Monday, January 27, 2014

Diaper stripping revelation and baby's first road trip

It’s time for a revelation:

Calgon sucks for stripping diapers.  I mean, that chick on the Internet said it worked, but I tried it and it didn’t.  Maybe I did it wrong, but I felt like it made my inserts less absorbent.  I don’t know.  So, I had heard about RLR and how it is super amazing at stripping diapers, and it is!  I found this post and ordered a couple packets of RLR from Amazon.  I washed all my diapers and inserts per normal (cold rinse, hot wash/cold rinse with Calgon and diaper safe detergent) then I threw in a packet of RLR and ran them through my normal wash cycle, then rinsed them, like, 5 times.  It says to rinse them until no more suds come off, but my washing machine is a terrorist and locks itself shut so I can’t open it and look inside (I have a top loader).  How much I hate my auto locking washing machine could fill its own blog.

Anyway, the RLR seems to have returned my inserts to their previous glory of absorbency.  And they don’t smell funky anymore.  Yay!  Word on the Internet is that you should do monthly maintenance stripping.  If the RLR works as well the second time, I will buy a ton of it to have on hand since I will be doing this monthly for at least a year (but probably longer).  Calgon is still amazing for normal hard water washes and I am still adding it to my laundry, but I don’t like it for diaper stripping.

Also, Zulily has Little Monsters brand cloth diapers on sale for $10 a piece right now.  I ordered four of them, because I couldn’t resist their cuteness.  I got the brontosaurus (or Apatosaurus if you want to be all accurate and stuff) and a couple others.  I really wanted the moustache one, but I limited myself to four and I thought the ones I picked out were cuter.  Though both the anchor and the moustache were incredibly tempting.

Chubs McBabylegs went to the pediatrician for his four-month well check.  Dr. Soulpatch commented on his strength and overall buffness.  We may have a baby body builder on our hands.  Hamburglar weighs 17 pounds and seems to have evened out a bit.  He’s in the 80th percentile all across the board, which means that he is no longer short and fat with a big fat head like he was before.  Sure, he’s still heavy with a massive noggin, but at least he’s long enough to pull it off now.  Dr. Soulpatch was wearing striped socks with tiny little jolly rogers on them, so I think this relationship may work out.  Because I like to decide if I like people or not based upon completely arbitrary and shallow reasons.

Hamburglar and I went on our first solo road trip.  Mr. Adventure couldn't make it, so Chubs and I went together.  He slept most of the way and wasn't too cranky.  It worked out really well.  The weather was crazy and we drove through ridiculous fog pockets like this on the way there and back.

But, we made it to Seattle and it only took about two hours longer than it took me pre-baby.  And Seattle was lovely, per usual.  I didn't realize how much I miss it.

We had lunch at the Jolly Roger Tap Room with my old roommate (little mahi sliders and the jalapeno ceasar salad are amazing!).  Hamburglar was grumpy being there and, at one point, I had to change his diaper.  It was not easy.  There was no changing table and there was only a pedestal sink that turned on automatically, so I couldn't put the diaper bag in there and I ended up holding him over my shoulder, trying to take off his pants and diaper and get him all changed.  I’m just glad he didn't poop because that would have ended a whole new element to the challenge. 

That night I had dinner at a friend’s house with her and her family.  She is super pregnant (due February 5th) and I was bringing her baby clothes that Hamburglar has grown out of and she gave me a ton of size 12 month to 2 year that I will give back when I’m done with them.  Yay!  Chubs tried out her doorway jumper and LOVED it, so I bought one off craigslist for $10.  He doesn't seem to love the one I bought as much, but whatever.  He is enjoying it.  I think part of his love of the other one was the 2.5 year old that was helping him get his bounce on.

The next morning we had dim sum at House of Hong with another pregnant friend and her husband.  (They are having a girl in May and she and I are currently in negotiations for arranging a marriage.  She has offered a dowry of three chickens, but I think I can get more if I hold out a bit longer).  I love dim sum. 
After that, we set off to Olympia to visit college friends.  We had lunch and hung out and I put Hamburglar's fancy new (old) Seahawks onesie on him in preparation of the big game.  Now, I’m not saying that Chubs’ Seahawks threads are what won the game, but I don’t think it hurt.

