Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Minor Inconvenience

It’s been two months since I had Gabe. I had a urinary tract infection that required three rounds of antibiotics to clear up, and I’m going through a second round of plugged milk duct. I don’t need a doctor, I need a plumber!

All in all, though, I’m feeling great. The first plugged duct was alarming, because I realized that there was a golf-ball-sized knot inside of my breast. But judicious application of heating pad, breast pump, and hungry baby cleared it up over the course of a few days. This time around the clog was big enough that I needed to supplement Gabe’s diet with the frozen milk I’ve been saving, but it has cleared up faster.

Looking back at these things just serves to remind me how amazingly good a choice it was to read “What To Expect When Expecting” and “What To Expect the First Year”. These common ailments are covered in enough detail that when my hand first found that giant lump in a part of my anatomy where lumps are typically not supposed to be, I knew right at that moment what was up.

Now on this second round, I’m all “meh, whatever”.

Gabe’s new nickname is Mister Wiggles. When he is done eating and sleeping, his favorite place to be is on the floor where he can shake his booty, flail his limbs, and flex his fingers and toes. And of course, flirt with the ceiling fan. It’s like an adult-sized mobile up there on the ceiling, and at the lowest setting it cruises in slow, easy-on-the-eyes circles. While I’m in the kitchen he gets to watch the living-room fan, and when I need to fold laundry he gets to watch the one in the bedroom. It’s hours of fan-watching fun!

Gabe had settled into very predictable sleeping patterns: down at ten, up at two-thirty, down at four-thirty, up at six-thirty. So, of course, when I finally told Chris on Sunday that it was his turn to take a six-thirty shift, I couldn’t believe my eyes when Gabe woke us at *nine* thirty! Now his sleep patterns are all over the map again, but this time he is sleeping upwards of six hours at a time. All hail glorious sleep!

It’s ten minutes to Gabe’s former wake-up time. I wonder if he will continue to sleep. Let’s find out. . .

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gabe Has Become a Flirt

Who is Gabe flirting with, you might ask?

Why, his fan, of course.

Silly question!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hands-Free Baby

Chris has discovered that the Baby Bjorn makes it possible to soothe a fussy baby while playing games.

Action Shot

Looking back through some older photos. . . here is Gabe during the photoshoot with the squash.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gabe Says “Oh!”

Gabe is working on his first vowel: o. He sometimes says it several times during a diaper-change. We sometimes have a conversation of “ohs”. He also occasionally giggles – and I swear it’s a sound made of faerie hiccups and the singing of butterflies. It’s an amazing, wonderful sound.

Gabe continues to improve at tracking things with his eyes, and turning to look for the source of a sound. He has toppled over from his head-held-high position for Chris. And he gave one final performance of his hair-pulling stunt for Chris, before finally figuring out how to fondle his hair without yanking.

And it turns out the hair-pulling could have been worse – a friend’s baby apparently does the same stunt, but instead of pulling his own hair, during diaper changes the poor little fellow pulls his own balls!

I have become much more in tune with what Gabe fusses about – I can tell a tired cry from a wet cry a lot of the time, and so on. The I’m-in-poo-up-to-my-waist cry is particularly pitiful.

Gabe has had a few days on which he didn’t poop for two days, which alarmed me, but is apparently quite normal for breast-fed babies at this age. And twice now he has gone for three days when constipation slowed things down. Chris had the joy of catching the result of one of those affairs live on the changing table. He described it with such words as “soft-serve ice-cream” and “silly string”.

Gabe and I briefly had matching scratches on our noses from his claws. I continue to nibble them off when possible.

Although I tried to sabotage Gabe’s newly-established sleep schedule yesterday by napping with him too late and for too long, he still ended up sleeping during his regular hours last night. Thank you Gabe!

This weekend, weather permitting, we will be initiating a pair of new babysitters. They will be watching Gabe as Chris do some gardening together.

That’s all the news from here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Visiting Photographer

My friend Jen Gordy takes the most amazing photos! Such as this one:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We're Starting Him Early

Big Poo has Arrived!

Gabe is settling into routine. Some of that routine is imposed on him by his parental units – such as Exercise with Mommy in the mornings. After Gabe has been fed and the sun comes up, he gets tummy time on the floor while Mom does her crunches and pitiful girly push-ups. Gabe even wiggles his legs along while Mommy does leg-lifts. Mommy counts out loud so Gabe can listen.

