Lay back, lay back, go to sleep, my man. June 15, 2012
One of the biggest challenges of this baby situation is the sleeping. Hers, mine, Aaron’s. And by sleep, I mean, of course, NOT SLEEPING. Because none of us have really spent many hours doing it. Not in a row, anyway.
About a month ago we decided to get serious about sleep. We had moved her into her crib a few weeks prior, but it took both of us a lot of time to get her to actually fall asleep in there. Shushing, rocking, singing. Replacing the blanket over and over after she kicked it off. Trying to keep her from flipping over because if she flips over then she gets on her hands and knees and then she gets stuck and screams or propels herself forward and hits her head and screams and oh my gosh the screaming it never ends help me help me help me.
Because I can’t do anything without reading about every possible option available to me, I started researching sleep training methods. There are about ten million of them so it was a pretty simple task. No-Cry, Baby Whisperer, Sleep Lady, eight thousand doctors who will tell you exactly what to do if you’ll just buy their book. I had no idea where to start.
The facts were these: Campbell had stopped falling asleep after nursing, which had been my go-to method; she has never really cuddled or snuggled in any way, so rocking just served to make her mad; if we were interacting with her at all she thought it was playtime; all she wanted to do in the crib was roll around and try to crawl.
I was terrified of the ‘cry-it-out’ method, having read a bit about it having long-term emotional effects on babies. We wanted her to trust that we would not abandon her when she needed us, right? Right. I took it off the table.
But nothing else worked. NOTHING. So one night, out of desperation, we gave it a shot.
It works like this: you do your regular bedtime routine, then put the baby in the crib. Leave the room. If they cry, let them for three minutes before going back in. (The book says not to pick them up during this time but we do. You gotta make things work for you.) After you comfort them, leave again and don’t go back until they’ve cried for five minutes. Then ten minutes, and it stays at ten minutes from then on until they fall asleep.
You guys. YOU GUYS. We’ve been doing this for two weeks and have never once made it to the first ten minute stretch. Only rarely do we make it to the five minute one. We’ve gone from a 45-minute dramafest at bedtime to a baby who is out for the night within three minutes.
Turns out we were holding her back. When she would get up on her hands and knees and get frustrated, we would flip her back over and try to get her to lay still. But left to her own devices, that frustration finds its way out through rolling and kicking and flipping and fussing. Then, after a few minutes of fussing, sleep. GLORIOUS SLEEP.
We don’t quite have sleeping through the night going on, but we’re close. She wakes up once after several hours instead of every two. We’re down to one overnight feeding. Everyone is feeling a little better.
I think we might survive.
It’s gotten funny at naptime the past few days. Her latest skill is going from crawling position to sitting up, and somehow she’s learned to do that during the falling asleep process. So, often, I check the monitor to find this:
And then walk in to find this:
Y’ALL. She is full-on asleep in these pictures.
WHAT IS HAPPENING.
But I’m not complaining. I just sneak in and move her little body a tiny bit and she’s good. AND SLEEPING.
Turns out you have to FEED the baby. May 11, 2012
There are a ton of things to stress about when you’re pregnant, and when you have a new baby. An infinite amount, really, from toxins to sleeping arrangements to car seat safety to parenting styles to diseases to family drama to nursery decorations. (Yes, nursery decorations. Don’t judge.) But by far the most stressful one, for me at least, is feeding. Babies need to eat to stay alive, y’all, and we have to figure out how to do it.
When I was pregnant I did a ton of reading about breastfeeding. I tried to wrap my mind around how it works and how much they eat and how often and what if it hurts and what if there are issues and what if she can’t latch on and what if what if what if.
We delivered at a women’s hospital that has a wonderful lactation boutique staffed with 24-hour lactation consultants who will come to your room and help you figure out what to do. These are women who have devoted their lives to breastfeeding and teaching new mothers the basics. Also, they are SCARY WOMEN. Super intense crazy nursing ladies who will manhandle you and talk a thousand miles a minute and make you feel like you’ve totally got it until they walk out the door and you realize you have no idea what just happened. I was given tools and tricks and several position options and an overwhelming sense that if I didn’t get it figured out I would be not only depriving my baby of vital nutrition but also of bonding time with me. She would be unhealthy and also hate me.
(Possibly I am projecting onto these women a bit. Possibly I found the whole thing completely overwhelming and stressful and it is easier to put that on them than admit to my fear of failure. Possibly.)
