eight-weeker.  Of course, I had already been out of the house alone once with my baby and it had gone really well.  Today, however, was a totally other story.

The first difference was in the fact that this time around, I had an appointment.  I had to be there at a certain time.  Noon, to be exact.  You see, usually, when we have to leave the house, we leave after a nursing session.  It’s the logical time to go as we are pretty much guaranteed that he’s not going to wake up starving in the car.  Today, though, I did not have that luxury and noon was probably one of the worst times for my appointment to be.  Why is that, do you ask?  Well, simply because it is when he was due to eat (he was up for a nursing at 6 and then, like clockwork, was hungry again at 9).

Now, I don’t know if he felt my semi-stress at the day’s scheduling juggling I would have to perform, but today he decided to throw the routine we’ve been running with for the past week out the window.  Oh, what a great day to become unpredictable…

For starters, he did not go back to sleep to finish his night after his 6 am feeding.  He also remained obstinately awake until he was hungry again at 9 (this despite the fact that he was clearly tired).  Then, of course, he fell asleep nursing (told you he was tired) no matter what I did to try to keep him awake and actively sucking.  This means that a little over an hour later he was wailing away because he was (you guessed it) hungry again.  I figured, however, that there wasn’t much harm in him having eaten earlier than anticipated because it meant that he would only need to eat again around 13:30.  This would give me ample time to go see my OB/GYN and get back home in time to nurse him.  Or so I thought…

I managed to leave the house without a hitch and arrive at my destination with ten minutes to spare.  Except (hurdle #1) the darned parking lot was full (again) and so I had to park at the bank next door.  This meant more walking with the twelve-pound baby in his very light (ironic) car seat and diaper bag.  Whew, I did make it in one piece though.

When I was finally able to get myself, my baby and his diaper bag through the door, I was greeted with a very full (hurdle #2) waiting room.  ‘Great’, I thought, ‘she’s running late’.  I checked in nonetheless and sat myself down, placing my son between two other baby-filled car seats (’twas the day for postpartum appointments, it seems).  I waited, eventually deciding to unzip his seat cover and remove his tuque so that he didn’t get to hot.  He stirred a bit, but settled down almost immediately.  I exhaled an internal sigh of relief.  But of course, the relief would not last.

About thirty minutes into waiting, the receptionist’s phone rang.  It was my doctor kindly requesting she ask the people in the waiting room to stop talking so loudly.  The room quieted down quite suddenly as people smirked at the request.  Then, everyone’s attention turned to a baby stirring in his car seat.  Actually, everyone’s attention turned to MY baby stirring in his car seat.  I looked down on him and saw his little fists clenched and his face become bright red.  ‘Oh s***’, I thought.  And just as the thought took off, his eyes flew open and he started wailing it out.  Oh yeah, impeccable timing for baby gas Charlie boy.

Then, well, all of the expecting mothers looked up at me wondering how I was going to handle the situation while all of the actual mothers looked down seemingly simultaneously at their own babies, rocking them in their seats probably hoping that my son’s wails wouldn’t bring about a chorus of wails.  Of course, I also had the receptionist telling me that if I needed to nurse him, I could go in the room next door.  I thanked her, as I fished my son out of his seat telling her that he wasn’t hungry and thinking that if I did have to nurse, I certainly wouldn’t be going in the room next door, I would be doing it in the waiting room.  I mean, we were at an obstetrics clinic for crying out loud (no pun intended).

I eventually got my son to calm down by holding him in the anti tummy-pain position and pacing across the small waiting room.  Within a few minutes he had calmed down an no other babies had started crying.  He was even able to fall back asleep minutes before my turn was up.  Then came the fun part: strap the baby back into his seat, grab my coat and the diaper bag and make my way to the doctor’s office.  As if timing was everything, he woke up again as soon as my OB/GYN started talking about intercourse (guess he’s not ready to be a big brother just yet) and birth control and was definitely hungry by the time the appointment was up.  So I nursed him and went back home (not forgetting to go get something to eat on the way as it was minutes shy of 2 pm and I still hadn’t had lunch).

When I got home, I decided to leave him in his car seat (something I’ve never done before) so that he could keep sleeping and I could eat without having a cranky baby on my hands.  I’ve been home for a little over an hour now and he (and I) are still getting some much needed rest.

A thought occurs as I’m about to finish off this post.  I wonder if what happened at the doctor’s office earlier today is Karma getting back at me for smirking all those times I saw mothers try to get a handle on their baby or child acting out at an inopportune moment.  Hehe, probably…

Posted in Infant, Newborn

Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Son?

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of things….

I hate it when this happens.  For the past  week, things have been going really well.  I mean, despite Christmas coming around (which meant family parties), we’d been getting into a rather predictable routine of waking, eating, playing, napping and bedtime.  But, of course, things were going too well.

