Better Tonight

OK, so my early morning freak-out was mostly unjustified, and we're doing fine, and the winter has been mild and we're hoping it will continue to be, and we even ate sushi tonight. So I can take a deep breath and, with any luck, sleep through the night. Thanks Joan for your kind words, and Julie who sent me an e-mail link to a survey firm that's paying five bucks per completed survey. I have the best friends in the world. Too bad you're all on the other side of the country.

5:30 a.m. Freak-Out

It's quarter to six in the morning and I just finished washing the dishes, which means I'm freaking out about money. I should have realized it sooner; yesterday I washed five loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and washed nearly every dish in the flat, all of which are activities rare enough on their own, but positively spooky-freaky-weird when manifested on the same day.

Cluing in earlier would have maybe saved me some sleep. Instead, I woke up at 4:45 (otherwise known as an hour ago) changed and fed the baby, and then tried going back to sleep. Tossing and turning might not be Olympic-caliber sports, but the way I was doing 'em they were, at least, aerobic.

Some of you might not know that when I was about halfway through my pregnancy, I got fired. Feel free to read coincidence into that statement: my attorney does. And by that point my blood pressure was, for me, through the roof, so I didn't apply for unemployment for a solid month afterward, because you have to be well and healthy and able to work when you're getting unemployment, and after being put through the emotional and pre-natal ringer, I was not, not, and not.

I've been on the dole since August, having previously been the primary wage-earner in the household, and {sarcasm tag on} that's fun {close sarcasm tag}. Now it's five months later and here we are in the middle of our second New England winter, having already burned through $1,500 of heating oil — can't just turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater when you've got a new baby in the house — and if last winter was any indication we'll need to keep the boiler cranked until May.

And I'm pissed off because our nation does nothing to support new mothers, save WIC, which don't count for us because we make, like, three dollars and seventy five cents over the limit, what with my sweet husband working his ass off doing two jobs while, oh yeah, pursuing a Ph.d.

Maybe I'm just cranky because I bought my family's Christmas presents with three-dollar limits on Ebay and at tag sales last year, but this money thing is getting to me and even if I were to magically find a 40 hour/week job (and don't think I haven't tried, but the economy for swell writer types out here is such that they don't even send me a “thank you for applying, but fuck off” letters for my trouble), I'd spend 30 hours just making enough for infant childcare, which I'm leery of anyway having grown up in California back in the day when every day-care operator was molesting her charges, one of whom was in my hometown and went to jail for a long, long time.

And if I hadn't just checked my e-mail and learned that Steve Sloan just blogged me a valentine, I'd probably be on my hands and knees right now, mopping the floor.

Craning neck behind me, evaluating the state of the kitchen floor. Hmmmm. Not such a bad idea, that.

Oh What a Night

We all slept through the night last night. At least, I'm pretty sure. See, he was in the crib in the nursery for the first night ever, and when I woke up at quarter to seven this morning, the baby monitor was off. Which leads me to believe
that either the traffic noise was too loud, so in my sleep I turned it off, or he started to cry, so in my sleep I turned it off. But his face wasn't tear-streaked and his left eye wasn't goopy (which it invariably is after a cry session), so I THINK
he actually slept through the night. That's my story, anyway, and I'm stickin' to it.

Monstro and I met in Springfield last night and dined at Max's Tavern in the Basketball Hall of Fame. I brought Alexander, nursed him before Monstro arrived, and then we had him in his carseat on the booth banquette next to me. Baby didn't make so much as a PEEP the whole time. Everyone commented on what an angel he was being. Then, of course, he screamed all the way home, meaning I didn't get the Friendly's sundae I was craving, but no matter. To have a lovely (LOVELY — Max's is so beautiful, and the food is so carniverously good) evening out with my husband and son was a joy. The couple in the booth across from us had spent the day watching their granddaughter be born. They asked how old Alexander was and I said, “two months.” They told me that their new granddaughter was “four hours old by now.” I asked if their daughter had had an easy time of it and they said, “after seven and a half years of trying…” and trailed off. Guess after you want something for that long the pain doesn't matter.