They told me if it hurt I was doing it wrong. It hurt. A LOT. Turns out that when you ask parts of your body to do something they’ve never done before, they resist. And resistance hurts. But we powered through and started to get a handle on things, or so I thought.
But when we went in for her one week appointment, the pediatrician was concerned. She wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as they would have liked. I was convinced it was my fault. I had low supply, something I was eating was causing her problems, I hadn’t listened closely enough to the scary hospital ladies. They sent us home with a plan: nurse, then give her formula, then pump. Every time she ate. Day and night. It took an hour and a half start to finish, and she was eating every two hours.
I cried and cried and cried. One week in and I had already failed. I couldn’t feed her on my own.
We stuck to the plan for three weeks and she plumped right up, blowing past her birth weight in no time. We slowly dropped the formula supplements and found our groove. She got stronger, I started to relax, everyone felt happier.
Our nursing relationship has gone really well ever since. She’s been almost exclusively on breast milk, having a bottle of formula maybe once or twice a week with the sitter. I’m not a perfect pumper… my hours in the office are so limited and meeting-filled that I have a hard time getting it done. I have no idea how anyone ever established a freezer stash. I am literally pumping on Monday the milk she will drink at the sitter’s on Tuesday.
But I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. She’s fine. She’s great. She’s in the 85th percentile in every possible measurement. Her chances of becoming a neurosurgeon rocket scientist painter author rock star with a perfect immune system are still pretty high, AND I’m pretty sure she can beat up any baby who tells her otherwise. I’m not letting myself stress out about it anymore.
Besides, it’s time to start solid foods. That should be a super fun stress-free process, right? RIGHT?
Campbell’s Monthly Photos. March 18, 2012
Hey, did you know we’re taking monthly pictures of Campbell? I mean, real talk, we’re taking daily pictures of Campbell. But we are also taking OFFICIAL monthly pictures, and today, four months in, I am finally getting around to sharing them.
First, let me tell you how this all came to be. It all started with Pinterest, as most things do. There are about 10,000 ideas on there about how to monthly document the growth of your precious baby thing. Personalized onesies, chalkboard designs, building blocks, homemade signs. But the one I loved the most was the giant calendar.
Problem #1. Where do I get the giant calendar? I went to the office supply store, but the biggest thing they had was desktop sized. I googled and googled until I came up with it’s official title – the Stendig Calendar. Apparently it’s a whole thing in the modern design community. I could order one from Crate and Barrel! Great!
Problem #2. Campbell was born in November. Ordering a 2012 calendar was no problem. But I needed December 2011! Who is still selling 2011 calendars in December? No one, that’s who. Even Google failed me. I got seriously depressed about this turn of events (for real, I had a three week old, my emotions were a roller coaster) and started looking for a monthly picture plan B. But! Then! A website told me that the Stendig Calendar is printed in Nashville. NASHVILLE. Guess who lives in Nashville? ME.
I called the office and explained my situation to the nicest guy ever, who, after giving me a history of the Stendig Calendar, told me that he had one copy of the 2011 calendar that he’d give me for free if I bought my 2012 calendar from him. AND he would deliver it to my house. FREE. WITH DELIVERY. Yes, please.
And you guys, it is beautiful. It’s enormous, first of all, three feet by four feet, which precluded us from hanging it anywhere in the house since I’m pretty sure it’s actually bigger than our house.
So each month, as close to the 6th as I can remember, we bust it out and spread it on the floor. I put Campbell in my favorite outfit that’s currently in rotation, and we go to town. It’s pretty much the most fun thing ever.
And here they are! Starting next month I’ll post them in a better format. This month we’re just catching up.
Holy moments. February 28, 2012
It had been a rough morning. She had decided that instead of chewing on her hands when she was hungry or rubbing her eyes when she was tired she would just skip straight to the screaming. Oh, the screaming. None of my usual tricks – the mirror, running the faucet, going outside, looking at the ceiling fan – were working. SHE. WAS. NOT. HAVING. IT.
She was exhausted. I was exhausted. We were both crying. I don’t know who was more upset.
I’d been carrying her around the house for an hour. My arms were sore, my back ached, my head hurt. I opened the front door to let her look outside at the world. I’m sure we were a sight for the neighbors, her in just a diaper with a red face and wide open mouth, me in my sweats and nursing tank with one side unhooked after a failed nursing attempt and a towel on my head. Two girls at the end of their ropes.
Something about it worked for her, though. The screams got shorter, then quieter, then turned into whimpers. Her hands found their way into her mouth. I felt her little body relax into me, her head settle on my chest. Her big teary eyes watching the cars drive by. She took a deep breath. I took a deep breath.
