Operation Bumbysleep 1.1 – in which I am the Worst Mother Ever

Last Friday, my sister needed to get a steroid shot into her epidural space to alleviate some pain associated with a slipped disc.  She was nervous, so I told her I would come in and sit with her before her appointment. We were going to get some food at a deli afterward, and then I would head home.  Operation Bumbysleep had been carrying on with moderate success (naps improved, nights much the same, with the exception of putting him down easily in his crib at night for an hour and a half before bringing him down with us).

Long story short: I went into the city. The appointment took longer than I thought.  The lunch eating took longer than I thought.  Bumby refused to nurse politely in the restaurant, which means he did not really get a good meal, because while I am all about public breastfeeding, I am not about public boob exposure while a screaming baby draws attention to my toplessness.  While changing Bumby’s diaper during my sister’s appointment, I discovered a disturbing rash on his abdomen.  I texted a picture to my wife and asked if she thought I needed to get him to the doctor.  I had to drive my sister home from the Upper East Side to her apartment on the Lower East Side at 4pm on a Friday because her back was numb and I didn’t want her taking the subway (although – this is why there are CABS, people).

The end result was that at 4:48 on Friday, I had a starving baby and was driving up First Avenue looking for a place to pull over and feed him when my wife called.  “YES! I think you need to get him to the doctor!”  Now she tells me.  I can’t call while driving, the traffic is horrific, and of course there is no place to pull over on First Avenue.  I am a ball of stress.  She reminds me, over the screaming, that I had promised to go to the Boy Child’s baseball game at 6.  Although we live less than 15 miles outside the city, there is no way I am making it in this traffic in less than an hour.  I hang up on her.  I pull over into a no standing zone —  hydrant, I think — and call the pediatrician, who of course is already closed even though they are supposed to be open for another 4 minutes AT LEAST.  My wife calls back.  She has also called the pediatrician, while googling baby rashes, and decided it is a post-viral rash from Bumby’s cold.  Meanwhile, Bumby is crying and screaming through the whole thing.  I get back on First (because the FDR is even more backed up than the surface streets) and keep driving.  Bumby is long overdue for a nap, but won’t sleep in the car because he is starving.  And has a rash! And is exhausted!  But at least I got matzoh ball soup?  Ugh.  I was so frustrated with myself, which was exacerbated by my wife calling while I was navigating through Manhattan rush hour traffic with a screaming baby to tell me she was also frustrated with me.

When I finally get on the FDR at 6, we are creeping along at less than 5 miles per hour.  Bumby is screaming and hyperventilating.  I see a stalled car on the shoulder and take the opportunity to pull over in front of it, throw my flashers, and climb into the back seat to feed Bumby.  At this point, I don’t care if it’s legal, I don’t care if I get a ticket, I don’t care if the truck drivers crawling past at 5 mph get a good eyeful.  Bumby is starving, and I am going to feed him.  I figure that if someone goes off the road, firstly, they will only be going 5 mph, and secondly, they will hit the stalled car before they hit us.

After I feed him, he zonks out.  I am 45 minutes late to the baseball game, and Operation Bumbysleep is thoroughly fucked for the night.  He is so overtired that he cries all evening and won’t go down.  He is up every hour all night long.  I feel I deserve this punishment, because of being the Worst Mother Ever.  Saturday naps were short and ineffective, and Saturday night was just as bad — lots of fussy crying, difficult to get down.  When he was up for the day at 4:30 Sunday morning, my wife, who had forgiven me for being the Worst Mother Ever, decided to take him on a little driving tour of City Island and then read and play in his room while I got some much-needed sleep. Sunday he took 4 long naps — two of them were over 2 hours — and he was back to being a delightful baby.  He went down easily last night, so I had some hope he would sleep a couple longer stretches, but he still woke every hour or so to eat all night long, until he was up for the day at around 5.  This was tragic, as I am super anxious about a work meeting I have today, and really didn’t want to go into it on four hours of broken sleep.

In summary: Operation Bumbysleep was derailed by my own foolishness, but we have had some success.  He is still a much better napper than he ever was before, even if he is no better at night.  He is getting too hot in the swaddle, and it’s too small for our big boy, so we bought him a mesh Woombie that’s made for bigger babies and will keep him a little cooler. We’ll see how he likes it. I am inclined to keep him in it all night and put him in the pack and play in our room to see if he sleeps better near to us but not with us, although I love sleeping with him and don’t really want to let it go just yet.  I was also pondering the Magic Merlin suit, but I’m afraid he’ll totally overheat in it, and I’m not sure whether it will work as well as the swaddle. Any thoughts on the Woombie and the Merlin suit would be greatly appreciated. The naps are great but this mama is desperate for some nighttime sleep.