The early bedtime routine has not yet been established, but Mommy thinks they have found a combination that works: first a bottle of formula at 8:30. Not the “for gassy babies” variety, because that kind is already pre-digested and so doesn’t make Gabe sleep any longer, which defeats the purpose, even though he does have gas. Regular formula at 8:30, sometimes following a bath.

Then, after the formula, Gabe gets to nurse in bed with Mom until he falls asleep.

The catch here is that Mom falls asleep, too, even though the lights are left on. But this is okay, because Dad stays up later than Mom, so Dad can pop in and transfer Gabe from the bed to the bassinet once Gabe has reached the appropriate state of hibernation.

It was discovered that Gabe sleeps wonderfully in the big bed when Mom took to depositing the baby unit next to his sleeping Daddy in the mornings. On weekends, Mom then has to return after a few hours to rouse both sleepyheads. (Or as Grandpa Clay calls them, “sleepamitemores”.)

Mom did the first test of night-time nursing-till-asleep with Gabe two nights ago. She climbed in bed in her clothes, unshowered, teeth unbrushed. She awake hours later when Daddy arrived home. Baby was transferred to the bassinet, and Mommy rolled over and blinked and suddenly it was three in the morning and Baby was demanding a diaper-change.

Mommy finally got her shower at five in the morning.

The experiment was repeated the following night with similar good results. And this time Mommy brushed her teeth first.

Gabe’s own contribution to the schedule has been the timing of Big Poop. Gabe diligently saves up his diaper deposits until shortly before or after his nighttime bottle. No more constant stream of small messy little poos for Gabe, no sir! He fastidiously takes care of his business all in one mighty, wet-sounding “schloomp”.

And as long as Mommy or Daddy is around to respond promptly, none of it leaks from the legs of the diaper, either.

Also, Mommy now knows not to lift Gabe’s bum above his head once Big Poop has arrived, least the horrors be released down the back of poor Gabe’s shirt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Choate Park

Gabe and I found a lovely local park, complete with native plants and a large playground.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Chris is usually the bed hog, but in this case, Gabe has conquered most of the territory.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In the Computer Room

The laundry room is also where I keep my computer, and where our onion crop is stored. It's cozy in here.

Gabe in the Rain

Thursday, September 11, 2008

After the Bath

Where’s the Poop, Gabe?

Okay Gabe, so I thought it was funny when I picked you up by the feet to see if your diaper leaked, only to cause a waterfall of liquid poo to pour from the back of your diaper like a teapot onto your gown and the towel beneath that; and that hardly diminished the lake that was waiting discovery inside of your diaper. This whole going-thirty-six -hours-between-bowel-movements thing sounds so nice in the instruction manual; sure, potentially fewer poopy diapers the second month! Hours and hours of inoffensive pee only. But the cheery description in the book fails to summarize the quantities of yellow goo that come pouring out of you. Or, as your daddy said, “it’s still coming out! It’s like the blob!”

Perhaps worse is the waiting. Will you poo now, here on the white sofa? While you are asleep in the bassinet? Or now, in the car? I gave you a bath in a desperate attempt to coax the unwanted stuff out of you, risking a tub full of watery feces. I am afraid, because no diaper can possibly contain what will come out of you.

And is this bewildering nightly evening of crying colic, or because you are experiencing discomfort with your digestion? The latter makes sense, considering that you downed a full bottle of formula and then half an hour later still had the audacity to nurse. And then nurse, again. News flash: the formula is supposed to make you sleepy, not to mention full. I’m afraid to put more in you, because I know, I *know* it’s all building up in there, and either the pressure will prevent you and me from sleeping and make you cry in misery, or you will sleep and sleep until there is a sloshy explosion and neither you nor the bassinet sheets will ever be the same.

Perhaps you consider it an anniversary gift to your parents not to poop for a day? Please, next time just pick out a card from Hallmark.

I go to bed now, but I will sleep in fear. . .

Monday, September 8, 2008

Playing Dress-Up with the Baby Doll

Mom, when you asked me if I had a favorite outfit for Gabe, I thought it was a silly question. You know how disinterested I am in clothes! But I realized belatedly that I do have favorites. You were right!

Here is Gabe, demonstrating how he wants to work in the Entertainment industry, just like his mommy and daddy. . .

