Posts Tagged 'teething'

Catch Up

It’s been entirely too long since my last post! But when most every day is an exercise in just getting through, I find the idea of myself sitting alone and typing my out thoughts hysterical.

Our Thanksgiving trip to Tucson: Leaving 50 degrees of wetness and arriving in sunny 80 degrees of splendid was very needed. We packed dresses that Josie would not otherwise get to wear (too big for last summer but will be too small next one). We had a big house all to ourselves — and my mom, of course, who we went there to visit. The house has an open floor plan, so we could actually put Josie down in one room and prepare food in another. She did not scream because she could see us. It makes me want to knock down some of our house’s walls.

A photo of Josie in Tucson by our dear friend Bert Lippel

In Tucson; photo by our dear friend Bert Lippel

While there we saw my uncle, my dad’s brother, who is fighting cancer pretty hard. It was so important to me that he and Josie meet now. We also visited my dad’s grave on the third anniversary of his death. That was a throat lumper. We saw old friends, who met Josie for the first time, and we attended the bar mitzvah of my oldest friend’s son. We packed a lot in, including big dinners and lots of play time. So much sun and dry and warm. Alas.

Quite a lot has happened over the last month, but I am not going to try to write about it all. Instead I’ll list some adorable and funny new things Josie has started to do. Josie likes to walk, but only while holding on to my fingers or with me holding under her arms. I got her a Radio Flyer wagon to walk behind, but she is not having it (so far). She does enjoy going for rides in it, however. Josie likes to talk, and by talk I mean babble with some prominent sounds: Globble globble globble, blagel blagel blagel, mamama, and die die die (which I try not to take personally). A lot of tongue is involved, and if you talk back in kind she will smile and nod like, “Uh huh, you feel me.” Josie likes to teethe. We keep running her to the doctor to have her ears checked, and the most recent trip revealed gums with not one but a few molars pushing through simultaneously. Ouch! When this hurts, it hurts the poor girl a lot. So, it’s no surprise that Josie likes to chew… everything. The Melissa & Doug toys that are so awesome because they’re wood instead of plastic? Well, many have paper pictures on the wood that Josie will chew off and eat. Since discovering this, we have semi-retired a few puzzle boards; so unfortunate. Josie likes to stand up and move here and there, constantly. The only thing is, like the walking, she wants me to make these movements happen to her, and she really doesn’t like it (understatement) when I don’t. Since I know she can scoot on her butt (we see her do it back and forth in the tub every night), I tell her I’m not moving her this time and if she wants to get somewhere she can scoot her tush. It gets very loud after that. Josie also likes to poop almost every night in the tub. We have to be glad because it means she won’t be pooping and waking up overnight (the girl cannot sleep if there’s poop in her diaper), but it also means one of us is going fishing while the other does jammies.

For your Moment of FoG (Funny or Gross), more bathtub fun:
Josie has always enjoyed finding tiny holes and putting her finger in them. Sometimes she becomes obsessed and does this for much longer than I thought a baby’s attention span could be held. You know the small hole below the faucet that catches bath overflow? So, it would be one thing if she simply liked to stick her finger in this tub hole, but Josie got in the habit of scooting over to the faucet (no matter how many times we dragged her back to the far end of the tub), sticking her pointer finger in, wiping it around inside, and putting this finger in her mouth. Obsessively. For way too long we just gagged and tried in vain to distract her with bath toys, until we realized we could just cover the hole (her baths don’t get too high, and no one else really gets the luxury of a bath these days). A little duct tape magic, and the problem (the specific problem, not the larger issue) is solved!

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Last Firsts

It’s November, which means it’s Josie’s last first new month. She’s an old pro at December since that is when she came into the world. She is growing up faster every day now, and I’m noticing a lot fewer new things. Sure she wobbles when standing, but she stands. She rarely gets on all fours as if to crawl, but she occasionally will. She is now even eating rice crispies (not capitalized and with a “c” because the official brand has gluten).

Last month Josie had her first ear infections. After she finished her antibiotic, she (wham!) got another one (or maybe it was the first one laughing at our attempt with simple amoxicillin). So she went on the stronger stuff (so much harder to gag down), which seemed to take a couple days longer to make her feel better. Poor thing. And of course, her front right tooth had to start pushing through this time. I guess she’s kind of like her moms… we freeze in the face of overwhelming tasks, and then once we get our butts in gear, we race through them all at once.

