Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mama Bean is feeling a little isolated

Let's just blame it on hormones.

Although, isn't "hormones" just another form of "hysteria"? Which is to say, isn't it just another H-word created by the Patriarchy to explain away the fact that women have emotions by blaming it on the fact that we have a uterus. Only now we know it isn't the Collective Uterus' fault directly, but rather the impact of these nefarious chemical messengers of emotional doom that rise and fall and trip us up with their never-ending cycle of volatility and instability and feeeeeeeeeliiiiiiinnnnggg.

As if men don't have hormones. As if men don't have a higher concentration, and are more innately influenced by the more volatile of the hormones in question. As if someone out there hasn't already dedicated their Womyns' Studies PhD. doctoral thesis to the ways all the Universe's problems can be directly attributed to testosterone. And not my testosterone. Not the Collective Uterus' testosterone. You. know. whose. I. mean.

But this post is not meant to be a feminist screed against patriarchal words that are meaningless. This post is meant to be about how I feel a little alone, and a little down, and that's making my days a little long. Or maybe the long days come first.

Maybe I'm just a little depressed.

Isolation is the hallmark of depressive onset for me. I don't have to feel sad, I would probably rate my overall satisfaction with life fairly high for awhile yet, but I do start to feel cut off from people, and then I convince myself it's because people are purposefully cutting me off, and then I feel like I deserve to be cut off, and then I decide I will embark on self-imposed exile because that will just make everyone happiest. Including me, obviously.

So, let's truck out the old getting-over-myself toolbox and identify triggers and stressors, etc. Papa Bean is back at work full time. I've increased my hours one day a week, so that I'm there over lunch, for a full day, which feels impossibly long and tiring and FULL. We leave Bean in wonderful, loving, fun care four days a week that is nonetheless not us, but someone else (who is wonderful, loving, and fun, but you get my point.) When I'm not at work, Bean is not in care, but PB is at work, and I am alone with the baby. Which is the root of my isolation. And tada! I've solved the mystery, I'm. So. Smart.

And somehow I imagine this is going to be better, let alone manageable with another one? Because that is the plan, to grow by Sprouts and bounds, of course. And I tell myself this will be SO GREAT because they will play with each other! Leaving me free to... do what?

Commit myself to the housework I so diligently complete now?
Pursue my numerous hobbies and talents?
Advance in my super fulfilling, ambition-driven professional life?

Play with pre-adults for even more hours of the day?

Be alone with my thoughts?

Well this isn't a very productive line of inquiry. I just figured if I'm going to wander around in an isolation fog, I might as well bring the gloomy haze to the blog. Because, after all, this is where I fill in the words between, behind and around the status updates. So that's what's going on right now, and as with so many of these episodes before, no doubt it will pass in two weeks.

Hormones. Hysteria. Feelings. Depression. This too shall pass.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mama Bean has a tip for new mamas

Instead of using the vitamin D drops for infants, I suggest using the vitamin D(3) drops made for grown-ups. It's the same stuff, but more concentrated (so you give baby less at a time) and it's unflavoured, so no added sugar, colourings or flavours.

We started out giving Bean the infant/toddler vitamin D. We bought the generic brand, because name brand was $3 more per bottle. The recommended dose is 1 mL/day, which contains 400 IU of the vitamin. When Bean was brand new, 1 mL seemed a HUGE amount of liquid, as we were struggling just to get 30 mL of actual nutrition down his gullet. He didn't seem adverse to the taste, but he knew it wasn't breastmilk, and he didn't just slurp it down. I'm not sure why they choose to make it sweeter (like a thousand times sweeter) than breastmilk (or formula, I imagine). I don't think that actually makes it more palatable to them (nor would the strange fake banana flavouring, which I happen to love, but babies don't know what real bananas are, let alone fake ones...) and we worry so much about putting extra sugar and additives in their food otherwise...

Then, it always made Bean gassy or burpy or generally spit-up-y, so he would promptly lose those 30 mL we'd so painstakingly installed in his digestive system. Even when we waited, in between feedings, he'd still find a couple tablespoons of delicious baby-puke to spread liberally upon my lap. And the effect might even last until the next feeding. It was frustrating, to say the least. We were not terribly consistent with his vitamin dosing in those Delirious Early Days, because it just seemed to add to the Delirium.

We visited a healthfood store in Cowtown over Christmas, and noticed a bottle of D3 drops without the baby-friendly packaging. These drops have 1000 IU per 1 mL drop, so to get the 400 IU for a baby, you only have to give 0.2 mL. The stopper is conveniently marked at 0.2, 0.5 and 1.0 mL. It was more expensive for the bottle, but we're getting five doses for every one dose of the infant-type. And then I found out D3 drops in a regular supermarket drug department are even cheaper than the baby brands, AND more concentrated so you get more doses per bottle, and it's just the bargain of the century!

So, the dose is so small, and tasteless, little two-month old Bean didn't even notice us put it in his mouth, he just swallowed it down like so much drool. Even now he doesn't really notice the drop of liquid, so much as he wants to chew on the dropper. And I get to feel frugal and clever every day I give it to him. And I am much more consistent now about actually doing that every day haha.

