Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Seven Months

This update feels a little bittersweet. My baby has passed the half way point and is closer to being a toddler than an infant. It's so incredible to look through her pictures and appreciate how much she has changed even if I can't notice a difference on a day to day basis. Perhaps the most tangible difference occured a few weeks ago when she tried to wiggle out of my arms while I was cuddling her. Sigh, where did my little infant who could rest in my arms like a loaf of bread go? Soon enough she'll be walking, eating real food and maybe even talking. Time, please slow down..

Nicknames: Cup Kate, Button, Little Bunny, Kater Tot

Weight: 17 lbs 11 oz
Length: 26.5 inches

Teeth: The anticipation is killing us. So, we think we've had all.the.symptoms. Drooling perfusely -check. Biting everything in sight -check. Decreased interest in eating -check.  Difficulty sleeping -check, check. Irritability -check. Everything except for the emergency of any pearly whites. We've had a few really bad nights where she would wake frequently, or take a long time to get back to sleep, so we'll give her some Infants' Advil, thinking this might finally be the real thing, only to discover, no we've just been drugging our daughter. Many years ago we had some issues with our late cat Angus, who was upset about something and decided to boycott the litter box. We loaded him up on catnip and he was so mellow that he got over whatever it was that was bothering him again and returned to using his kitty bathroom. I speculated, "Oh, won't we make good parents if we think drugs are the answer.."

Eating: As she doesn't have any teeth yet, I'm glad we're doing purees, especially as I noticed she pushes out the slightest chunk. I'm finding that I have to pre-mash the vegtables before putting them into the baby bullet in order to get a nice perfectly smooth consistency. We started with squash, and then went to peas, which we thought she liked, but apparently she spits them out at Day Care, and they kept writing "doesn't like peas" on her daily report before we finally got the hint; to stop putting the peas in her Day Care bag. The next thing we tried was bananas, which she absolutely loved. I can't blame her, I had a spoonful myself. It's delicious and I'm thinking of blending a banana for dessert and pretending that it's ice cream. Introducing carrots and avacado also coincided with her possible teething and cold + ear infection, so it was hard to tell how well they really were received. She'll often put her hands in her mouth after eating a spoonful, and I discovered bits of food on her lap and down the side of her highchair, which seems to be her version of spitting into your napkin. Co-worker suggested adding some banana to the carrots, which was a big hit. (I tried a sample myself, it is much better!) Apparently in a baby's world, it's not bacon that makes everything better, it's banana.

Sleep: It is such a moving target. She spoiled us by sleeping through the night after two months. I was terrified about the four month sleep regression, and sure enough she started waking during the night at that age. However, she would nurse and go back to sleep quite quickly, which wasn't too bad. Intermittently, she would still sleep through the night, but never more than two nights in a row. About a week or so after her six month birthday, she hit a new personal best and slept all night long for four consecutive nights. We were begining to think that we might go back to life from 2-4 months, but then it all unraveled. She broke her four night streak by waking every two hours, which I think is more frequent that when she was a newborn. Now, she's been averaging about 2-3 wakes per night and a good night is defined as just one waking. If it happens before midnight, then it's a very good night.

We have made some progress with sleep training. While Husband was away, I worked on putting her to bed awake and after three nights, she was falling asleep in less than ten minutes, with a bit of a babblish/light crying. Recently, she's been so tired that she falls asleep while nursing and seems to resist my attempts to gently rouse her while placing her in the crib. We've started using a 15 minute rule when she wakes during the night, wait 15 minutes to see if she goes back to sleep on her own (which happens about 40% of the time). If not, I'll nurse and will find that more often than not, she seems pretty hungry and will fall back to sleep rather quickly. Except for the few occasions, where she's showed no interest in going back to sleep and I'll just leave her in the crib to cry it out. She has started sleeping on her stomach, which makes her Daddy a bit nervous.

Likes: Pulling Mummy's hair. I keep a whole stack of hair ties on my stick shift and I've found it's not enough just to pull my hair into a ponytail. It needs to be a braid or a bun and if there is a wisp that falls loose; she will grab it. Loves bananas, still a big fan of bathtime. She's recently become fascinated with Tyler, and for the most part he's been very tolerant as she's tried to get near him or pet him. She started moving toward him and he gave a look that clearly read: "Oh shit! It moves!"

Dislikes: Getting her nails trimmed. Unfortunately, like her mother, her fingernails grow quite quickly. She hates having her face and hands wiped after eating, as that is just the WORST THING EVER!