The black goes with his punk little mohawk. The outfit still needs some black leather and silver spikes to look properly punk-ninja. To that end it goes perfectly with the wonderful little triceratops music box that Lala and Opa gave him. (Lala and Opa, can you tell us the name of the tune the dinosaur plays? It’s lovely, and we can’t identify it!)

Along the lines of the Lucasfilm onsies – which came from a friend who works at Lucasfilm – Gabe also has a set of NASA jammies from a friend at NASA! But he needs to grow a bit more before he will fit into that one, and a space helmet was not included.

My company doesn’t sell onsies with the company or project names, sadly. But my coworkers gave him some awesome pirate-themed onsies. I regret not photographing Gabe in them, because he has already outgrown them! Despite being just over a month old, he is now wearing three-to-six-month size clothes. Additionally, Gabe seems to have been born with an opinion on the pirate-or-ninja debate, because on the day that I first dressed him up in the pirate onsies, he peed or pood on each and every one of them in rapid succession. Sorry guys!

In terms of convenience, Chris and I like gowns best, because when it’s three in the morning and bedtime was at one, a few snaps become a big headache. Also, any outfits that have sleeves with fold-over mittens is great, because I can flip the mittens over Gabe’s fingers when I see him clawing or making grabs for his hair.

This gown is my favorite among all of Gabe’s clothes, because it has built-in hand puppets!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Best of Both Worlds

In Neil Gaimon’s novel “American Gods”, he includes a minor character who, while nursing her own infant, wet-nurses a second. The character’s own child becomes sickly because he is always nursed after the other child, and gets only the leftover, second-best milk.

While Gaimon is generally an excellent writer, he didn’t do his homework on breast milk. He made two errors. The first is that during a nursing session, the quality of the milk does change from start to finish – but it is the milk at the end, the “hind milk”, that contains the most fat. This tells the baby that it is time for him to feel full, so that he will stop eating. An infant who doesn't get hind milk won't thrive.

The second error he made is that the breast is triggered by suckling to produce more milk. The more that is demanded of a breast, the more milk it will produce, after an initial delay. This is why mothers of twins can breast-feed.

Chris and I have finally figured out why Gabe is so cranky in the evenings – and also why he doesn’t really get down to the business of serious night-time slumber until eleven – if we are lucky. It is because he is not getting enough to eat late in the day. Overall, he is getting ample milk from me, as was determined at his recent weigh-in. It just happens that the typical lactating mom produces more milk in the morning than in the evening. This explains why his feedings get progressively more frequent in the afternoon, why he sleeps so long and so well in the mornings, why he gets progressively more inclined to fuss in the evenings, and why when he first nods off at a reasonable hour, he is up again less than an hour later, frantic for food.

At his recent visit to the doctor, I asked for advice on shifting Gabe’s sleep-schedule forward. I was advised to get him awake and active early in the day, and to try giving him a bottle of formula before bed. The nurse who gave me the advice pointed out that a well-rested mother will produce more milk. This was *very* refreshing to hear, because, sadly, proponents of breast milk typically say that any use of formula will diminish the mother's supply of breast-milk. Even nurses trained as lactation consultants get so caught up in their opinion that they say this without any caveat about breast-pumps or sleep deprivation affecting milk supply.

On the second night after I delivered Gabe, I might have given up on nursing if it hadn’t been for the nurse who suggested using formula. She set us up with a syringe and tube device which allows the infant to nurse naturally at the breast, while also getting formula. This allows for the baby’s sucking to trigger mom to make more milk, while at the same time getting calories into the baby. I used it that night for the purpose of getting Gabe to sleep for a bit longer than he otherwise would have been inclined, because the lack of sleep was clobbering me. He slept for four hours that time, and I was able to get enough rest to continue on to another day of nursing.

The next day I was scolded by the lactation consultant for resulting to such a measure. (And the same lactation consultant scolded me for using a more advanced nursing position out of desperation. She also tried to get Gabe to nurse by mashing his head onto my breast, which just made him shriek an fight; but nonetheless she was certain that forcing him was the way to go. Her method hasn’t worked once since, and Gabe and I have never successfully used the two most basic nursing positions.)

Last night Chris and I repeated this experiment with a bottle of formula. I used my sister’s fabulous milking machine to add to our growing stash of frozen milksicles. Gabe gulped the formula down, promptly went to sleep, and stayed asleep for five hours.

