Mixon is over two months old now, and as we near the end of the fourth trimester, the head is flopping less, the parents are sleeping more, and the ‘oh my god what have we done-ness’ has started to fade.
Now that I’m an expert at this parenting thing, I thought I’d break it down for those of you who have been there, those who are about to be there, and those who need a dose of schadenfreude. So, here are my ABCs of new parenthood:
A is for “awww” – you will hear/say this more in one day than you have in all of your years combined.
B is for BM – you have never cared this much nor been this close to poop in your life
C – clueless. They send you home with this new human who can’t speak and you’re supposed to know what to do. You won’t. If it’s comforting, remember that every other new parent, regardless of how many books they’ve read or things they’ve bought is equally as clueless. If it’s not comforting, I’m sorry.
Doubt. So, so much doubt. You will doubt your doubts and then doubt the doubting of the doubts. Now the word ‘doubt’ looks weird to me.
Early. Hopefully one of the parental units is a morning person, because you will watch the sun come up on a daily basis. Mixon usually goes to sleep again after he’s eaten, so it could be worse. Maybe it will be in a few months…
F is for failure. You will feel like a failure a good portion of the time. I don’t think this gets better as they get older. So…
Growth. It’s pretty amazing to watch someone growing up in real-time.
H is for hard. This is by far the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.
Internet. Your best friend and worst enemy. I tend to stick to forums and skip over WebMD
Judgement. Judge and ye will be judged. Everyone thinks their parenting style/decisions are best.
K – kids. You will become much more interested in other people’s children once you’ve had your own. See above for why. You will also become weirdly interested in when/if couples without kids will have kids. Misery loves company…
L is for love. There was no ‘wash of love’ for either my husband or me. In fact, you will probably experience feelings of hate in those first few weeks. Not hatred of this helpless creature screaming in your arms, hatred of the situation. But the love comes, I promise.
Mommy – you will call yourself/your partner this, and it will feel weird. Also: daddy. Also: son.
N is for nursing. A much-more-complicated-than-it-should-be process that can knock you down, lift you up, and leave you with a numb arm, painful boobs, and restless leg syndrome. Oh, and magic. And love. And whatever else you’re supposed to feel. Mostly, I just feel a kinship to cows. But ‘breast is best’, so we keep on trucking.
Omnipotent. You’ll wish you are.
P – partner. If you’re lucky enough to have someone you’re raising this child with, it’s helpful if you have a ridiculously strong partnership. This is especially true if you’re actually trying to work together to make decisions. You will fight, you will cry, but you’ll also see new sides of each other and find similarities that might surprise you. See also: hard.
Q is for quiet. When you finally get an over-tired infant down for a nap, you will do whatever it takes to keep him there. I have never cooked so quietly in my life.
Right. There are no right answers. Keep this in mind when dealing with your P.
S – stretching. Apparently, it’s human nature, because infants basically come out of the womb doing it. It’s adorable. S is also for smiles. Because seriously.
T is for tears. Yours, your partner’s, and your kid’s. There will be tears.
Underfed – Babies are very good for dieting. They see you chomping down on a sandwich or pasta and they start screaming. You eat fast or you don’t eat at all. Babies hate evenings, for some reason, so you can forget about a nice quiet meal at the dining room table.
V is for video. I thought I took a lot of pictures of my dog, but that was nothing. This weird little creature is fascinating, and you’ll want to capture every moment that doesn’t involve pooping or screaming. Though Mix is pretty damn cute on the changing table.
Worry. You will. A lot.
X is for X. There are always plenty of unknowns.
Yes. This is the answer to the question “is it worth it?”
Z – zombie baby. Maybe this is just Mixon, but he frequently gets crap in his throat. This makes him sound like a zombie when he breathes. It’s sad in a funny way.
Clearly it sucks sometimes, but I think (hope) you forget these early days when they start talking (the coos are already awesome) and hugging (we’re getting there) and playing until you’re ready for the terrible twos and it starts all over again. And since I now want everyone on the planet to have kids so that Mixon has a bunch of cool friends, I will say it again. Yes. It’s totally worth it.
There are many surprising things about having a baby: how an outfit that was just right could be crazy tight two minutes later, how a face can change so much in a day, how it is no longer a huge issue to have pee, poop, spit or milk on various parts of my body/clothes, and generally how in the hell we made this thing from scratch.
