Wow

What a difference a week and a half makes. Maggie got seriously grouchy and extra wheezy, so I hauled her into the pediatrician’s office. She was diagnosed with acid reflux caused by overeating, clocking in at just under 11 pounds at five and a half weeks. Below-average weight gain would have indicated reflux of a different nature, but Maggie’s weight gain was well above the average (even when I realized I was leaning on the scale and moved). Maggie’s ped seems to think she has an extra-strong sucking reflex, and nurses to relax as well as to eat. Unfortunately she overeats, spits up quite a bit, and then hurts so she wants to nurse more for comfort, perpetuating the cycle. The acid irritated her little throat and breathing passages so she was wheezing and whistling like a teakettle. We put her on a new feeding routine and a small dose of antacid with her meals. She is out of her newborn clothes and solidly filling out her 0-3 month outfits, which is a shame because I wanted her auntie to see Maggie in the alien pajamas she gave us.

Goes to show that you should never say never. I had never intented to use a swing or a pacifier; I liked the idea of wearing her everywhere and didn’t like the idea of a grubby plug. However, Maggie’s calling the shots around here. After a period of fussiness in which I simply could not comfort her by rocking, bouncing, swaying, holding close, etc., my mother said “Please, put that baby down for a minute.” And lo and behold, it was like flipping a switch–fussing stopped, smiles started. Apparently I was the same as a baby, always pushing off my mom’s chest and fussy when I was being snuggled too much. Maggie has a similar “Put me down, damn you” attitude. She will be snuggled if she’s tired–sometimes–but is often equally happy to be put in the swing we were given as a gift to look around. I don’t put here there and leave her, but when we put her in the middle of the room and converse with her, she’s nothing but smiles and coos. I used to wear her in the wrap for naps all the time and depending on her mood I still do, but coming into the heat of the Hawaiian summer she also enjoys being parked in her travel bed directly under a nice breezy window. Her best naps are taken sprawled out under a big fan. Maggie is not a baby who likes to be warm. We use the pacifier infrequently but it seems to help her relax quite a bit, without the unfortunate spit up.

Between not holding her as much, the antacid, and giving into a pacifier to fulfill her sucking needs, she is a whole new baby. Since she’s not overeating and spitting up like before, her breathing has improved, she’s waking and feeding on her own like clockwork, and her moods when she’s awake are incredibly pleasant. It’s a little bit of a bummer having a baby who isn’t really into snuggling, but I love that she has an independent little mind of her own. It’s also a good reminder that our ideas about how we want to parent should be based on Maggie’s needs, not a general philosophy or ideology. Maggie is her own person, and listening to and respecting her cues has made her even more delightful than before.

Starting Week 6

Maggie turned five weeks old on Friday. Already she’s closing in on ten pounds and starting to lose her silky fine newborn hair. (I can’t talk about that without getting sniffly. One step close to adulthood for my baby.) It’s been a wild ride for us.

What has life been like with Maggie? Well, she has started to develop a nice little personality. Friends, her pediatrician and yoga instructor have commented on how mellow and relaxed she is. Yes, you did read that correctly–since I was cleared for exercise, Maggie and I have started Mom and Baby Yoga class. It’s less intense than most yoga classes and half of the participants are encouraged to eat and sleep through the class if that’s what makes them happy. We can participate in about 1/3-1/2 of the exercises before Maggie decides that it’s time to eat again.

Speaking of which, she eats a lot. Her standard feeding is 20 minutes on each side, if she can get a good rhythm. She likes to growl at her food, often grunting and cooing as she downs her meal. There has been a lot of volcanic fog of late, so she has been congested from the dust and ash. It makes her snorty and gives us some trouble feeding, which makes her gassy as she swallows air when she eats. She does have a serious temper, which reveals itself when I remove her from the breast so I can burp her if I hear her swallowing air. She makes what I call the “face of rage,” and her little mouth crumples into the saddest little frown you’ve ever seen before launching into an indignant hoot before I can get her re-latched.

The Face of Rage also shows itself in the car. Maggie is such a good baby, but the one fly in the ointment is that she hates her car seat, and there is no comfort whatsoever for that. It’s not like I can take her out to comfort her; I even tried the pacifier, which I swore I wouldn’t use, to calm her in her seat but she decided the pacifier was a bullshit nipple and wouldn’t have it. It’s just as well as the thought of being a slave to a grimy rubber nipple until…oh, I was four when I gave mine up…did not appeal. Anyway, she hates, hates, hates her car seat, but she’s getting better about it and only cries if the car is stopped. Then she shrieks. Sometimes she’ll wear herself out and fall asleep, which makes me feel terrible, but there’s really no other option. We have to go somewhere, she has to sit in a car seat. Life is terribly unfair and it’s time she started getting used to that in small doses. ;) Typically she pays me back with thunderous reports from her behind, copious poo-splosions that cover upwards of 50% of the inside of her diaper and announce themselves with stuttering, trumpeting farts that routinely horrify her father.

One area where we got totally lucky was her nighttime schedule. She’s recently begun sleeping for three hour stretches, bringing the nightly feeds to 11ish, 2ish, and 5ish before she’s up for good around 7am. Then she tanks up for an hour or better in the morning and spends much of the afternoon snacking away. We greet the day nursing lying down and I talk to her about the day’s events.

Much of the day is spent at home, working on tummy time or eating, but Maggie spends much of her time on the exercise ball. We don’t have space for a proper rocking chair so we sit on an exercise ball and very gently bounce to soothe her post-meal. And bounce. And bounce. And bounce. We figure if every bounce were one step, we’d have walked halfway to Los Angeles by now. But if she doesn’t fall completely asleep eating and she’s due for a nap, the bounce gets her the rest of the way there. Our thigh muscles are starting to look fabulous.

