Before Baby

You know, they say that having a baby changes your life. When you’re in your cranky third trimester of pregnancy and are hearing that on a daily basis, the snarky responses, which start at “Duh” and get more vulgar from there, flood your brain so quickly that you literally can’t pick just one and end up giving the well-intentioned person a dead-eyed glare.

Of course it’s true. Of course. But a lot of parents are just so ready and willing to make that step that you really don’t care about the way things used to be. At least we really don’t. But then again, having Graham in our lives is a definite upgrade, no matter how you look at it.

Okay, yes, I was up at 3:00 am this morning. On my birthday. That would, on all counts, be considered a bummer. And it felt like one at first, trust me, but when I heard my son ‘talking’ over the monitor in the wee hours this morning, I had to shut my eyes and giggle to myself. Wondering what was so interesting, I got out of bed and wandered over to his room. I found him, rolled on his side, eyebrows knit together, having some, no doubt, deep philosophical discussions with his hands, which were clasped together an inch from his face. All of the sudden, he saw me standing by his crib, he flopped onto his back again, smiled a wide smile, laughed, said, “GOO,” very definitively, and then commenced to pump his legs up and down to show his excitement that I was there so early in the morning.

That’s the good stuff.

But I do remember how I used to do things. It wasn’t that long ago that we were footloose and fancy free. Take buying a car for instance. Used to be walk in, talk to the salesperson, take a test drive, make a deal, sign the paperwork, and you’re outta there.

For starters, Andy and I drove two separate cars to the dealer, and we test drove the car in question separately, the other person hanging back and walking G around the showroom floor while we waited for the driver to return. That was weird. Also, buying a car is no quick deal, so we had to work feedings and changings into the process. In fact, I changed Graham’s very wet diaper early on in the evening and realized that the clean diaper I changed him into was the only one in the bag.

That, my friends, is known as “foreshadowing.”

Sure enough. I was feeding the baby in the salesguy’s office. He happened to be in there with me (he had been running back and forth to whereversville getting quotes on my car and tenths-of-a-point reductions in APR) when I heard some very familiar noises and felt some very similar sensations which gave me a guess as to what G was working on.

Graham is going to kill me someday for saying this, but he is not a stealthy pooper by any means. No, from the moment I heard the first stirring of the engines, so to speak, I struck up a conversation with the salesman. Loudly. It had to have been so obvious that I was nervously raising my voice to cover something up, but hopefully, if I did it well, he’ll have no clue as to the reason for the abrupt outburst of “How’s the weather?”-type conversation.

Anyway, the salesman eventually left, Graham had finished his bottle and Andy returned from his test drive. “Graham has completely loaded a diaper.” Andy laughed. I said, “No seriously… he’s still going.” Andy immediately took the changing pad out of the diaper bag and laid it across my lap as a barrier between Graham and my pants. “Not only that, he’s wearing his last clean diaper,” I said. Andy looked at me, no doubt to see if I was joking. “Are you SERIOUS?”

I could tell Andy had done the math that I had. We were a good 30 miles away from home and an hour, at least, until we were walking out of the building. “He does have a swim diaper in there,” I offered, motioning toward the diaper bag. Swim diapers are designed not to swell up in water. Meaning they don’t absorb water. Think about that. A diaper that doesn’t absorb water. It’s a problem only if you’re not in the water, which we obviously weren’t.

Sigh. But what choice did we have, really? We used the swim diaper and said every prayer that we knew in desperate hopes that – by some miracle – Graham’s dipe would do the impossible and hold water.

Ultimately, I’m happy to report that prayers were answered. We stayed long enough that we hit, and surpassed, Graham’s bedtime. At one point, he passed out across my lap. Horizontally, facing down, as if he were anticipating a spanking. We got him into the carseat, and he was dead to the world. It was at that point that Andy and I were fully re-engaged into the car-buying process, and it was at that point that we both realized that all we had left to do was sign the paperwork.