Diapers: Remember in the Six month update, where I described that diaper changes were becoming 'challenging'? Well, that got quickly upgraded to fucking nightmare. It's like trying to mud wrestle a pig. She won't stay on her back and she rolls around, or she tries to get up on her hands and knees. We asked her Day Care providers for some advice, and they commented, 'well all kids roll around at this age... but Kate is really strong, so it's much harder...' I'm speculating that they must do Rock/Paper/Scissors to decide who changes her, which is pretty much what we do. Trying to distract her with a toy only seems to encourage her to move more. It was starting to take the effort of both of us just to change and dress her. A few times, we both lost our cool and snapped at her. I was desparate for anything that might help, so I took interest when I saw a product called the SnoofyBee, which is a changing pad with a...sort of.. a dog cone. I read the reviews and oh boy, did the Sanctimommies weigh in on this one. "It's called disclipine, can't you just tell your child 'no'" (Um, she's 7 months old, doesn't quite understand the concept yet. I even tried saying 'non-non-non-non' in a [poor] French accent) "Can't you just distract them with a toy?" (Tried that; didn't work).

Yes. I put her in the CONE OF SHAME!

I have no problem confessing that I am a horrible mother, who was so desparate to do anything to make diaper changes easier. Unfortunately, it didn't achieve the objective, as she could still twist and turn. Admitting defeat, we've learned how to diaper her while she's on her hands and knees. It's not too hard when we're putting her in her nightly disposable diaper, but it really wasn't working to fasten her into a cloth diaper. We started using the tri-fold technique, which involves folding the diaper into thirds, so it makes like a long sanitary napkin and it is held in place with the diaper cover. This works to diaper her while she is on her hands and knees, and better yet, it doesn't require Snappy Clips. Does anyone else who cloth diapers noticed that your Snappy Clips suddenly disappear, as if there is a Bermuda Triangle for Snappy Clips? Then they suddenly re-appear as soon as you pick up a new package. 

Clothes:  Still in 6-9 months. I purchased a few sale items in the 9 month size, but they're too big for her right now. Let's keep it that way for a while. 

Milestones and Events: I forgot to mention it last month, but as 'sits independently' is on the developmental check list, we ticked that box just after the New Year. I'm bringing it up again, as I'm reminiscent of the days where she would remain stationary. Once she figured out that she could move forward, there has been no signs of stopping or even slowing down. After she realised that she wasn't going to get very far by moving backward, she took her first step toward crawling, but getting into a plank position. 

Her Cross-Fit parents are so proud!

She can get up on her hands and knees, but she really hasn't learned the coordination of moving her knees and arms in sync, so she's created her own 'slither'. She uses her upper body strength and sort of drags herself. It looks a little like 'the worm' via 80s break dancing. It's amusing and yet terrifing as she's remarkably quick. Yesterday I noticed that she seemed to want to pull herself up on the couch, so I allowed her to push off my hands and she was able to pull herself to a stand, and then proceeded to take two steps. Yikes! we may have a baby who skips crawling and just goes onto walking. 

If you remember from my last post, I was debating about running a 10K over Valentine's/President's Day weekend. Husband signed up to umpire for a hockey tournament (which was supposed to be just the morning, but ended up being an all-day event) so if I went, I would have to bring Kate along. I decided that we weren't ready, I had only taken her out in the running stroller a few times for a walk aroung the block and my one attempt at a training run, was cut short by a screaming baby. (In her defense, she was hungry. I fed her before we left, but had to run and errand on route to the trail, which took much longer than expected) Then my swim coach contacted me as she signed up for the race, but needed to go out of town at the last minute, so she offered her registration. Well, free was a price I couldn't dismiss. Even if she had a meltdown before the starting line, I felt as if we had nothing to lose. I decided that the 5K distance would be more suitable for our maiden race, and to my surprise all went better than expected. She was content for the first two miles and fell asleep around the third. I was able to run the entire way while pushing the stroller, and I even learned that the ediquette for stroller runners is to run on the outside of the course, as I was actually faster than some other runners. I accept that not every race will be this smooth, but I'm really looking forward to doing some more with her. 

Running is very tiring...

While we were waiting for the race to start, I wanted to give her a bottle, so she'd be well fed during the race. I propped the bottle up with one of her toys, so I could attach my bib and when I looked back at her, I saw that she was feeding herself by holding the bottle with both hands! Wow. This is a game changer in terms of making our lives a little easier. 

I can do it myself!

