Gone Coastal

Monday, October 20, 2008

The beginning of the end

Some of you know I'm heading back to work in a couple of weeks. So, I knew I had some work to do to get Eli ready for full time daycare. Firstly, he'd eaten nothing but me to that point, which has been great. But really, there's only so much you can ask your daycare provider to do. I started by getting a breast pump so I could introduce him to a bottle. I figured I'd pump whatever was manageable at work, and supplement with formula. Thankfully, he took to the bottle fairly well. I was working on pumping enough to give him one or two bottles each day. But the problem was he was almost always demanding my attention, mostly to feed, so the only time I'd get to pump was at the end of the day. By the start of October he was averaging an hour to an hour and a half between feedings through the day, including nap times, and up two or three times in the night (he had been sleeping beautifully through most of the night earlier in the summer).
One night he was up even later than he had been, and I was getting worn out. He was literally tugging on me to get more as I tried to nurse him to sleep. The Bear was beside me on the couch. "I'm really gonna have to introduce some formula soon," I said. He eagerly rose to the occasion. This was a job he knew well from Tweetie's formula days, and frankly, I think he was hoping to get a bit of my time back for himself. My little Titan sucked back the whole bottle like nobody's business and I ordered up another round. He nodded off about an ounce into the second bottle and slept soundly.
I sighed. It was pretty clear at that point that even if I wasn't going back to work I'd probably have a hard time keeping up with his needs. It probably also didn't help that I hardly had time to feed myself properly through the day, so my milk was perhaps not so rich as it once was. My breastfeeding days were numbered, and I spent part of the next day mourning.

Well, as so often happens around here, that was already a couple of weeks ago. When I had been pumping, I had also started to introduce him to just a little bit of rice cereal, thinking it would be easier for me to do the early introduction while I was still at home with him, and if it worked out it might be simpler in the long run with daycare. As it became clear that I wouldn't come remotely close to being able to pump enough for him without basically giving up working anyway, I resigned myself to the idea of just pumping as needed to keep myself comfortable and if possible keep enough milk to handle any night feeds. If I don't have to go down to the kitchen and prep a bottle at 3 in the morning, I'll be much happier at work.
I also decided to start trying a few other foods, since he was eating so well and so much. Since the Bear was off stalking a moose (which he got!) I went to my mom's with the kids for the Thanksgiving weekend. When I went with her to get the last groceries, I picked up a couple of jars of food, figuring that would do me for the weekend. In Tweety's early days of solid food, I often didn't finish the jar before having to dispose of it, so two jars should easily last three days in his first week.
We got home and I spooned out a little of the carrots into a dish and offered it up. He ate it, I dished out some more. He at that, too, and I dumped the rest of the jar. Within about twenty minute he ate the whole thing! I was astonished. Then he had a nice nap ;) A little before supper was served, he was clearly hungry again, so I cracked open the peas and brown rice. It didn't take him long to polish that off either. Oh, and did I mention he also had mashed bananas, rice cereal, several bottles of formula and servings of mom the same day?
Unfortunately for him, his system had a little trouble getting all that solid food through, and he was a little backed up by the time we got home. Oh well, that was probably appropriate for an election day.
He continues to eat steadily, and I'm getting better at finding the right balance of foods for his constitution. He continues to grow. I weighed him last week after his shots and he was 18 lbs. That's half a pound more than the week before and he's probably another half pound by now. A titan he is, and strong.
He holds his head straight and steady, lifts his chest up on the floor, rolls over from tummy to back, and babbles happily when he's not crying about hunger or gas or mama knows not what. "da-da-da-da" is a popular refrain currently.
But right at this moment, he's looking for a clean, fresh bum, so I'll sign off and hope to catch you all again before working life takes over again. I'll try for some pictures, too.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Whatever you're doing, wherever you're at, some days are bound to be harder than others. I can't think of any place where this is more true (though perhaps I'll live to discover some) than the hands on, round the clock parenting of little ones. And yesterday was definitely one of those harder days.
Eli was not a happy camper. From his six am feeding after a hungry night, till well after lunch, he would not sleep at all. Not so unusual for him, he's not a big sleeper in the day, but he's usually still content to be in his swing or the playpen for a stretch here and there. After a few laps around the block with Trin in tow, and another quick lap while she was napping, Eli finally cried himself out and nodded off a little after one. Once I saw he was out, I flopped on the couch and was out myself in a few minutes. And then the phone rang. Short and sweet, I rolled over again and was out again soon. And then it seemed I blinked and he was awake and crying again. Barely twenty five minutes, and I hadn't shuffled the laundry or cleared the dishes or wiped the table. The same disastrous chaos surrounded me.
I was back to doing quick laps in the drizzle, wind and rain, and promising the dogs I'd try to get them out for a walk eventually. I tried everything I could think of to try to settle Eli but nothing was working. Trin was of course getting a little cranky, too, by now because my hands were always full with Eli, so I was distracted and much behind with the usual care and feeding routines.
I needed groceries, so I did my best to cover the obvious basic needs and packed up Wailer and Whiner in the car and went to Thrifty's. Eli fell asleep in the sling for the last ten minutes of shopping, but didn't stay that way when I had to put him back into his car seat.
About an hour of meal prep in snippets between attempts to feed, burp, rock, walk or change him to keep him somewhat settled. He finally nodded off again for a little over a half hour, just long enough to get the sauce mostly ready, but not to cook the spaghetti. Cooked the noodles with Eli on my arm, dished up for Trin and took him for another lap up and down the block while she ate. It was a good two hours and several feeds after his usual time when he finally passed out for the night and I was able to eat my own supper.
So a long and completely exhausting day. I told the Bear the full saga when he called to check in last night; he said he was sorry I'd had such a sh***y day. I had to disagree. I was weary, sore, and had been near tears a few times in the course of it, but the day wasn't bad. Some of the best advice I've had in this season came from Shannon down the street. She's told me many times, it's all about the moments. Whether the kids have been throwing tantrums, picking fights, being careless or outright defiant, at some point they smile, or show you some new skill, or put their toy away, or give a hug to the playmate who got hurt, and you love 'em all over again. To tally the whole day as a lump sum is to lose the value of those precious moments.
My day ended with a few of those moments. I'd given in at some point and found something reasonably family friendly on the idiot box to entertain us. At the end of the movie there was a boppy dance tune while the credits rolled, and Trin was givin' her all to the music. I let her dance to the end of the credits before swinging her up to bed with a smile on her face. And along with a few ticklish giggles as I changed him out of his drool soaked clothes and wiped his face, Eli finished his day with a long, comfortable, eyes-closed feeding.
Other days this week had their challenges for different reasons. Thursday was a day when lots of little things just didn't line up, and the anxiety was building. But I got to a fabric store and picked out some Eli-friendly (all cotton) fabrics for a couple of projects. It's fun to hope that I might just christen my sewing machine soon. And Friday, the isolation of motherhood had been getting to me, but every time I stepped out the door, to drop off the Trin, walk the dogs, pace with Eli or go to the store, there was someone else to have a little conversation with. Moments to get me through the day.
And today was a whole new day, with its own moments. The three of us got out to church this morning, and Trin was dancing in the aisles during worship. Eli had a nice little nap while Trin had lunch, and I got the kitchen under control. He fed and slept a bit again while I started this post, and then let me finish it one-handed. When Trin wakes up soon, I think we may even get out with the dogs. Trin's cold is getting better, and it even stopped raining.
So if you've got little ones and they're pushing your limits, take a deep breathe, hang in there and wait for that next moment. And when it comes, savor it.