I don’t talk a lot about holy moments. I don’t recognize them often. But standing there in the doorway, disheveled and tired and aching, I felt it. It wasn’t beautiful or graceful or sweet. It was loud and hard and overwhelming.
She is mine. To raise and help and feed and provide for. While I am learning how to be her mom, she is learning how to be, period. She already has problems I can’t fix. But I can hold her and love her and listen to her, even when all she can do is scream.
After things were settled and I put her down to nap, I checked my phone. My mom had called, right in the middle of it all, just to check on me. While I was taking care of my girl, my mom was taking care of hers.
The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name. January 17, 2012
We get asked a lot of questions about Campbell’s name. Where did it come from? Is it a family name? What does it mean? And the answer is… nowhere. no. nothing.
OK, that’s not entirely true. Aaron watches a show called Damages that has an actor named Campbell Scott on it. He saw it on screen one day and it stuck with him. He was pretty sold on it right away, actually. I took longer to convince. We wanted something that sounded like it could be anything – a writer, a doctor, a stay-at-home mom, a bum on the street. You know, whatever she wanted to be.
(The part where it doesn’t mean anything isn’t entirely true, either. According to the baby sites, Campbell means ‘crooked mouth.’)
I have a bit of a hang up about names. See, I’ve never liked mine. (Sorry, mom.) I don’t feel like it suits me. It sounds cheerleader-y, ditzy, stripper-y. Seriously. Anytime there are a bunch of women on TV trying to, like, win the love of Bret Michaels, I guarantee three of them will be named Brandi. Brandy. Brandie. Brandee. (That one’s the worst.)
So naming our little girl was a daunting task for me. I didn’t want to saddle her with something she hated. I wanted her to have options. But mostly, I didn’t want people to have an idea of who she was before they actually met her.
The longer we talked about Campbell, the more it grew on me. It sounds solid to me, grounded. There aren’t any famous and also trashy people named Campbell. It’s unique, but not crazy. It’s a word people know and know how to spell. I was starting to feel it. Then Aaron brought in the big guns – the middle name. Louise. After my grandmother.
This is my grandmother, Louise. (And my mom, Nelda.) (And me.)
I loved the idea of using a family name, and Campbell Louise flows so well. I was excited to honor my Mawmaw, the lady who took care of her giant family and raised my mom and introduced us to chocolate pie. Plus, she’d had a great nickname – Tootsie. Toots. Totally cute for a baby girl.
Then my Mawmaw got sick. She had a stroke, and then another one. She lost use of the right side of her body. She started forgetting who people were. A blood clot. A broken hip. She started talking to people who had died years ago. She got a little better, then a little worse. She couldn’t swallow food. When asked, she would say her name was “Number 29″. It was rough on my family, especially my mom. It was hard for me to be so far away from them.
Mawmaw passed away on November first. Her body had just had enough. The service was scheduled for the following Saturday. My mom was freaking out that Campbell would come sometime that week. I spent a lot of time talking to my stomach, asking her to please just hold out. Stay in there until after the funeral. The service was at 11am on Saturday. I started having contractions at noon.
The original Toots and Toots the Second missed each other on earth by just a few days. But I like to think they’ve got a connection.
Guess who else I hate? June 15, 2011
I had this grand idea of journaling during this pregnancy business to help me remember the different things I’d go through/feel/wonder about. I can’t imagine why I thought that would work, since I’ve only written for this site about three times all year. But still. Good intentions.
I wanted to find something with prompts that would help me decide what to write about. BIG PROBLEM – pregnancy journals are lame. (Maybe you had an awesome journal when you were pregnant and you filled it with butterflies and rainbows and food cravings.) I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t cheesy and emotional and oh-what-a-beautiful-experience-y.
So I started looking for prompted journals of any kind. I wanted to make lists, draw pictures, answer questions, that kind of thing. I found something called The Happy Book and decided to use it as a journal of my life over these months – not necessarily pregnancy specific, just a reminder of what was going on and how I was feeling.
It’s a pretty great book, actually. It asks questions about the games you made up as a kid and the songs that make you happy and lines from movies that make you laugh. It’s really fun to work on – Aaron and I have been doing it together every few days, each of us writing in different things. (Under ‘words that make you laugh’, Aaron wrote ‘sonofabitch’. That’s kid-appropriate, right?)
