gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

5.5 weeks

Good evening, friends! It’s 9:30pm, the baby is sleeping, and it’s quiet with the exception of a constant audio backdrop of foghorns humming on the bay. I’m eating cherries and drinking water and feeling glad for a few moments to write. It’s tough to identify and harness these moments for writing–shouldn’t I be emptying the dishwasher, putting away laundry, finishing those thank you cards I’ve been meaning to do for weeks?? But tonight the priority is writing. I prefer to write a post all in one sitting and it’s hard to come by a free hour without other pressing obligations when the baby is sleeping (which could also include showering, pooping, napping, laundering baby clothes, disposing of diapers, doing baby-related paperwork, etc. etc. etc).

E is almost six weeks old! And weighs 13 lbs 13 oz (with diaper and onesie on)! He’s growing really fast. I noticed tonight while nursing him in the glider that his feet are propped on the opposite arm of the chair. It makes me feel good, like we’re both doing our job of making him grow. On the other hand, there’s this wistful nostalgia for every little stage that passes because you know it will never come back. I said to someone today that “he won’t be tiny again” (even though he was never tiny). Still–I notice each little milestone tick by–the initial weeks–meconium poops, the umbilical cord stump, the unfocused and cross-eyed look, the dry skin, the baby acne, the involuntary everything. The sense that he was truly fresh out of the oven. Bobble head and smaller cry. Learning from scratch. Staying home in the love soup with meals home cooked by mom.

Now he’s put on a few pounds and elongated too. His face doesn’t have such a puffy newborn look anymore. He’s really focused–makes eye contact with people, fixates on something out the window or a toy or a book. Smiles! Kicks his legs while breathing rapidly, in kind of a delighted pre-laugh. Can have a conversation exchange where the words are “uh” and “ooh” but the timing is perfectly logical. He’s getting a belly (I feel so proud of this!) and I’m still working on those cheeks. When I have him in a carrier, he holds on to me with his little hands.

Someday, though, when I have a tank of a toddler, I will look back on 6 weeks as tiny baby days. We’ve advanced into a kind-of routine that involves at least one outing per day. We’ve been super social with other new mamas and their babies–at mom meetups in the park, at friends’ houses, at my midwife’s office. Here is E (in green) with some of his gal pals today:

evan and the ladies

These meetups are so important. Not only are we sharing our experiences and lessons learned and supporting each other and keeping ourselves from becoming isolated, it’s just really critical to keep practicing getting out of the house. It’s a big deal. Timing sleep and feedings in order to get out the door, bringing the right stuff, choosing the right carrier, gauging the right temperature… It’s so trial and error and every single time there’s something I forget–and that’s when it helps so much to be with other new moms who can lend you a diaper or a plastic bag or a hand! One friend offered to repark my car when I realized, after getting the baby from the car seat to the carrier (asleep!), that I had parked in front of a driveway and I just couldn’t go through all the steps again. And once, when I was super frazzled with a crying baby, other moms neatly packed my messy pile of stuff back into my diaper bag. These are the friends who can bail you out when you’re still learning. Soon, I will graduate to socializing outside my house with people who didn’t recently give birth.

I’ve pretty consistently overbundled E. We learned in birth class that the baby needs one more layer than you do, but we all agree that our babies run hotter than that. I’m always stripping him down. Then when I went to meet moms in the Mission, where it’s warmer, I was all prepared to sit in the sun but then we were in the shade and I wished I’d had a gauzy blanket, which of course was the last thing I took out of my backpack before leaving the house. Today I actually ran out of diapers which is a totally amateur move. Other times I’ll remember all of the above and not need any of it!

Today, after parents’ circle, I walked with new friend E to get burritos and then nursed the baby in the car in an attempt to buy time to run an errand. Yet–we got halfway to Rainbow and he just went ballistic. I’m watching his screaming red little face in his car seat via two mirrors and trying to console him while getting us asap to a parking lot where I could nurse him again (maybe he wanted the other boob?), and by the time I got him out of his car seat he was sweaty and doing that post-cry inhale/shudder which made me feel awful. Who knows what triggered that… I guess sometimes this will just happen (maybe hungry, tired or overstimulated? Uncomfortable?). And it SUCKS to be driving at the time. On the other hand, there is no lasting damage–he always just pops back into a fine mood when he gets what he needed. If I cried that hard, I would likely do permanent damage to my vocal cords and be blotchy and sore for days. I need to remember that babies are designed to pull out this handy (and somewhat traumatizing) survival tool although it’s hard not to let it make you feel like you’re doing a crappy job.

Breastfeeding is the best. Such peaceful moments where we totally nail it on meeting each others’ needs. I keep taking videos of him nursing and vocalizing in the pauses with high-pitched baby sighs. So pure. When he’s finished, he does the most amazing baby stretch where he raises both arms over his head (only they don’t actually go past the top of his head) and sticks out his chin to stretch his neck, furrowing his little brow and curling up his legs. I look forward to this every time.