What is not surprising is how clueless we are. See, babies don’t make sense. They’re like really bad telenovelas, bringing you higher highs than you’ve ever had just before slamming you with lower lows. From “It’s a miracle, my husband’s sister’s boyfriend woke up from his coma with two working arms!!!” to “Too bad he used those two working arms to murder 200 of my closest friends.”
My husband and I respond to the lows as I think any parent would (any human, really): we see a problem and we want to fix it. The obvious first step is finding out what the problem is. For us, easy, the problem is a sobbing baby. For the baby… well, that’s the question. The pediatrician told us that we should start to be able to distinguish his cries, so that we can understand what he’s trying to “tell” (read: scream at) us, but we have not yet mastered that particular skill.
Here is the list we run down when Mix starts fussing (a word that I never used before having a child and now use on an almost hourly basis):
This is my go-to answer, especially since it’s a problem I can solve with a boob, a chair, and a smile. Of course, it takes the kid about an hour to eat, so it requires a bit of prep on my end, but I’m getting good at doing things one-handed. I think I may have deciphered his hungry cry. It sounds like he’s being chased by a cheetah, Bigfoot, and Paula Abdul.
My husband doesn’t love this answer, especially when he’s alone, but I’ve been pumping so that he can solve this problem just as well as (and a lot faster than) I can.
An easy fix for both of us. We’re still using mostly disposable diapers right now, because he’s too little for the cloths we bought, so it’s extra easy. I’m ready for the eye rolls when we switch entirely to cloth, but it’ll still be pretty easy. And this kid is usually freaking adorable when he’s naked/being changed, so that’s an added bonus.
This is not a great answer, because we haven’t mastered getting him to sleep, but it makes us feel better to have an answer – any answer.
He’s got crap in his throat/nose
This is one of my husband’s favorites. We’re getting the hang of the bulb syringe for the nose problems (this comes into play when he’s boobing-it and can’t breathe through his nose), but there’s not much we can do for the zombie baby with stuff in his throat. All we can do is gently pat his back and tell him to swallow that crap down. He doesn’t listen very well.
He needs to poop, but can’t
This one was THE ANSWER for the first few weeks, but I don’t think it’s viable anymore, since this kid is a poop champion. My husband disagrees.
One of my faves. If he’s eating a lot and fussing a lot, it MUST be a growth spurt, right? Of course, if he was growing each time I suggested this answer, he would be a giant baby by now. I stand by it, though.
Aside from me sneaking my hand/lips to his forehead every now and then, this isn’t an answer either my husband or I have put forward since we thought he had diarrhea (he didn’t). We’ve been very lucky in this area.
Babies are, of course, terribly confusing, and most of the time, there is no ‘answer’. But for lost-in-the-weeds parents, it’s helpful to pretend there’s some sort of magic cure just waiting to be found. A baby cry cure. Get on it, science.
Well, here’s something I didn’t know. Pumping sucks.
It sucked a lot harder in the old days, so I really shouldn’t be complaining. In fact, I’m pumping as I write this, which wouldn’t have been possible before electric pumps and pumping bras, but it’s still a pain in the ass.
Of course, I’m doing it so I can sleep through a feeding each night, so again: WHY AM I COMPLAINING?
Things are going pretty well over here. Six weeks in and we’re all still alive. I had my postpartum appointment and things looked good, though they had to cauterize a few overzealous pieces of skin. The midwife just pulled out what looked like one of those long match sticks with a little liquid nitrate on the end and went to town on my lady parts. Ow.
I have a follow up soon, and then I hope to be DONE with all of this nonsense.
*WARNING: BORING RUNNING UPDATE* In that spirit, I went jogging today. Back to it after seven weeks. I haven’t gone that long since I started running. It was very slow going, but the weather was beautiful and I felt pretty damn good (afterwards). *END RUNNING UPDATE*
*POSSIBLY LESS BORING MIXON UPDATE*
- He has started smiling and he WANTS to reach out for stuff, I know he does.
- He’s still pooping like a champ – he just let out a doozy, in fact
- He has an amazing penis that can get an entire outfit wet without hitting the diaper once. We went through four outfits yesterday.
- We have three amazing Grands who shower this kid with love and attention. I don’t think we would be standing without them. They come over most days to be with the boy while we both work from home. You should be very jealous of this set up. It’s THE BEST.
- We’re starting to wade into the confusing debate about when to start scheduling sleep and feeding. We’re currently doing a shift schedule with husband taking him from 10-4 (he usually sleeps for some of that) and me taking him from 4-10 (also sleeps for some of that). It means we both get a nice chunk of sleep with no worries about the Mix, but the husband gets the crazy fussy evenings and I get the adorable mornings, so something needs to change before he eats this baby for dinner.