After one night in Oly, we headed back home the next morning.  The trip was a real whirlwind and left me missing my friends even more.  I think if I pack up the wee babe and take him visiting again, we will go longer.  Three days wasn't nearly enough and we spent so much time in the car.  I think it was a bit unfair to Fatty.  But he loved my friends and they seemed to love him.

I think I may need to move back to the West Coast.  Mr. Adventure grew up near Tacoma, so he seems down, it’s just a matter of agreeing on where we live.

Also, I know I've said it before, but I love this fucking baby.  And he is my new favorite road trip companion

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Must have" baby lists?

I hate lists of things people declare that you “must have” for labor and for the baby.  My labor was super quick, but the only thing I really needed was water.  I put on the same clothes I wore over there to wear home the next day, and it was fine.  I think I actually brought a change of clothes, but I didn’t use it.  I also brought chap stick and didn't use it.  And I brought clothes for the baby and a blanket for him, but I’m pretty sure he didn't really care that much and will likely not remember coming home from the hospital.  Hell, I barely remember it.  I wonder if Mr. Adventure remembers it?  I should ask him later.

BabyCenter is a pretty popular website around here for pregnant ladies and new moms and moms in general, I’m assuming, so I went to their list of must haves for the first year. 

BabyCenter says your baby needs clothes.  That’s probably true.  Unless you live in a nudist colony or something.  Although, for the first two weeks, I don’t think I put clothes on Hamburglar unless we were going somewhere.  His tiny, delicate head and neck were so floppy; I was kind of worried it may fall off if I kept pulling shirts over his head.  I had some of those kimono-style tie shirts and they were kind of nice.  But really, for clothes, you should make friends with someone that had a baby a good 6 months to a year ahead of you.  My coworker gave me a ton of baby clothes and I am passing on the sizes that McCloud has grown out of to a friend who is due with her little boy in February.  Everybody wins!  Except for large, corporate, baby clothes conglomerates.  (I was at the Nordstrom Rack when I was pregnant, and I found a long-sleeve, one piece, wool, Burberry argyle thing on clearance for $90.  It was a size 3-6 month.  Madness.)

They also advise you get diapers, wipes and a changing pad or table.  We have a dresser with a changing pad on top.  But really, you can throw a towel on the floor and change your baby there if you want to.  Or forego the towel if you’re feeling adventurous.  We have the one size, pocket-style cloth diapers with poly urethane liners (PUL).  I bought them used off craigslist for $140.  Dude’s legs were too small to wear them the first 2 months, so we bought disposables.  And we were using disposable wipes, but I realized how silly that was since we are washing diapers anyway.  I wrote a post about it.

They recommend a baby carrier, a stroller and a car seat.  I bought a car/seat stroller combination that was used by a trusted friend for $40.  And I have a Boba.  It was a gift and I love it for when Chubs McBabylegs won’t let me put him down, but I need my hands to do stuff.  But, I think I could easily get away with a car seat (a necessity if you are planning on taking your baby in a car ever.  Stupid laws.) and a used umbrella stroller.  You can pick those up for $5.  Or if you want a new one, I think they’re about $20.

BabyCenter also suggests you may want to feed your baby.  Crazy, I know.  Especially when you can just give them donkey milk or wine and honey and they might not die.  But, if you are going to feed them… 

I don’t have a nursing pillow.  I use a bed pillow on the arm of the couch and it works fine.  Sometimes I prop dude against my knee.  I did have Lanolin ointment, but I think if I had found a lactation consultant that I didn't hate/trusted/was able to work with, I would not have let baby eat with a poor latch and that would have saved my nipples some pain.  They say 6-12 bottles, and that’s how many we have, but Mr. Adventure has only been using two for the past couple of months.  Also, burp cloths?  Those tiny, useless pieces of material?  I would just get extra receiving blankets and use those.  Because fucker likes to vom.  Projectile.  When he burps, the dogs come running to see if anything came out.  It’s gross.  You will need bottle brushes or something for cleaning the bottles and nipples.  I also have a Medela Pump In Style Advance that I bought, nearly new (the chick had used it four time) off craigslist for $100.  Also, the Affordable Healthcare Act states that insurance companies have to provide breast pumps, and I imagine women that aren't breastfeeding may get their pumps and sell them on craigslist at a reduced rate.  I mean, that’s where I used to buy my bus passes when I lived in a city with a decent transit system.  They also recommend breast milk storage bags.  That’s up to you.  They are super convenient, but I don’t know that they are NECESSARY.  You know?