Did it used to be easier to buy a car without a baby in tow? Yes, indubitably. But, you know? We did it. And it wasn’t that bad. It’s like the lunch trip with the girls that I went to and survived. Like the plane trip that I’d hyperventilated over for weeks ahead of time that turned out to not be such a big deal. I remember how we did these things before we had a baby, but even given the choice, I’d never go back.

Lunch with the Girls

Lunch with the girls. It sounds so breezy and casual, doesn’t it? Amazing that it’s an effort that started at 6:30 am this morning. Actually, it started last night, because I kept waking myself up, reminding myself that I had a lunch date today and telling myself that I couldn’t get wrapped up in babyworld to the point where I’d forget to go altogether!

It was a great day to get Mister G out and about. He went back to sleep after his 6:30 am feeding [cue the Hallelujah Chorus], and woke up at 9:30 am, called for me (not ‘cried’ – a definite distinction to make), and greeted me with big, goofy, gummy smiles when I peeked my head over his crib. Oh yes. The little man was feeling social, so it was a perfect day to take him out, indeed.

So, at 10:30, we were on our way to my office. We parked in reserved parking – which we had no reservation for, strolled up to the building, took the elevator, and started introducing him around. Soon, as it goes with babies in an office environment, we’d gathered a small crowd. We’re chatting along, people fawning on the baby, and then, I heard it.

Graham was filling a diaper.

I looked at my colleagues, and no one had seemed to notice. Andy’s told me that I’ve honed my ‘mom’dar, and I pick up Graham’s sounds eerily well, no matter how faint. I can hear a pacifier fall out of his mouth while he’s in the backseat facing away from me while I’m driving. It’s a gift, what can I say?

Back to the diaper. I was worried. Graham (sorry, baby, for sharing some personal secrets) is a super pooper. No kidding that stuff has got some velocity. In fact, 9 out of 10 diapers are compromised. A breech in the hull, so to speak. Either way, he seemed happy for the time being, so we went on with our visiting.

As time drew on, G became fussier (sorry, but who wouldn’t), so I told my girlfriends that I had to go change him if I had any prayer of him making it through lunch. Soon, the three girls, Graham and I were all piled in the cozy Mother’s Room at my office (a room dedicated to nursing mothers who need to pump during the day) to change the diaper.

True to form, he’d blown out. I wasn’t phased, though, I always keep an extra outfit in the diaper bag for just such an occasion. Except… as I rifled through the bag… where was the outfit? I explicitly remember bringing a pair of sleeper pajamas with dogs all over to Andy for him to pack in the diaper bag. It happened after Graham ruined the outfit he wore to the birthday party this weekend.

I checked again. Not there. Seriously, NOTHING WAS THERE. G’s clothes were covered in you-know-what, and I had nothing to put him in. I didn’t even have anything to improvise with. I mean, you either have an outfit for a baby or you don’t. If it had been at all appropriate, I would’ve felt better just getting him cleaned up, putting on a fresh diaper and letting him go in nothing but that, but we were at work, and I was about to go to the cafeteria. I don’t exactly want my colleagues to think I often take my child out of the house with no clothes on.

Alright, focus. Think. The pants were officially out of play. They got the worst of it. The onesie. Well, honestly, the onesie wasn’t terrible, I guess. I deduced I could wipe it off the best I could with the diaper wipes, stick him back in the carseat, lay a receiving blanket over his legs, and no one would know the difference. Once I put it back on, I realized that the stained part didn’t even touch his skin – it laid up against the diaper only. Okay, so that made me feel a little better, but still.

Fast forward to the cafeteria. I got lunch, with the help of my friend Andrea, who carried my tray (despite an injured finger) while I wheeled Graham in his stroller one-handed. We made quite the pair. Then we got seated, right around the time Little G decided he’d had enough. My friend Jaime said, “We’ll just hold him through lunch.” I immediately think of his dirty onesie. Nobody wants to pass around a poopy baby while they eat, do they? Then she said genius: “Just wrap him in his blanket.” That’s RIGHT! I may not have had an outfit change in the bag, but I did have one receiving blanket. Love it.

