Seven Months

Dear Baby Ike,

I hardly know where to start this month.  You turned seven months old this past Friday, and while I know this letter won’t capture anywhere near all of the amazement I have in your development in the last month, I need to get it posted now or before I can blink you will be eight months already!  You are doing so many new things and there aren’t enough hours in the days for me to properly sop up all your deliciousness and also function as an adult human.  I gladly sacrifice the functioning part, frankly.  A lot of the time I know I am leaving a lot of quasi-important, household-y things completely undone, but for the most part I don’t care at all.  It’s quite difficult to convince myself that I should do anything at all instead of hanging out with you, feeding you, playing with you, or snuggling you.  This often means that I also neglect to do things like cut your fingernails and toenails, because I have such a hard time forcing myself to do something that I know will frustrate you and make you upset (and yet I’m also loathe to try doing it while you’re alseep, because I know you need that sleep and I don’t want to wake you up accidentally!)  Good thing Grandma is happy to help out on that task as well.  Otherwise you’d have talons probably literally inches long sometimes!

Going to work five days a week makes me feel like I am missing SO MUCH of your cuteness, which is getting dangerously cuter by the day.  Grandma got some awesome pictures of you in the bathtub at her house the other day, and I can’t wait until she sends them to me. I love it when she gets her camera out so I can feel like I get to catch up on at least a sliver of the fun you have with her all week. You really do keep her on her toes, and you’re not even actually mobile yet.  I know she loves being with you so often (but she could probably stand it if you gave her a break with a real nap now and then).

Speaking of sleep, we have been mostly cosleeping for a while now (three months?  I don’t even know anymore), as it seems most logical that neither of us has to really get up out of bed to have your dream feeds.  I know I should probably be working harder to get you used to sleeping in your crib, but again, it’s very hard to care right now.  It seems silly to put effort into putting you down for the night farther away from me than you need to be.  You will only be small for a short time, and this time of being a baby is getting shorter all the time, so I don’t think I will look back and regret being able to cuddle you close after you drift off to sleep.  Waking in the night with you can be exhausting, but I treasure it at the same time.  A couple of times now you have woken up in the morning and fussed for a bit without actually opening your eyes first, and then you eventually open them, continuing to fuss a little, not realizing that I am right there in the bed next to you.  When you do notice that I’m there, your face breaks into the biggest, most joyful smile I have ever seen, and my heart bursts into a million pieces right there on the spot.  It makes me long for the technology of a camera implanted right in my brain so I could simply blink and try to capture that feeling and never ever let it go.  I suppose I might get the same kind of smiles coming in to pick you up out of the crib in the mornings, but it’s so nice to be able to lay my face down right next to yours and just drink in the sweetness that is you.  I have never in my life been this close to being a morning person, but you really do give me endless things to look forward to, day after day.

You’ve now tasted several different solid foods:  avocado, sweet potato, green peas, and bananas (I feel like I may be forgetting one right now).  At first you didn’t seem to really be liking the tastes of these things, if the hilarious faces you make are any indication, but you do like the act of eating, grabbing the spoon and putting it in your own mouth.  I think you’re slowly starting to actually like the food itself, at least sometimes.  Next on the list to try are pears and apples, and who knows what else.  There are still many, many tastes that will be brand new to you; it is so exciting to me to think about seeing your face and reaction to new foods.  I am also relieved that you’re still nursing.  Now that you’re not exclusively breastfed, I will admit to living in a little fear of the day that you decide to wean.  As thrilling as it is to watch you grow and develop, I am nowhere near ready to be done with your babyhood.  Thankfully we still have a little ways to go!

You continue to add different sounds to your repertoire of baby babble.  Lately I hear a lot of “buh-wuh” and “bwuh” though I don’t think it means anything in particular yet.  Still lots of MEH and MUH, sometimes repeated so it gets awfully close to ‘Mama,’ which I of course love to hear.  The more I hear you making recognizable sounds, the easier it becomes to picture you actually talking, though that is still a ways off yet.  I can imagine your little voice singing songs and telling jokes and asking for things that you want and telling me what you think about all kinds of things, and I just can’t believe how lucky we are that we get to have you in our lives, doing all these normal things that to us will be clear strokes of genius, every time.

