Friday, April 30

I've been reduced to a big pile of mush.

Milo smiled at me! His first real smile!

It happened on Wednesday. He had been dozing in his swing, but it was time for me to change his diaper and get him ready to go (we had a big lunch date with my dear friend Melynda). So I unsnapped his safety harness and scooped my sleeping baby up. As I did, he opened his eyes, looked right at me, and gave me a big, toothless grin.

And 30 seconds later he frowned and briefly even considered crying.

But I know what I saw, and I saw a little boy who recognized his momma and was happy to see her. And a little piece of my heart just melted away.

Thursday, April 29

A Room of One's Own

There's been a big development in the Langford household. Milo has begun sleeping in his own room.

Before he was born, I assumed Milo would sleep in his crib, in his own room, from the very beginning. I scoffed at the people who said it wouldn't happen, that we would definitely want him close by for the first few days or weeks (or months, even). I wasn't a fan of co-sleeping, and I just knew that if the baby was right next to me, I'd never get any sleep at all because I'd be too focused on every little noise he made.

But like everything else about having a baby, the reality was far different than my expectations. When we brought Milo home, I never even considered having him sleep in his crib that first night. He fell asleep in my arms, then slept in the pack-n-play at the foot of our bed. And when he cried and wouldn't fall back asleep, Andrew snuggled him close and brought him into our bed. Until Monday night, this was our routine.

The one thing I was right about was that he would keep me awake with those little baby noises. Each night after I laid him down after feeding, he'd grunt and squeak so much, I was sure he was spitting up or choking or SOMETHING terrible. So I'd hop up and check on him. Twice. And over the last week or so, it became harder and harder for me to fall back asleep. I found myself lying awake for thirty minutes or more after each time I got up. Do the math on that: baby who won't fall asleep until 11:00 + two to three feeding sessions (40 minutes each) x 30 minutes of extra awake time = NOT ENOUGH SLEEP.

So we tried it. We made sure our baby monitor worked and we put him to bed in his own room. It was wonderful. Milo slept just as well, but now his grunts were filtered through the white noise of a small electronic device. We moved the night light out into the hall and finally got to sleep in an unlit room. I had forgotten how awesome it is to sleep in actual darkness. And it was so much easier to fall asleep. And Andrew only went in to check on him two or three times, so overall I'd call this new development a success.

Pfffftttts! I can has mah sleep anywheres!

Tuesday, April 27

Who's it gonna be?

In Milo's 3D sonogram pictures, he looked EXACTLY like me. I was sure of it. He had the same nose and mouth that I had seen in my newborn photos. And then he was born, further solidifying my belief that he looked just like me and my side of the family (especially with his maybe, sort of reddish hair).

But then.

Then Sarah, my MIL, whipped out a photo of Andrew when he was about six or seven weeks old. And my vision of raising a mini-me flew out the window.

Milo looks just like Andrew. Check out the photographic evidence below. Do you see the resemblance?

Clockwise from top left: Milo, 4 weeks; Andrew, 6ish weeks; Milo, 4 1/2 weeks; Megan, 2 days

Friday, April 23

The Stats

At Milo's one-month check up, he measured up quite well.

  • Weight: 9 lbs., 14 oz. (50th percentile)
  • Length: 21 1/4 in. (50th percentile)
  • Head Circumference: 15 1/2 in. (75th percentile)

At one month, Milo eats about every two and a half to four hours during the day, and about every three to seven hours at night. This means that Mom and Dad are up just twice a night usually for diaper and feeding duty. The doctor says that since he's eating well and gaining plenty of weight, we can let him sleep as long as he wants during the night. We're hoping Milo will soon see the benefits of getting a solid eight hours of sleep (in a row).

At one month, Milo usually has one or two fussy periods a day. He is sometimes calmed by holding him over your shoulder and patting his back (and sometimes not). He is quickly soothed by his pacifier (Andrew calls it the baby easy button) but sometimes just as quickly spits it out.

At one month, we have both come to the conclusion that Milo sleeps better when he's really warm. He now wears both a footie sleeper and a fleece sleep sack to bed, and sometimes a hat as well. If we also feel chilly, we add mittens to Milo's ensemble.

At one month, Milo still squeaks and grunts while he eats. Much to my chagrin, he sometimes twists and turns while eating, as if trying to get in just the exact right position. I have one word for this: ouch.

At one month, Milo makes the loudest, gruntiest, wettest breathing sounds at night after I lay him back in bed after eating. Andrew and I both are on high alert, listening for sounds of spitting up, choking, or other baby distress. When it gets especially bad, we pick him up, try to burp him, give him his pacifier (which he usually spits out), and make calming shushing sounds. This typically puts him to sleep, and then it's hit or miss as to whether he'll wake up again when we lay him back down.

