Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s better to be happy and loving than fair

That’s my new motto, and I tell myself this regularly. As you can tell from my previous post, the hubs and I have been struggling – a lot. I really appreciate all the comments from everyone. It’s so nice to have the support of my girlfriends, even if they’re all over the blogosphere! In retrospect, hubs’ comments were not about breast milk at all. I think he’s overwhelmed with being a new parent too, and things are very different in our household than they used to be. I don’t really do well when I’m tired and stressed, and I think I haven’t been the easiest person to be around. Yes, I need help, but instead of being proactive about it and talking to him calmly prior to needing help, I sometimes wait until I’m desperate for help, and a bit frantic. And he does not respond well to that. I’ve been focusing too much on how unfair the distribution of labor is between the two of us, instead of creating a happy home for our baby girl. I even sat down and wrote down each of the tasks that it takes to run our household, from taking out the trash to bathing Alex, quantified the amount of time each task takes, and identified who currently performs each task. What did I learn? That I spend about four times the time each week on our household than the hubs. Not a huge surprise, but what does this gain me?

I thought about sitting the hubs down and showing him this list, telling him he needed to help out more. I thought about how that conversation would go, and couldn’t come up with any scenario in which I would actually get what I want – a more fair household. But is this really that important? I love my husband, and I love Alex, and isn’t that really all that matters? I try not to fight in front of Alex, but as she gets older, she’s going to figure out that Mommy’s bitter and mad all the time, and Daddy is pissed off and saying mean things to Mommy. Is this what I want? Absolutely not. I remember that kind of household. I grew up in that kind of home. I knew for a very long time that my mom and dad hated each other. They stayed together for the “sake of the kids” and I knew that. Finally, when I was twelve, I wrote them a letter asking them to get a divorce, and I told them that staying together for the sake of me is not helping me, it’s only hurting me. I hated being at home, listening to them argue after I went to bed. It was such a tense environment, I swore I would never do that to my child. I really love my husband, and want to spend the rest of my life with him. Why shouldn’t it be a happy and loving home instead of a bitter and maybe fair, but probably not fair, home? Yes, I want to teach my daughter that both parents should participate in the household, and that women aren’t subservient and meant to take care of their men. But if I have to fight her father every day in order to accomplish this, is it worth it? I would rather be a single mom than have her grow up in an unhappy home. So I wrote the hubs this email last week before I went home:

“I’ve decided that a happy household, where you and I are happy with each other and enjoy each other’s company, is much more important to me than trying to achieve some level of fairness, that is really only in my mind. And it’s very important that we create a happy household for Alex to grow up in. I need to accept that both of us at different times will be doing different amounts of work, and that’s just how it is, and it has to be ok. Every couple has struggles when they become parents, and this time is difficult on both of us. We’re both tired, and stressed, and trying to figure out a way to manage. But we need to be nice to each other. That’s the most important thing. Because Alex deserves parents that are loving, both to her and with each other. So I’m going to go home soon, and focus on creating a happy household for us and our daughter. OK?”

I didn’t get an email response, but that night when he came home from work and I was giving Alex a bath, he washed and prepared the bottles for the next day. All on his own, without me asking. For the first time. Since then, we’ve been nice to each other. And I’ve tried to stop tallying in my head everything I do versus everything he does. But he’s been doing more, mostly with me asking, but sometimes on his own as well. I love our home when we’re both nice. We made it through the whole weekend with no fighting, which is huge for us lately! And today, I left him at home for the first day of Daddy Daycare, as we call it. He’s taking care of Alex for three weeks. A couple of you asked last week if he’ll be able to handle it. Yes, I have no concerns with him being able to take care of her. He did it for one day already a few weeks ago, and did just fine. He’s great with her, but he chooses to not take care of her and allows me to do everything, which frustrates me more than if he were incompetent! But I think it’s great that he’s doing this. Yes, it will give him an opportunity to see what it really takes to run things day in and out. But I really want him to be able to bond with her more. A lot of his time will be changing diapers, and feeding and such, but as all of you moms know, that’s when you really bond with your babies. She’s also starting to play a lot more, and he excels at that. But I’m so excited that they will have this time together.