For the past two evenings and nights, my little tyke is giving me grief.  His last feedings of the day have been hellish as he’s been going through them fussing, squirming, screaming and crying.  He moves around so much that he loses his latch or just plain hurts me by flipping out and remaining stuck to my breast.  His arms flay about either allowing him to grab and hold on (tightly) to some loose locks of hair (two words: haircut time) or punching, pushing against or clawing at (have I ever mentioned how hard it is to trim a baby’s nails?) the hollow right above the spot where my two collarbones meet with his little fist.  Of course, when I put him up to burp him during and after a feeding, he tenses up, pushing against my thighs with his legs and he straightening his back, holding his head up high and refuses to burp.

 

This, of course, affects both his sleep and mine.  You see, because he gets so worked up, he is nearly impossible to put down for a nap or for the night.  He ends up falling asleep from pure exhaustion around 10:30.  If it were only that, it wouldn’t be so bad, but his nighttime feedings are seldom better.  Oh, he doesn’t squirm around or anything, but after his (around) 3am nursing session, I can’t get him back into his crib.  He’ll fall asleep un my arms, but as soon as I put him down, he wakes up, fists clenched and grunting.  So I rub his tummy, turn on his white noise, but there’s nothing to do, he just starts panicking.  And so I pick him up again and he calms down and falls back to sleep in a matter of seconds.

Meanwhile, I, am going crazy and so I’ve been reviewing the likely culprits.

1.  Overstimulated/overtired: his grandparents came during the day and there is never any shortage of stimulation when they are with the baby and he is awake.  Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, an overstimulated baby usually leads to a cranky overtired baby especially when the baby in question fights off sleep.  But you know, even as I write these lines, I know that overstimulation is not this evening’s problem.

2.  Milk flow issues: I can’t help but wonder, when my son is squirming and screaming at the breast, if the problem might be with my milk.  Do I have too little?  Is the milk flow too slow?  Is it too fast?  Is he getting too much foremilk and is eager to get to the rich creamy stuff?  However, I know that this evening the problem isn’t in the quantity or flow of the milk.  After all, we are changing many wet diapers a day.  He’s gaining weight nicely (his clothing and my arm muscles can attest to that).   I’ve taken care of the foremilk/hindmilk imbalance by feeding from the same breast twice before switching to the next.  Plus, he’s not coughing and spluttering as  he’s drinking.

3.  Gas:  You’ll notice I’ve kept this for last.  Fact is, I know that this is the real problem.  When he’s in my arms, not only can I feel the gas bubbles in his tummy but I can hear them as well.  When I put him down in his crib, I know he is awoken by the gas as I can hear the farts resounding as he clenches his fists and works hard  to push out the bubbles that are causing him so much discomfort.

It’s frustrating because I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it but hold him.  I mean, when he started having tummy issues a few weeks back, I started burping him after every nursing session.  Then, I started doing it mid-session too.  I’ve cut out certain foods from my diet,  I’ve done tummy massages, I’ve used a magic bag, I “bicycle” his legs…it seems like nothing is working.  It’s frustrating because this nighttime problem started out of the blue.  He’s always had gas, but he’s always fallen back asleep quickly during the night.  Right now, I’m eager for the 22nd of January to come up; not only will he be two months old, but he’s seeing his pediatrician.  I just hope the problem resolves itself before then.  If not, I hope I can at least keep a handle on my sanity; there is no way I can be even remotely close to functioning with the little sleep I’ve been getting these past two nights.

6:40 am.  It’s as good a time as any to try for the umpteenth time to get him (and myself( to bed I suppose.

Wish me luck…

Posted in Newborn

White Noise: Friend or Fluke?

As I was looking over the word cloud I created from my blog’s url a few days ago, I realized that the words I used most often were related to sleep.  It’s little wonder as I’ve always had issues with sleep.  It used to be that, to be functional, I needed a good eight hours rest (in a row!).  If I wanted to be really rested and have a ton of energy, I would need ten hours.  Furthermore, I’ve always been one to go to bed early (like “nine-ish”) and have had problems with insomnia.  Nowadays, my insomnia’s gone (gee, I wonder why) and when I can get six hours of sleep in two-hour increments, I can consider myself functional!

I’m almost afraid to write this – I’m sure it’ll bite me in the rear end real soon – but I haven’t had too many problems with my nighttime sleep since my son was born (minus the two growth spurts).  But perhaps, that is just a  matter of perspective.  I mean, after all, I’ve had to adjust my sleep cycles to my new role as a mother.  The problem lies in my son’s daytime naps.  As I’ve mentioned before, my son is a curious little bugger.  He is also rather gassy, which means that he does have tummy issues.  He can spend hours awake during the day.  He fights sleep like it’s his ultimate enemy sometimes and then gets overtired.  Overtired leads to cranky, cranky leads to having even more trouble falling asleep.  It’s a vicious cycle.

