Friday, June 27, 2008

Denial turns to Resignation

I've been ignoring the fact that my maternity leave ends very soon. With that end comes the return to work. I've been saying "I have leave for 12 weeks " for a while. I'm about to begin week 12 this Monday. A friend of mine suggested I talk to my husband about him paying me to stay home, which is what she and her husband did. I can't bring myself to do it, because I already know the answer is no. It's not because he's a heartless bastard, but we can't afford another nine months on one salary.

I don't want to go back, but I gotta. Especially since my credit card company called to ask if I was ok because I missed a payment, which is so unlike me. I explained that I am on unpaid leave and my money ran out before June's payment was due. The woman on the other end wasn't too sad for me. My account is in the red, and the bills are only going to keep piling up.

There is nothing I'd rather do than stay at home with my baby. To care for the baby I've waited for, the one we planned to have. (Though many of you would say not carefully enough. If you knew you wanted to be able to stay home with her for a while, why didn't you plan for that?) I don't want someone else taking care of her. I don't want a stranger watching my baby. It's taken me almost twelve weeks to learn who she is now. I don't want to hand her over to someone else who will become her caretaker, and get to know her better than me.

Tallu can't talk, she can't tell me how good or bad her day was, or if anything happened to her. I know I'm being paranoid, and maybe looking to make excuses. But I really want to be with her.
I want to be at home with her, changing her diaper, taking her for walks, watching her grow. My mom stayed home with my sister and me, and I swore I would do that for my children.

As I was telling Tallu, being an adult means you do things because you have to, not because you want to. I have to go back to work, so I have to hand my child over to someone else to care for her while I am at work. Women do it every day with babies younger than mine. I will just have to suck it up and trust that Tallu will be okay in someone else's care. Babies are very adaptable. She will be fine. She'll love it, even. She'll wake up looking forward to going to daycare, and she'll cry when she has to come home.

I've got to prepare for this inevitability both mentally and phsyically. I have to start pumping a hell of a lot of milk and freezing it. I'll have to start a feeding schedule and feeding her from a bottle at home, so she's really used it. I'll also have to feed her less, and stop offering her the boob every time she cries. (Many breastfed babies use the boob as a pacifier, and want to nurse because it's comforting as well as nourishing.) That leads to picking her up every time she cries, for which the church ladies have already chided me, which will also have to cease.

I'm not ready for this, but I did it to myself.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let the Weaning Begin

No, I'm not weaning her from breastfeeding. We've come too far to stop now. My doula said the day would come that I will love it. I guess I should admit that day came a while ago :-)

We get to wean Milady from yon harness!

The three of us went to CHOP yesterday, and were given the weaning schedule. Drs. Chan and Flynn checked her legs, both are stable in the hip sockets. Each week she has a set amount of hours out of the harness, which culminates in her only sleeping in the harness at night for the final week of weaning.

We were supposed to start yesterday, but a friend of mine from middle/high school came through Phila on his way to Toronto. When we got home it was nearing Tallu's bedtime, so we decided we'd wait another day to take her out of it. That was a smart decision - I know I passed out soon after I put her down to sleep.

Dad did the honors, since he was so upset about not being able to take her out of the harness after the last visit. Tallu's on the two hour stretch this week, which was enough time for a bath. Yes, she had a real bath in her little tub! The harness reeks, so it was also bath time for that thing too. Dad disinfected it while Tallu enjoyed her bath. It was a delight to be able to see all of her, to touch her legs and her feet. To wash her little calves and her feet. I even hesitated when putting her diaper on, because for the first time in weeks I didn't have to thread the diaper tab through the back leg strap.

Tallu looks so different outside of that contraption. It was like seeing Wonder Woman as her alter ego. I haven't seen her without it since she was three weeks old, I think, save the non-harmess stress test day. I could see now how much our baby has grown since we all came home in March. She's fattening up, which is a good thing. Tallu has a big head and a small neck! I forgot she even had a neck, it's always covered up by the harness. She's getting long, too. I couldn't tell, since her legs are always bent at a 90 degree angle.

I will have to re-learn how to hold her when she's out of the harness, since it does support her pretty well. But I think we will all enjoy this weaning period. It was wonderful to get to feel her and not the straps that have kept her rigid for the past nine weeks.

The harness has become a part of her, but it's such a relief knowing there is a definite end in sight. By the end of July she'll be a new baby. I'm grateful we found out about the hip dysplasia early and that she's responded so well to the treatment. I just found a site that explains what it is, and it has an illustration of the Wheaton-Pavlik harness, the device she's been wearing to treat the dysplasia.