I didn’t pass him around because as soon as he got up against my chest, he calmed. In Graham language, that means he’s tired and he wants for it to be quieter. So we cuddled, and he fell asleep. And we ate lunch this way. One-handed. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to do that.

It was great to get out and see the girls. It’s amazing how much work it is to leave the house, but I realized – as I was feeding him in the Mother’s Room before we left for home – that this is doable. The whole baby-outside-the-house thing. It’s probably one of the most nerve-wracking things to do as a new mom. Maybe as a new parent. (I don’t know how the guys feel about it.) But ‘taking the show on the road,’ so to speak, is a daunting task. You do it a couple of times, though, and you realize that you can improvise. You realize that a baby who cries for a few minutes is not the end of the world. And then your world gets a bit bigger again. Darn if that doesn’t feel good.

And, by the way. Andy admitted later, very apologetically, that he put that extra diaper bag outfit away in Graham’s closet, thinking that he didn’t want an outfit to disappear out of the rotation, and surely we would stick one in the bag the next time we left the house. Rookie mistake. Now I’m sure we’ll both make sure we’ve got an extra outfit in the diaper bag, whether we’re going anywhere or not!

The 2-Month Appointment

I’ve heard the 2-month infant check-up is a doozy. That’s when babies get their first round of vaccinations. I was excited for it, though, because the last time we saw the doctor was a month ago. I wanted to see how much my baby had grown.

The appointment was scheduled for 8:05 am, which, I’m sorry, must have been a scheduling error. I like to think that, anyway, instead of wondering why folks who work with babies day in and day out would EVER think a mom could get herself and a 2-month-old up and out of the house so early in the morning. I mean, if I get out of my pajamas by Noon, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

But, I set an alarm, and – somehow – by 7:45, we were packed up, bundled in, and ready to go. See?

Don’t be fooled by the look on his face, he was a chipper, gurgling, cooing baby all the way to the doctor’s office.

First, the good news! Graham now weighs 9 pounds, 15 ounces. Yep, just shy of 10 pounds, and he feels like it! He’s 22 inches long, so he’s grown an inch-and-a-half since his last appointment 4 weeks ago. That’s awesome, since babies generally track at an ‘inch a month’ growth rate.

So, our boy is hanging consistently around the 25th percentile for height and weight. When you take a look at his height-to-weight ratio, he trends a bit toward the ‘tall and thin’ stature. All things we suspected. Being in the 25th percentile means he’s a bit smaller than the other boy babies, but he’s gaining and growing just like he should be!

I love going to the doctor, because I get to ask him all the piddly and fretful questions I’ve collected over the last few weeks. I won’t go through the battery of them, but my main concerns were about sleep. Graham’s sleep habits have really started to change now that he’s more visually aware and more awake during the days. He’s a terrible napper, too, which really impairs my ability to get anything done during the day. Plus, those 9:30 pm – 4 am stretches of sleep he’d been giving me at night have since disappeared. Le sigh.

Doc says to continue swaddling him for sleep. Still A-OK until about 4 months, and it should help to get him to string together some hours of sleep. The recent ‘waking during the night’ thing is probably due to a growth spurt. (This means it’s temporary, which – if that’s true – YAY!)

And finally, doc wants us to start laying Graham down to sleep while he’s awake. I was afraid he was going to say that. ALL the books and literature say to start doing this between 6 and 8 weeks. I started trying to do this for naps, but this kid seriously is not good at falling asleep. Not sure what it is, but I have to work to rock him and get him good and drowsy. In fact, he was getting way overtired during the day because it was really hard to tell when he was getting sleepy. He just wants to be awake!