I love this guy so much. I’m happy to wake up to feed and change him, to entertain him with random narration and songs and books, and yes–totally feel rattled when he turns the screaming cry up to 11. I just read an article about how hard the transition to parenthood can be on so many levels–it can be so jarring, so despairing. In my case though, I had so much time to anticipate this boy’s arrival–I had to fight so hard for so long to get him here. I was beyond ready for the whole nine yards. And then I was blessed with a good eater and sleeper.

So, my mental state is pretty darn good for a new single mom. I expected this to be harder so I’m just grateful for every day that isn’t dreadfully hard. And for the seriously precious, fleeting moments.

Good grief, it got late. I better get my weary mama ass to bed. Lots of love and more soon!

xo

 

 

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family, gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

4 weeks

YES–it’s 7:17pm, the baby is sleeping, there’s a chicken stock simmering on the stove and quinoa to put with leftovers for dinner. I’m having a beer, there are ocean sounds emanating from the Sleepy Sheep in the bedroom, the evening sunlight is streaming in. A peaceful moment to write.

As soon as I finished that paragraph, I half expected to hear a cry. You never know! The pediatrician said today that babies really don’t settle on any kind of regular or predictable schedule until around three months. So you really never know if a given nap will be 5 minutes or…4.5 hours.

Only once was it 4.5 hours. We’d had a busy day full of catnaps and transitions and that night E slept from 7:30pm-midnight. This is noticeable to a breastfeeding mom because of how full and uncomfortable her boobs get once the baby goes longer than the usual window–I was literally sitting on the edge of the couch watching him in his rocker. “Is my baby waking up?” I said, over and over, as he stretched and murmured and even opened his eyes countless times–and then went back to sleep. I tried to distract myself with The Daily Show, trying to nap. I was giddy when he finally woke up and ate.

Uh oh–he just woke up real time. Oh and the Amazon Fresh guy just showed up with my groceries (best service ever, so far only available in Seattle and Cali. They bring the groceries to my KITCHEN) and the quinoa is done. Gotta put stuff away, eat, and get the baby to chill out (he is now peacefully munching on his swaddle in his rocker).

OK–while the food heats up in the microwave I will recount the pediatrician’s report: this kid is bigger and heavier than 99.9% of his age group. At 4 weeks, he is 12lbs 6oz and 24 inches long. Our most important job together is to make sure he grows, and we’re doing it well! I confirmed with the pediatrician that there is no direct correlation from baby length/weight to adult height and he said that’s true, but–look at those hands. He’s going to be first pick on the teams.

E is complaining from the rocker–I have to pick him up.

Changed his diaper, managed to get a burp. This is definitely the most challenging time of day to write. I’m gulping down my dinner and he’s back to complaining and chewing on his swaddle. Hold on–

I fed him (which is all he ever wants which I guess makes sense when you’re increasing your body weight by around 20% in 4 weeks), and my dinner got cold and the sun went down. But now he’s drunk and happy.

I too often doubt that he could be hungry even when he just ate… But it’s always the right answer. Unless he’s overtired or needs a diaper change.

He’s talking and wiggling. He just started to smile in an authentic way that isn’t followed seconds later by a cry or a poop. It makes me get goosebumps of joy. I love how he yawns with a big inhale and then exhales through his nose only. And somehow scoots to my face level in the bed so that when I wake up his little baby face is inches from mine.

I love co-sleeping. I don’t know what mammal would give birth and then tell the baby, “here, you sleep on this rock over here while I go sleep in a warm nest over there.” The baby wants to be with its mama–at least mine has flatly rejected the bassinet, starting at the hospital. Sleeping together, mom and baby’s heartbeat and breathing align, they benefit from each other’s warmth, and the baby eats more. Mom and baby stay attuned to each other and can react if there’s a problem. I keep covers and pillows away from him and he’s now in a wearable sleeping bag. I might use a co-sleeper if there were a full-grown man in my bed, but there isn’t, so this feels like a luxury of singlehood–a wide-open bed for me and the babe.

I’m pleasantly surprised to not be a sleepless wreck by this point. The baby sleeps! And I’m honestly enjoying it all, even the figuring out all the gear, puzzling over what he needs, getting a system down, planning a day. Or just sitting on the couch watching him watch the leaves in the tree. It’s awesome and incredible.

On a note of gratitude, I think one huge key of my success right now is allllll the friends who have come by to visit and drop off food and also my new mom friends who gather in parks and cafes. This ensures that we don’t get isolated, which I can tell would be really easy to do in the eat/sleep/diaper change lifestyle. E and I need to have lots of people around, that’s how we roll. I thank all those friends for their generosity and for helping sustain us with food and love.