Josie lost some weight during these times of infection, and she’s never been a big girl. So, per usual, I became very worried. She was born at the 50th percentile for weight, but has been at the 10th most of her life. Then suddenly she was down to the 4th. Also, Josie’s never been a colorful child, meaning, her beautiful creamy skin has always been quite pail. We asked our PCP about this because we’d heard that she should start taking iron supplement at 6 months. She told us Josie is getting all the iron she needs from my breast milk. We even asked for a blood test to confirm that, but she reassured us it wasn’t necessary. We convinced ourselves that she is just pail like me and the rest of my family. In fact, Crayola has a specific blue called Zev Blue, which is named after my brother’s legs.

We were encouraged to see a gastroenterologist about her weight (not by our state health insurance covered PCP, of course), and in anticipation of that visit, we got a whole smattering of levels tested on her blood. Guess what? Terribly low iron! Ah, to be an infant and anemic — less appetite, lethargic, crabby. Thanks PCP! Well, at least we finally discovered it, and now that Josie takes an iron supplement daily, she’s a changed kid. I say kid because she’s huge! Well, I don’t know how much she weighs now, but she’s heavier to hold, has cheeks aplenty, and thighs to rival your T-giving turkey. Plus she’s just so much more active. What a relief.

Here’s another Moment of FoG (Funny or Gross) for y’all:
The other morning (too early for me to be wearing my glasses or be awake at all), we were playing on the floor when I noticed a tiny yellowish bit of mushy matter. Josie is usually the one to find all things tiny on the floor, so since I got to it first I reacted quickly before she could see it. We have problems with ants from time to time, and with a very shedy dog walking all over Josie’s play area and toys, ants are a constant threat (plus they make me crazy, like I might as well give up on living in a civilized society and get a tent). So what were my options? Wipe it on my clothes, and it winds up on the floor or furniture — leaving us back where we started. Call the dog over to eat it, and I have dog lick on my hand. I did not consider getting up and washing it down the sink. I did what any sleep deprived mother (I think) would do; I put it in my mouth.

These Are Viruses

Last week was a trifecta of baby woe.

Josie’s top left tooth was coming in. I don’t know if all top teeth come in like shark fins, but this one came down at an angle that made me wince to look at it. So when she kvetched and had a fever, we thought teething was the cause. But then the fever went up to 102 degrees and only came down with constant ibuprofen. The day came when the fever decreased on its own but was followed by a nasty rash. The last straw was when she stopped nursing, and eating and drinking — and the rash got nastier. Upon good advice, we went to the children’s hospital ER (it was Sunday), where we discovered she had a virus (Roseola, though they didn’t name it), and, after digging pounds of wax from her ears, the doctor could detect ear infections. That’s right: teething, virus, and ear infection.

More rash than skin!

Josie was all smiles, which made it hard to take her to the hospital. But we didn’t want her getting dehydrated. While we waited for the doctor to see us, the nurse tried to get fluids into her. Our girl is particular, and she was not having any of that purple “grape” Pedialyte. We tried plain water, but she just clamped her lips, turned her head and pushed away with her hands. Finally she nursed a little, which relieved me because I was not about to watch my tiny baby get an IV. Our girl is also very strong (at least in her torso). When the doctor tried to get the wax out, Josie had to be restrained by three adults. All the while she shrieked her dog whistle shriek, which caused ER sliding doors to close and nurses to plug their ears. If that wasn’t enough torture, she had to be held down to get numbing drops in her ears and then again for a catheter — because apparently all Caucasian female children need to be screened for UTIs at every possible moment (???). In the end, we left a little worse for the wear and with a prescription for antibiotics. We struggled two more times that night to get more drops in those ears and then the horrible pink junk in her mouth (and swallowed). Thankfully, she seems to need the drops less and gladly takes the pink crap.

During the week of fever and suffering, we bent a whole lot on the sleep training. She has come back from it pretty nicely but is still waking up a couple of times after midnight and before her early morning feeding. This means I can fall asleep okay, but I can’t fall back to sleep. I try going to bed earlier and earlier, but I’m an adult, damn it; I gotta get past sunset!

Speaking of staying up late… The other night, I took my very old friend (long friendship; she’s only 2 months older than I am) to a concert for her birthday. Natalie Merchant is playing a bunch of concerts with symphony orchestras, and when I saw she was coming to our town, I knew we had to go. We loved listening to her and 10,000 Maniacs in high school. At one point in the show, my bff leaned over and said, “I wonder if we’d even be friends without her music.” Ouch. But really, the show was quite different from what I expected; the songs were largely poems and nursery rhymes she’d adapted and set to pretty music (violins and cellos vs. guitars and drums). But after the orchestra left and just she and her guitarist and pianist remained for the encore, Natalie Merchant got a little goofy. The reason I bring this up is because she too was under the weather. She started singing the ’90s anthem “These Are Days,” which happened to be the song of our high school graduation slideshow (yup, that old). She stopped in the middle of the first note, and said, “Ya know, I didn’t get sick all summer, and after the first day my kid was back in school…” The crowd giggled with understanding. Instead of getting back to the singing, she began listing all the illnesses present in her child’s school, ending with Strep and pointing to her throat. A heckler, trying to be funny or just wanting to hear the song already, called out, “These are viruses!” I don’t think Natalie heard him because without a pause she blurted out, “Hippies, inoculate!” After a millisecond of breath intake among the politically correct Portland audience, the crowd cheered and whooped (yes, Pertussis was one of the viruses mentioned). By the way, I totally stayed awake through the show and the delirious encore.