I think we’re looking at starting early bedtimes with a routine when he’s around two months. We’ll also have to try to figure out when his nap times are so we can do the same routine then. Right now, that seems nuts.
Never in my life did I think I would spend this many weeks obsessed with poop.
When we first got home from the hospital with Mixon, there was nothing happening down there. In either direction. We had a bit of a breastfeeding problem – apparently, it takes a while for your milk to come in, especially if you lose a lot of blood – so we had to supplement with formula. We learned this at the same time my hormones were kicking in, so I was just nuts enough to realize what a horrible mother I must be if I couldn’t provide sustenance for my child. Fortunately, the tears were quickly replaced by a laser-focus on feeding the kid like he was a pig getting ready for one of those weird fat pig competitions.
Two weeks later, he had passed his birth weight, the milk was in, and we were off of formula. That was a ‘good mom’ day, or hour, or minute, or second, before the next thing comes and you realize that you shouldn’t be using baby powder, or you stuffed your child into an outfit that clearly does not fit, or you can’t figure out what is happening with your baby’s poop.
As I said, the poop was non-existent for quite a while. Apparently, some babies don’t know how to use those muscles. His dad kept trying to explain the joys of poo to him, but it was not happening. On the fourth poop-less day, it was q-tip/vaseline time. We did that twice more before he got the hang of it.
[I have gone to this page ABOUT BABY POOP - DON'T CLICK IT - so many times I'm sure the NSA has decided I'm some sort of sick freak.]
Breastfed baby poop is liquidy and weird, and once the Mix started pooping 5 bajillion times a day, we quickly moved from cheers to diarrhea-fear. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and old Google told me that if your kid is under two months, you gotta see the doc. We went back and forth – I was convinced it was the big D, then the husband was convinced, but M was peeing normally (a sign he was nice and hydrated) and he seemed fine, so we both dropped it.
Some babies poop after (or during) every meal, and our baby is now one of those babies. Apparently, as with all things, this gets better. Around the two month mark, the digestive system kicks into gear and babies discover the art of pooping.
So, now that we’re over the poop worry (for now), what’s next? I think I’ll obsess about his hearing for no good reason.
In other news, this video made me cry before the kids even started talking.
We’re 2.5 weeks into babyhood, so I think it’s time to write the birth story. Warning: there will be blood.
After a night of what I wasn’t entirely sure were contractions, peeing every hour and hypno-ing through the pain, I spent the next morning in the bathtub, debating when to go to the hospital. We finally made the decision to go around noon.
I thought I was just going to be able to go right in, but there were 10,000 forms to fill out first. I got through it with the hypno and my birthing ball, and when I was done, I threw up. I managed to get a trash bag in time. Yay, me! PERFECT PATIENT!!!
In triage, the nurses were surprised to find out I was 6 cm dilated, so we went straight to labor and delivery. We were able to get a room with a tub, which was pretty much the only thing I had been focused on up to that point. Warm water makes everything better.
I have no idea what my husband was doing – he must have been so bored. We’d be talking and I would suddenly close my eyes and start breathing like a nutjob. If someone else was in the room, he’d tell them I was going through a contraction and talk softly to them while I did my thing. If no one was around, he’d just… I have no idea what he did.
This lasted for around 6 hours. We had the lights low and my iphone was shuffling. As the pain increased, I decided to try nitrous oxide. Vanderbilt is one of I think 6 hospitals in the US to offer nitrous, and I like to try new things. There’s no harm to the fetus and it leaves your system quickly, so I figured I’d check it out.
It wasn’t exactly seamless – they thought my face might be too small for the mask, and then one of the nurses decided the machine I had was leaking, so they got a new one. By that time, I had sort of a rhythm going with the nitrous, and it felt like a million years before they got the new one working. It didn’t really do anything for the pain, but it was nice to have control over something when the little one was running most of the show.
No one warned me about the time when you really REALLY want to push, but you have to resist. That is a decidedly not fun time. It is like trying to stop explosive diarrhea from escaping out of you, if your diarrhea was a very large fetus.
That period didn’t last for very long, though, and soon it WAS time to push. I had my own nightgown on and someone started asking about what I wanted to do with it when it came time for skin-to-skin. I ripped my nightgown off before they could finish talking and went full-on amazon woman. My husband grabbed one leg, someone else grabbed the other, and I started to push.