For all you parents who may have to deal with this, please don't wait to treat the problem. If you're going through it now, follow the doctor's orders. Keep that harness on until your doctor gives you permission to take it off. I understand the temptation to cheat, to take off the harness just once to give the baby a bath. We were definitely tempted during the heatwave. Be strong, and remember, as my Aunt Adrienne said to me last Saturday, "This, too, shall pass."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Girl Time

This is the second time I've been away from Tallu and I don't realize how much I miss her until she's ready to nurse. Nursing time is what I call 'girl time'.

Tonight was daddy-daughter night while I went to the nursing panel. I pumped a few days ago, so my husband fed her while I was gone. They played, she napped, woke up, ate again, he played the drum for her. A good time was had by all.

Soon as I got home the letdown happened- I call it "the tingling." It's less painful now, but I'm still getting used to the sensation. Anyhoo- it wasn't time for Milady to eat again, so I pumped out some more milk for later. She didn't appreciate that- she was watching me pump - and she started crying. So, I had to feed her shortly after pumping, which was fine because it was nearing her bedtime. (That's the great thing about breastfeeding, you don't have to wait for your milk to refill.)

When I came home she didn't look excited to see me- I didn't get the big smile she gives her dad. I grumbled about having to feed her right after pumping. But I got to cradle my little chubbykins and watch her eyes slowly droop as she rested her little hand on my side. She nursed for a long time, which I think is her way of letting me know she's happy to see me.

I saw a baby on the bus, sitting up, making noise, and entertaining himself. A year ago I may have thought "Oh, I want one of those." Tonight I watched him and thought "Tallu will be doing all those things soon", and it made me a little sad. She's only two months old, and already I don't want her to grow up :-D

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All My Booty

Did I tell you guys I'm part of a nursing panel? A lady from one of the chain maternity stores called me to ask if I wanted to take part in a breasfeeding mothers' focus group. I did it, and found out that they also needed volunteers to do product research. I figured I'm broke and I need clothes, so why not?

This is the best racket going!
I have a bag full of shirts, pajamas, nursing pads, and other items from the meeting tonight. Retail value... over $300!

I've been wearing a $55 nursing bra for the past month and didn't even know it, thanks to product research. It's actually a very comfortable nursing bra. It's supportive without being bulky. The bra I received has so tags, so I didn't know it was $55 until the moderator told us tonight. The bra is by Elle MacPherson, and now that I've worn it, I can say it's worth the investment. Your boobs grow during pregnancy, so if you plan on nursing you will wear it for a while.

Right now, I am lounging in a cotton nightgown that will sell for $48 in the store. I will test an organic feeding cover that costs $50. All the stuff I would scoff at in the store ("Who the fuck is gonna pay fifty damned dollars to sleep in some cotton?!") is sitting up in my house, and I paid nada!

I thought nursing tops were a gimmick, and that I would have no need of them. I was so wrong! Ladies, if you plan on nursing, stock up on a few good nursing tops. I'm not just saying this because I'm getting them for free. My doula gave me one of her tops and I loved it. You will be very appreciative when your child starts wailing in a cafe and all you have to do is unhook a strap and latch the baby onto your booby in five seconds without drawing much attention to yourself. Today a man thought Milady was asleep in my arms, but she was actually nursing.

Ah, the power of free merchandise ;-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doing It In Public

This is a record, four posts in two days!

We're getting better at the breastfeeding thing. How good are we? I can nurse her while walking down the street! The fam went to the Odunde Festival two weeks ago, and during the processing Tallu had to eat. It was wicked hot, she was screaming, so I had to nurse her walking across the South Street Bridge. She ate and no one gawked, until I got back to the stage area.

I was sitting down, nursing Milady (that's one of many things I call Tallu), when my mom said to this little girl "Have you ever seen a baby being breastfed?" I guess the girl said no, cuz my mom tells her to come over. So she does! My mom, who did not breastfed me, is the poster-grandma for breastfeeding :-D I think it's great. My aunt, who asked me to warn her when I was nursing so she could be out of the room, actually sat next to me while Milady was feeding.
My motto is the baby's gotta eat, no matter when, no matter where.

It still hurts occasionally, but I am glad I stuck with it. You guys should see Madame Chubbykins- her face and thighs are so fat! All because of my milk- it's very gratifying.

Monday, June 16, 2008


People always want to know when they see a baby in a stroller:
Boy or Girl?
How old?
What's the name?

I answer all these questions, the first two without much thought. I hesitate for a second, but I always give her name to complete strangers. This afternoon while I was nursing Tallu I saw an awful news story. A woman asked another woman if she could take the baby to the store. The other woman said yes. 48 hours later, the two month old is still missing.