All in all, a wonderful evening. AND, once Alexander and I got up, we went to the futon, nursed, and then slept for another two and a half hours.



Motormouth (whilst watching Firefly for the second time): We have a kid.

Monstro: Yup. And he's quiet right now, so let's be thankful.

Motormouth (getting up to blog): Laughs

Monstro: I don't know what else to say. And on your way back, could you get me a beer?

“Natural” Childbirth

Before I was pregnant, I was fascinated with pregnancy and childbirth. I remember reading a Sylvia Plath poem as part of AP Engish, a poem which was a riddle about pregnancy, filled with negative imagery. I couldn't figure out that the riddle was actually about pregnancy. “Who wouldn't be happy to be pregnant?” I asked our teacher, who replied, “you'd be surprised.”

In my 20s, I was dying to get pregnant. Bought all the natural childbirth books, too. Kitzinger, Gaskin, I've read 'em all.

And then I got pregnant, and fired from my job for being pregnant. And things weren't quite so rosy. But the third trimester was the best, and I looked forward to giving birth. Took the childbirth class with my darling husband. Read not one, but two different editions of “Spiritual Midwifery.” Sought out non-medicated birth stories on the net. Got Dick-Read's “Childbirth without Fear” from the library, and memorized its mantra of “Fear=Tension=Pain.” Man, I was educated, I was ready, bring on the drug-free childbirth.

And then they induced me, and all my plans to give birth without analgesic pain relief went out the window. Not that I didn't try — I breathed, I got in the tub, I sang, I laughed, we smooched. To no avail. Getting through childbirth drug-free was like getting through college drug-free: a nice idea that didn't happen.

But now, when I meet other women who have had babies, and they ask me if I did “natural” childbirth, and I say no, I had an epidural, they shake their heads and clarify: “I meant, did you give birth vaginally or have a c-section?”

How to get Baby to Sleep

As I mentioned in a previous post, our standby method for getting Alexander to go to sleep at night is to put him in the car and have Monstro drive him around while playing Izzy's “Facing Future” CD. It's restful for baby and cures that exploration bug within my darling husband, who returns each night to tell me of travels to new lands, such as Easthampton, Westhampton, and Williamsburg (not Historic Williamsburg, but another one).

But I'm tired of baby sleeping in his carseat, so tonight, it being Warhammer night and Monstro being out of the house, I tried a new routine.

First, it was a lovely afternoon so we took baby out for an hour-long stroll, wherein we explored Smith College and I got my glasses fogged up in their greenhouse.

Then, by 8:00 tonight, I'd fed baby six ounces of formula (after 10 minutes of nursing) and burped him well. This was followed by a bath for baby in lavender-oil spiked bathwater. Once he was clean and shiny I took him to the nursery, gave him a little infant massage (our post-bath ritual), put him in a fresh diaper and sleeper, swaddled him tightly and brought him into our room.

He seemed to know what was coming because he screamed his head off at me for 10 minutes, while I rocked him and patted him on the back. Once he calmed down a bit, I set him in his bassinet and plugged his pie-hole with a pacifier. Then I stood at the foot of the bassinet, rocking it back and forth while saying “shhhhhhhhhh,” replacing the pacifier to his mouth when necessary. Once he calmed down even more, I moved to the doorway of the bedroom, where I continued saying “shhhh” while also being able to enjoy the last 15 minutes of “Overhaulin.”

Happy Ending: Baby was asleep by 9:00 with the door shut! Damn, I'm good.

The Problem with Phoning

So I never expected how freaking difficult it would be to call folks in California on the phone once baby arrived. I've been wanting to call Avram for days now, and I keep getting stymied. Here's how it goes:

8:00: Wake up, feed baby. Baby is happy, but it's five a.m. California time.

