Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh, are babies supposed to nap?

According to this chart I found, one-month-old babies are supposed to sleep around eight hours a day, in addition to their nighttime sleep (also eight hours). So, basically, they should be asleep like all the time. Three-month-olds should sleep around five hours a day, broken into three naps. So, I figure Grady should be somewhere between the two. And... he so is not. When he takes a decent nap of an hour or more, I am always amazed and mildly concerned and don’t quite know what to do with myself. Usually he will doze for 20 minutes after nursing and then be awake again. In recent weeks, his naps have rarely exceeded a cumulative two hours for the whole day. (There have been exceptions... he was very sleepy around Christmas, for instance. The holidays will do that to a baby.)

So, because I am a parenting genius, it occurred to me that maybe I had a role to play in all this lack-of-napping business. I mean, at first I thought... he is a baby and they don’t have schedules and so he’ll sleep when he sleeps. Which is true, and I know some babies are more assertively sleepy, but it seems that Grady needs a little nudge. The world is just too dang interesting and delicious for him to sleep for long on his own. And by “on his own” I mean, “passed out in a milk coma on my lap.” And that reminds me that in the hospital they told me that the first 20-30 minutes of sleep after a feeding is a different type of sleep than real sleep. It’s a shallower sleep and it’s why so many babies startle back awake if you try to move them too soon. So Grady has, for the most part, only been getting spells of that shallower sleep, but not transitioning into real sleep during the day.

Anyway, I got to thinking about naps when we were over at our friends the Dubranglemyers’ house. Jasper and I had joked about Grady’s lack of napping, without really thinking hard enough about it to be concerned, but then we tried out their baby swing on him and he conked out for at least an hour. I was so amazed and blissed out by the freedom that I sampled some gin. (I really did! Mr. Dubranglemyer is a fellow connoisseur, mostly because I got him really drunk this one time. We seriously throw the classiest dinner parties.)

Since that day with the shocking swing nap, I’ve been trying to offer Grady more opportunities to sleep. I also read that a baby his age shouldn’t be awake for more than a couple hours at a time! Which I guess makes sense if you do the math on all those naps. I mean, it's a lot of napping to fit into a day! So now every couple of hours I try to offer him sleep, just, like, as an option, if he’s into it, no pressure, because I am so not a rigorous parent like that... This mostly means that I wear him and walk him around the neighborhood until he passes out, and then putter around the house for an hour or so while he sleeps. He sleeps! Which, incidentally, is why you’re getting actual writing on the blog. So, you know, you’re welcome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two Months

Clothes that were too big are already outgrown.

Just this week, as my baby started to exhibit stretches of wakefulness during which he was not screaming, I realized, my baby sort of used to scream a lot. Jasper had previously pointed out to me that Grady was a bit “high-maintenance,” and I was all “Oh, do you think so?” Because, I mean, getting him to stop screaming was never impossible. It just sometimes required walking him around outside while bouncing, singing, and thumping his back. And yes, he refuses to sleep unless he is being held/snuggled/worn. Is that high-maintenance for a baby? I’m not sure. But now that my baby is sometimes just happy, it occurs to me that dang, this is really nice.

But while Grady is not going to win the title of Easiest Baby Ever, I think we’ve gotten really lucky in lots of ways. Grady never cries in the middle of the night (co-sleeping FTW!) and he eats well and happily. And some of his fussiness was my fault, because I didn’t make him nap. (I promise, another time.) I think most of his fussiness, though, was/is just normal. Babies cry. According to science, that crying typically gets worse until it crescendos at 6-8 weeks, and then as you come down the other side of that curve, you think, “Wow, my baby is starting to seem like a person, and I don’t just love him with all my heart and maternal hormones... I also sort of like him.” Which reminds me of another thing, for another time. (Seriously, blog post ideas all over the place!)

So, Grady apparently knew about the curve (also known as the “Don’t break the parents all at once” curve) and is becoming a really charming guy as he tapers off with the crazypants crying jags. He loves mornings, and usually wakes up chirping and grinning. Which is really sweet. Even when I’m exhausted from being awake once every hour all night, Morning Grady makes me happy.

And I know you’re thinking, “But... I read this blog! Grady is such a smiley baby!” Yeah, don’t believe everything you see on the internet, people. (Sarah Palin did not pose with a gun in an American-flag bikini, either.) Baby Grady has good PR. Also, it is hard to handle a camera when I am doing the please-stop-crying dance.