OK, this little pumpkin is just too cute not to pick up. Oh–and the groceries need to get put away–eek!

One final note: happy belated Father’s Day to my dear Dad and all the single moms pulling double duty xoxoxo

family, gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC

learning the ropes

My mom just left for the airport after 5 weeks of baby waiting, organizing, cooking, organizing more, cleaning, baby welcoming, changing, and holding. And my dad was here for the first 3 weeks too, doing household fixes, running errands, chauffeuring, problem-solving. I’m so grateful for their help. And we will be going to Michigan for a big part of the summer in July/August–but first I wanted to experience just being me and E for a month, so that we know we can do it. So we’re forced to figure it out and not be dependent on the (awesome) help of family.

E is in a Mimi swaddle and napping deeply as only she (so far) can get him to do after patiently rocking with him for 20+ minutes. The washing machine and dryer are both running, everything else is folded and put away, all is quiet, and I have a stocked fridge and an inventory list of freezer meals. I know we can do this. It just feels a bit like going over a cliff after so so so much wonderful help and delightful company.

I find myself over and over thinking back to the words of midwife SS at UCSF in the deep and dark hours of labor, “You can totally do this. You already ARE doing this.” My new mantra for single motherhood. We already are doing this! And we’ll keep doing it, and that will be our new life, and all will be well.

I’m also not alone. At all. My sister is coming straight back here after the airport. L is right downstairs. My homebirth friends, my SMC friends, my old longtime friends have made themselves available for support, especially this weekend. I have meals coming today and tomorrow! Checks arriving in the mail! Love and checking-in emails flowing in!

E is doing awesome. I measured him this morning and he’s just about 24 inches, which is 2 feet. And he’s not even 3 weeks old. I bought him orange Zutano booties yesterday and the 6 months size fits him perfectly. He’s a great communicator–his five-alarm cry goes from 0 to 100 and tells me he’s hungry, and thank goodness I always have a solution for that. His tired I-can’t-settle-down cry says, Please rock me in the rocker like Mimi so I can go down for a deep nap. And his little vampire ah-ah-ah-ah cry is just a complaint–I’m bored with this situation and would like a change of scenery, please. His eye contact is intense and I could be in a love eyelock with him for hours. Some days his eyes lean blue, some days brown. He’s got a little case of baby acne which seems to change hour to hour and, according to my book, is perfectly timed at 3-4 weeks. He can sleep with me in the bed, waking to feed every 3 hours, for up to 12 hours.

Still lots to figure out and yet we figured a lot out!! When we took him to the pediatrician on Day 3, it was comical–and I recognize that it is likely a free-for-all no matter who you are. It’s the first time you’re leaving the house. We checked all the carefully-folded 0-3 month clothes and nothing fit. We realized there were no long sleeve jackets/sweatshirts. He ended up in too-big pajamas with the feet hanging below his feet and a too-big hooded sweatshirt (which now fits him) and a too-small hat. I got out the Baby Bjorn about 15 minutes before we had to be there (thankfully it’s only a block away!) and it was all straps and I heroically got him into it and to the appointment on time.

We’ve since pulled out and laundered the clothes that fit and we’re back to having plenty. I got out the Moby wrap and watched 2 videos on how to tie it, but the first two times his head was totally not supported or covered and I walked around holding it up. Yesterday (after getting a walkthrough from C) I mastered it–even the ladies at Day One commented how secure he looked. But a second time later in the day it was too loose and he was riding low. These things take practice!

The strollers are another major area of figuring out. After a walkthrough from another C who generously gave me her BOB, I took the carseat down to pop it in and it just didn’t fit securely–we took it over the Stroller Spa (3 blocks away) and she recommended I remove a bar, which I did, and it still wasn’t secure, so now the Stroller Spa is working on it and also cleaning it so we’ll have a gleaming and safety-checked stroller on Monday. The Snap N Go (thanks to J) also seems not totally secure (although more so) so that one is next.

We figured out that the Naty brand of diapers frankly do not work on this boy, after he wet his clothes 4 times in one day. Back to Pampers. Probably will try a service when we get back from Michigan, but disposables are pretty darn convenient.

I’m still figuring out how to co-sleep and get the temperature right. I have the covers up to my waist and wake up cold while he is warm. So I’m experimenting with different garments to wear to bed and are also easy to nurse in–a tall order! Trying to keep the baby from overheating in his swaddle and me from being too cold w/o covers on half my body while varying the heat and how much my bedroom door is open…we’ll figure it out through trial and error but if anyone has ideas, let me know!

I hear E waking up. We’ll take it easy these first few days. We are totally going to nail this!

Thanks again, Mimi and Chacha!!! And all my helpers and lovebugs. xo

E swaddle