Tag Archives: newborn

*Note to self

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(Originally written: October 15, 2009)

A Baby's Playground

It seems that every day I have a day from hell, Jax gives me the next day, and maybe even the next, of rest and joy. I keep having to remember that she is a human being too and maybe on some days she has a bad day, doesn’t feel well, or wants to be moody. I mean, she is a girl 🙂

I also have to remember that her growth right now is insane. For all I know, her crankiness could literally be due to growing pains!

Yesterday and today she has slept a lot, which in the past states that she’s in growth spurt time. Her smiles have been readily available and she’s talking to all the inanimate objects in her room.. “learning” to talk. It’s actually quite cool to watch, but I keep looking for things to stimulate her. All I do is watch where she is looking and explain each thing that she’s looking at.

Earlier today, it was her lamp. Little did I know all the cool stuff we bought at IKEA would be a baby’s playground 🙂

Thankfully I’m almost back to normal. I’m also fairly certain that if I get enough sleep I can deal with anything.

Although there are some tough decisions to make and work to get in action about to re-create my life, I have gotten some inspiration over the past couple days and I guess it’s time to act on it.

The life of a mom.. or maybe, it’s just the life of a woman.

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Inspiration? What a concept

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(Originally written: October 14, 2009)

I just saw that it was exactly a month since I last wrote. Wow. It seems like that was many, many months ago.. it just goes to show that having a newborn has you tethered to the clock and has a day feel like a week in itself.

Yesterday I was feeling somewhat desperate. This happens once and a while. Jax will be crying all day for no apparent reason, and I wonder how I’m going to get thru the day, no less the days following the bad one. So Dr. Phil comes on today (and as an aside, I know people will make fun of me for liking him and watching his show, but for whatever reason, his advice has worked for me on a number of occasions and I like things that work, so there) and show happens to be about “Stay at home moms vs. Working moms.” There was this really uppity woman in the audience that was a “stay at home mom” that was very, very angry. She had opinions, but they really were judgments. She made all the other stay at home moms embarrassed and the working moms pissed off. Go Jessica.

On the show, Heather B. Armstrong was in the audience. She has a blog called dooce.com. I checked it out as soon as Phil mentioned it, as I knew it would probably be flooded with people trying to get on. I looked at the blog and found it interesting.. I haven’t gone back into much of the archives, but seeing that she is an award-winning blogger, I thought it would be “more” than what I see, but again, that was just at first look.

I bring this up as she gave me the inspiration to blog on my current experience–very candidly. Maybe even daily. I have been told by a number of people how great of a writer I am, and I’m honestly not worried about being candid, etc. I also feel that I have a stance on being a mother that not many have–or maybe it’s that we are scared and embarrassed to share so we stay isolated in our houses talking to ourselves or to our babies that don’t even understand English yet.

I just ran this idea by a friend of mine as one of my only concerns was that Jax would see this later in life and it would be tough to read. He said if he saw a blog from his mom later in life, he’d probably have a good laugh reading it. So here we are.

I still need to write my “Breastfeeding Basics: The Real Basics” blog as I think I have an obligation to write it. There are some things in life where I feel I need to let other people know, and in this case new moms who choose to breastfeed, that they are not alone. Usually when I feel this, I did feel alone at the time and due to my research and own day to day goings on, I feel it could help others.

I will write that blog and I know I need to fairly soon as the weeks are passing by quickly and I may forget some of the juicy details. But man, were those 4 of the longest and most challenging weeks in my life–ever.

But I digress.

I know that I’ll have time to blog each day, even if it’s just a paragraph, as you can see from this one, I have a lot of time on my hands. This doesn’t mean that I’m up, eating Doritos all day and watching TV.. it just means my baby is sleeping, I feel awake and I now can interact, even if it’s on a blog or Facebook, with other adults.

I’m at a point now, at 11 weeks today, that I’m feeling isolated. I feel even more isolated than I did when Jax first came home. I think that was due to people checking in all the time, knowing that my husband and I would be on sleep dep, and generally that’s the time when you really need a lot of help. I’m blessed that I got the help I did from a few people and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, but what happens now?

