Sunday, January 30, 2011

A sweet goodbye

I am a little sad to report that Will is now 100% formula fed.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was determined to be one of those mothers who nurses for an entire year. Breast milk is amazing stuff. It's free, nutritionally-sound and on demand. What's not to like?

But Will and I struggled with our breastfeeding relationship from the moment he was born. He wouldn't nurse after delivery, and struggled with getting a proper latch. We pushed through for three weeks, until I just couldn't take the pain and frustration anymore.

But breast milk was really important to me. So we started pumping (and pumping, and pumping). I pumped 6-7 times a day for four months. That's about four hours a day pumping and washing pump parts, which equals about 480 total hours or 20 whole days. If you figure I pumped 30 ounces a day for four months, that's roughly 3,600 ounces or 28 entire gallons of breast milk. I'm practically my own dairy.

I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for six months, but unfortunately I fell short of my goal. The thing about pumping, is that it doesn't stimulate your milk production as well as a baby does. So month after month, I made less and less. Until Will simply needed to eat more than I could produce.

I'm happy to report that he's thriving on formula, and in many ways I'm thrilled to have my body back. But it was difficult to stop breastfeeding entirely. It felt like I was giving up one of the fundamental things that made my baby my baby. It's very fulfilling to provide food for your child.

So last week, as my breasts filled with what would be the last of my milk, I nursed Will one last time. It was early in the morning and we were snuggling together in bed. He wasn't yet starving, so he snacked happily, gently suckling and patting my breast with his hand.

I had long ago mourned the loss of our breastfeeding relationship, but it was the perfect way to say goodbye. Goodbye to the rigid expectations I had set for myself, and goodbye to one of the most intimate moments between mother and child.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good news, bad news

The good news is that our insurance company approved Will's helmet. Hooray!

The bad news is that it's January, and we haven't fulfilled any of our deductible yet. Boo.

So we have to pay the entire cost of the helmet out of pocket. This wouldn't be so bad, except that we've had to pay our deductible in full the last two years. If you recall...

2009: Ben's knee surgery
2010: Will's birth

Our savings account is crying.

In case you're wondering, Will gets scanned for his helmet next week. They send 3D images of his head to a production facility in Georgia, which makes him a custom helmet. We return to the orthotist's office 1-2 weeks later to get fitted. Then Will wear's his helmet about 22 hours a day for 4 months. We check in with the orthotist once a week to monitor his progress and make sure everything is fitting correctly. If all goes well, he'll be out of the helmet by Memorial Day.

It still sucks, but I'm happy we're moving forward. I just want to get him in treatment so we can put this behind us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Five Months Old

Dear Will,

You had such a big month! So many new milestones, I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start with what is arguably the most exciting milestone to Mama and Daddy: sleeping through the night. You have slept for an 8-10 hour stretch on a few occasions now. We wish it was more consistent, but we are encouraged by the fact you can do it at all.

Your longer stretches of sleep came just a week after we introduced formula. I guess that isn't surprising, as formula stays in your tummy longer. Starting formula was a difficult milestone for Mama, but you don't seem to mind. You just love to eat (breastmilk or not).

We started working harder on tummy time this month. At first you screamed your head off whenever we laid you face down on the blanket, but day by day, you tolerated being on your stomach longer and longer. Now you're a tummy time champ, spending hours on your stomach every day.

With your newfound tummy time skills, you also rolled over for the first time this month. However, you seemed startled by it and have not repeated it since.

You are such a busy boy now, no longer content to be cradled in my arms. Granted you still want to be held, but you prefer to be perched on Mama's hip so you can see everything around you. You are reaching, lunging and grabbing for everything. Your hand eye coordination is getting really good (excellent even), though you don't always have the dexterity to hold objects in your hand for very long.

Your poor little gums hurt from teething, so you always seem to have your hands or a toy in your mouth. Though you have dozens of toys to choose from, you seem to prefer chewing on straps. Like the strap on your pacifier clip, or the strap that your favorite rattle dangles from.

You got a jumper and an exersaucer for Christmas, both of which are endlessly entertaining. You love turning yourself in the exersaucer, inspecting all the toys and trying to get them into your mouth. You're still trying to figure the jumper out, but when you get a couple of good jumps in you smile from ear to ear.