After reading on the Incredible Infant Blog about white noise, I decided to give it a try.  I went to the iTunes store and purchased a white noise cd for babies.  More specifically, I bought this white noise cd.  After downloading it, I decided to try it out.  It was as good a time as any as my son had been awake for two hours and was showing signs of overtiredness (yawning, looking away, glazed over gaze, whining…).  I put him back against my chest, so that his head could rest on my shoulder if he desired to (because for the past hour, each time I tried to get him in this position, he would keep his head lifted up and would push against me with his arms), clicked on a random track and started rubbing his back.  It was kinda creepy as it sounded like a recording of a fan or vacuum cleaner running.  But what was even more creepy was that my little one was asleep within two minutes!  I kept him in my arms for five minutes, not daring to put him in his moses basket as I was afraid he’d wake up as soon as he left my arms.  When I finally caved in to the temptation of putting him down to sleep, he stayed asleep – until I woke him for his next feeding!

Of course, I tried the experience again in the afternoon.  It worked again!  So far, I’ve tried this method for daytime naps six times.  It has worked four times out of six.  So you tell me: does white noise really work, or was it all a fluke?

Posted in Parenting

The Dreaded ‘C’ Word

‘Oh gosh, does my son have colic?’, I asked myself not long ago.

For a third day in a row, my son was being the king of cranky; he’d wake up (around two o’clock) from a nap crying, would stop crying momentarily when I picked him up, only to wail out again moments later.  He would keep on going even as I ‘Ssssushed’ him, kissed him, whispered to him, rocked him.  It seemed that the only way to stop the cries momentarily was when he was taking a breath or when I tried different holds.  He didn’t care for the rocking chair and even spat out his pacifier.

The first time, I was able to calm him by holding him tummy down on my forearm and walking around with him as I rubbed his back.  He stopped crying immediately (oh yeah!).  Of course, startled and pleased by my success I decided (since I figured holding an over-nine-pound baby like that would likely become tiring for my arm in the short run) to switch him back to the cradle hold.  Yeah, bad idea…  I ended up putting him back like he was and pacing back and forth around the house.  Eventually, when my arm felt like it was going to fall off, I was able to bring him up against my chest and support him with both arms.  After roughly an hour of this, he had calmed down enough for me to be able to cradle him and even put him down in his moses basket.

Now, I had read on colic before as I’d heard the word thrown around quite a bit.  I knew that it was defined as uncontrollable and inconsolable crying.  So why then, do you ask, did I think it was colic even though he was consolable?  Well, it is because it is – right after ‘breastfeeding’ – the word on everyone’s lips when you have a newborn.  Furthermore, I knew that one of the theories surrounding colic was that it was caused by trapped gas in the tummy (my son seems to be rather gassy).  Also, as I’ve mentioned in a previous  post, I hate hearing my boy cry and have trouble calming him down.  Finally, by that time, I was just plain tired and rather annoyed at my son (yup, that would be the hormones kicking in).  So I did another google search.  This time, I came upon an article that was a revelation for me.

The author, a doctor, starts off by painting a very vivid picture of what colic looks like.  He then talks of the light bulb moment that gave him a new outlook on the subject.  Finally, he makes a point of differentiating a colicky baby, which he calls a ‘hurting baby’, from an attention-seeking baby, which he calls a ‘high needs baby’.  Needless to say, after reading the article, I figured out that my son was ‘high needs’ rather than colicky.

You know what?  Now that I’ve read the article and have come to terms with the fact that my son is just a needy-attention-seeking little boy, I find that when he gets into high needs mode, I am much more patient about it.

Posted in Parenting

Words to Fear: #2: Baby Gas

The past two days have been rather tough.  My son has been having gas trouble which means that he can go from being calm and serene, happily chirping away or peacefully sleeping to grimacing and wailing his heart out in an instant.

It always starts with a frown.  Then, very quickly, his face scrunches up and turns red as he brings his knees up to his belly and puts his hands into fists.  Then comes the moment that sends daggers through my heart each time: the trembling bottom lip followed by the wail.

I’ve concluded that it is gas because when it happens, his tummy is hard, his diaper is clean, he has recently nursed and nothing else seems to be bothering him.  Of course, what really gives it away is that when he actually does calm down, his change of mood is always closely followed by a few resounding farts.

So I talk to him, sing to him, smooth down the hair on his head.  I look at him in the eyes and tell him softly that I love him.  I put him in different positions, from cradling him, to sitting him down, to putting his head up against my shoulder or laying him down across my knees where I can rub and pat his back.  I stand up, walk around while I pat his bottom, settle down in a rocking chair and try to sway his tummy troubles away.  I even take out the pacifier.  I have a world of tricks up my sleeve to try to ease my little one’s gas.

Sometimes (notice the choice of adverb here) it is possible to calm him down quickly.  This usually happens when his tummy troubles happen in his sleep.  However, most of the time, it just takes time, patience and a combination of the many techniques listed above.

When it happens, it is always a trying time and I have to remind myself that it will pass eventually…when his digestive system matures…