You’re not crawling yet, and I haven’t seen you roll from back to belly yet either, but in addition to rolling from tummy to back you now also scootch in circles when we put you down on your belly, so you’re definitely working hard on the pre-crawling skills.  It’s starting to become more concretely imaginable that we’ll be chasing you all over the house soon – we have a lot (read:  ALL) of babyproofing yet to do!

I love you so much, my little Sugar Butt.  I never thought I would be the kind of mother to make up ridiculously obnoxious nicknames for her kid like that, but you have really turned me into a different person, and I absolutely love being that goofy, baby-obsessed mother that I never thought I’d have a chance to be.  I’m definitely a great big silly fool for you, Isaac.

Love always,

Mama

Newtown

It’s now Sunday evening Monday morning, and I’m still having a hard time grasping what happened in Connecticut on Friday.  I saw some headlines via Facebook on Friday morning shortly before we headed into our lunchtime holiday party, and remained fairly glued to my phone throughout, hoping that the initially reported numbers of dead children would be some kind of mathematical fuckup, a false accounting, anything that would make that final number go down, not up by one or two more in the end.  I tried to not think about it and participate in the silly reindeer games during the party, but laughing and enjoying myself felt so horribly wrong.  I desperately wanted to just get up, walk out to the parking lot, and drive to my mom’s house and hold Ike. When I got there a few hours later, she hadn’t even heard the news yet.  I didn’t want to tell her.

I have tried to avoid the news, at least televised – I definitely do not want to see small children trying to explain what they had seen.  I don’t have anything brilliantly insightful to say about it.  It’s horrifying. No explanation could possibly be satisfying.  I don’t know that there is anything we can do to truly prevent all recurrences, but I also don’t think that we should live in fear of something you can never see coming anyway.  I am just trying to enjoy my child, every second that I have the opportunity.  I don’t know what else I can do, other than hold on tight, and still know that I’ll have to let go at times as well.  I am thankful that Ike is still way too young to need an explanation from us.  How can you explain the incomprehensible?

I have seen references a hundred times this weekend – look for the helpers.  There are bad people that do bad things, but most people are helpers.  Thanks, Mister Rogers, for helping us remember that.

Now that we can all breathe again….

Managed to not lose the sticker included with my absentee ballot. WINNING.

I used to write a fair amount about politics, back in the day.  Then, for a long time, I really did not care much.  I was way too preoccupied with anxiety and depression over not knowing whether we’d ever get to bring home a baby, and trying not to acknowledge even to myself that I WANTED to bring home a baby someday.  So it waxes and wanes, my political fervor, I suppose.  But I wanted to quickly touch on one aspect that ties into this blog – the title.  My blogger blog went through several different names, but nothing ever really seemed to click and feel just right.  So for a long while, it was titled simply ‘Undecided,’ and it stayed that way for what felt like an eternity, as I sunk deeper and deeper into apathy, not really caring about much other than making it back to my couch at the end of the day to stare at the TV and try to not think about the subject that was all I could ever really think about.  Then came the 2008 election season, and along with it, Ms. Sarah Palin.  I am about as liberal/libertarian as they come, I think, but I must circle back around and offer sincere gratitude to John McCain for choosing her as his running mate, because it PISSED ME OFF how pandering and condescending and frankly just ignorant the whole thing was.  It made me realize, OH!  I CAN HAZ FEELINGS!  ABOUT STUFF! IN THE WORLD!  And I began to care again, to be less stuck in my head, in the never-ending internal dialogue that I rarely dared to even voice aloud.  Granted, this was all after my very first miscarriage, and I had varying reactions after each subsequent one, but during that campaign I decided that ‘Undecided’ was the very last thing that my blog should be named.  Still lacking any creativity or willingness to commit to tying any one specific word or phrase to my own life’s chronicles (what can I say, I hate to be defined.  Too constricting.), I simply changed it to ‘Not Undecided.’  It stayed that way long enough that I eventually started seeing the phrase turn up in my keywords/search terms, so I figured it had better stay that way, so that anyone looking for it without a bookmark could find it again. And so here we are.

(I never did change the url to reflect the title, though.  I have often thought that it should be ‘hard to MAKE a human,’ rather than ‘hard to be human,’ but again, I kind of like the built-in history reflection, even if I’m the only one who can recognize it.)

So, while I am not Obama’s biggest fan (looooooong way to go on civil liberties, civil rights, drug policy, the whole not killing innocent people thing, etc., etc.), I am deeply, deeply relieved to not be entering a Mittens presidency, for I firmly believe that it would be a far scarier thing than what we have now, which I will continue to critique (though not always here, I’m sure).  Shudder.  I think that’s all I need to say about that.