Thus, you can imagine that, when I lay him down into his crib while still awake, it doesn’t go over very well. He wants to be up where the action is.

I told all this to the doctor, and he said, “Sorry, mama, you’re going to have a toughie on your hands. You’re gonna have to let him cry and fuss a little bit in his crib.” UGH. He wants me to start doing that for naps, so… great.

Since morning is Graham’s smiliest time of the day, he’d been in a great mood for the entire appointment, winning over all the nurses and office staff when they saw him. He even made friends with the nurse who came to administer his vaccines at the end of the appointment. She started off by giving him an oral vaccine. No big deal. He drank from the dropper and stared at me quite intently like, “This is a little different, Mom, but all in all, not too unpleasant.”

Then came the shots. Poor little guy had to get three today. Two in one thigh, one in the other. He was all smiles at his nurse until the double-crosser turned on him. 😛 When she started administering the injections, there was a half-second delay before Graham turned beet-red in the face and started screaming with a scared, ‘why is this happening to me?’ look on his face. I always thought the moms who said that they cried more than the baby were being overdramatic, but as soon as I saw the look on his face tears immediately came to my eyes. The nurse must be used to that, because, while she had taken her time to introduce herself and coo over Graham when she came in, she was very quick to give his shots, say a brief “Have a nice day, you two,” and leave us alone to regain our composure.

We’re fine now, I’m happy to report. It actually took me longer to get over it than it did for Graham. He calmed down fairly quickly, but I was still snuffling as I re-dressed him in his pajamas. I expected him to completely lose it when I put him in the carseat, but he seemed happy to be strapped in. He was sound asleep before we even left the office.

Here’s a couple of pics of the aftermath.

So far this morning, despite the small collection of Snoopy band-aids on his thighs, he seems no more the worse for wear. Glad I’ve got some time before we have to do that again!

Gas

The day started out like a dream. Graham had woken up once that morning at 4:00 am, then slept in until 8:30. Meaning I got to sleep in until 8:30. After he ate, he was more than happy to sit in his bouncer, suck on his pacifier and play with his friends (i.e. intently stare at the dangling toys on his bouncer), allowing me to take a shower and get ready. He ate one more time, then the two of us set out for a lunch date with three of my girlfriends, which he snoozed the entire way through.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there! We got home from lunch, he ate again, and then the two of us took a snuggly nap on the couch. He was pretty hungry that afternoon, but nothing too terribly out of the ordinary.

All in all, great day.

Andy got home, and the fussing began – like clockwork. Nothing against Andy, just Graham’s normal fussing hour(s). One thing that we both noted was that Graham hadn’t really been down for a proper, lengthy nap that day since lunch. We’d slept for maybe 30 minutes that afternoon, but I guessed that he was probably pretty tired.

That in mind, Andy and I tried a couple of times to get him to take a bit of a nap. Every time we’d put him down, though, he’d wake up within minutes. Argh.

Soon, the fussing turned to out and out crying. Our usual tricks weren’t working, so Andy and I just passed him back and forth, running down our laundry list of ‘what it could be’s. Changed his diaper, fed him, burped him, swaddled him, shushed him, held him in different positions… and as time went on, instead of dissipating the crying, we seemed to be making it worse.

And then the screaming started.

There’s nothing to cause panic in a mother quite like having your child screaming at the top of their lungs. Red faced, eyes squeezed shut, with tears streaming down their face. Ugh. I still wince just thinking about that poor face.

Okay, so something was wrong. He was obviously in pain. The only thing that actually made this little guy stop crying was swaddling him real tight, holding him vertically against our chests in a bear hug, and walking the floor with him. Sometimes he cried, but the screaming would stop, and mostly he’d settle down, with his eyes still shut and face still pink and wet from tears, bottom lip jutted out, hiccuping sighs like children do when they’re settling down after a huge crying fit. My poor, poor baby.