Hubs has lots of ideas of all the things he will accomplish around the house during these three weeks. He asked me to put together a list of things that need to be fixed/painted/organized, etc. I did, but I told him that his only requirement is to take care of Alex, and all of the rest is optional. We’ll see how it goes. I really hope that he doesn’t create additional work, and that the house isn’t a total disaster when I come home in the evenings! But even if it is, as long as Alex is happy, fed and clean, it will be just fine!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

“Your breast milk is worthless”

That’s what my husband told me last night. It was at the end of a discussion which obviously didn’t go well. I always knew that he wasn’t very supportive of breastfeeding, but I got absolute confirmation last night. Before I gave birth, he went to the breastfeeding class with me, but they really didn’t cover the benefits of breastfeeding. Due to limited time, the instructor said she assumed everyone was aware of the benefits, and just covered the mechanics. Hubs was bored and played Sudoku during the whole class. I asked him prior to giving birth to be real supportive of breastfeeding, that I needed him to be my cheerleader in the process. He said he was sure it would be fine, and I told him I was worried about it because I knew that others had problems, and I wasn’t sure if my infertility would cause problems. He told me not to worry about it.

When I gave birth and my milk supply didn’t come in, he wouldn’t say anything encouraging, but he liked it when I started supplementing with formula. Of course, our baby was starving... He was the one to research formula and purchase the sensitive version to help with her reflux and spitting up. I kept struggling to increase my supply, and he didn’t say anything. I’ve recently realized that in the three months that Alex has been alive, he has not said one thing positive about breastfeeding. He hasn’t said anything negative really, just hasn’t said anything at all. He isn’t helpful with bottles or anything, just expects me to take care of all things feeding. Or if I’m being honest, most all things Alex… But in his passive aggressive way, he showed signs that he wasn’t supportive of breastfeeding. A few weeks ago a friend of mine came to visit and I told her in front of the hubs that he wasn’t that supportive of breastfeeding. He responded that he was very supportive of Alex eating. I should have taken the hint and dropped it.

But last night I brought it up. I asked him, saying I didn’t want to start a fight, but I wanted to know his honest opinion, what he thought of breastfeeding. He said it was fine, but he assumes that I’ll stop when she starts eating cereal next month. The man has no clue how long babies eat liquid formula or breast milk. And I know that most people don’t, especially men, but if you knew him, you would know that he does all kinds of research online – it’s one of his favorite things to do! He probably spent 3-4 hours just researching the regular vs. sensitive formula. Anyway, we tried to speak rationally with each other about it last night, but then he said that he doesn’t think Alex gets the nutrients she’s supposed to from breast milk. I told him that this was ignorant (probably not the best word choice), and that he needs to do more research. And then he told me that my breast milk is worthless.

Just to clarify, my daughter hasn't had a day without some formula since day 2 of her life. We started supplementing on day 3 because Alex wouldn't stop crying and my milk hadn't come in. It didn't come in until about day 8-9, and even then it was so very little. After tons of herbs and tons of pumping and breastfeeding, I've slowly increased my supply to 20 ounces per day - on a very good day. She always has some formula, and has been gaining weight very well. She started out her life around 30% on the weight charts, and is now about 75%... For him to claim that I've been depriving our child because I continue to try to breastfeed is completely ridiculous!

I’m actually pretty proud of myself about how I handled the conversation, all things considered. I didn’t raise my voice, or cry (in front of him). I stayed rational, and told him that I wasn’t sure why he would say what he did, but it was mean and not helpful. And that I would quit in a heartbeat, if I didn’t think I was doing the best thing I could do for Alex. He had nothing to say to that. And then he wouldn’t speak to me last night or this morning before we went to work. So then I sent him this email today: “I was serious last night. If you can provide me with some sound research by reputable sources saying that breast milk isn’t better, or “worthless” as you called it, I am very willing to quit. I’m sitting here pumping, and I hate it. It hurts, it interrupts my day and night, and every part of it sucks. And knowing that you don’t appreciate what I’m doing, that in fact you think it’s worthless, makes it so much worse. I only do it because I think it’s good for Alex. You usually do lots of research and are very knowledgeable about stuff which is why I was shocked when you said my breast milk is worthless, but if you have found some research or doctors or anyone that says this is true, I am very open to quitting. Please let me know what you have found.”