One page asks you to list your favorite people in the whole world. After writing about various family members, friends, and twitter feeds, I started a sentence with, “You know who would definitely NOT be on that list…” which very quickly devolved into a game we have since titled “Guess Who Else I Hate?” It’s like a 20 Questions of annoying people from our lives.
IT RULES. I realize that it goes against everything that The Happy Book stands for, but MAN it is fun to play. I’m not sure there’s much that’s more cathartic than talking about people who’ve pissed you off.
We are going to be great parents.
I had a dream last night… May 28, 2011
• The baby is born normal sized, but it has giant ears.
• I don’t think Aaron is the baby’s father. We are both fine with that. We just spend a lot of time driving around looking for the real father so we’ll know who he is.
• All of my friends from home call me to say they’ve pooled their money and want to fly me home to visit. When we all get together, it turns out they’re staging an intervention because they’re mad that I’m not as involved in their lives as I should be. One of them is mad that they didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was eleven months along. Also, one of my youth group boys is there, walking a dog around the house.
• I’m walking down the street I grew up on. At the end of the street, where there used to be an elementary school, there’s now a giant carnival. I walk through the carnival, get an ice cream cone, and on the other side, where there used to be another neighborhood, there are now a bunch of warehouses where they film porn movies.
• I’m up late, watching TV, and one of those local real estate shows comes on. They’re walking through a bunch of different houses, trying to sell them to me, when the host turns and looks right into the camera. He says that if you’re watching this show, it’s because you got the secret message that in the middle of the show they are showing the last Harry Potter movie, the one that doesn’t come out until the summer. I was FREAKING OUT.
• I am a member of a synchronized swimming team. In the middle of the performance, the fancy music changes over to “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, and I jump up on a floating platform and I lip synch the song while floating around the pool.
• I move to New Jersey to try to go to college. I think that because I’m from Texas I will get a scholarship because of diversity.
• I go to the doctor and they tell me I have to do the three-hour glucose test, which I am terrified of both in my real life and my dream life. I am mad, and start crying, but then I feel better when they give me a copy of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
I’ve been off the progesterone for a few weeks now, the baby seems to have stuck, and the dreams have settled down a bit. I’m sure Aaron is glad for that. He was tired of listening to the crazy.
Plus sign. May 17, 2011
I had been sick all week. It started as allergies, turned in to a cold, then became kind of a stomachache/ coughing fit combo. It was glamorous, let me tell you. By Saturday, I couldn’t be up or moving for long without needing to lie down, and I slept horribly Saturday night. Coughing, nausea, restlessness. I woke up at around 6:00am with a half-baked idea and stumbled down the hall into the bathroom. It was pee-on-a-stick time.
I knew I had a pregnancy test crammed in the closet somewhere, it had been ages since I thought I might need one. I found it, got it open on the third try (I was still more asleep than awake), and followed the instructions. Horizontal line = negative, plus sign=positive.
I was looking at a plus sign.
I rubbed my eyes, turned it upside down (you know, to make sure), read the instructions again. They definitely said what I thought they said, and it turns out plus signs are still plus signs even when they’re upside down.
I got back in bed and woke up Aaron.
Me: I have two things to tell you, and I need you to listen to me.
Aaron: halfway opens his eyes
Me: Number one, I feel terrible and I’m not going to church today, and number two, I just took a pregnancy test and it’s positive.
Aaron: Okay. … wait, what?
Me: It’s okay. I’m sure it’s fake.
Because, obviously it’s fake, right? We’ve been trying for two years. I’ve had meetings with multiple adoption counselors. I’m reading books about adoption ethics. We’ve moved on from this. (This is where I put the first of what I’m sure will be many warnings – anyone who says anything along the lines of this happening because we’d moved on gets bamboo shoots up the fingernails. NOT HELPFUL.)
So I’m sure it’s not real. I’ve been taking some combination of Benadryl and Nyquil and who knows what else for over a week. Clearly those drugs are messing with the results. I decide to sleep for a while and test again later. Aaron goes to church, I meet him for lunch, we go to an open house that is three times what we can afford and is also the most perfect house I have ever seen. We swing by Target. I test again.
I start googling things like ‘what causes a false positive pregnancy test?’ and ‘does Nyquil affect pregnancy test results?’ Turns out false positives only happen less than 1% of the time, and it is almost always due to factors that weren’t present in my case. But I still knew it was happening to me.
We decide to err on the side of ‘cautiously optimistic’ and test again on Monday. If we got a third plus sign, I call the doctor.
Test three. Definitely positive. Go to the doctor. Still positive.
We’re having a baby, y’all. What the heck.