At one month, I no longer have trouble sleeping with a nightlight on.

At one month, my regular clothes are nowhere near close to fitting. Sigh.

At one month, this whole mom thing is starting to seem just a tiny bit easier and not so stressful. Believe me, it's not easy and I have so much to figure out still, but I'm getting there. And Milo is a good teacher. He's very patient with me. I hope sometime soon he will smile and let me know he thinks I'm doing okay.
At one month, Milo loves giving Mommy kisses.

Thursday, April 22

Noteworthy Thursday #31/One month (and a few hours) already? No way.

Happy one-month birthday, Milo!

Dear Milo,

So much has changed since you were born. For instance, I thought I'd get this entry written and posted before midnight when you woke up to be fed. But then you surprised us and slept nearly eight hours in a row. And don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about that. Every day is a little different.

You are more alert and seem to recognize us more. We swear, you are *this close* to smiling. I thought you hated baths, due to the screaming and whatnot, but last night you were actually calm the entire duration you were in the tub. You had this look on your face, like, "I'm not sure what's going on, but, eh, this isn't so bad, I guess. Yes, Dad, keep on scrubbing. I shall tolerate it like a man." And you looked about as cute as you ever have (and as your mother, I can verify that you have looked VERY cute many times).

You continue to amaze me. Every. Single. Day. And I love you more and more. Every. Single. Day. Happy one-month, Milo.


Wednesday, April 14

Mistaken Identity

Milo and I went for a walk this morning in the park, and while we were on the trail, we passed a group of older gentlemen out for their morning constitutional. They paused to admire Milo, and said things like, "Oh, she's just the prettiest little thing, isn't she?" and "How old is she?" and "What's her name?"

Clearly they thought Milo was a girl.

Which, frankly, I am fine with. I mean, he's a baby for crissakes, who can tell? But today he was wearing BLUE, even. Don't people generally assume babies wearing blue are boys?

I didn't want to embarrass the old guys so I tried to avoid the name question. But one guy asked again. I said, "Actually, he's a boy. His name is Milo." They all hastily explained that they mistook him for a girl (no kidding) and that he was "too pretty to be a boy."

So there you have it, kid. Strangers think you are too pretty to be a boy. I'm sure that bodes well for your future.

Saturday, April 10

Hi, my name is Megan...

On Thursday I went to a breastfeeding support group. I didn't know what to expect, but I was imagining a circle of chairs, with a bunch of women all holding their babies, saying things like, "Hi, my name is Megan, and I have trouble breastfeeding." And the group would welcome each person and encourage her to share, and of course she'd end up in tears. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive to go, especially all by myself (with Milo, of course). I'm not big on crying in front of strangers, but since it doesn't take much to bring me to tears these days, it seemed sort of inevitable.

But as it turned out, it was nothing like what I had pictured. Milo and I arrived just a few minutes after the starting time, which I was pretty proud of, considering I was still feeding him at home only 30 minutes before the meeting started. Plus, it was our first time to leave the house without anyone else's assistance, so being almost on time was quite a feat in my book. When I walked in, I saw about six or seven women and their babies sitting around a table. They all had thick, cushy-looking blankets spread out on the table, and were all in the process of undressing their babies and changing diapers. I gathered that they were preparing to weigh the babies. I followed their lead, wishing I had brought a more substantial blanket. I felt like a newbie. The lactation consultant that we had worked with before was there, sitting by the scale, ready to weigh in the babies.

As I undressed Milo, I thought it was odd that there were no introductions or anything. I think I may have been the only first-timer there. The other moms seemed to know each other. But everyone was friendly, and I really enjoyed being surrounded by moms with tiny babies. A couple of the babies were smaller than Milo, and for the first time, he seemed big to me. I chatted with the other moms a little bit, but mostly listened to their conversation. They talked about feeding, sharing stories about nighttime feedings or how they planned to pump once they went back to work. A few stories centered around inept-but-really-trying husbands. There were no tears or emotional confessions. (There really wasn't any guided conversation, actually. The entire session involved weighing babies, feeding babies, then weighing them again to see how much milk they had gotten. I never imagined that I would sit around a table with a bunch of women, all of whom had their boobs out, babes attached. I've flashed more people in the last three weeks than I had in my entire life. But I digress.)

While I was relieved to not end up crying in public, part of me was a little disappointed that I didn't have a chance to talk about how difficult this is, to see if anyone else felt the same way. I was encouraged by these moms though, to see them with their babies, most of whom were a few weeks older than Milo. If they could stick with it, even though they had apparently had the same kind of difficulties that I am having, then I can make it, too. I ended up really enjoying myself, and I plan to go back next week. Next time I'll be more prepared, though. I'll bring my own cushy blanket and I'll wear a shirt that lets me feed a bit more discreetly.