Surprise, surprise, he hasn’t responded. I hate this. He truly is one of the smartest people I know, and does all kinds of research about stuff. I really don’t believe that he thinks my breast milk is worthless, but he’s real good at saying mean things, especially when he’s feeling defensive. And when I spend 30 minutes every 3 hours all day and night long strapped to this stupid machine, just to make between 15-20 ounces each day, knowing that my husband thinks I should quit because he doesn’t see any value in it, and thinks that formula is better, well that certainly doesn’t encourage me to keep doing this!

I know I shouldn’t need his support, and that I know I’m doing the best thing for her so that should be enough. But I’m tired, and pumping adds so much additional stress to my life. I can handle it, for the sake of Alex, but to not have the hubs support is awful! I get so frustrated every night, because I watch him have downtime, playing his computer game and watching TV, while I run around the house and wash bottles, make bottles, take care of Alex, and pump. Yes, he feeds me every night, which I really appreciate. He figured out awhile ago that if he wants dinner other than cereal, he has to make it happen! Because I would be more than happy to have a bowl of cereal every night, if it means that I get to spend more time with Alex or sleeping. Those are my only priorities right now. Everything else I rush through when I’m at home – showering, making bottles, tidying up, laundry. I try to slow down when Alex is awake, so I can feed her, play with her and bathe her at a leisurely pace. But as soon as she’s asleep, I’m running around the house trying to get stuff done so I can go to bed. And he’s watching TV and playing his stupid game. I eat while doing my last pump of the night so I can at least do two things at once. Actually three – I will watch TV with the hubs during that time too. He gets frustrated because we used to watch certain TV shows together. Now I could care less – I tell him to watch them by himself if he wants. Not a priority. I rush around every night, and his life hasn’t changed one bit. So yes, I’m frustrated.

All this has been piling up, and I know everybody goes through stuff like this with a baby. It’s just so freaking hard on a relationship, isn’t it? Our division of labor at home is not fair – at all. I’ve asked him repeatedly to help me, that I need help especially now that I’m back at work. And he keeps playing that fucking computer game! I’ve been managing fine with all of this, but now that he insults my breast milk and thinks I should quit because pumping takes too much time for something that’s not worth it? I’m so pissed I can barely think straight.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

3 Months!

My baby girl is three months old today! I can’t believe it. Time sure does go very quickly as a mom! I saw a newborn yesterday, less than a week old, and I couldn’t believe how tiny that little girl was, and she weighs the same as mine did when she was born. Alex has grown so fast, and is very healthy. I’m so thankful that she hasn’t been sick yet (knock on wood) and is doing so well! I am doing an awful job at writing stuff down while it happens, so I thought I would share some of the latest events here. Forgive me if this is boring, but it’s interesting to me… :)

Schedule & Feeding: A few weeks ago, as soon as we got back from Colorado (she was 10 weeks at the time), knowing that I was going to start work in two weeks, we started implementing a schedule, loosely based on Babywise, specifically the ordering of activities: eat, play, sleep. We have now established a loose schedule, and a bedtime routine, and these have helped us go from waking at least four times per night to waking usually once, and a few nights we haven’t had any waking at all! And there has been no crying it out in our household. We’ve had a little crying (mostly on my part) but no more than 5 minutes at a time. She’s way too young for the real CIO stuff, even if Babywise tells you otherwise.

Here is our schedule of feeding: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm, 7:30pm (or so). There is a nap within every increment except after the 6 pm feeding. That increment has feeding, play, bath, another feeding, bedtime. Then the hubs wakes her up about 10:30-11 pm for a dream feed. Then on the nights she wakes up, she usually wakes around 3 am. At the time of starting a schedule, I pretty much stopped nursing, except about once per day, but it’s sporadic, and really more of a treat than a planned event. I like knowing how much she is eating, and Alex seems to do better with full feedings, which we can control more considering I don’t make much milk. She eats between 4-5 ounces at each feeding, 2-3 ounces at her dreamfeed, and if she wakes up in the middle of the night, I try to get at least 3 ounces in her. If I let her fall asleep without eating enough (which happens a lot!) then she wakes up an hour or two later. That’s what happened during the first 10 weeks of her life. Due to my low milk supply, she would eat a little, act satisfied, and then want more an hour later. So then I would give her some formula, and then she would want more an hour or two later. Repeat and repeat – ALL DAY LONG!!! She never got a full feeding, and she never got more than an hour or two of sleep at a time. Which meant that I never slept either! So now I only pump, or mostly, and feed her using bottles. And both of us seem much happier! In total, she eats between 24-30 ounces each day, and usually about 15 of that is breast milk. I think (hope) that this will continue to provide her with the nutrients and immunities she needs, especially when she starts daycare on March 1. I would love to get her to 100% breast milk, but I am finally starting to accept that this may not happen… (although stay tuned – I placed an order for domperidone from an online pharmacy in India) This is taking a lot of conviction, as every day I think about quitting this pumping madness. Especially as she’s starting to sleep through some nights, and I’m still waking up to pump!