(Except also, YAY for the huge advances made in the Senate and House races, as well as ballot initiatives for marriage equality and legalization.  YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!)

Helpless

The nurse from the GI clinic called a little while ago with results from yesterday’s blood draw (which I had neglected to write about here).  She said that his AST and ALT levels are still elevated (145 and 40, respectively).  The AST does seem to be going up, but the ALT seems to be going down, according to the numbers she gave me yesterday when she said we had to go for another draw:  AST/ALT 101/81 on 8/24, and 116/64 on 9/6.  Not that this means anything to me, other than that we all still know nothing.  They are referring us to a liver specialist in Cincinnati (!!).  We have to do another bout with formula, 72 hours this time, and then redraw blood again.

I’m stumped.  Clearly, if he really has an issue that needs addressing, yes, by all means, let’s address it.  I don’t want to miss something that would lead to…what, liver failure?  Jesus.  But he’s still gaining weight and growing, generally happy, and does not seem ill to me.  The only thing that is not textbook normal is some green poop and maybe some excess gas (and these AST & ALT levels, I suppose).  I didn’t even think to ask while I had the nurse on the phone if I should bother continuing with the dairy and soy elimination or if these tests instead indicate something physiological that my diet won’t affect.  I called back and left a message, but I’m guessing I won’t hear until tomorrow or maybe even Friday.  They even said that the referrals aren’t quick, so it may be weeks before we see the specialist.  Does that speak to the assumed urgency?  If it’s not urgent, then what the fuck is the point of all this?  Mike asked an interesting question – how would all of this be handled if we were uninsured?  I hate to think they’re just bilking Anthem, but hell if I really know what’s going on.  It’s almost a moot point.  I can’t NOT continue on with their recommendations, right?  I want to say that I don’t know how many more times I can hold my squirming, screaming child as they draw blood, but if I decline….what, they call Children Services on me?  I think I will have to just feel like an asshole no matter what I do.

This is wearing on me.  I can’t concentrate here at work.  I just want to go pick him up and hold him.  I’m so afraid they will tell me I have to stop breastfeeding, but I can’t understand how that would help.  What the fucking fuck?!?!!

I think I’m going to take the following two citations when we go to see the specialist – I don’t know if they are completely applicable, but I can’t help but feel like they’re trying to compare his bloodwork to a standard set by formula-fed babies.  I want to call bullshit, but I don’t know if I ‘d sleep any easier if I did.

Does breast feeding influence liver biochemistry?
Differences in serum biochemistry between breast-fed and formula-fed infants.

Any medical-background geeks out there who feel comfortable either reassuring me or encouraging me to push for more urgent investigation?  I am still so torn between not-gonna-worry-about-it and OMGCAN’TSTOPWORRYING.

Worry Wormhole

I have neglected to post updates on our continued adventures with what I am still thinking (but am now less sure about) is prolonged breastmilk jaundice.  Last Friday Ike had an abdominal ultrasound, after the last round of bloodwork showed elevated GGT (in addition to still-elevated bilirubin, I think – I admit that I haven’t been asking for all the details and actual numbers.  I’m trying to trust this practice and not play a pediatrician on TV Google).  The ultrasound study was normal, thank goodness, but they still had me give him formula for 48 hours once again, and we went for yet another blood draw yesterday. He’s gotten too big for heel sticks, apparently, so they stuck his finger instead.  It was as awful as you’d think – an eleven week old baby certainly isn’t able to understand or cooperate, so the poor little guy’s blood was everywhere. Thankfully he got over it quickly, but they called this morning with results, which are still elevated. [Dammit.]  The nurse was going to double check with the ordering pediatrician that it’s okay to have him back on breastmilk, but they are going ahead with a referral for us to have a GI consult at the local children’s hospital.  I am so torn.  Of course I don’t want to be too unconcerned and take the chance of missing something that could be a serious problem, but my gut doesn’t seem to be able to believe that he’s anything but fine (denial?  I don’t know.  He just…seems fine!).  I guess what I should be hoping for is to waste a bunch of money on further testing to find out that there is nothing to worry about?  Le sigh.  I am really struggling with how worried I should be.  I have been very determined to not freak out about every little strange baby thing that comes up – maybe too determined?  I will feel awful if something is really wrong and I should have been more persistent in getting it identified sooner, but I will feel duped if it turns out to be nothing.  It seems ridiculous to be worried that I’ve not been sufficiently worried, right?