That’s when they realized something was wrong. The baby wasn’t coming out. Most of the rest of this I know second-hand, so I’m not sure I have it all straight. At some point, they realized the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and torso, so every time I pushed, another part of me was pulling him back in. If that’s not a metaphor for smothering-to-come, I’m not sure what is.
The midwife quickly called for backup and ultimately there were about 12 people standing around my vagina. The commands to push suddenly got a lot more urgent, and I started pushing like I was trapped inside of a locked coffin slowly filling with water. In this scenario, the top of the coffin is the air directly outside of my vagina. Try to keep up, I’m on little to no sleep.
Back to fuzzy details, the midwife had to rupture something to get to the baby’s head. Then the doctor attached a vacuum to his full head of luscious locks and tried to suck him out as I pushed on the coffin lid/outside air. We’re talking saving-an-old-woman-who-is-trapped-beneath-a-car force. I don’t think I opened my eyes the entire time.
The first vacuum suck didn’t do it.
I remember the fear in the midwife’s voice, the plea to push that clearly meant it was up to me to get this kid out so he could breathe, or else… what? I still don’t know if they could have done a c-section, but at the time it felt like life/death. The doctor told me to wait for the urge to push, but the midwife told me to just go ahead, so I did. I pushed the coffin lid open, the vacuum sucked, and after a moment of terrifying silence, Mixon came shrieking into the world. All 8 lbs 12 oz of him.
As they put the screaming baby onto my chest for what Vanderbilt calls the ‘golden hour’ (skin-to-skin with little to no interference from the medical guys), the midwife reversed her command. Now, she urged me NOT to push. The placenta had to come out, but there was another problem – all that pushing, all that life-or-death momentum had resulted in a third degree tear. They explained to me very calmly that a fourth degree tear means that there is one hole – no division between lady parts and butthole. I had a third degree tear, which is just a tiny bit of skin better than that.
The screaming baby on my chest was crazy hairy and alive, so I focused on him as I tried not to push. “What is it? What is it?” I yelled over the shrieks, because my traumatized husband had forgotten to announce what the sex was. It’s a boy, but honestly, I didn’t really care at that point.
During my not-so-golden hour after the placenta came out, I lay there with a very loud, very gooey baby on my chest while a midwife and a surgeon stitched me up. They forgot I didn’t have an epidural, so I had to tell them it hurt before they gave me a localized anesthetic. It took them the entire hour + to get it all straight down there.
Finally, the A-team left and we were left alone with one nurse to get ready to transition to the postpartum room. I had no handle on how I was feeling – there was just too much MUCHness. I think the nurse asked me if I wanted to walk or wheelchair it to the room, and I THINK I said walk. That is hilarious to me now.
Before we left L&D, she wanted me to pee. Sure, why not? We went into the bathroom and I sat down on the toilet. “I think…” I said, and promptly fainted. PERFECT PATIENT!!!
She caught me, thank goodness, and they caught me again in postpartum the next time I tried to pee. Super-human nurse strength, I guess. I spent the rest of the night in bed with a catheter.
They thought the fainting was probably due to blood loss, but no one was really sure. I probably just did it because I love attention so much.
I’m still not back 100%, but I no longer walk like an old lady and I can now sit on my couch without wincing. Mixon is a really good baby (he’s been sleeping in his bassinet the entire time I’ve been writing this post) and I think he’s doing well (he pooped on his own for the first time since the hospital yesterday! i’m so proud!). Sure, he ripped me open on his way into the world, but let’s go ahead and blame that one on Ziggy.
41 weeks and 1 day.
We had our biophysicial profile today and scored an 8, so things are still looking good. I’m 1 cm dilated and 70% effaced, for those who don’t mind knowing about what my insides are doing. My placenta is an old lady, but that’s normal. We came home with a prescription for sex every other day. CVS has refused to fill it.
We also came home a bit confused. Everything looks good, it’s true, but everything also, apparently, looks big. 9+ pounds big.
I wasn’t too worried about this, though a week ago, they guesstimated the kid was about 7 pounds. I’ve heard about 15 pound babies – 9+ doesn’t sound that bad. I was 9+ and my mom delivered me naturally. The ultrasound tech also said that her estimates are usually over, and that it was probably more like 8+ pounds. I felt reassured.
… until we got to the midwives’ office, where they said the ultrasound wizard lady (who was in some back room watching the screen as they were ultrasounding Ziggy and making the real assessments) actually CALLED the midwives to talk about how big-ass this baby is.
When the midwife felt around, she seemed to think it was pretty normal-sized. She asked me how big I thought it was, because there’s apparently ‘research’ that says mothers know better than anyone, but I have no freaking clue. ISN’T THAT YOUR JOB?