PS The rash was gone in the morning, so we decided it was indeed a post-viral rash.  Whew.

Operation Bumbysleep – 1.0

Two nights ago, I had the worst night with Bumby that I have had since he was born. Worse than the growth spurts, worse than when he was a newborn. He was up about every 45 minutes and literally would not sleep without my boob in his mouth. Blame it on his cold, blame it on his approaching the four-month mark, blame it on whatever you want, but by the time he was awake for the day at 5:30 am, I wanted to die. I fed him until 6, then I looked at my wife, who was about to get up for work, and said, “Please just take him. Take him away from me.”  She put him in the stroller because she needed to walk the dog anyway, and he slept 2 1/2 hours straight.  Of course.

I became convinced that proximity to me was causing him to nurse WAY more frequently than he actually needed to.  He also hasn’t been napping for shit.  He used to be a pretty great napper — I could nurse him to sleep, ooze away, and sometimes he would sleep on the bed for two hours like that.  No more. I haven’t had more than a 30 minute nap in ages.  His total sleep is declining, which makes him over tired, which makes him sleep even worse. Something had to give.

Enter Operation Bumbysleep.  Step One is to get him to fall asleep somehow other than nursing or time in the carrier, and stay that way for some period of time. Even if it’s short. We need to create some sleep associations that do not involve parts of my body.  I have had some success with the swaddle, but I thought he was a little too big for it.  You know, because he’s the size of the average 7-month old. But it seems like he wakes up because his arms float all over the place while he sleeps, and eventually whack him in the face or cause him to startle, so yesterday afternoon, when he seemed tired, I gave him a diaper change, jammed him into the swaddle but left one arm out so he could get his thumb if he wanted it.  I gave him a pacifier, and I placed him sleepy but awake under his mobile, which he likes.

Operation Bumbysleep fail.  He watched the mobile for a while, then got bored and started whimpering.  I sat outside his door to see if the fuss would turn into a cry.  It did.  My wife and I are both adamantly against letting him cry it out, even for a little while, so I went in and tried to comfort him without picking him up. This seemed to piss him off even more.  Sleepy but awake. HA.

 (NO)

 I tried a new approach. I re-swaddled him with both arms in and popped a pacifier in his mouth. I closed the blinds and sang a ridiculous and repetitive song.  It goes like this:

Oh my little baby, what you need is a nap, nap, nap.
Oh my little baby, I will help you sleep.

Over. And over. And over.  His eyelids drooped, and his body became a dead weight.  He spit out the pacifer.  I put him into the crib and walked away. Total time: 15 minutes.  Operation Bumbysleep success.

 (YES!)

  He slept like that for an hour, when he woke up hungry. He seemed sort of pissed off to be awake, and he fell asleep twice while nursing. I didn’t want him to have a nursing sleep association though, this was kind of the whole point.  So I woke him by changing his diaper, which needed to be done anyway, and started again with the swaddle and ridiculous song. The first time or two that I tried to put him down, he woek up sort of mad, but he eventually did stay down. It took almost 30 minutes, but he slept another hour.

In the evening, I let him nap in the carrier, because I needed to walk the dog and I could NOT sing that stupid song anymore. He got about a 20 minute catnap.  At bedtime, we started our normal routine — diaper change, walk with dog in stroller. Normally we come in and I nurse him to sleep at this point, but our plan was to nurse and keep him awake, then do the swaddle-singing business to get him down.  While we walked, we debated what to do when he woke to eat. Bring him back into bed with us, so the transition to his crib is gradual (and mama gets more sleep – I can usually doze while I feed him in our bed)?  Nurse then sing/rock him back to sleep?

He fell asleep in his stroller on the walk.  This has never happened before — it must have been from all his great napping. We figured we would get 20 minutes of sleep before he was awake and wanting to nurse, so when we got home I put the infant seat in his room and shut the door.  We climbed into bed without him for the first time since he was born.  After a while, my wife whispered to me in the dark, “Be careful what you wish for.  I miss Bumby!”  I missed him too.  He slept until somewhere after 11:30 this way, and when he woke, I brought him in with us. He seemed very happy about this.  He nursed at that time, then again at 2:30 and at 4:45.  This seems like a lot, but it was such a vast improvement! Most importantly, he fell asleep and I could move him away from me a little, so I could actually sleep while he slept.