Health Issues: She picked up her second cold. We received the call from Day Care that she had a fever and she ran a temperature for two days while she had a cough and a runny nose. Mummy was impressed that her Day Care germ exposed daughter has only had two colds in a four month timeframe, while Daddy fretted that she has an underlying respiratory disorder. He wanted to take her to the pediatrician right away, but I resisted as I figured we'd hear the usual 'it's a virus, give supportive care' speech. Finally I agreed to take her in on a Friday, so we could see our regular pediatrician, rather than the doc-du-jour at Urgent Care, if we needed to seek medical care over the weekend. Bilateral Acute Otitis Media. The first dose of antibiotics kicked her fever. Sigh. Sometimes having a parent who is a medical provider is hazzardous to your health. 

Looking forward to: Alert the press! We are going on holiday! A proper vacation that does not involve visiting family or travelling with relatives. We're using our Hawaii time share in May. There was much drama leading into this. I'll offer the condensed version. We intended to go in August as Jate's Day Care closes for two weeks. We quickly learned that not only do you have to book on the first day of the year to get anything in August, but we must either book a location or bank our points by the 31st of March each year, otherwise we lose the ability to use them. Husband applied his English charm along with recapping all our fertility/pregnancy drama to the 'Appeals Committee' and we were able to convert our timeshare points to interval points, which allows us to stay in other facilities. We then discovered that everything in Hawaii was booked for 2016, so I was researching other destinations while we were placed on a waiting list. Two days later we recieved an email that there was a vacancy in Maui in May. I looked at the hotel's website and it's easy to understand why this spot opened up. It's a very no-frills hotel. Like no on-site bar or restaurant. The pool is tiny and there isn't even any tropical folliage around it...Who cares! It's a cheap basic hotel in Hawaii! We're going on an actual vacation! 

Feeling bashful about my age...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Road to Recovery

Many people told me that it would take close to a year to really get my body back and to recover fully from the C/section. I thought I'd give a report as I'm at the half way mark.

Physical Recovery:
I truly had very limited post operative pain. On the first day after my surgery I was only taking Motrin during the day and I used Norco at night, as the most uncomfortable aspect was getting in and out of the hospital bed to attend to Jate. By the time I went home, I didn't need any pain meds at all. However, I would learn that having a great pain tolerance didn't necessarily indicate that I was healing well. I have significant scar tissue around my incision. It has improved a bit overtime, but if I press around the incision, it feels very dense and thick. I imagine that all my insides have just congealed like cement. It still hurts from time to time. It can be uncomfortable to wear jeans, so for this reason, I'm guilty of wearing my active wear, when I've not been active. My incision is still rather red, but thankfully no keloid formation. Although I had my abdominal muscles re approximated during my surgery, it didn't exactly give me a washboard stomach. I still have a bit of a diastasis and looking back at my old bump pictures, I think I look as if I were at week 17 or 18. I got a postpartum abs workout video, but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet. I should get on that.

I went for a haircut right before going back to work. As Jate was finding joy in pulling on my hair, I wanted several inches lopped off, and as my hair is (was) rather thick, I asked her to layer it in an effort to make it a bit thinner and therefore, quicker to blowdry. I had read Amaris post about her hair falling out and I was beginning to think that maybe it just wouldn't happen to me, but then it started... I washed my hair one day and found a handful of hair. Soon, the shower stopped draining and I had to unclog it by removing the big ball of stray hairs. I decided not to panic as I remembered reading that most people lose the most hair during the month of November. Fortunately, the shedding seems to have stabilized, but now I wish that I hadn't told the hairdresser to go so nuts with the scissors. My mother threatened that my blond hair may go brunette after giving birth, as hers did after she had me. So far, my colour is not any darker than it usually gets during the winter. Finally, my face has many more fine lines and wrinkles, which are accented by the bags under my eyes due to interrupted sleep. I know that I am ageing and it would only be a matter of time before it would show, but suddenly I feel as if I'm ageing in dog years, where one calendar year has advanced my age by seven years.

My pregnancy weight gain was just shy of 25 pounds and at Jate's two week check up, I was within two pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. I got on the scale a few weeks later and saw that I had gained a few pounds back. I haven't stepped on a scale since then and now I admit that I'm afraid to do so. When I was completing my medical training, I gave a baby basics and childbirth class to satisfy my requirement for community service. One of the points that I was supposed to emphasise in order to brainwash encourage women into breastfeeding, was to discuss that breastfeeding helps new mothers lose their pregnancy weight. One woman who baby several years ago and was taking the class as a refresher spoke up and pointed out that it doesn't exactly work that way, as you have to eat so many extra calories in order to breastfeed. I was annoyed with her at that time as I felt she was undermining me, but I now I'm annoyed as I appreciate that she spoke the truth. A pregnant woman only needs an additional 200-300 calories per day, but a breastfeeding mother may need 500-1500 calories included in her daily intake. I prided myself on my disclipine and self control during my pregnancy. I didn't have any cravings and I wasn't any hungrier than usual. Actually I followed my normal diet and I probably wasn't getting the extra 200-300 calories that I was supposed to ingest.