I really don’t want to be told that I have to put him on formula for the long term; I have a really hard time believing that it would actually be better for him than breastmilk, but I have to try to keep an open mind, I suppose.  We should get a call to schedule the GI consult early next week.  Will try not to drive myself insane in the meantime.  Wish me luck.

Term

Not sure what to say here.  Full term is amazing to me, but it’s not quite a live baby in one’s arms, you know?  Still an awful lot to accomplish, even setting aside that the nursery’s not finished and there is still plenty in the house that needs cleaning and organizing.  Like, childbirth, for instance.  Can’t really overlook that part, can I?

I’m sort of concerned that my brain still hasn’t made the connection between pregnancy and parenthood. I’ve yet to have any crazy baby-related dreams (that I can recall, anyway – no telling what fun my brain is managing to hide from my waking self, I suppose).  I am still in complete awe feeling his movements and watching my belly bulge and roll.  I’m of course excited to meet him, but am still having a hard time actually visualizing myself as the mother of a newborn, actually doing the mothering.  Isn’t that…abnormal, for this stage of a pregnancy?  I feel like I should be feeling a lot more confident about all of this by now.  

I guess all I can keep doing is one thing at a time.  NST was fine again this morning.  BP up a bit, but still normal (people were being supreme idiots in the parking garage, so I blame that).  Ultrasound/BPP is in about an hour.  Fingers crossed that they give me a weight estimate.  I don’t know why it’s annoying me so that they haven’t been telling me, because I know that it’s just an estimate and that it can be off by a couple pounds in either direction, but…I guess I am still searching for something to make this feel REAL. It’s as if it’s still all too good to be true.  I’ve been so lucky with this pregnancy.  Spotting at the beginning was scary, as was that first ultrasound that seemed so very close to being a blighted ovum.  But since then, it’s been amazingly…normal.  Nausea in the first and early second trimesters, but I was so grateful for it.  I haven’t had any of the classic discomforts of later pregnancy, really.  No back pain, only minor swelling if I don’t keep up on the water intake, very little heartburn…it just seems like I’ve had it way too easy, as if some other shoe is about to drop.  I hate to think that way, but I don’t seem to be able to help it.  After having the very idea of getting anywhere near this far taken away so many times, it’s somehow surreal to be here, full term.  So close.

(37w0d)

Words Half Eaten

Just a quick post to say that while the gems such as, “Should I get him a shirt that says, Now that I’m safe, I’m Pro-Choice?” did continue, so did his generosity.  He left his grill and pretty much replaced the patio furniture he took back with him, so I really cannot complain too much.  Of course I’d prefer that he not try to buy affection/gratitude that way, and just not be so obnoxious to begin with, but overall it was much less painful than I expected, and for that I am very grateful.  I guess he did go back on some meds, not that it is really any of my business, let alone yours – this blog is really probably not anonymous enough for me to be posting stuff like this about my family, so I may should come back soon and just delete that post below, and perhaps this one as well, since apparently Blogger still won’t let us password protect individual posts (am I missing something?  anyone?).  But for now, I’ll just say that all’s well that ends well, and this past weekend was very busy and fun.  I’m exhausted and stressed about the mountains of baby stuff that still needs organizing, and all the cleaning that still waits for me underneath all the organizing, and the thank you notes from the first shower still to be written and mailed, but it’s truly the kind of stress and exhaustion that continues to confirm that we really have so much to be grateful for.

I’m a little freaked out that my due date is now less than six weeks away, honestly.  I suppose it’s normal to question everything about my abilities for both labor/birth and motherhood at this point.  I don’t in any way think that I’ll have regrets, of course, but it is still hard to believe this is finally already actually happening. As I was looking at the enormous amounts of gifted baby gear we’ve got to sort through, I realized that I don’t think I’ve actually purchased a single thing for this baby myself.  I wanted to…but I never did.  At this point I probably don’t need to, though of course eventually I’ll buy lots of stuff for him.  But that I haven’t yet, and that I can’t seem to commit to a name, even though we still have the two top candidates, makes me think there is a bigger part of my mind than I’ve realized of late still in some kind of denial that we’re as lucky as we are to be here.  I can somehow both love and hate that it feels too good to be true. 

(34w4d)