He was such a happy baby when he woke up today!  He was up for the day about 8 1/2 hours after falling asleep.  Once, at around 5:30, he woke, but  he went back to sleep without nursing.  I think he legitimately needs less sleep than some other babies his age, because I tried to put him down after being awake for 2 1/2 hours, and he was not having it. He dozed for 15 minutes and was back up.  I wore him out by letting him play with toys, have a bath, do some tummy time, and get dressed, then tried our swaddle/singing routine.  He was asleep before I could close all 4 sets of blinds in his room.

I think we will carry on this way for a while before we start trying to rock him down in the middle of the night or cut nighttime feedings. Ideally I would like him in our room at night anyway, at least until 6 months, and our little butterball is already too big and heavy for his bassinet. Which, for the record, he never slept in.

pooptacular 2015

Today only:

One baby. 
Three diapers. 
97 wipes. 
Four days’ worth of poop. 

Featuring a liquid poopsplosion display, shooting across the changing table with the force of a rocket. As a bonus, a pee fountain during the diaper change, capable of soaking the shoulders of a very cute owl onesie. 

Arrive early and experience the opening acts — a day of horrible gas and a sleepless night!

cold

Bumby has his first real cold. He had an under-the-weather day when he was a little newborn, but this is his first full-fledged cold, complete with a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. The little coughs are adorable, even at 3 am. Poor bug. 

I have been babying him by lying down with him for all his naps and letting him nurse as much as he wants. I decided not to remove him from the boob this morning and he nursed from 6 am to 9 am. It’s more important to me that he rests and naps well so he gets better than that I get up from this spot on my bed. Also, in all fairness, he was up 4 times last night coughing and sneezing, so I’m a little tired myself. Anyway, breastmilk is full of anti-bodies, right? There must be a reason for the compulsive nursing (other than comfort and the leg rolls).

We are going to venture out to yoga today. It’s only an hour, and he is on day 3 of the cold, so I am thinking he’s not contagious anymore. I’ll bring a blanket this time so that we keep our germs (and throw-up) to ourselves. Also, we pre-registered. But other than yoga, naps are the order of the day over here. 

pump it up 

I love breastfeeding Bumby. I have written a lot about breastfeeding, although I haven’t published any of it, but it can be summed up as: breastfeeding totally sucks for a while — it hurts, and no one knows what they are doing, and I wanted to quit — but then it just got better and better and now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Blah blah bonding and not having to carry bottles around. 

What I have really, really struggled with is pumping. Bumby is a big boy. Even when we were struggling with breastfeeding, he was having lots of dirty diapers and gaining well. So, obviously, milk was being consumed. When he was a couple weeks old, I started trying to pump. I would get an ounce, maybe an ounce and a half on a good day. The most I ever got was two. And this was pumping first thing in the morning, fully engorged, from both breasts, before feeding Bumby. I tried everything to get more milk. I tried with him in the room and out of the room. I tried different size flanges and breast compressions. I tried pumping one side while nursing him on the other side. It was always just a slow drip. Drip. Drip. Until nothing more came out. One day I collected more by catching what leaked out of my other breast while I was nursing than I could collect pumping. 

All this was tied up in leaving Bumny alone to go back to work. I have been obsessing over returning to work since I found out I was pregnant. I want to work. And I want to be home with Bumby. I hate that they are mutually exclusive. Nonetheless, a deadline loomed. If I return to work, I need to learn to pump and get Bumby to take a bottle before I go. He’s already more than 3 months, so introducing the bottle might not be so easy. Also, I love nursing. I’m not eager to drop a breastfeeding session in favor of a pump and bottle. 

I was diligent with the pumping for a month or so. An ounce a day, for 30 days. In a month, I had pumped enough to feed Bumby for a day and a half. Toward the end of the month, pumping and feeding started to get a little uncomfortable. Then really, really uncomfortable.  A post on the la leche league board and a visit to my OB confirmed I had thrush (a yeast infection in my nipples). It was definitely as unpleasant as it sounds. Itching and burning – the athletes foot of the boob. The worst part was that freezing the milk doesn’t kill yeast, so I had to throw out about 2 weeks worth of milk, and I would have to dump all milk I pumped until the thrush was gone. Otherwise, if Bumby drank the yeasty milk and then nursed, he could reinfect me with the thrush. 

That was too much. I stopped pumping when Bumby was about 7 weeks old. I tried a couple of times since then, but never got even an ounce of milk. 

All this time, the work pressure has been mounting. Am I going back or not?!?! Am I returning to the same job, or finding a new one? What will we do for childcare? In the back of my mind, I thought that if I went back, we were going to have to start Bumby on formula supplements and I would have to wean him from nursing during the workday, which totally broke my heart. We struggled so much at the beginning, and it’s just become really enjoyable. Also, I nurse him for all kinds of non-food reasons. I nurse him to sleep, I nurse him when he’s fussy in the restaurant, I nurse him when his tummy aches because he hasn’t popped in 3 days. I nurse him when he needs some snuggles, and I’m nursing him through his first cold. I don’t want to give it up. If going back to work means weaning, I don’t want to do it. 