For human food feedings, they recommend a high chair, bowls, spoons, sippy cups and bibs.  I don’t know about that one yet.  I do know that we don’t have a high chair and Hamburglar sits on my lap during dinner.  He really likes to watch people eat.

They also say you need:

Pacifiers: Nope.  Dude hates them.  Though I do love it when I can get him to take the cowboy Mustachifier.  It cracks me up.

Bouncy seat: I love it.  He loves it.  We all love it.

Play mat/gym: For tummy time, I put him on a blanket on the floor.  If I do that, he rolls over.  On his play mat with the dangly toys, he doesn’t.  But he does love to kick and swat at the toys while lying on his back.  I can get away and do things around the house for 45 minutes sometimes while he entertains himself.  As long as the dogs aren’t licking his face off.   

Toys and books: Sure.  He’s just now kind of becoming interested.  I am still reading him whatever I want.  Currently, I am reading him Morrissey’s Autobiography.  (It was a Christmas gift from my mopey dog).

Crib and mattress: Baby has to sleep somewhere.  Where is totally up to you.

Bedding: they recommend 3-5 fitted sheets and a mattress cover.  We have two fitted sheets and it’s fine.  Experts are no longer recommending crib bumpers, because they say it will make your baby die.  Also, babies shouldn’t have blankets in their cribs because they will die.

Wearable and swaddling blankets: Swaddling blankets are a definite yes for me.

Outlet covers, safety gates, drawer latches, toilet seat locks, baby monitors: We have a baby monitor I bought for $2 at a yard sale that we never use.  And when dude starts wandering around the house, I may wish we had baby-proofed, but so far I’m good with what we have.

First aid kit: we have one, but I never use it.  We do have some baby Tylenol.  We gave it to him after he got vaccinated at 2 months.

Bulb syringe: nah, bitch.  It’s all about the Nose Frida.

Teething toys: Ice cube in a washcloth.  What up.

Digital thermometer: We have an ear thermometer.  Everything I have read says the only “real” way to check a baby’s temperature is rectally.  And that is why medical professionals exist, folks.

Something to clip your baby’s nails: my old boss recommends biting them off.  You can also peel them off because they aren't very strong.  Just, don’t use a knife, okay?

Laundry detergent: We were using Rocking Green, but shit is EXPENSIVE.  So now I’m using the Biokleen that is free of dyes and blah blah blah because I can use it on the diapers, too.  I also use it for our laundry.  And calgon.  Because we have hard water and it is fucking awesome for the diapers.

Soft bristled baby brush: We have two and I tried to use one once.  He didn’t like it and neither did I. 

Over on the Mr. Money Mustache website, Mrs. Money Mustache wrote a piece called, “What do Newborn babies really need?”  She broke it down to five things: Diapers, a place to sleep, clothing, a carseat, breast milk or formula, and you.  It’s a good read and it really inspired me to curb my consumption (though I did buy a Hushamok hammock for $225 that I just sold for $275!  And I’ve had a hard time resisting the baby blue jeans.  As impractical as they are fucking adorable).

And, there you have it.  These are my thoughts on "must have" baby items.  I think I need to go buy a pair of size 6-9 month baby blue jeans now.  Little man has nearly grown out of his 6 month size already.  Though the bulk from the diapers could be part of that.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teeth are overrated

We’ve been suspicious for about a week and a half now that Hamburglar McCloud is teething.  Or beginning the teething process.  He has been super extra drooly, his cheeks are amazingly rosy and he has started chewing on his index finger.  Oh, and he won’t take a bottle.  It’s fine for me, because I feed him from the breast when I’m home.  It is not, however, fine for others.  According to Mr. Adventure, our favorite baby screams like he’s hungry, but refuses to eat.  I read that the sucking motion from a bottle can be super painful when teething, so that is my current theory.  Either that or he may be possessed.  He will be 4 months on Friday and we are going to see Dr. Soul Patch and I will question him as to whether we should get teething tablets or an exorcism.

One mama in a forum I was reading had stated that either people shouldn't have teeth or babies should be born with a full set.  Considering this is only the beginning, I'm inclined to agree.  I wonder if my boss will order me some chloroform?