During these quiet times, Andy and I would just stare at each other, shake our heads, and speculate what on EARTH had possessed this child. We’d never seen him that upset.

The mystery continued as we’d try and lay him down to sleep. Anytime we’d shift him away from the vertical position, the screaming would commence again. Normally, once Graham is asleep, he’s asleep. Whatever it was that was bothering him would be long since forgotten.

Not last night. In fact, twice we even got him laying in his crib asleep. Once Graham was down, Andy and I exchanged relieved glances and tried to sneak out of the room. And twice, Graham sublimated from peaceful, sleeping child to piercing screams, without stirring or otherwise indicating that he was close to waking. Frustrating and alarming at the same time.

Finally, Andy and I deduced that this poor boy was dealing with painful gas bubbles. It was the only explanation for his seeming comfortable one moment, screaming in pain the next. I mean, we’ve all been there haven’t we? Perhaps not screaming in pain, but certainly uncomfortable. No amount of burping would help him, we’d just have to make him as comfortable as possible and wait for them to pass their way through before he’d feel good enough to lay in his crib on his own.

From beginning to end, it took about four hours to get Graham feeling better. I felt so, so sorry for him, but he got a great night’s sleep last night and is his chipper self this morning. Thank goodness!

Operator Error

So, here’s how this is SUPPOSED to work. You feed the baby and lovingly put him to bed for the night. You take the baby monitor, turn it on, and put it on your bedside table. When the baby wakes in the middle of the night and cries, the sound transmits through the monitor, plays loudly into your bedroom, you wake and go check on the baby. End scene.

Our version, however, played out a little differently last night.

I woke up at 4:30 am, looked at the clock and my heart fluttered a little, because it was a full two hours past when my boy normally wakes up for a feeding. In fact, it’s two hours longer than he’s ever slept in a row. Ever. Regardless, I hadn’t heard him cry yet, so I turn a bleary glance up at the monitor and saw the most horrifying sight.

Five red lights lit up the top. Now, before I had a baby, this would have meant nothing to me, so let me explain. There are five sound indicator lights that adorn the top of the monitor receiver. They indicate the volume level of the noise that is coming from the transmitter. No noise? No lights. Loud noise like oh, say, a scream or a cry will light that thing up like a Christmas tree. Little coo noises and stirs will register one or two lights, so the five red dots I was seeing meant my baby was over there having a fit.

But, I hadn’t heard anything on the monitor. STILL wasn’t hearing anything. So I checked the volume… which was turned all the way down. Are you KIDDING me?! I started turning up the volume and Graham’s cries came prominently through the monitor.

“Oh my GOD!!!” I shrieked as I threw off the covers. Andy said, “Is he crying?” So, on my 3-second trip from the bedside to the door, I managed a, “it’s 4:30 am, he hasn’t woken up for a feeding yet, and the monitor was turned down, so I have NO idea how long he’s been crying!!!” Andy got out of bed so fast he met me at the bedroom door.

The two of us rushed into the nursery across the hall, where the poor baby was laying [crooked, just like yesterday’s post] in his crib. Arm out of his swaddle, crying. I picked him up and held his head to my chest and wouldn’t you know it? He quieted immediately. Was like… fine. Bright eyed and staring at the both of us.

We looked him over. He didn’t look like he’d been crying long at all. Pink face (not red and angry), no tears, wasn’t hot. Quite frankly, he’s been more of a mess for me during the day. And the fact that he calmed so quickly leads me to believe that he wasn’t all that upset – at least not for that long. Certainly not the two hours of endless crying that I’d envisioned.

Talk about a heart attack. Graham was actually more sedate during that feeding session than he has been for most middle-of-the-night sessions. He went back to sleep immediately and didn’t wake up again to eat until 8:30 this morning. Seems we averted a catastrophe this time.

But you’d better believe we’ll be testing the volume on this baby monitor every night for a good long time.