Yesterday, my wife and I finally came up with a work-plan. If it will fly with my boss and my law firm, it will give me the best of both worlds — keeping me working in the law without having to hire a nanny for 70 hours a week. I’m going to go in to the office to discuss it in about a month, and if they don’t agree, my wife and I have talked about a few backup plans that we could live with. 

Going in to my office means an hour commute in, an hour or two at work, and an hour home – at least 3-4 hours away from Bumby. The longest he goes during the day without nursing is about 2 1/2 hours, so my wife will need to give him a bottle. Regardless of whether I actually go back to work, he needs to be bottle-ready in a month. That means we need to figure this out in the next couple of weeks. 

For the first time since I started my leave, I feel like I’ll be pitching a work situation that I’ll be happy with, and I really, really want it to work. And even if they ultimately say no, he needs to be able to have a bottle in order for me to even give them my pitch. (Plus, a bottle means the potential return of date night, a not-unwelcome thought.) So I sat down to pump. I was prepared for nothing, or a half ounce. 

I got this. 

 

Almost 3 ounces! Easily. I probably could have gotten a little more, but Bumby was fussing to eat, so I stopped after only 10 minutes. 

So, maybe it was taking a break from pumping. Maybe it was giving up and not caring how much I got. Maybe it was actually wanting to get milk so I could go back to work, rather than secretly holding it in the back of my mind as an excuse to stay home. I don’t know why it worked today and never before. I do think it was mental, though. The only change between today and the last time I pumped was that I really  wanted to be able to give Bumby a bottle of breastmilk. 

baby yoga

On Wednesday, I took Bumby to our first mommy-baby yoga class. This class is part of a concerted effort on my part to meet other new moms in the area. Although I over share in writing, I’m actually shy in person and have a reeeeeally hard time putting myself out there to make new friends. However! I want Bumby to socialize with other babies, and I myself am getting so bored around the house alone that yesterday I actually cleaned our furnace room, so I forced myself to go to this class. 

I almost turned around in the parking lot. But I did not. 

The teacher set up an area for each mommy-baby pair consisting of a mat and a little baby area with three cushiony bolsters to prevent anyone from rolling away, and a blanket in the middle. The other moms dutifully pulled out their own receiving blanket and spread it over the yoga studio’s blanket to set their baby on. I looked in my diaper bag. You know what was in it? A diaper. That’s it. Literally one diaper. 

Bumby is a spitter-upper. He can summon vomit from the depths of his digestive system even when it has been hours since his last meal. So there is NO WAY I was setting him on the yoga studio’s blanket without a layer of protection, or it would definitely wind up soaked in my rank, half-digested breastmilk in a matter of minutes. 

I pulled out my own yoga mat, which I have been using since 2001 and only washed a handful of times, folded it into fourths and placed it over the blanket, as if this had totally been my intention all along. No really, I always set my baby on things that smell like my foot sweat.  Bumby obliged by promptly vomiting on it (I know I am supposed to say “spit up” because it sounds nicer, but this kid vomits. Seriously.). I smiled and wiped it up with his burp cloth. That shit definitely would have soaked through a receiving blanket. 

The class started. It was uneventful, for the most part, but fun. There was a little yoga for the moms while the babies hung out in their areas. When they started crying, we did baby massage, which Bumby loved. They had tummy time, which for Bumby usually involves some crying and trying to shove his thumb into his mouth while simultaneously mashing his face into whatever surface he is lying on. But on the way down, he caught sight of the baby across from me, and they both pushed up onto their hands and stared at each other in fascination. “That’s the first time he’s done that!” said the other mom. I told her it was Bumby’s first time too. 

Halfway through the class, a sixth mom showed up. “I thought it was at 11:30,” she said apologetically. I love it when other people are at least as half-baked as I am. Another baby cried through almost the whole class and had to be carried around by the teacher. All of this made it more bearable when, about ten minutes before class ended, out of nowhere, Bumby emitted a high-pitched shriek and started clawing at the front of my shirt as if it had been hours since I last fed him, instead of, oh I don’t know, immediately before we left the house. That kid goes from zero to starving in approximately 4 seconds. So we missed our formal relaxation time, but I find feeding Bumby pretty relaxing anyway. 

I did not talk much with the other moms, past some little bits of small talk as we bundled our babies into their carseats to leave. (The shy thing.) But it was fun, and unpredictable, and Bumby got to see some babies other than himself. I really can’t wait to go again.