a year

Bumby is almost a year. It is only nine days away. I can’t believe it. My timehop app keeps showing me pictures of me in all my enormous glory a year ago. Instead of seeming fluid, the last year seems to have passed in fits and starts, snapshots of moments that I spent with my little boy.

  • We are leaving the hospital. Although my wife has had three children before, we are both equally terrified. We have put Bumby into a three-month size set of pajamas, because we are afraid of breaking his arms by trying to fit them in the newborn size pajamas.  We have to roll up the sleeves in order for his tiny fingers to show.  He is jaundiced, and has red, raw cheeks that are shedding the top layer of skin.  He is nine pounds, and 20 inches. He is the most beautiful and frightening thing I have ever seen. I stare at him the whole way home, and make my wife drive 10 miles an hour under the speed limit.  I want to cry all of the time because my heart is breaking with love.
  • It is late, and I am exhausted. I am nursing my two week old baby for the hundredth time that day, and it hurts so bad it brings tears to my eyes. We will never get this, I am sure. I wake up my wife, because WHAT IS SHE DOING SLEEPING WHEN SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO BREASTFEED OVER HERE?
  • He is four months old, and we went for a walk in the woods with the dog.  We came home and I ate a bowl of strawberries while I nursed him (painlessly, effortlessly). We both fall asleep and take a long afternoon nap together with the sun streaming in through the windows.
  • He wakes, again, covered in vomit and screaming. I hold him and rock him and nurse him. An hour later it happens again. I look down at my poor little baby, and think that I would gladly take this reflux from him so he could sleep without pain.  Instead I call a doctor, and then another one, and then another one.
  • I pull him onto my lap, with his blanket and his pacifier. Here are Paul and Judy. They can do lots of things. You can do lots of things, too. Judy can pat the bunny. Can you pat the bunny?  It turns out he can! He dutifully pats the bunny, and looks in the mirror, and smells the flowers, and sticks his finger through mama’s ring. We skip the page with daddy’s scratchy face. That page is weird anyway.
  • I have washed the sheets on the big bed in his room. I am trying to make it, and he keeps crawling all over the sheet.  I sit on the floor with him, and we hide under the sheet. He laughs and laughs, Mama and Bumby in a tent.
  • I wake up in the night, engorged. It has been eight hours, and my baby is still sleeping. I tiptoe into the kitchen and pump, just enough to take the edge off, while peering at him on the video monitor. He snuffles, then moves, then snuffles again, and sighs himself back to sleep.
  • He flies down the stairs, on his back, headfirst, tucked into a ball so his head doesn’t bang. I scoop him up when he gets to the bottom, terrified of what has happened. He does not cry. I do, enough for both of us.  He sticks his finger up my nose and laughs.  He is fine. One day later I pay obscene amounts of money to have sturdy gates professionally installed all over our house. I hate that it is impossible to protect him.
  • I throw him on the bed on his back, and his mouth opens wide in a laugh. I call my wife in.  I give him a good tickle, and he opens his mouth wide again, laughing. She and I stare in shock at the fifth and sixth tooth in his mouth, which he cut without a single complaint. We didn’t even know he was teething this time.
  • I pull him onto my lap, with his blanket and his pacifier. Here are Paul and Judy. He looks up at me, closes the book, lays his head near my breast, and takes out his pacifier. Too tired for a book tonight, Mama. Let’s just get to the good part.
  • I am unloading the dishwasher, and realize the house is quiet. Too quiet. I look around, and find Bumby under the dining room table, feeding the dog triscuits out of a box he has snagged from the snack cupboard.
  • I come home from work, and he looks up from playing when he hears my voice. He pulls up on the coffee table, and walks over to me as fast as he can, falling all over the place, saying “mama mama mama mama.” He flings himself at my legs, “Up up up.”  I pick him up.

My little baby. My only baby.  I can’t believe how fast the year has gone, and I can’t believe that Bumby has not always been a part of our lives.

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have baby, will travel

In the past six weeks, Bumby has been on six planes, in four states and three countries.

It all started while I was pregnant, with a trip to Michigan to visit an aunt that I was particularly close with in college. The rest of my extended family lives there as well, so it made sense to take Bumby for a week while I was on maternity leave so everyone could meet him. We planned this for June. The big kids were still in school, so my wife stayed home with them and I planned a visit to my aunt’s farm.