How much Baby Grady weighs: 14 lbs (Yes, this is rather on the giant side. This should surprise no one.)
Size of Baby Grady’s clothes: 3 month, 3-6 month, 6 month... baby clothes are pretty much like women’s clothes (you really ought not pay too much attention to the number)
Number of bottles (of breastmilk) Baby Grady has consumed: two (We really need to do more of this, but the whole funky milk adventure set us back a bit.)

Baby Grady’s eye color: blue? green? We really aren't sure!
Baby Grady’s hair color: brown, and also looking like old-man hair, with more around the edge and the appearance of a comb-over on top (it’s not, though!)

Baby Grady’s favorite: Josh Ritter, boobs, ceiling fans, being outside, his star chart, and his polyhedron mobile. (According to the WHO, he is in the 99th percentile for nerdiness.) (This also should surprise no one.)
Baby Grady’s least favorite: tummy time, waiting (this could be genetic...), bottles

Number of baby-wearing apparatus we currently have in rotation: 3
Mom’s favorite: the Mobyish
Dad’s favorite: the Baby Bjorn
Grady’s favorite: the Ergo (this is my second-favorite, so it works out okay)

Number of songs Baby Grady has on his iPod: 244 (Jasper received a free one and by the way, Nanos have gotten crazy small!)
Book Baby Grady is currently reading: The Hobbit (he needed something a little lighter after Cryptonomicon)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who’s got the funk? [Subtitle: I am no longer afraid of my breast pump]

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but it turns out that when it comes to lactating, I’m what they call an overproducer. (I can hear my mother saying, “Oh, of course you would be.” Hi, Mom!) So, yeah, an overproducer. No big deal. Except that the volume of my milk was a bit much for little Grady to handle. It was basically like he was doing a keg stand every time he tried to nurse. Bonkers, I’m telling you. Milk everywhere. He was managing, gamely in fact, but I wondered if there wasn’t something I could do to make this easier. We tweaked our positions, and that helped some, but the real relief for everyone came when I started pumping every morning. Taking five or six or more ounces off the top seemed to be just the ticket to set our day on the right path. After that, Grady can keep up, I’m no longer soaking through all my clothes, and everyone’s more comfortable.

I confess I became a little addicted to my morning routine. Watching those little bottles fill with milk is strangely empowering. It’s kind of a lot of liquid food to come from one’s own person. Food I made. I’m sure I sound nutty, but, I mean... I’m making food over here! With my boobs!

Accordingly, I became a bit obsessed with my stacks of bagged breast milk in the freezer. Like I was stocking up for a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, with fewer canned goods. Incidentally, this is hereditary behavior. Granny J and Gumpa’s basement makes them look like members of a rural militia, without the guns. Now that you understand the satisfaction I was deriving from my milk-hoarding, you are ready to hear how then it all went terribly wrong.

You may have heard of how some women have funky milk. You probably haven’t, because who talks about this? Well, I do, and I had heard, but thought that wouldn’t be me! And I am a damn fool. After an afternoon of total bottle rejection from Mr. Grady, we discovered that my stored milk starts to taste soapy after just a few hours in the fridge. Given ten hours, it is utterly vile. We’d given Grady a couple of bottles before, but always with milk I’d just pumped a few hours before. But it turns out that my milk is high in lipase, or, in a word, FUNKY. It tastes great initially (yes, I have become a real connoisseur through all this), but undergoes a reaction when stored that ruins it. It isn’t spoiled, and is safe to drink, but it’s so gross that no self-respecting baby would. (I initially typed that as “elf-respecting,” and really wanted to leave it.)

The way around funky milk is to scald the milk right after pumping, which deactivates the lipase (or something) and keeps the funk from happening. Yeah, you aren’t supposed to heat breastmilk, because it kills some of the good stuff. But, lesser evil here. Scalded breastmilk is still the best option if you’re dealing with funky milk. But scalding is a pain. You have to stir the whole time to prevent a skin from forming (just like normal milk). And how the heck am I going to manage this when I go back to work? No clue. Any advice is welcomed. (Microwaving is a last resort, because it kills A LOT of the good stuff.)

But my stash? UNRECOVERABLE. Milk banks will apparently accept it, because they mix the milk together in huge batches and it gets diluted. But I don’t currently have enough for a donation and I’m not sure I want to pump just for that. And I feel bad saying that, but there it is. Once I get a decent stash going for Grady, I may change my mind.

And I don’t really have a conclusion for this post. I was just sharing.

[This post was brought to you by my Mobyish, where Grady has started actually taking decent-length naps from time to time. (Yeah, he’s the newborn who mostly gets by on just a couple of half-hour naps per day. Another time.)]