And now I hear there’s a cold going around. God help us.

 

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I’m sitting in the basement with silicon ear plugs shoved deep into my ears. I’m two floors below where Josie is either screaming or napping. I never knew this kind of logistics would be part of parenting.

We started sleep training a few weeks ago and failed — mostly because of my weakness, though we like to blame the teething. The first night we witnessed the longest screaming; I went outside and did stuff on my phone for as long as I could pace in front of our house without scaring the neighbors. The second night was shorter. The third, shorter than that. Then came a tooth. A very cute, very sharp tooth right in the middle of her bottom gum. Oh, and I was alone with her for bedtime. Let’s just say progress was lost and leave it at that.

Since then, she’s been back in our bed and no one (well, except her, maybe) has gotten any sleep again. We considered moving the big-pain-in-the-butt-to-take-apart-and-reconfigure crib into our bedroom so she could be right up against our bed (with the rail down — kind of like the co-sleeper she used to sleep in but got too long for). I’m so glad we didn’t do it because it wouldn’t have worked. She was screaming in the bed with us, with me and my boob right there, anyway. In my desperate tiredness I acknowledged that we needed to start the sleep training again last night and do it all the way. No giving in, even for naps.

When I witness the screaming, I get a vivid picture of her screaming face burnt on the backs of my eyelids and the piercing sound trapped behind the earplugs. It’s a great way to try and fall asleep. Even here, some 20 feet below, I can still hear when she wakes up and cries. I have to be bigger than my anxiety and tell myself it’s the best thing for everyone. Don’t think about the huge tears. Don’t think about the red face and choking. Think about how happy the family will be, eventually, when we’re all rested.

In the meantime, let’s move on to another installment of FOG (Funny or Gross):
The other day, I brought Josie in to where K was resting. K woke up and took Josie in a “flying baby” position above her. Josie loves being “baby in the sky”; it’s when she gives her biggest open mouth smile. K made the mistake of taking pleasure in the moment and smiling wide as well. Just then, a glob of teething saliva, visible with Google Earth, followed gravity’s pull right into K’s mouth.

We Can Work It Out

Work.

It was bound to come up sooner or later. K started back to work a month ago, and it’s been brutal. We’ve figured out that it takes at least 3 adults to take care of 1 infant. On the days K is gone for 8 hours, I’ve tried to wrangle friends to hang out with me and Josie. Sometimes it’s great; Josie is all smiles and naps. Other times she acts like these friends (sometimes the same ones!) are there to torture her and cries to look at them (which she can’t help doing over and over). I’ve tried going to “groups” but am often more exhausted from wearing and bouncing her the whole time than if we’d stayed home where I could be worn out in private (and cry if I want to).

I recently had the opportunity to take on a small freelance editing job. It was right up my alley. But then I had one of those days with Josie (actually two in a row); I was a wreck physically and emotionally (there’s nothing quite like when a baby finds her angry scream!). I ended up turning it down even though we could for sure use the money and I need to get back to doing what I like for work, rather than what I’ve been doing for 3 years (teaching online). The person said she’d be happy to work with me in the future, when I’m ready. But, of course, I still felt like a failure for turning down one little job and feel like it’s crazy to imagine there will be a time when Josie will “let” me work.

You see, our daughter will not nap, and now she’s gotten to waking up every, I don’t know, half hour to scream until I put I boob in it. If she could find it on her own and I could sleep through, that’d be great. But she can’t and neither can I. It’s constant waking…to the point of sleep deprivation torture. I know it could just be a stage or teething or who knows what. But it soooks! As I say often to K (it’s my postpartum mantra), this is unsustainable!

We’ve talked books and theories and timing and routines and swaddling and dangling from the ceiling, etc., whatever it would take to get her to sleep for longer stretches (even the old 2-hour ones we used to curse!). Nothing works, and I am sick of trying. We resorted to giving her the dreaded formula last night, thinking it would fill her tummy and help her sleep longer. Oh, no. She was on the boob right after. And on and off as usual throughout the night. So much for corn syrup! My mom being here right now is my only saving grace. And thinking that maybe, some month, Josie will change.