However, I did notice the drops are supposed to be refrigerated, which I haven't done for these eight months, so I'm worried the vitamins have been degraded by heat and/or light and I'm just giving him worthless vitamin D metabolites. So if you do get these drops instead of the infant drops, check if chilling is necessary. (Is chilling recommended on the infant ones, too? I don't have a bottle anymore to check...) Anyway, just a little tip I wanted to share, because it was a daily annoyance that we found a way around, and maybe other people who are daily annoyed by the same issue would like to make the switch.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mama Bean sings a lullaby

We are very blessed that Bean has the temperament to be put down for naps/sleep while still awake. When he was very small, up to about four weeks old, I would nurse and then rock him to sleep, or Papa Bean would rock him down for naps. But when we discovered the Swaddle, we stopped rocking. All the Baby Pundits said he would "get used to it" and "be spoiled" or "expect it all the time" which didn't sound like fun, so we started swaddling as our primary sleep cue, plus a soother, and he was quite amenable to then falling asleep by himself. Sometimes we'd even strategically angle the blanket edge over the soother to hold it in his mouth, which is sooooo contrary to all the SIDS punditry, please don't hate us, but it worked.

Not that I think swaddling and soothers are the answer to sleeping babies. I think Bean's just a chilled out relaxed little dude, and we did something consistently, and he rewarded us. Nice little Bean. We even did some of that "sleep training" stuff, and let him cry, or we'd go in just long enough to give back the soother, and then let him cry, and he would go back to sleep like the lovely, accommodating baby that he is. Nice, nice little Bean.

Even giving up the Swaddle wasn't so bad, especially when the weather started to heatify and muggify into a real Prairie Valley summer. Then the problem became his tendency to roll over onto his tummy and forget how to roll back, so he wakes up crying. (But, if he somehow stays asleep on his tummy, he will sleep for ages and it's lovely. Weird.) We put rolled up blankets and pillows and padding around him to keep him from rolling around, but it doesn't always work. And now, more often than not, he's just playing with the stuff, tossing it around (and out of) the crib so that he's twisted 180 from where we laid him down, with a pillow over his legs, a blanket under his left side, and two blankets twisted over his right hand. Again, SIDS infractions galore. But he falls asleep by himself, and wakes up happy (usually) and I just count my blessings every day (about three or four times, between naps and bedtime...)

A friend of mine had a baby about a week before I had Bean, and she is similarly well disposed to falling asleep by herself. They follow the sleep training thing, and they swaddled, and their chilled out little dudette is lovely and accommodating also. But we've noticed another similarity. Neither baby is particularly cuddly. Bean doesn't really like being held close, he doesn't lean his head or body into mine, and he definitely doesn't fall asleep while I'm holding him. Only when he's really really tired can I sometimes trick him into sort of falling into me while I'm holding him, and sometimes when I carry him up the stairs to bed, he'll start sucking on my shoulder, but that's really more about what he knows is coming next. I didn't want to "spoil" him, but I didn't realize that might mean giving up rocking him at any time, ever again, so help me God. I wonder if there's some sort of in between...

Maybe it will all change as he gets a little bigger. Certainly, they just become more and more cognizant of interpersonal dynamics, and the importance of the child-parent relationship. Maybe some of what's so hard in the Delirious Early Days is that they are so utterly dependent, and you're doing every possible thing to keep them not only alive, but comfortable and warm and cozy, and it's completely thankless. Because they have no fricking clue, right? So you're just doing and doing and giving and giving and they don't care. They only know how to neeeeeeeed. But then they hit that two to three month mark, and start giving (non-gas related) smiles. And their eyes clear up a bit, so they look like they can really see you, and recognize you, and know that you are the centre of their tiny, comfortable world. And every interpersonal milestone in the first year or two is really about you the parents. Making strange with people that aren't you, reaching for you for comfort/out of preference, learning to call you mama and dada, etc.

And somewhere in there, hopefully, having some hugs and some cuddles and sweet, quiet moments of trust and love. I'll just keep waiting.

Regardless of whether he likes it or not, after his bedtime nursing, I hold Bean in my lap and sing him a lullaby. Even when he bending over my arm to reach for the nail clippers on the table. Or climbing over my shoulder to scratch the chair fabric. Or just generally trying to get away from me. (If he's fussy and crying I put him in his crib and sing through the crying, because I'm trying to be consistent, and really, I think this exercise has become more about me than him. Motherhood is twisted; I embrace that.) I sing him a song I call Bruce's Song*

When moonlight falls across the hills
and through your windowpane
You'll close your eyes, and say your prayers
and think about your day

Did you laugh enough, and play enough?
Did you show the world your smile?
Did you catch the light, with both your hands
and hold it in your heart?
Well don't worry 'bout that now
It's time for your lullaby

*I wrote the song for my best friend, when she was pregnant. She doesn't know this, and has never heard the song, because my grand plans to record it on a disc of lullabies has not happened. Yet. But it could! One day... don't hate me, K...