Five hours! I have been getting by on five hours of sleep a night! I’m about to go sleep for another three or four hours, and it feels like a luxury.

With any luck, this tactic will keep Gabe’s schedule shifted forward once (or if) we discontinue the evening formula. I’ll be able to build up that emergency frozen milk stash. And there is the possibility that I won’t run low on milk late in the day if I can consistently get more rest like this.

Formula isn’t as good as breast milk, but I will say it’s right up there with birth control as a method of freeing women from the prison of biology.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Battle Baby!

Drawing with a mouse is absurdly difficult.

This was a Triumph

I’m making a note here: huge success! No, I am not inventing a portal gun. Yesterday I ventured out with Gabe with the intent of changing and feeding in public. My mother had suggested a high-end department store for this purpose, because they often have a sofa in the restroom; and the restrooms are clean. But I don’t ever go to department stores, so I don’t know which ones have such restrooms.

Instead, at a friend’s suggestion, I went to the local outlet mall. Being a weekday, the place was empty except for – haha – women with strollers. I made use of the family restroom twice, and I nursed Gabe in a corner of the cafeteria. And I bought some more nursing shirts and pads, had a nice walk, and had a milkshake.

It almost feels like cheating the way Gabe nods off in his stroller, and in the car.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Doctor Visit, Hair-Pulling, and Squash

Gabe had his second well-baby checkup yesterday. He measured in at ten pounds eight ounces, and twenty-three inches in length. The doctor was impressed with his strength, and I was able to proudly report that not only can he occasionally reach the head-at-ninety-degrees position when on his tummy, but that twice the enormous weight of his big head caused him to topple from that position onto his back, which makes him on his way to rolling over very early indeed.

There were no immunizations at this visit, as it turns out. Those will come next month.

Gabe demonstrated for the doctor how he can grab his own hair and pull. Later, I got a picture of him doing this, sort-of. This makes a good twenty times that he has done this for me, but he has yet to pull his hair for Chris. My theory is that Chris is just plain more entertaining. Gabe most often pulls his hair when I am changing him, during which I am usually either in a zombie state or having a conversation with his butt. Chris, on the other hand, has a much better knack for keeping the proper end of Gabe entertained during changing-time.

Here is Gabe later that day, as we horsed around with a home-grown toy. Look at that smile! And see how his hand goes roving up to that thatch of beautiful, grabable hair?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

four AM

Down at nine-thirty, yay
Up at ten, not yay
Down at midnight
Up at two thirty
Spilled marinara sauce (homade) on the baby
But not on the borrowed comic book
Four o clock now
Go to sleep Gabe

Monday, September 1, 2008

Music for Gabe

I used to rely on music to get me through tedious projects. In college and then in the first few years at my job I listened to my favorite cd’s so many times that I no longer needed to play the disks to hear the music. There was a period of about ten years in which I always had some piece of music stuck in my head – entire symphonies sometimes. I needed a few years of silence to compensate.

I’m starting to miss music again – classical music in particular. And it’ll be a few years before I can really share my love of music with Gabe, but it’s already something I’m looking forward to.

Nursing turns out to be a good opportunity for reading; and I’ve also now got a radio set up at my nursing spot on the couch. I’ve got my favorite news station pinpointed on the dial, and a classical station.

This weekend – and it has taken the entire three-day weekend – the classical station has been playing through a list of the top 100 classical pieces, as picked by their listeners. There is a ton of wonderful stuff on that list. Just this morning, Gabe and I listened to Beetoven’s 6th and 7th symphonies, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Sadly, there is almost nothing written in the past 100 years on the list. I would have included Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, at the very least. Or Holst’s Planets. Come on, where’s Mars?! I can remember hearing that performed live back in highschool; the sound rolled off the stage in magnificent waves. But this list picked by radio listeners, many of which I suspect are little old ladies who prefer their music to be toothless and calming. The Four Seasons is pretty and all, but there is banjo music I would listen to before intentionally seeking it out. (And that’s not to belittle banjo music, which I actually do quite enjoy!) At least Orff’s Carmina Burana made the list.

At any rate, I had a blast humming along and telling Gabe all about Beetoven this morning as we had our tea and milk.

I am unfamiliar with twenty or so of the pieces on their top 100, so I’m going to keep the list for reference. Here it is. . .