You get the giggles now, which just warms my heart. Silly sounds make you laugh and laugh. You love to be tickled on your neck and around your ears. When we tickle you, you scrunch your whole body up, tucking your chin into your chest. It's adorable.

We started baby sign language this month, introducing a few basic signs like milk, more, eat, diaper, up and airplane. The first few are basic need signs. But airplane? That's just because you love your airplane mobile so much.

Every night I put you to bed and I can't imagine loving you even one ounce more. But then in the morning you smile up at me and somehow my heart manages to grow even bigger than it was the day before. You are my pride and joy. I love you more than you'll ever know.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words of wisdom

You know, because I've birthed a child and I'm an expert now. Here are some thoughts on pregnancy, labor and delivery:

1) Watch what you eat. Protein and veggies are so important. Little snacks are fine (you are pregnant after all). But save the big indulgences for the third trimester. Food will be your only friend. Trust me.

2) Keep exercising. Labor is an athletic event. You need to keep fit, even if you're tired. I found squats and walking to be really valuable. You won't believe the leg strength required to push that kid out of you.

3) Take a breastfeeding class. I thought this was stupid. What could be more natural than breastfeeding? I read a few books and asked to speak with the lactation consultant after the baby was born. But breastfeeding is harder than you think. It takes time to master, and I wonder if we both would have benefited from a little more preparation.

4) Make sure your house is spotless before you leave for the hospital. Because you won't have time to clean it when you get home. Nesting helps with this (I'm normally really messy, but I was a cleaning fanatic in the last few days before Will was born). If you don't have the urge, either hire someone or get your partner to do it. It's much easier to come home after delivery to a clean house.

5) Take lots of pictures. Throughout your pregnancy and in the hospital. I know you think you won't want photos of you as a hot, swollen mess, but you will. It's hard to appreciate how amazing you are when you feel like crap. But I love looking back on photos from my last days of pregnancy and early days with Will.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Helmet Update

Well, it looks like Will is going to need a helmet.

After a consultation with a neurosurgeon a few weeks ago, we were referred to a pediatric orthotist. The orthotist discussed Will's brachycephaly (flat head) with us in greater detail and took some measurements. He recommends helmet therapy for a cranial width to depth ratio above 93. Will's came in at an even 100 (so his head is as wide as it is long).

The orthotist would like Will's head circumference to be a bit larger before starting therapy, so we're waiting a few more weeks to cast the helmet. In the meantime, his office will work with our insurance company to try and get approval for treatment. Some insurers cover 100%, others not at all. We're hoping for at least partial coverage, since the helmet will cost around $3,000.

In explaining the three basic kinds of flat head syndrome, the orthotist said brachycephaly is what he would "hope" for his own children (provided you'd hope for such a thing). And as I pointed out, brachycephaly is clearly the sexiest of the "cephalies".

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year

I will always treasure 2010, as it's the year it brought me my darling baby boy. But in many ways, I'm ready for a fresh start. I hesitate to call these "resolutions", but perhaps "reminders" on how to live my best life in the year ahead.

  1. Worry less. Understand the difference between the things I can and cannot change. Make a plan and move forward. No more dwelling or obsessing.
  2. Make time for myself. Take a yoga class once a week. Get out and see my friends more. Read books that aren't about babies or required for school.
  3. Treasure every day moments. Find the extraordinary in the simplest events. So we can't afford vacations or fancy dinners out? So what. Even dinner together after Will goes to bed can be a date.
  4. Learn from my mistakes. When we know better, we do better. Acknowledge the challenges and celebrate the successes.
  5. Prioritize. My mom recently told me "you can have it all, just not all at once." Recognize that some things will have to wait. Be realistic, but keep dreaming.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Little William has a lot of nicknames. Here are some favorites from some of the people who love him most:

Mama: Peanut, Babykins
Daddy: Buddy, Brother, Scooter
Aunt Taylor: Big Willy Style, Will Face
Grandpa Don: Wild Will, Willy G

They all make me smile. I'm really open to any nicknames, except Bill. The child's name is most certainly not Bill.