I just completed my first mom’s group last week. I had expectations that were not met, and here I am again disappointed. This happens a lot. I did meet a couple women who I’d like to keep in contact with, but I’m also old enough to know the reality of that. Unless we see each other at least weekly for the next couple months, everyone will have their lives and that will be that. I also found when I was in the group that out of 10 moms, I was the ONLY ONE STAYING HOME. Although I guess I should have expected that due to the economy, I had yet another expectation that didn’t get met. In a room of new moms, I was still alone.

I just reached out on Facebook and to some past colleagues at Berklee regarding what I could do with an 11 week old that didn’t include being stuck in the house. Luckily I got a response from one of my colleagues fairly quickly with some sites to review. I’m hoping there’s a listing for mom’s like me, because if I have to wait another 3 months before I do anything, I think I will be severely depressed. Why is it that most baby groups start at 6 months?????

Maybe writing will help me stay sane. It has in the past, but that was with the “old fashioned paper and pen method.” I still like that method, but I sure can type a lot faster than I can write, so we’ll stay with this bloggy here.

To close for now, a big shout out to Heather for the inspiration, Dr. Phil for having her on and having a show on moms, and my friend D for encouraging me to not care about the future so much and do what makes me happy NOW.

That sounds like a plan.

Find me on Facebook (if you add me, let me know you read my blog!):
facebook.com/KathyGaalaas

Twitter:
twitter.com/djkatg

The First Four Weeks

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(Originally written September 14, 2009)

4 weeks med
Me and Jackie at 4 weeks old

I have been writing a couple blogs in my head the last few weeks.. I am on week 7 of my newborn, Jackie. She is amazing and it’s been a lifetime of learning in a few short weeks. My first 4 weeks were amazing and hell all at once.

I hadn’t been around babies much and never a newborn. Although I was told over and over “you will know what to do” I knew better. I tend to be a realist bordering on pessimist so I wasn’t expecting happy bunnies, rainbows and butterflies when we came home. Well, butterflies, yes, but more on the anxious side.

Regarding my experience at the hospital, the Tufts staff was amazing. My labor and delivery was 12.5 hours and I couldn’t have asked for better care. I don’t know how nurses do it there. They are dealing with people in extreme pain, possibly on drugs to deaden it, and in a way, out of their minds. All I got from my head nurse was a soft tone, kindness and someone who continued to give me options without any input from her. I was able to make all my decisions on my own (along with my husband) and they had all the confidence in me when at times I didn’t.

When I made it to the postpartum floor, it was along the same lines. I did expect that nurses and staff would come in more often, but in essence, they didn’t come in to check on you unless you asked. It was kind of “tough love” in a way. You’re in the bed, your sleeping baby beside you.. you gotta figure it out. They were there with a push of a button, but basically we were on our own.

Although scary at first, I ended up liking it as it prepared me (somewhat) for being at home. At least at home I’d get a more comfortable bed–but I’d also not have a nurse to take my baby to the nursery if I wanted to get some sleep.

Overall, everything was fine when we returned home, other than some breastfeeding issues. I will tackle that in another blog, but this was an area that I did NOT research enough and I regret it. I am lucky that Jackie is resilient, didn’t have any sort of nipple confusion and ate well, but I had no idea that I would be pumping early, that I would be SO engorged that the milk almost wouldn’t flow, and that I would be dealing with these types of issues upon our return home.

If I had it to do over? I’d throw away all those “what to expect” books and focus all my energy on breastfeeding. Although I took a class, talked to people, etc., there’s only so much you can learn before you actually do it.

My first week started that way.. exhausted and feeling like a milk machine; it was all I could do to not give up. I had a couple bouts of “this was a bad idea” over the week, but thanks to my husband, I came back to Earth and kept moving forward. I had done all my research (as much as I could) prior to the baby, but it really comes down to hands on learning, as I said before.

Things were awkward for both of us in the beginning.. even just changing a diaper was a chore.. what would we unveil every time we changed her?? We just kept going, every 3 hours, and things got easier. It’s actually fairly tough though, as babies really don’t know how you are at that time and have no long-term memory, so it’s like each time they see you it’s like the first time. I found it psychologically difficult.. there’s no reaction to things you do from the baby.. you just have to trust that you are making a difference.