Mr. Baby’s laugh is changing.  He has been giggling more and it’s pretty god damn hilarious.  Also, the nice thing about him not eating as much when I’m at work is that I am building up my freezer stock of milk and I wasn’t as worried as I normally would be when I dropped a full bag (5oz) of freshly expressed milk on the floor at work.  For all you pumping mamas out there… you know that shit is worth its weight in gold.  Or it should be.

Speaking of breastfeeding…

You know how breastfeeding is hard?  I have a girlfriend who has been exclusively pumping because she couldn’t get her babe to latch.  Turns out the babe was tongue-tied.  She’s currently on the hunt for a new pediatrician.  The official fancy name for tongue tie is “ankyloglossia” and means ‘crooked tongue’ in Greek.  Basically, tongue tie is when that little webbing type thing on the under side of your tongue restricts the movement of your tongue.  It makes sense if you can’t move your tongue right then you would have trouble latching.  La Leche League has some good info on tongue tie and breastfeeding.

I also read this article about how hard breastfeeding has always been and it briefly touches on the reasons that doctors were pushing the bottle/formula after it was invented.  It totally makes sense.  And you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t breastfeed or if you don’t want to.  All that really matters is that you’re feeding your baby.  And, really, anything has to be better than feeding your baby donkey milk or wine and honey.  It’s an interesting read.  I have an old book I bought at a bookstore in Pioneer Square when I first moved to Seattle.  Both the covers were falling off, so I got it for a quarter.  It’s basically a Ladies Home Journal style book from the 1890’s.  I was reading  about breastfeeding to see what it had to say and it suggested that breast is best, but donkey milk is the best animal substitute.  I think in modern times, formula is probably better than donkey milk (or “ass milk” as my head keeps saying.  Gross.).

Mr. Baby and I are road tripping to Seattle this weekend.  I’m hoping if we leave early enough, he will sleep at least halfway there.  And I’m hoping there isn’t too much snow on the pass.  I’m just excited for good sushi and dim sum and maybe some lil’ mahis at the Jolly Roger Tap Room… maybe brunch at that place I super love to go for brunch…  I mean, yeah, it’s nice to see friends, but I start planning all the places I want to go for food a couple of weeks in advance.  Lodging and whatnot may be up in the air, but I know for damn sure where I want to go for lunch as soon as I get into town.  Plus a beer sounds nice.  A good beer.  And who knows, maybe they will even have a baby bowl full of wine and honey.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Secret Society of Sad

A girlfriend who is currently living in Asia with her husband sent me an email last week.  (She just gave birth to her first son today!  (Congratulations!)  He's pretty darn cute.)  She's a member of an ex-pat listserv and someone had posed a question about miscarriage.  My friend, knowing I had miscarried about a year before Hamburglar was conceived, forwarded the message to me and asked for my thoughts.  So, I thought I would write a post about miscarriage.  Because it's so very common but no one really talks about it so you feel so very alone.

Before Hamburglar was born, Mr. Adventure and I weren't trying to have a baby.  I was teaching adjunct at the local University (just 3 chemistry labs) and Mr. Adventure was in school full time.  I was applying to grad school, we only had one dog and we were living in the tiniest apartment in the world.  I hadn't even noticed that I'd missed a period yet and I can't remember why I went to the University Health Center.  All I really remember is the nurse practitioner having me pee in a cup, then coming back with the news that I was pregnant.  I was only about 4-6 weeks along, I think.  She recommended an OB to me, I called and scheduled an appointment because I had had a tubal pregnancy when I was 17 and I was really worried.  I was on my way home from the University Health Center when my mother called me to tell me my grandmother had died.  I was still reeling from my pregnancy news and I wasn't sure hoe Mr. Adventure was going to react.

When I told Mr. Adventure I was pregnant, he was surprised, then he said, "Do you know how much shit we need to do?"  And he started listing all the things we would need to prepare for the baby.  His excitement and reaction helped me become excited about the news.  Then, when I told my mother I was pregnant, her first words were, "You're probably going to miscarry anyway."  Now, I'm not saying she's a witch, but she likely practices witchcraft.

Anyway, we went to the doctor, saw the heartbeat, we were around 6 weeks, I think?  I don't remember.  We went back a month later and the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat with the Doppler thing.  So we had an ultrasound and there was no heartbeat.  My body didn't know I wasn't pregnant anymore, so the placenta kept growing, but "the fetus wasn't viable."  We were devastated.  I had started knitting a blanket (that I still haven't finished), we had been working on a name list, I'd told everyone I was pregnant.  I didn't want to go through and tell everyone I had miscarried, so I had some awkward conversations with people about 6-9 months later, when I went to visit friends and families out west.  That was awkward.