One piece of advice I’ve gotten recently that I do appreciate (however fantastical it is) is to do more self care and that this will somehow via magic unicorns and confetti translate to an easier go. So I got a massage last week. And another today. I’ve been in so much pain (just the regular body pain of having a baby, in addition to, of course, the special sliced and diced down-under kind), I have a hard time sleeping even when she is. Sometimes the pain killers help, but mostly I lie there thinking at the pain, “If I was really tired I could sleep through you!” I’m sure that’s it; I just haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Luckily, the massages have felt really good. The one yesterday was a sliding-scale Thai massage where the practitioner makes you into a pretzel and stretches out the tight spots. Hurts so god — a bit like fighting fire with fire.

Today I went to work on rebuilding my pelvic floor muscles and reconnecting my abdominals. I’ve been going once a week for over a month, and my diastasis has improved quite a bit. It’s still three fingers wide around the belly button area, but it’s much shallower all the way from top to bottom. I was expressing a little frustration to the pilates instructor I’m working with who said that as long as I’m nursing Josie, the relaxin in my system will keep things loose and my body won’t be able to “come back together” all the way. It was kind of good and bad to hear that. At first I thought, “Well, what’s all this working out for? How can I, or anyone, take care of a growing baby without certain muscles intact?” Then I thought, “Phew! I don’t have to get it perfect yet.”

Before I sign off, I want to introduce a new blog feature called FOG (Funny or Gross). When Josie was smaller and K and I were new to sleep deprivation, we thought we were the funniest people in the world. We’d make things up or just say (whisper) them on accident and crack up while trying not to disturb the almost-sleeping baby. As Josie is growing and doing more things with her body, I have to wonder: is that funny or gross? For example, Josie has been getting very good with her hands. I was leaning over and kissing her belly area when she hooked my nostrils with two of her fingers, bowling ball style, and pulled my face up to hers so she could eat it (my face). I thought it was hysterical. Later, when I was in bed, I moved my face muscles and felt my skin crack where the entire day’s saliva had dried. Again, I laughed. Am I still suffering from the sleep deprivation sense of humor? More FOG to come…

Big Girls

Josie is 3 months old! Three months… the end of the 4th trimester… a magical time when everything gets easier. Or so say all the books and websites and people. Is it fun to lie? How does lying benefit them? I’m still reeling from the 12-weeks of pregnancy nausea lie.

In some ways, some things have gotten easier as J has gotten bigger. For one, she’s literally gotten bigger. She’s a whopping 11 pounds now (so petite!). A bigger baby with better neck control is simply easier to handle. She’s also more consistently sleeping in 3-4 hour shifts at night (knock internet wood). But we’re still struggling with nursing. It seems to be her belly upset that makes it hard almost every time. The obvious suffering is very hard to take emotionally (I’m talking about me here, not her).

Getting bigger has brought on a new hard thing. Namely, teeth. Who starts teething at 3 months?! My daughter, who now drools and sucks on everything she can. What she can’t get into her mouth yet for lack of motor skills frustrates the hell out of her and makes her cry. How can we manage teething before we’ve gotten a handle on nursing?!

I have also worn some big girl pants as of late. I sucked it up, so to speak, and began seeing a holistic pelvic care practitioner. What the heck is that? Well, it’s a modality in which the practitioner does internal (that’s right!) work to help increase blood flow to the organs and muscles of the pelvic floor. This encourages relaxation and healing, builds muscle strength and speeds recovery from difficult pregnancies or childbirth. Yo, I’m prime candidate material, no?  I kept putting it off because I thought it would be horrible for anything to be “up there” yet after so much cutting and tearing. But I went and it wasn’t so bad. It seemed to help, and I’m going back for more next week.

Now to the other hole… (you can always count on me to be frank about body issues on this blog). By doing some other bodywork, it became clear that my sacral and tailbone pain are not emanating from a compromised coccyx. So I must face the horrible fact that my hemorrhoids, which were bad in late pregnancy and ridiculous after the birth, just aren’t going away. Guess what? There’s a lady in town who uses electrical currents to remove them. One more appointment for me!

Lastly, we as a family have been struggling with the reality that I have zero of the core strength I need to carry and bounce Josie (major dancing and bouncing is the only way to get our joy bundle to sleep). It’s so hard when Josie is crying and I either have to pass her off to K, who has started back to work and needs some baby-free time, or I have to walk around bouncing her forever, which hurts a ton and then I’m crying. So, yesterday, we went to a pilates studio where the instructor specializes in mamas. She delivered some difficult news… she says I have some significant diastisis recti, which is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscle into right and left halves. This isn’t uncommon, but it’s gonna take a lot of work and time (once I have an operating pelvic floor) to get my belly mended and my core nice and strong.

“Big girls don’t cry,” huh? Another lie… and this time in song!


(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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