The following weeks were full of trying to get sleep, working on the breastfeeding and keeping myself sane. It was finally sunny here in Boston, but I was stuck in the house a lot due to just being exhausted or thinking about all I had to do just to get her out in the stroller. I later got over that, but once again, the entire thing is overwhelming. I thought that once she was born, I’d be out gallivanting around, but I forgot about the sleep, or lack of it.

Another issue we ran into is that we had a sleepy baby. I thought something was wrong with her, but later (too much later), we found out we should have been counting our blessings. The kid slept in her crib from day one and wanted to sleep. We were waking her every 3 hours, even overnight. Once again, found out thru another nurse at her pediatrician’s office that we could have let her sleep through the night. Oh well. It’s the old “live and learn” routine.

After a couple weeks of getting bombarded with advice about sleep from you name it, my husband and I decided to just follow her lead. That was my first major lesson: FOLLOW THE BABY. She knew what she needed and all we had to do was watch and listen for her cues. Once I did that, things got a lot easier and I gained a bit of confidence.

Speaking of confidence, one of my fears about having a baby was that I wouldn’t know what to do when she cried. I had an incident when I was 12 while babysitting a newborn. The kid cried, I couldn’t console him and had to call my mom. Embarrassing. From then, I swore off kids under 3. Later babysitting jobs were toddlers and older, and even working with kids once I graduated college, they were teens or I could choose who I worked with.. never with babies.

When I had my first encounter with Jackie crying, I found myself anxious, but with tons of patience and peace. I wasn’t sure if I was just so exhausted or if something transformed. But after a few bouts of her crying, I actually consoled her, she stopped crying and that incident was “complete.” My husband was shocked. It was amazing to experience a completion in the moment, but I knew at that moment I could take care of her and everything would be OK.

From there, all I had to do was focus on the breastfeeding issues and not quit. If it weren’t for my husband, the book “The Nursing Mother’s Companion,” other breastfeeding mom friends, and our amazing Lactation Consultant, Beth, I know I would have quit. It just goes to show “it takes a village.”

Slowly but surely, we started to see changes in Jackie each week. She initially started sleeping in her crib, was fairly quiet and then it started to ramp up where she wanted to be around us a lot, she was sleeping in with us (or us with her), and she was getting more vocal. I found with babies that nothing really goes in chronological order. 🙂 What we expected at the beginning didn’t happen and it seems to be going backwards, but really, it’s not.

Basically, what we found was that she just wanted to be around us more. She was getting to know us, trust us and wanted to be touched, held and loved. We had, and have, no problem doing that. 🙂

The fussiness also started to ramp up, but as we left week 4 and headed out to week 6-7, that tended to subside. I also have been seeing a recent reaction to my food now (going into week 7) where I didn’t before. Again, it’s a learning experience every day.. every week.

All in all, the first 4 weeks were the hardest 4 weeks of my life and also the most transformative. I was in a situation that I could not get out of and throughout my life I have always had an out in things. It pushed me to the limits of what I thought was possible with myself, and I overcame it. Yet again, I couldn’t have done it without the help of family, a very close friend (thanks Babs!), my loving and attentive husband and several patient professionals. I’m sure I will be calling on all of them (and more) over the weeks, months, and years.

I’m creating my “mom-hood” and it can actually be pretty cool. I have been able to do things I’ve wanted to do, and some I’ve had to restructure, but overall, I’m still me. I really don’t want to lose myself in all of this.. I just want “mom” to be an additional way of being and not have it take over my identity. My hope and stand in the matter is that it makes me a better person.

Jackie has already turned out to be extraordinary and it brings tears to my eyes to think about where she is now in comparison to the IUI procedure we had back in November of ’08. How literal cells can get transformed into an actual human being with emotions, wants, needs, thoughts, etc. is amazing and miraculous.

As I am ending this, my little one is starting to “ask” for food so I will end here. 🙂

More to come…