Apparently not. But even so, it’s office policy to have a ‘talk’ when the estimate is over 9 pounds. This was a hilarious legally-mandated talk about having an elective c-section. Hilarious because these are midwives, so there was a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking. No problem – that’s why I chose midwives. I’m not into having a c-section unless I have to.
They were definitely trying a little too hard to reassure me, saying that our bodies grow the babies that we can handle, but that kind of stiff upper lip talk just makes me more antsy. I’m focusing on the fact that they all seemed clueless – that’s what’s most reassuring to me.
Of course, now Ziggy has body dysmorphic disorder before even exiting the womb. I was hoping to avoid passing that one along until s/he was at least 5 years old.
My amniotic fluid is at 7cm, and 5cm is when they start to worry. We went ahead and set an induction date for next Wednesday morning, which will put me right at 42 weeks. Though I would love LOVE love to avoid induction, I know it won’t be the end of the world.
But if there’s anything you can do, Ziggy, let’s get this show going before then, please. The longer you’re in there, the more you’ll grow, and if you aren’t already big-ass, you’re on your way there.
This is what someone yelled at me as they were pulling into the wine shop today.
Yes, I was at the wine shop, getting a bottle to drink after labor is over and we’ve had our ‘golden hour’ with Ziggy. I will try to refrain from drinking the whole bottle.
The large man in the wine store who made me feel at home with the size of my stomach actually asked me if I was on my way to the hospital. He knows me on sight, because I used to be one of his best customers. Or at least, I was a very frequent customer (I buy cheap-ass wine).
I had a midwives appointment today, which I was hoping to avoid due to Ziggy’s arrival. No such luck. We’re a day late at this point. The midwife we saw said everything was great, “textbook” was the word she used. Then she told me to expect to be pregnant until 42 weeks.
This is a managing expectations thing, because any way you go about it, I’m having this thing at 42 weeks, because that’s when they’ll induce. Next Thursday, I’ll have to get an ultrasound to make sure everything’s good to wait another 6 or so days. I’d really love to avoid both of those things, Ziggy.
The wine store was our last stop after the appointment. On recommendation from the midwife, we stopped at GNC to get some Evening Primrose Oil, which makes me thing of old ladies and sadness, and then to a tea shop for some red raspberry leaf tea (this is on almost everyone in the world’s rec). Both are meant to soften things up down there and get it all ready to go. The tea shop was in my neighborhood, which means it was run by an awesome hippie lady. I walked in and told her what I was looking for and she said “Well, yes you ARE!”
[I skipped our stop for a milkshake, which was the only good thing about having to go to the midwifes. That stop was on no one's recommendation but Ziggy's. I am trying to eat so much that s/he has no more room. That's how that works, right? Shut up. I'm allowed to eat my feelings at this point.]
I normally hate attention, but it’s pretty funny to see people’s reactions at this point. The husband loves it, too. Last weekend, we decided to get out and about in our neighborhood a bit. We went to a music shop that’s housed in this little bungalow. They know me there, because I volunteered at this thing they’re affiliated with. Anyway, we were in the guitar room messing around and one of the owners walked in. I happened to have my back to the doorway and a guitar over my belly. When I turned around, the owner recognized me and asked me how I was doing. Then I removed the guitar and the shock destroyed her face. “Oh! THAT’S how you are!”
On what I must now legally call my jog/walks, I pass a bunch of kids on their way to school. Mostly, they stare, and I smile and wave, but this morning after I jalked past this little girl, she yelled to her friends, “That lady is PREGNANT!” On Saturday, I jalked by a garage sale, and this woman said “What have YOU been dropping? You better pick up that baby!” (It’s clear to everyone who has ever had a child that Ziggy has now ‘dropped’, which is why it’s head is in my pelvis. This is common in the last few weeks for first-timers like me.)
I love these responses, because they’re honest. People seem to find such joy in my pregnancy, and there’s this sense of connectedness that takes absolutely no effort. Sure, there’s more to me than the pregnancy, but right now, honestly, not so much. I am a walking inside-out camel, and it’s still not so bad. I’m sleeping pretty well, I can still move around, and though Ziggy enjoys pinching my cervix and punching my bladder, we’ve come to an understanding. It is that I will basically eat whatever I want to eat and s/he will move wherever and whenever it pleases. The alien is alive, people, and if I’m managing my expectations like a good first-time preggo, it’ll stay in there for another two weeks.