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sometimes my baby looks like a little boy

I was under the impression that my baby would not start to represent a human until closer to the three-month mark. Like, he'd be a squishy slug for quite a lot longer. But he's seeming like such a little dude to me already. He looks older to me than the other babies his age. This could be due to the fact that I hang out with him all day and delude myself into thinking that my baby companion has all these human qualities. Because otherwise carrying on conversations with him would be silly. Or maybe it's because he's a bit of a giant? (In fact, that's entirely likely.) Still, I feel like there are moments when I can see the little boy in him. It's thrilling and also makes me want to slow this all down.

Also, the "backdrop" he's leaning against? Those are my pants. Jealous, right?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I know, I know, we really don't get proper winter in the Bay Area. But that's what makes us such enormous wimps about it. This morning, when we made it out to the kitchen around 8:30, it was only 30 degrees! When it got up to 40, Baby Grady and I bundled up in the Mobyish, donned our winter caps, and took a short stroll through the neighborhood. We strategically navigated to the sunny patches and soaked it up, because allegedly the rain is coming. (There's our "proper" winter.)

As it happens, Grady and I are both wearing winter caps made for us by our grandmothers. Because grandmas know the importance of keeping your head warm. And looking cute, of course.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bath time

When you have no neck, it's important to soak the baby long enough to get into the creases.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Faces of Grady

And then one day my baby could make all these goofy faces. And it was a hoot.

(I'm late posting this, due to delays associated with making faces at my cute, chunky baby. Sorry to be sharing last week's news...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And then one day we did stuff

I've noted a few times on this blog that I pretty much do nothing except look at, talk to, feed, and change my baby these days. I’m really not exaggerating. Baby Grady really detests sharing my attention. He is particularly irked by productivity. It's two hands on the baby at all times around here. So, I count it a good day when I accomplish one task or activity that is not nursing, diapering, baby-playing or very light housework. And I mean light! As in, carrying my used mug to the kitchen or putting a dirty burp cloth in the hamper. Maybe picking up a wad of Reese fuzz. Like, if it’s right in my path. Something so ambitious as doing a load of laundry? That would totally count as my one thing. Yeah, these are the standards I’m working by. I’ve been telling myself that the cuddling and gazing and soothing and playing (to the extent that Baby Grady can really play)... those are the things I’m getting done, even though they are not to-do list types of tasks. Thing is, I believe myself. It may be lazy, but it’s also right.

So one day earlier this week, out of the blue, without intending to or making a list or having a big build-up in my head (which is something that precedes almost all of my accomplishments, great, small, and imaginary), we accomplished so much more than just one thing. These are the things we did:

  1. Loaded and ran one dishwasher.
  2. Did one load of laundry (not the folding).
  3. Talked to Granny J.
  4. Wrote one thank-you note.
  5. Got dressed! In jeans! And sneakers!
  6. Applied mascara. Using the little mirror in a cloth baby book.
  7. Brushed my hair, delighting Baby Grady. Having a baby really leads you to question your act. I can make faces, read stories, and tell jokes, only to be met with the blankest of baby stares. Then I brush my hair and it’s an absolute scream?
  8. Emptied the diaper pail.
  9. Walked across the neighborhood to mail several thank-you notes and another thing.
  10. Walked to the market and purchased salad greens, corn thins, and a six-pack. By the way, I really like corn thins. They are like rice cakes, except made of corn. And also thin. They are really, really well-named.
  11. Ate a salad. (I made the salad ahead of time, which was clever, because it meant that I managed to eat something that was not dry cereal, an apple, or a spoonful of peanut butter.) Go me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baby's wardrobe #13: Fighting Owl Edition

This onesie came from a dear lifelong friend, a reference to our school mascot -- the fighting owl. In fact, I'm pretty sure the "fighting" part was an add-on in our later school years to make us seem more competitive. Really we were just the owls... because owls are wise. (But they suck at soccer.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

With Dad #3

Of note: Baby Grady's cheeks are red, because this was before I discovered (with Granny J's help) that Grady doesn't like when I eat tomatoes. Well, it doesn't actually seem to bother him, but it does give him hives. And he's so much cuter without hives! But it turns out that, left to our own devices, we eat a fair amount of tomatoes. (Italian and Mexican cuisines dominate our quick-and/or-make-ahead repertoire.) So, any suggestions for quick and easy meals without tomatoes? Bonus points for things that can be made in quantities to provide multiple meals. Put them right down there in the comments, please!

Monday, January 2, 2012