Now, I doubt someone is casing the house waiting for an opportunity to snatch my baby. But I'm considering coming up with an alias for my child. (I have friends who never tell their baby's name to strangers, just a nickname.) I also travel the streets with the stroller completely covered up because I don't want people looking at her. (A lot of people have said my baby has kissable lips. She's two months old- don't be looking at my baby's lips!) I'm wary of putting pictures of her on the internet, because I don't want every schlub with internet access to have images of my child. (My husband made an online album and made it public, which still unsettles me.)

Ok, I'm tired, and it's hot in the living room. Plus it's been an hour and a half that Tallu has been in a different room, and I haven't heard any noise on the baby monitor. I gotta make sure she's still in her bassinet...

How U Living?

Dude, we are strugglin, I can't lie. Truth be told, it's my fault. I work part-time and all of my money goes to paying down my debt. Now that I'm on maternity I have no income, and the bills are piling up. Again, my fault. I should have put aside money for now.

Whatever...what's not done is not done. Yet, we eat daily, I'm typing a blog for the internet I can access, watching tv that we have to pay for. We still have an apartment (the rent's late, though, tee hee hee), so really, how badly do we have it?

I cooked dinner tonight. It took a few hours, but I did it. Last week I took a shower AND cleaned the bathtub and sink. I even took an overnight trip with Tallu to NYC last week. That was exciting. We got to visit my fam, and my husband got to live without a crying baby and a cranky wife for 36 hours. That was his Father's Day gift from us. Of course, I'm broke, so he paid for my trip out there. He didn't say anything about it, but that's hardly a gift from me.

My best piece of advice? Don't have children. They cost money. But if you insist- as we did- be prepared, financially. How should we prepare, you ask? Dude, how the hell should I know! You're asking financial advice from a woman who has more debt than her yearly salary... pfft...

Pins and Needles, Part II

We went to CHOP on June 3 for another hip ultrasound and non-harness stress test. Tallu
was free for about two hours. They put her through it with the non-stress test. I didn't think it would hurt, but apparently it did. Ah, it was so exciting to not have a baby in a contraption. She was smiling and kicking, she didn't know what to do first.

I have to say, if I haven't said it already, the staff at CHOP are AWESOME! We hadn't been in weeks, and when Attiya (our doctor's office manager) saw us, she greeted us like we were old friends- she kissed me on the cheek! I felt so special :-) Of course, they all swarmed Tallu, and she was hamming it up! Thank God we're not going to CHOP for anything life-threatening, but it is comforting to know that even the support staff cares about us and our daughter.

Back to the harness... the docs are still very pleased with her progress and the improvements are strong and steady. The good news is they've officially ruled out surgery or a body cast to correct the hip dysplaxia. The sucky part is that milady is still in the damned harness. Tallu and her dad took the news pretty hard. I swear, as soon as the doc said "we'll keep her in the harness for three more weeks" she started wailing. She and her dad needed a few minutes once the harness was back on and the docs left the room.

The three of us are sick of this thing. (well, I say that, but I assume Tallu is) It was especially difficult through the heatwave. It would've been nice to give her a bath, but we still can't take her out of the harness. I am tempted every day to take it off, but I remember how excited her docs were at each check. We can't risk setbacks for a twenty minute bath.

So, when will she be free? We don't know. Next week we go for another harness check, and I believe we will begin the weaning schedule. The docs never give a deadline. We go in, they like the progress, then they say what happens next, we go home and wonder: when will this be finished?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pins and Needles, Part I

Doctor's visit updates...
Last week was the immunization appointment.
She had six immunizations: five shots, one liquid (that was for rotovirus). It would have been four shots, but we hesitated on the Hepatitis B shot. Tallu's dad and I were on the fence about doing it, but we decided to for two reasons. First, we want her to be able to register for school when the time comes. Second, they've taken out thimerosol in the vaccine, which has been linked to autism in children according to some studies.
I've heard from many moms how tough this appointment is on both mom and baby. I thought these women were just overly sensitive. But I have joined the club. Tallu wasn't crying, like she is right now. She was screaming, blood was trickling down her chubby little thigh, and all I could do was stroke her cheek and tell her how brave she was, and what a big girl she was, and remind her that it was no worse than when the doctors put the cast on, or slapped her in a harness. When the doctor left, I picked her up and rocked her while the tears ran down my cheeks. Lucky for Tallu, she got some Tylenol after the ordeal. I got no compensatory drugs.
I don't know how many dads attend this appointment. My mom said my dad went when I got my shots and vowed never to go again because she cried worse than I did. I don't remember the appointment, so I can neither confirm nor deny his allegations. I would recommend that both parents go, so you can be moral support for each other. But if you do have to be the lone adult, be brave for the baby during the shots, then whimper together after the doc leaves.