Milestones: She smiles a ton, and has started little giggles. Not real laughs, but little gasps which seem like giggles. She really seems like she’s figuring out the world, and it’s all so fascinating! She loves watching the TV, which I hate as I can picture her little brain cells frying while I watch her. So I keep it off as much as possible, but daddy doesn’t agree with this approach… In the last week, and especially the last few days, she’s fascinated by her hands. I sit her up on the couch, supported by the cushions, and all she does is stare at her hands, moving them around. So very cute watching her discover these things! She grabs onto toys a little, and starts to bat them around. She loves her activity gym, and makes squealing noises, kicking her legs, watching the lights and listening to the music. She’s not a fan of tummy time, as she starts grunting and then yelling about five minutes in. One time when she was real little (maybe 1 month old) she rolled from her tummy to her back, but she hasn’t done it since. She consistently rolls onto her left side while in her crib. And once she’s on her side, she seems to push her way around, up to 180 degrees from how she was when she first laid down! So cute finding her all rolled up on her side – just like I like to sleep. She also is figuring out her mouth, and is having fun sticking her tongue out at us. I’m not really sure if she’s imitating us, or if we’re imitating her, but it’s a fun game.

Size: Daddy bought her an infant scale, so we just put her on the other day. She’s over 13 pounds now! She’s definitely chunked out a little once we started feeding her by bottles. I don’t think she was necessarily starving before, but she seems happier now that she’s eating more at a time. And her thighs are so very cute – starting to get some rolls! She can’t wear any of her 0-3 month clothes anymore – they’re too short. They’re fine by width but she’s too long for them. So we’ve transitioned her to six month clothes. But it’s so sad looking at the bags of clothes in her closet that she can no longer wear! And she will be wearing size 2 diapers soon, as soon as we finish up her size 1 – they’re getting a little small.

Health: In general she’s been very healthy. She had a horrible diaper rash from about weeks 3 – 10. We finally got rid of it with a regime of light cornstarch-based powder first, then thick layer of cream (we were using a prescription diaper cream (Happy Hiney) and now are back to max strength desitin), then another dusting of powder. When it was real bad, we stopped using wipes and would use Viva paper towels in warm water, real gently. We went back to sensitive wipes when it got better, but I see a couple spots that are a little iffy, so we may go back to paper towels soon. Also she has some sort of rash or dry skin or eczema or something on her face. For her first two months, she had perfect skin on her face – it almost seemed unfair when most newborns’ skin looks so awful! But in the last month she’s had some funky stuff on her face. Some dryness, some bumps. I have been putting Eucerin and some natural oils on her face, and it helps some with the scaly parts, but some of it is still rough. It doesn’t seem to bother her, but I miss her perfect skin! And the other thing is the spit-up. Boy can that girl create some fountains out of her mouth! We recently switched from the drop-ins bottles to Dr. Browns, and that has seemed to help a little, at least with the pain that spitting up seems to cause. But it’s still there. It’s mostly a laundry problem, but sometimes she seems like it really hurts, which makes me feel awful! It does seem to be better with breast milk versus formula, so that encourages me when I’m getting up in the middle of the night to pump, but it’s still not perfect.

So those are the main things. All in all, things are perfect. I give her a bath every night, which is our special time. And during that bath I tell her how much I love her, and how every day I’m reminded how lucky I am to have her in my life. She’s the best part of my life, and I’m still amazed that I get to be her mother. I can’t wait for her to grow bigger and tell me what she’s thinking, but I wish she would stay this perfect little bundle of goodness forever.

And for those of you that made it through this lengthy update, here is a snap from this morning, wearing my favorite onesie for my little IVF baby. Made with Love (and Science!)