Ollie’s almost 7 weeks FAQ

I started a rather detailed and, therefore, quite painfully long post a few weeks ago that I will never finish. So I’m going to try a different approach here. Ollie will be 7 weeks old on Monday, and these are the questions people tend to ask.

1. How are things going?

Such an open-ended question this is… Overall, good I guess. It’s been challenging, as things tend to be with a newborn baby. Particularly in the breastfeeding department (see Question 4). Also that time when Jason got sick and ran off to a hotel when Ollie was 1 week old. But I haven’t *yet* totally lost my mind so I think that means things are basically good.

2. Easier the second time around?

Ollie doesn’t cry nearly as much as Ruby did. So that’s pretty awesome. And makes everything feel much easier, while definitely not EASY.

3. How is Ollie sleeping?

Why do people love to ask this so much? To answer- well enough. This means she’ll generally go to sleep if we put forth some effort and she won’t scream the ENTIRE time we’re working on it. She typically wakes up twice during the night and the whole diaper change/feeding/rock back to sleep routine takes about 30-45 min each time. So she’s like a normal newborn baby. And we’re like normal parents of a newborn. Tired.

4. How’s breastfeeding going?

It’s been rough. I very quickly nicknamed Ollie the Nipple Destroyer. And thus began what I am now calling the lactation tour. This culminated in a referral to a pediatrician specializing in mouth and tongue stuff. (I’m pretty sure that’s what it says on her business card.) Ollie had a posterior tongue tie clipped and it bled way more than I would have cared for. All this while Jason was at the hotel (see Question 1). So that sucked. Fortunately, it at least helped get us to a sustainable breastfeeding situation.

After a few weeks of uneventful breastfeeding I came down with the most hellacious breast infection. This consisted of about 3 days with a 103 F fever, a few more days of a lesser fever, crazy intense breast pain and somehow (what??) another round of nipple damage. I then caught a cold on the last day of the second round of antibiotics. (Because the first round didn’t work.)

My two high-level takeaways from this whole ordeal are:

1. I know it’s too soon to make any decisions, but I’m not enjoying breastfeeding. I don’t see this lasting 2.5 years as it did with Ruby.

2. My body clearly needs more sleep.

Oh, and Ollie won’t take a bottle.

5. How was labor/delivery?

About as ideal as labor and delivery can be. Which is to say it was short and without complications. I will at some point write a whole post about this.

6. How’s the transition to two kids?

My mom has been here since Ollie was born, taking direction from “the boss” (i.e. Ruby). So it doesn’t feel like we’ve really gone through this transition yet. I’m sort of thinking of the whole transition as a three staged process. The first stage was the birth and that went well enough. The second stage will come when my mom goes back to Colorado at the end of July. The third and most dreaded stage will come when Jason starts working 12 hour shifts, 6 days/week beginning in October (through roughly December). So if you would like to come visit me or get together or whatever during this period the answer is YES!!!

7. How’s Ruby adjusting?

The transition to having a perma-playmate in Grandma and getting more attention than before Ollie was born has been pretty easy for Ruby. She did mention a couple times very early on that she wanted Ollie to go back into my tummy. But now she mostly just goes on about how cute she is. We’ll see how this changes come stage two.

8. Maternity leave benefit stuff going smoothly?

Nobody actually asks this question, but I want a paragraph or two to bitch about it. My case manager is shitty and has not once actually answered her phone. The Kaiser policies for releasing medical records are overly complicated, and all but one person I’ve talked to has been willing to do anything more than the absolute bare minimum. I ended up in tears at the medical secretaries office one morning when I tried to hand deliver paperwork.

Ollie’s tongue-tie was clipped about an hour after that. Remember: lots of bleeding. Remember: Jason at a hotel. That day sucked. I suppose I should remind myself that it’s in the past. Today was a better day. We caught some smiles on camera.

baby-smile

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Hilda or Herbert? Place your bets!

Jason and I went to see Damien Rice recently. The show was awesome. I’m always blown away by artists who have the guts to perform with such raw emotion. Before the concert we ate dinner. And much of our dinner conversation was spent placing bets on the upcoming birth of Baby Number Two. Care to play along? Winner gets, well, nothing.

5 Gifts Postpartum Depression Gave Me

I’ve been working on this post for a long time. Probably because recovering from a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) is sort of an on-going thing. Or rather, life is an on-going thing. There’s always something new to learn.

But with the birth of my second baby approaching it suddenly feels really critical that I finish it. Before I lose this perspective. Of course I hope I don’t. But there’s something else that’s true about life. It’s not predictable. I didn’t know I would fall into such darkness after the birth of my first. And I certainly didn’t know I would ever walk away feeling oddly grateful for the experience.

1. Got me out of the house with the baby. I realize that a lot of people dealing with PPMD fear being social or lack the motivation to get out and do things. But for me it was the opposite. My home, alone with a baby, was a terrifying place. There was nothing there to keep me grounded and my anxiety often escalated to an irrational level.

Leaving my house felt a little bit like coming back down to earth, and interacting with other people was one of the only ways I was able to feel somewhat normal. A nice, little side effect of getting out was meeting other moms and making some really great friends.

2. Forced me to face my demons. My therapist liked to remind me of how my experience with PPMD would enable me to better relate to Ruby. You know, I was going to grow. Or something. I generally rolled my eyes and cracked some joke about how I had “grown enough already”! But in the end she was right.

During the first year postpartum all my “issues” jumped out from under the surface and slapped me in the face. As painful as that was, I know I’m better off for having dealt with them. Of course, this is still very much a work in progress and probably will be for the rest of my life. Dang it. But you know what I say – practice makes… better!

3. Gave me courage. Truth be told, I’m sort of a fearful person. Shocking, I know. And nothing’s going to significantly change that. But there is something to be said for going through something extra-specially scary. It makes everything else relatively, well, less scary. I distinctly remember thinking, while on a run in the early months, that if I could get through this I could do ANYTHING.

Now I haven’t fully utilized this new found courage yet. But I do have a lot of ideas. Things I want to do. Things I wouldn’t have done before. Like, for example, singing on the internet. And more. So we’ll see. If I do all these things, I’ll tell you about it.

4. Taught me acceptance. During my darkest days I felt like I was the worst kind of person that ever lived. I felt like serial killers and human traffickers were the kind of people who were “on my level”. I felt like the lowest of the low. I don’t feel this way anymore. But instead of climbing back up a ladder of moral hierarchy, I sort of realized there wasn’t one.

We all do things we aren’t proud of and there’s always a reason why. Even for the really terrible things. That doesn’t make them okay. I’m not giving rape and murder a thumbs up here. I’m just saying I no longer believe I’m better, or that I’m good and they’re evil. I don’t believe in evil. I believe in love and acceptance and compassion. For everyone. No stipulations. No boundaries.

Of course, I am also human. I feel angry and impatient and judgmental often… throughout the day. But at the core of me, I accept. And I love this about myself.

5. Strengthened my relationships. Dealing with mental illness is an incredibly humbling experience. I needed help to get better. I had to admit I needed help. And that meant opening up about all the things that make me messy and imperfect. At first I only really told my closest friends and family. When I did, a curious thing happened. They started telling me about their things. I think keeping these things to ourselves must build walls between even close friends, because all the sharing of secret things strengthened every single one of my relationships.

So I started sharing more with other people too. And not just about my PPMD experience. I’m also just a bit more honest about, well, everything. Even when my feelings are uncomfortable, or I feel like I shouldn’t feel those feelings. And you know what? It always works. It always creates connection. Especially if you throw in a little of the previously mentioned acceptance.

Now let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.