Her muscles are also fabulous, strong legs and arms and a nice strong neck. She is not overly fond of tummy time but tolerates it well enough. She has nice round cheeks that provide an excellent cushion while she sleeps on our chests. Maggie also has darling little bracelets on her wrists and ankles; small little pudgy circles from where she has rounded out. I love to raspberry them, and her round little belly.

So that’s life with Maggie. Not much to it, but it’s everything to us.

Clothaholic

Four weeks into cloth diapers with Maggie, I must say that I really love how it’s working out. There are some things I would do differently, but overall it’s been a great experience. I wouldn’t recommend reading the following entry unless you have a vested interest in doing this yourself, or are just really curious about how we bundle Maggie’s bottom. Some people are adamant about not using synthetics at all in their diapers; I think if our budget had permitted and I was more ambitious, we would consider prefolds and wool covers. As it is, we are a) lazier than those people and b) less concerned with synthetics than with daycare compatibility later on, so we went with pocket diapers–fitted diapers you stuff with an absorbent stuffer in varying thicknesses. Awesome for 3 a.m. changes when I can barely open my eyes.

We ordered about 20 BumGenius 3.0 diapers, which have a fold-down tab to accommodate a newborn’s cord stub. If I could do it again, I would have purchased a supply of newborn size prefolds and then used them as diaper stuffers when Maggie outgrew them, but these worked fine. You can buy these with snap closures to avoid loud velcro waking up the baby, but after watching the entire run of “The Sopranos” on DVD during my pregnancy, Maggie sleeps through just about everything. I prefer the velcro because it gets a snugger fit and Maggie doesn’t notice the noise. She’s swell like that.

Because smaller babies go through more diapers, I got a supply of 8 Happy Heinys size small pocket diapers to augment my stash. Would NOT buy these again. The reviews on them were mixed but the majority skewed positive, so I went with them. Big mistake–the fabric wicks liquid right out the leg holes on the diaper, and more often than not Maggie woke up with a wet outfit (or I got a lapful of baby urine. Rock.). We don’t use them at all anymore and I’m trying to sell them to someone unsuspecting. The only time she has wicking with the BGs is at night and she sleeps longer than I anticipate. She sometimes sleeps for 3.5-4 hours, and if I don’t remember to use the larger, thicker stuffer there’s dampness at the top edge of the diaper. Otherwise, awesome.

Wipes: we have a dozen Egyptian cotton wipes (which I can’t find now on the internet and just as well, I don’t like them very much as the edges curl up too much), a dozen of these flannel wipes, two packs of these Thirsties I got as a gift, and then 30 of these wipes I found on Etsy in various designs (the double wipes, not the singles). Big thumbs up on the Etsy wipes, they scrub well but are still quite soft. The Thirsties work pretty well but I’ve started using them primarily to clean Maggie’s face of spitup (she’s a horker) because they are so soft. I make my own wipe solution just about weekly using a little glycerin soap and a bit of baby oil. So far, so good!

Bags: I have four wet bags, two larger ones to line my pail and two small to carry in the diaper bag. I rotate them when I do the laundry. I have the Bummis bag and the Swaddlebees bag, overall I prefer the Swaddlebees because the material is a bit more flexible but I’d recommend either. If you like lots of pretty colors and patterns, I’d go with the Swaddlebees.

Laundry: soak and prewash on cold, a bit of regular Tide detergent and baking soda in the regular wash cycle on warm, white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Some small stains on the stuffers, none on the diapers themselves. I have a smaller pail so I wash about every day or every other day, depending. I have a big enough supply to go longer and will probably get a bigger pail someday when leaving the house isn’t such a big f-ing production.

Cloth for me: disposable nursing pads are TERRIBLE and leave funky fibers stuck to you. Gross. I bought a half dozen of these nursing pads on Etsy and am quite pleased–worked overnight with no leaking, nice and large, and the fabric is fun. As for other matters, I am convinced my healing would be progressing faster if I had just bit the bullet and invested in cloth pads for myself instead of these awful Always things. I hadn’t used them in years and forgot how much I hate them. Those are also sold on Etsy, cheaper than the kind you might find at Whole Foods. I’m healing well, I just…hate to crinkle. Ick.

So that’s my rundown! I think for future babies I might try to edge out into the prefold world, especially in newborn sizes. As it is I am quite happy with our purchases (save those damn Happy Heiny moneywasters) and hope this is helpful/convincing to anyone on the fence!

ETA: We realized that without the HH diapers, we were doing laundry constantly. (Maggie is a frequent and heavy wetter.) So I ordered some cloth prefolds and waterproof covers after all. Will report on how I like them.

Trippin’

Getting away from the baby for a while, here are some trips that we would love to take:

Bali and Java, Indonesia: this would be great for Maggie when she was a little bit older. Old enough to appreciate the monkey forest and the beach, little enough to still be relatively portable.

Portland, OR and Seattle, WA: visit all those microbreweries in Portland, take the train up to Seattle, enjoy the local music and food scene.

Wellington, New Zealand: as a potential next location, I’d love to check it out first. Tom was there in February and declared it “the perfect city”: great climate, good public transportation, lots of great wine and food, good people.

Tokyo: Japan sounds like fun and I’ve never been to a country that doesn’t have an alphabet.

Three Weeks

In honor of the three-week anniversary of Maggie’s appearance, here are a few of the places I’ve nursed her in that time:

Campground parking lot

Honolulu Airport baggage claim F

Romy’s Shrimp Truck waiting for an order

Pediatrician’s waiting room

Leaning over her car seat in a parking lot waiting for her dad (attempt not so successful, required temporary deployment of binky for the five minutes it took to get home)

Every available sitting surface in the house

Happy three weeks, you chubby little monkey!