The doctor, we will call him Doctor Liar, said we could wait for my body to expel the pregnancy naturally or we could do a D&C.  I decided to wait.  Liar told me that it would be like normal period cramps.  During this time, I had interviewed with and accepted my current position with the government and started my Master's program.  I had no idea how long it would take for my body to realize I wasn't pregnant.  I have a midwife friend in Oregon who suggested I try self-talk, so I was telling myself things like, "It's okay to let go.  You're not pregnant anymore.  Let go."

I started my government job on a Wednesday.  On Friday, I started having really bad pains.  It was obvious I needed to leave.  I told my boss I had a really bad migraine and needed to go to the doctor, I apologised and told her I would be back Monday with a doctor's note and I left.

It hurt so bad.  And I was driving myself.  I had to stop every few minutes because the pain was so bad.  I went to the doctor's office and the nurse came into the waiting room and told me to go home and take Ibuprofen.  I have still never experienced pain so intense in my life.  (I think part of the reason it took me so long to realize I was in labor for realz is because I was waiting for the pain to get as intense as it did when I miscarried and it never did).  The nurse made me feel like such an inconvenience that I left.  It took me so long to get home because I was still having intense, painful contractions.  Mr. Adventure thought I was going to die.  I was in bed for two days in so much pain.  If it wasn't for my midwife friend, I don't know what I would have done.  She had recently miscarried as well and was very comforting.

So, clearly, this was not like normal period cramps.  Mr. Adventure was at school and I didn't want to worry him.  I let him know that I was at home and okay, but encouraged him to stay at school, because I figured it would be worse if he were there, watching me.  I was just hanging out on the toilet, in pain, having contractions, and something started coming out of me.  It was this weird, squishy sack thing and it scared the shit out of me.  I didn't know what to do, so I popped it, but I had no idea what it was and I was freaking out, but calmly freaking out, if that makes sense.  It was horrible.  So, so horrible.

I was so unprepared for this to happen.  I called the on-call doctor for Dr. Liar's office and she was lovely.  I don't remember what she said, but she waylaid my fears and basically said, "If you soak a pad an hour for more than two hours, go to the hospital."  And I was okay.  I survived, even though I was so sick.  And poor Mr. Adventure was taking care of me and had no one to lay the burden of his own grief on.  He didn't tell me about his own grief until much, much later.

Needless to say, I decided to switch doctor's.  I ordered a copy of my medical records and when I went to pick them up, I asked the receptionist to deliver a message to the nurse for me.  And I said, loud enough for everyone in the waiting to hear, "Please let her know that the only thing more painful than feeling the placenta from my unborn child detach from my uterine wall is how painfully bad she is at her job."  And I left.

Miscarriage is very common, but a lot of people don't talk about it or hear about it until it happens to them.  It's like you suddenly become a member of a secret society and you discover that many of the strong and amazing and beautiful women in your life are members of this sad club of invisible loss.

I found comfort in statistics.  I read there was less than a 3% chance that I would miscarry twice in a row, so when we decided to actually try to have a baby, that was good to know.  I was worried throughout my pregnancy and I had to keep telling myself over and over, "There is no reason this will not be a normal, healthy, pregnancy."  It was my mantra.  Every time I felt the irrational crazies/anxiety coming on, I would just say to myself, "There's no reason this won't be a normal, healthy, pregnancy."

Sometimes, I had to say it a lot and I still didn't believe it, especially early on.  Then there was the 12 week appointment with my midwife when I was pregnant with Hamburglar.  She couldn't find the heartbeat with the Doppler thing, and Mr. Adventure and I looked at each other, because this had happened before.  So she brought us to the Ultrasound tech.  My heart was beating about a million beats per second, and we saw tiny little Hamburglar, jumping around like a little bean and doing little flips and whatnot.  That was the first time in my life I cried tears of relief.

So, for my sisters out there in the secret society of sad, you are not alone.  There are many of us out here that have been where you are.  And it isn't your fault.  And it's okay.  And it's not okay.  And it's okay that it's not okay.  And if I could reach through the internet and hug you, I would.  And just remember, if and when you choose to get pregnant again, there is no reason you will not have a normal, healthy pregnancy.