Breastfeeding is such a horse of a different colour. Especially as I started pumping during the night.  I felt depleted after each session and would devour anything I could find to eat. I asked the nurse at my new parents group if someone has an oversupply of milk, would she need to eat on the upper end of the extra calorie allotment? No, not necessarily, she replied, but I had already answered the question in my mind: in order to be a cow, I needed to be a pig.  By the time Jate entered Day Care at 4 months old, I had over 550 ounces of breastmilk bagged and frozen in our chest freezer. We've been defrosting older milk to rotate our supply and I just finished the last bag pumped in August. So far I've been able to freeze more new milk than we've needed to thaw. My ultimate aim is to have enough in storage so that I can give her breastmilk for one year, while stopping breastfeeding around 10 months.

That date also coincides with my 40th birthday. It's sort of a deadline that I set for myself as being a good time to get off this breastfeeding binge eating and finally get on a good nutrition plan. I haven't approached him about it, but if Husband needs ideas for a birthday gift, I'd like some sessions with the Nutrition expert who provides services at our gym. As I imagine she'll set me up on some Whole 30 or sugar detox program, I keep telling myself to enjoy it while I can.  I have a beer and some ice cream in the evenings in the name of maintaining my milk supply. I keep a secret stash of oatmeal cookies so that Husband doesn't discover how quickly I'm consuming them, and more importantly, so that he doesn't eat any. From time to time, I'll feel guilty and shameful about my gluttonous caloric intake, and I'll cut back on my carbs, but then I'll have a slow pumping day and I'll decide I don't care about my weight. I'll hit my stash of cookies and will feel validated when my pumping production increases. It's become a vicious cycle and I want out.              
I went back to the gym when I was 5 weeks postpartum, which admittedly, may have been a little too soon. I had promised my doctor that I would take it easy, and in doing so, I started out just using the bar without weights, so I could focus on re-establishing technique. While I was pregnant, a friend from the gym who had a baby four months before Jate, sent me a link to an article discussing how working out is actually harder postpartum than pregnant. Just as I was thinking 'this won't really happen," my friend sent another message confirming "yes, it will." The article explained that your core is not the same and the fatigue from sleep interrupted nights takes a toll. Some days I could muddle through, other days I would find that I lacked the stamina. There were a few times I finished the workout last. My friend reminded me that a last place finish is better than a Did Not Finish (DNF) which is still better than a Did Not Start (DNS). I truly appreciate that now. While my parents were visiting, we took advantage of their babysitting services and managed to work out quite often. My day off and revised schedule lets me go in the evening. Then I hurt my back while putting her infant seat into the car (my first mom injury). The night it happened, I loaded up on the unused Motrin and Norco from my C/section, but it barely touched the pain and at one point, I needed Husband's help to get out of bed. It's much better now, but I've had to take a week off, which has been frustrating.

It took about two months before I could run without pain. I started just doing slow jogs during Cross Fit warm-ups and it felt as if someone were sticking a corkscrew right into the scar tissue surrounding my incision. I just pushed through the pain and built up to running the 200 meter, then the 400 meter and eventually the 800 meter course. A local running group organises two running events over Thanksgiving weekend. For the past three years, I've run a 10 K on Thanksgiving and a Half Marathon on Saturday, thus allowing me to earn the Thanksgiving Mega Medal (you get an extra medal that connects the finishers medals from both races, running is really all about the bling). I wanted to make sure this year would not be an exception. I didn't want to abandon my traditions just because I had a baby. I conceded that I would have to alter my distances, especially as Husband was away at a hockey tournament and I was on my own to care for Jate. My plan was to walk the 5K on Thanksgiving, carrying Jate in the Baby Bj.orn, and I made arrangements for my aunt to watch her while I ran the 10K on Saturday. The detail I wasn't expecting was a cold front to come through the Bay Area, which would deliver some bitterly cold temperatures. It was 38 degrees F on Thanksgiving morning. There was no way I could expose a 4 month old baby to that cold, and I wasn't too thrilled about freezing my butt off either.