Then we got the opportunity to take our family to France at a huge cost savings (we worked it out with the big kids’ dad — we brought them over with us and spent 10 days in France, and then he had some time in Europe and flew them home, saving both of us three international airfares.  He’s from England so he wanted the opportunity to take them to see his family). So we planned five days in Paris and four in Antibes a few weeks after I was to return from Michigan.  Bumby will be nearly six months, we figured. He’ll probably be sleeping great by then! (haha)

Then we got the invite for a friend’s wedding on the Cape, only a few days after we returned from France.  Okay, we thought. We will make it a little weekend getaway of it.  No problem.

And then, finally, a couple of weeks before the Michigan trip, my wife’s aunt’s sister passed away in California.  Of course we had to go to the funeral.

And so it went — a flight to California and a long weekend in the Bay Area, and a flight home.  One night of “sleep” at home, and a flight to Michigan.  A week in Michigan, and a flight home.  A week and a half at home in New York, and a flight to France (with a day trip to Monaco!). Ten days later, a flight back to the US.  Two days after that, a road trip up to Cape Cod.

I am happy to report that we are home, at last, for good.  Bumby was a trooper through the whole thing. He really is a happy, easygoing baby.  He has seen more of the world in the first 24 weeks of his life than I saw in the first 24 years of mine.  There were a few times when the tour de France got to be a bit much for him, but we had rented an apartment and a house through Airbnb for our trip, so at those times I just stayed home with him and let him play and relax a little.  In the midst of all this travel, he got his first two teeth, at the same time, on the fourth of July.

We had a lot of adventures on our trip to France.  La poussette (the stroller) got nicked from the Eiffel Tower, so we had no stroller for the second half of our trip. We almost missed our overnight train to Antibes, and when we were about to board, we discovered we were out of diapers. The train station drugstore didn’t sell them, so Bumby spent the night with maxi pads stuck inside his diaper cover.  Bumby had an explosive poop in the middle of dinner at a nice restaurant, which squirted out the leg of his diaper and onto my shirt, so I just held him in front of the stain for the rest of the night. He also threw a cup of coffee on the floor of the cafe at Versailles, and was quite pleased with the commotion he caused. All in all though, I am proud of our family for all we were able to do with a baby in tow, and I am proud of Bumby for his adaptability and good nature through it all.

I have, however, promised Bumby that he does not have to go in his car seat for four days.

This stone bench in Provence seems like a perfect place for a baby to nap.

This stone bench in Provence seems like a perfect place for a baby to nap.

four months!

Bumby had his four month checkup on Friday.  He weighed in at 17lbs, 5oz.  This is a 5lb weight gain from his 2 month appointment, and puts him in the 90th percentile.  Although this seems huge, it was actually a relief for me, because last week, I did that weigh yourself holding the baby and weigh yourself without the baby trick, and came up with 22lbs.  So 17 5 is sounding pretty good to me (and my biceps).  For length, he was right around the 75th percentile. This makes him a relatively chubby baby, but this isn’t a surprise at 4 months with an exclusively breastfed baby.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with an immigration client of mine from Jamaica (let’s call him Vincent, for the sake of conversation).  He recommended that we put mashed potatoes on Bumby’s lips and see if he licked them off.  If he did, Vincent said that this meant he was ready for solids.  This is apparently what they do in Jamaica.  All weekend, we laughed about this idea.  Mashed potatoes at less than four months, as a first food.  Potatoes, butter, milk, and salt, all rolled into one.  Vincent opined that he could also have gravy.  Well, last week we were coincidentally having mashed potatoes for dinner. “Want to do Vincent’s trick?” my wife asked.  We decided to give it a try, and my wife smeared a fingerful of mashed potatoes and gravy on Bumby’s lips.  Not only did he enthusiastically lick it off, but he grabbed her hand looking for more.  She gave him a bit more, but stopped short of giving him her entire helping, which I actually think he would have gobbled up if given the opportunity.

I asked the doctor whether we could or should start our big boy on solids, and whether she thought this would help him sleep.  She recommended waiting a little longer, so that his digestive system would have more time to mature, which makes sense to me. I am a little reluctant to give up his exclusively breastfed status before we do a little bit of traveling this summer. He has never even had a bottle, and can’t sit up on his own in the high chair yet.

We also talked about the sleeping (or lack thereof), but she didn’t really have any ideas we hadn’t already tried.  She said solids would only help if he had reflux or silent reflux, since the weight would help keep his food down. In reality. he’s not really waking up hungry. He just nurses at night because it’s his favorite way to get back to sleep, so solids wouldn’t help with that.

All in all, our Bumby is a big, healthy baby boy.  He got his four-month vaccines, and off we went. He didn’t even cry for his first poke, and his little tears at the second poke were easily cured with a quick nursing.

  
And to everyone relying on herd immunity to keep themselves or their kids safe, for whatever reason, Bumby and his chubby thighs say “You’re welcome.”

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.