1. Symphony #9 (Beethoven)
2. Four Seasons (Vivaldi)
3. Egmont Overture (Beethoven)
4. Canon in D (Pachelbel)
5. New World Symphony #9 (Dvorak)
6. Symphony #5 (Beethoven)
7. Adagio For Strings (Barber)
8. Symphony #7 (Beethoven)
9. 1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky)
10. Pastoral Symphony #6 (Beethoven)
11. Moldau (Smetana)
12. Rhapsody in Blue (Gershwin)
13. Bolero (Ravel)
14. Appalachian Spring (Copland)
15. Piano Concerto #2 (Rachmaninov)
16. Clarinet Concerto (Mozart)
17. Rage over a lost penny (Beethoven)
18. Fur Elise (Beethoven)
19. Piano Concerto #1 (Tchaikovsky)
20. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach)
21. Messiah (Handel)
22. Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky)
23. Clair de Lune (Debussy)
24. Meditation from Thajs (Massenet)
25. Symphony #1 (Mahler)
26. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Rachmaninov)
27. Symphony #1 (Brahms)
28. Symphonie Fantastique (Berlioz)
29. O Carmina Burana (Orff)
30. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Serenade #13 (Mozart)
31. Fanfare for the Common Man (Copland)
32. Blue Danube Waltz (Strauss)
33. Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov)
34. Trout Theme & Variations (Schubert)
35. Brandenburg Concerto #5 (Bach)
36. Lark Ascending (Vaughan Williams)
37. Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky)
38. Piano Concerto in a-minor (Grieg)
39. Finlandia (Sibelius)
40. Unfinished Symphony #8 (Schubert)
41. Brandenburg Concerto #3 (Bach)
42. Eroica Symphony #3 (Beethoven)
43. Jupiter Symphony #41 (Mozart)
44. Water Music Suite (Handel)
45. Carmen (Bizet)
46. Magic Flute Overture (Mozart)
47. Moonlight Sonata #14 (Beethoven)
48. Piano Concerto #21 (Mozart)
49. Warsaw Concerto (Addinsell)
50. William Tell Overture (Rossini)
51. Piano Concerto #3 (Rachmaninov)
52. Concierto de Aranjuez (Rodrigo)
53. Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn)
54. Pathetique Symphony #6 (Tchaikovsky)
55. Piano Concerto #5 (Beethoven)
56. Ancient Airs and Dances (Respighi)
57. Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky)
58. Nessun Dorma (Puccini)
59. Symphony #4 (Tchaikovsky)
60. Hebrides Overture (Mendelssohn)
61. Symphony #40 (Mozart)
62. Peer Gynt Suite (Grieg)
63. Symphony #8 (Dvorak)
64. Pie Jesu from Requiem (Faure)
65. Air on the G String (Bach)
66. Danse Macabre (Saint-Saens)
67. Piano Concerto #2 (Brahms)
68. Heroic Polonaise #6 (Chopin)
69. Intermezzo from Cavaleria Rusticana (Mascagni)
70. Organ Symphony #3 (Saint-Saens)
71. Jupiter, the bringer of jollity (Holst)
72. Piano Concerto #2 (Chopin)
73. Prelude and Fugue in g#minor (Bach)
74. Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun (Debussy)
75. Romance #2 (Beethoven)
76. Romeo & Juliet (Tchaikovsky)
77. Symphony #4 (Brahms)
78. Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis (Vaughan Williams)
79. Violin Concerto in D (Tchaikovsky)
80. Brandenburg Concerto #4 (Bach)
81. Don Giovanni Overture (Mozart)
82. Eclogue (Finzi)
83. Ride of the Valkyries (Wagner)
84. Italian Symphony #4 (Mendelssohn)
85. Piano Concerto #4 (Saint-Saens)
86. Pomp and Circumstance (Elgar)
87. American String Quartet (Dvorak)
88. Barber of Seville overture (Rossini)
89. Candide Overture (Bernstein)
90. Enigma Variations (Elgar)
91. Fantasia on Greensleeves (Vaughan Williams)
92. Fantastic Scherzo (Suk)
93. Fledermaus overture (Strauss)
94. Florida Suite (Delius)
95. Goldberg Variations (Bach)
96. Grand Canyon Suite (Grofe)
97. In the Steppes of Central Asia (Borodin)
98. London Symphony #104 (Haydn)
99. Marriage of Figaro Overture (Mozart)
100. Nocturne in E Flat (Schubert)