It was not quite as cold, but still rather chilly, when I ran the 10 K on Saturday. All I can say is that I finished. Actually, I'll add that I lost time when I had to re-tie my car key into my shoe laces and I had to text my aunt with the instructions on how to use the bottle warmer, as taping them to the warmer itself was too obvious. It wasn't bad considering that I had only done one 4.5 mile training run the week before, which is actually the last training run I've done. I've let the cold, the rainy weather, and various errands and chores become my excuse. My parents gave us a jogging stroller for Christmas, and I finally took it for a test drive last weekend. There's a race over President's Day weekend, and I haven't decided if I'll run the 10K. At one point I was hoping to run the half marathon distance for that event, but I recognise that was way too optimistic and unrealistic thinking.  Oh, I did sign up to run a marathon as part of a relay team (I can either do a hilly 6 miles, or 7 miles flat). The race is towards the end of March, so I should be able to squeeze in some training runs before then. I should also make sure Husband can take care of Jate that morning.

Aside from not having to get up and go to work and the whole bonding with my amazing baby thing, my favourtie memories from my maternity leave were the noon swims under the warm California sun. Unlike running and Cross-fit, my return to swimming was (relatively) painless. As soon as I dove into the water, all my muscle memory returned. My breaststroke kick is just as shitty as it was before Jate's birth. After a few weeks I could feel that I was building back speed, but I would discover it was short-lived. Breastfeeding consumes about 25% of your energy, and I would find that my energy stores could be delpted quite quickly. I would start the set as the lane leader, and depending on the work-out, I could almost keep up with the faster swimmers in the lane next to me. Then, half way through the work out, I would crash and burn. I'd quickly drop to the last position and one some days, I was in danger of being lapped. That's also when I started stashing the cookies in my car. It was my only time to eat as Jate would often be awake and ready to feed when I returned home. I debated back and forth about whether or not I would sign up for the Short Course Meters (SCM) Championship meet in October, I didn't really feel ready, but I figured I'd have more regrets if I didn't enter. I was quite glad I did. I had to bring Jate to the meet, which brought a whole new challenge to meet management. I had to figure her feeding and nap times around my races, and take advantage of anyone who was willing to watch her. I finished nursing her, handed her off, grabbed my cap and googles, made it to my lane in time for the long whistle, and wiped spit-up off my arm as I climbed on the blocks.

My coach commented that she could see my competetion form seemed to be returning, and as there were fewer swimmer's available for this meet, I was assigned to the faster relay teams. I love relays as they push me to swim harder than if I were swimming for myself, and I always seem to get my best times in a relay (albeit unofficial). My times were approaching those of my peak swims. Most importantly, I was finishing faster than what my coach had expected for me. I won my heat when I swam the 50 Free, and the volunteer timer noted that I came in way under my seeded time. I looked at the clock: 36.92. I hadn't bothered converting any of my meter times into yards, so it really didn't mean anything to me. Until a few hours later, when I happened to glance at our team's list of records. I hold the record for the 50 Free, as I'm the only one in my age group who swims the 50 Free. The prior team record was 37.46. Holy shit! I had just achieved a new personal best! I know sprints are such a  game of chance. Your dive has to be perfect, the timing for your flip turn must be precise, one fewer breathe can save you tenths of seconds. If I had to swim the same distance again, I probably wouldn't produce the same time. Yet I did when it mattered. Just three months after I was discharged after my C/section, I produced a personal best. It felt so fucking good.

I felt confident that I could get back to my prior form, but just as I was gaining this momentum; my swimming hit a hiatus. I went to Connecticut for two weeks and I had planned to swim every day in my final week before returning to work, but I had too many last minute projects to complete. Husband and I talked about going back to swimming in the morning once or twice a week, but it worked more in theory than in actual practice. Jate started to wake once or twice during the night, so I needed the extra hour of sleep, if I could get it. Even if I left practice a bit early, I'd still get back home at 7:10 and would need to nurse or pump, shower, dry off, dress and be ready to leave by 8:05 at the latest. Not really feasible. I'm hoping I can go to a noon class on my day off, but in order to get back into competetion form, I really need to practice more than one day a week. Alas, I'm coming to terms with the fact that I may not be able to return to swimming until she can sleep a little longer in the morning, and we're finished with breastfeeding. It pains me to acknowledge this, as I also must admit that I haven't picked up my tennis racquets in over two years. At least I (temporarily) left swimming on a high note.