9:30-11:00 a.m.: Baby is napping. Great opportunity to make a phone call, but at the latest it's 8:00 a.m., and that's too early for Avram. And most people who don't have babies.

11:00-1:30: Baby is awake and demanding my full attention like the little field marshal general he is.

1:30-4:00: Baby is napping. Call Avram! His line is busy.

And from 4:00 on it's all cocked up, because we need to eat dinner and feed baby every 20 minutes and then there's the hour that we try to put baby to bed and invariably fail at that so Monstro has to take baby for a drive in the car and by the time Monstro and sleeping!baby are back home, we're exhausted and too scared to wake baby to talk to each other, let alone make a phone call.

So, sorry Avram. We'll try again tomorrow.

Slept 'til Noon

Yup, you read that right. Baby and I are doing OK with the thrush — Ibuprofen helps me, Infant Tylenol helps him, and we're both on a drug that's classified as an “anti-fungal,” lovely — so once Monstro came home from his nightly “drive around until baby falls asleep and then bring him upstairs in his carseat” trip, Alexander stayed asleep until quarter of three in the morning. I changed him, dosed him, and fed him (the nursing went fine), and then he went back to sleep until quarter of seven. I kept him quiet until 7:15, at which point Monstro (my hero) got up with him, and I slept until the screaming baby woke me at 9:30, so we nursed again and fell asleep. We woke up a few times, looked at each other, and immediately went back to sleep. This went on until NOON. Ahhh, bliss.

And no, I didn't have to go to the health center yesterday, which was fortuitous because the midwife suggested I leave the flaps of my nursing bra down all day, so I took down the Christmas tree and did other household duties with the help of my doula, while all the while wrapped in a clothespin-secured beach towel, which looked like a dollar-store serape and I'm certain was oh-so-attractive, to say nothing about my crazy-bird-lady hair, which nowadays doesn't look brushed even when it has been, which, granted, isn't that often. Really, I'm amazed that Monstro isn't repulsed by me sometimes. Motherhood is not great for one's level of personal respectability.

Alexander is seven weeks old today, and I'm really happy that K sent the 0-3 month sleep-and-play outfit when she did, because he wore it today, and now it will be washed and most likely added to the pile of clothes we're sending to cousin Mike and his darling wife Joy, who is due to have a baby boy in March, because by the time Alexander is ready to wear it again, it will no longer fit.

I swear, Joy won't have to buy a single piece of infant clothing. This of course has mostly been made possible by Anne, Marcy, and Julie, all of whom have sent enormous box(es) of hand-me-downs for our baby. I told them that from now on, I'll be happy to reimburse their shipping fees. Hell, it's the least I can do for what has amounted to hundreds of dollars of free baby clothes. Between the free clothes, formula samples, shower gifts, and kick-ass UMass-Amherst health insurance, this baby has yet to be a major investment. Knock wood.

Of course, there is college to think of… but maybe by the time he's ready for advanced education, Monstro, Driv, Avram, and I will have started our own college. Homeschool University. We'll see…

Fools Thrush In

Well, I have thrush, and baby has thrush. We have been set upon by the evil yeast monsters. Which is amusing, because yeast HATES me. I can't even get a loaf of bread to rise. And now it has set upon us, like a plague. Perhaps this is why baby has screamed in the past when we try to get him to eat?

Midwife has prescribed Diflucan, and I have a call in to the pediatrician for an anti-fungal for baby. If she wants us to come in, it will be the third time this week (actually, the third time in as many days) that I've gone to the health center. And the doula is supposed to be here at 1:30 to watch baby so I can take down the Christmas decorations. Maybe if we're gone, she'll take down the Christmas decorations for me.

It feels like the Izzs are stabbing me in the breast with searing-hot paper clips. And this is pissing me off, because I've been tingling for days, and when I brought it up to the midwife on January 3rd, she pooh-poohed my suggestion that I had thrush, because it didn't hurt enough. Well, now it hurts, and will hurt for three more days once I start taking the Diflucan. Fuck.