To sum up, I'm proud of myself for going and proud of Milo for maybe starting to get this eating thing. He was up to 8 lbs., 12.9 oz. That's up 10 ounces in just five days. Not too shabby, eh?

Monday, April 5

No one said it would be easy.

It's funny sometimes how you really just don't know what you don't know.

Before Milo was born, one of the biggest things I was anxious to find out was the color of his hair. I wondered if he would be a redhead like me or if he would have dark hair like his daddy. I don't really know why it was such a big deal. It was almost as if his hair color alone would determine his entire personality. And then he was born. The moment I first saw him, I thought he had dark hair like Andrew's. Later, though, once he was cleaned up a bit, I realized that the dark hair was actually just wet hair. He actually had rather light hair. But it wasn't red, exactly. Now, two weeks later, I still can't tell what color hair this boy has. In some lights, it glows strawberry blond. From some angles, it seems to be a medium brown shade. Other times, it just looks blond. But who really cares?

I've been a mom for just a couple of weeks, and I pretty much feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. Why is he so fussy? Is it better to change his diaper before or after a feeding? How long should I let him feed on one boob before switching him to the other? Why does he eat for nearly an hour and then still act hungry five minutes later? Is breastfeeding supposed to be this hard? Why won't he just fall asleep already? What kinds of things am I supposed to be doing to help him developmentally? Why does Mommy suddenly refer to herself in the third person? And how am I going to manage by myself once Andrew goes back to work?

It's been the most amazing time of my life, yet also the most challenging. By far. The biggest challenge we've faced has been breastfeeding. (FYI, if you don't want to know the details of my breastfeeding experience, you may safely skip the next few paragraphs.) Andrew and I are both dedicated to breastfeeding. We feel it's the most beneficial thing for Milo's health, and I was looking forward to the bonding aspect of breastfeeding. But at our first pediatrician's appointment, just four days after his birth, we found out that Milo had lost way too much weight. He was down from 8 lbs, 5 oz. to just 7 lbs., 6 oz. It seemed that my milk was especially slow to come in, so we needed to do something to get it going. There was also a possibility that I just had low supply, and if that was the case, we'd need to supplement with formula. The doctor put Milo on a strict feeding schedule: nurse him every two hours, then I would need to pump afterward, then feed him the expressed milk through a dropper.

We were super disappointed. We thought we had done everything we could to ensure a strong start to breastfeeding—immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth, attempting to feed within the first hour after birth—all that good stuff. When we were in the hospital, Milo seemed to latch on just fine. But as the days went by, he began to fight it, pulling away and screaming every time I tried to nurse him. It basically took two of us to get him to feed: one person to hold his hands out of the way (Milo preferred to suck on his fists instead) and one to hold his mouth open and shove him on. Not exactly the bonding experience I had imagined. Plus, the entire nursing/pumping process took about an hour, so we only had an hour between feedings. This was very tiresome. But the thought of having to supplement with formula just crushed me. Of course I want to do what is best for Milo and if he lost too much weight and needed formula, so be it, but there is such a stigma around formula that I already felt like I had failed. And on top of that, we questioned the pediatrician's advice to feed him through a dropper. The dropper meant he didn't have to work at all for the food, and his latch seemed to be even worse as a result.

The second night of this horrible experience, we called a lactation consultant and made an appointment for the next day. Our meeting with the lactation consultant was extremely helpful. She watched me attempt to feed and saw how Milo struggled. She recommended that we use a nipple shield, both to help with the latch and to give my sore, cracked nipples a break. She took us down to feeding every two hours during the day and every three hours at night, with no more pumping. By this point, he had already gained a couple of ounces, so we were on the right track.

And for a couple of days, things were really looking up. He didn't fight me every time, and as for the latching, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Suddenly he just got it. But apparently it was a dimmer switch, because he has forgotten how to latch. Again. Fortunately, he's still gaining weight. As of last Saturday, he was back up to 8 lbs., 3 oz., just a couple of ounces shy of his birth weight. And once he reaches his birth weight, the pediatrician and lactation consultant agree that we can quit waking him up for feedings, and just let him tell us when he's hungry.

Basically, it's been difficult. I wish I'd known how hard it could be. for some naive reason, I thought everything would just be sort of easy. Sure, it's hard for some people, but surely not me. The entire parenting experience is different than I thought it would be. I had no idea what to expect, and somehow this still defies my expectations. Thinking back to my last few weeks of pregnancy, I wish more of my mom friends had really told me how tough this is. Maybe they forget when their babies get to be more fun and more rewarding. I wish I'd been able to prepare for this, to know what it was going to be like. It seems so silly, to think how much I wondered what color Milo's hair would be. I guess it just figures that I still don't really know.

I do know that I sure love this little boy. And that we'll figure all the other stuff out eventually.