Sunday, November 29, 2009

At least the Fed-Ex man believes me

It is well-known that Will is often a perfect little angel when we are visiting with friends and family. But when I’m home alone with him, he cries all day, no matter what I do. I get the feeling that no one believes me. That I’m just being Melissa, a crazy, overreactive bitch who doesn't handle things well and is a vegan just because she wants to be difficult.

A couple weeks ago, we got a package delivered via Fed-Ex. Will was in the midst of an endless crying bout when the doorbell rang. Haggard, red-eyed, and wearing baby-puke-stained pajamas, I answered the door. The Fed-Ex man winced as he heard the crying from within. “I’m sorry, did I cause that?” he gestured towards Will. “Oh, no, he’s been crying all day,” I assured him. The Fed-Ex man looked sympathetic. As I signed for the package, he asked me, “How’s it going?” as though we were old friends. “Just fine,” I said. Then, “No, not really,” as my eyes welled over. The Fed-Ex man seemed genuinely concerned, and he stayed just a few moments longer, offering a few encouraging words and assuring me that it would soon be better. Then as he hurried back to his delivery truck, I sighed and thought, well, at least the Fed-Ex man believes me.

No more advice, please. I've tried everything and nothing works.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this just a bad dream?

Will was crying, as per usual, and I was bouncing on the birth ball with him trying to calm him down. I checked my twitter account while doing so and found that one of my fellow-runners had just posted a tweet saying that the 2010 Boston Marathon registration had already closed—2-1/2 months early this year.

So here I am, a crying baby on my arm, trying to convince myself that this is all just part of some really, really bad dream.

I have this recurrent dream that my teeth are falling out. It always seems so real. When I wake up, I swear that I am toothless. I sometimes run to the bathroom mirror to see if my teeth are really there or not. The dream has progressed so much that sometimes I even dream that I’m dreaming that my teeth have fallen out. It is weird I know. The dream probably means something, but I don’t know what. All I can do right now is hope that I am in the middle of a sleep-deprived dream and I will wake up disoriented and in a cold sweat and the first thing I will do is rush out to my computer and register for Boston.


I qualified for Boston at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon just over a year ago, and then just over a month after that, I found out I was pregnant. My first thought upon beholding the positive pregnancy test? Not of the growing life form inside me, but of the realization that I would not be able to run the Boston Marathon. My qualifying time was good for 2010 as well, so I immediately set my sights on that.

It’s my own fault for not registering in time. But still. Traditionally, registration does not close until January or February. Plus, my pelvis hasn’t even completely realigned from childbirth, and I can still barely run 3 miles at a time because it hurts too bad. I had thought I would get around to register sometime in early December. Before Christmas for sure. But not this early, not before my pelvis had realigned.


The only good thing is that we’ll save a lot of money. It is hell of expensive to register for the Boston Marathon. Not to mention, the cost of airfare and a hotel room. Plus, Boston is the Monday after the annual physical anthropology conference, which is in Albuquerque this year. It was looking like I would have to somehow manage to fly out of Albuquerque on Saturday night or Sunday morning and go directly to Boston, doing all of that with a baby in tow. It was already stressing me out. A lot. But still. I would have done it.

I figure now that I’ve got a child, there is no way in hell I’ll ever be able to qualify for Boston again. I was in the best shape of my life when I BQ’ed last year. I’ll never have that kind of time to invest in training again, ever.

I am just so, totally, bummed out. This sucks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Three months in review

Well, Will is officially 3 months old. Most of the time I still find it hard to believe that I was every really pregnant (the whole thing just seems like a continuous blur of nausea and vomiting), that I ever actually gave birth, and that I have managed to sustain this little life for 3 whole months. But somehow we’ve made it.

I never really thought that all our difficulties with Will would end the instant he turned 3 months old, but I guess I was kind of hoping that they would. They haven’t. Things are better though, at least better than they were in the bleak of September when I seriously didn’t know if I was going to make it from one minute to the next. When I think about it like that, I realize we really have come a long way. By the skin of my teeth, I managed to power through the hellishness of Low Milk Supply and Will has not had a drop of formula in his life. Not one drop. But getting through that has been the hardest thing I have ever done.

Where are we now? Will is well fed and growing by leaps and bounds. He has a full, round belly, chubby little cheeks, and even some darling little rolls of fat on his thighs (Will, if you are reading this someday, sorry honey, but I had to mention your darling little rolls of fat because they are adorable). He’s getting plenty to eat, but I am still on the Domperidone—90 mg a day. Luckily, I’ve been able to reduce this nearly $9 a day Domperidone habit by ordering it from Vanuatu. Yes. Vanuatu, a volcanic island nation some 1000 miles off the coast of Australia. I was able to get 300 pills for $50 and without a prescription. I know it sounds sketchy, but it worked. This ordering-from-Vanuatu option was actually suggested in a well-respected breastfeeding book, The Nursing Mother’s Companion. My lactation consultant herself had suggested ordering it from Canada, but that required faxing a prescription and whatnot, and I just couldn’t deal with all of that, so I went the Vanuatu route. No prescription required or anything. Just click “add to cart” and you’re good to go. Eight days after I placed the order (and there was a weekend in there too), my shipment of Domperidone (i.e. Motilium) arrived and there was never a lull in my milk supply. If anyone out there who needs Domperidone finds this blog and is considering ordering it from Vanuatu, I can totally vouch for the Inhouse Pharmacy.

My plan was to keep taking the Domperidone until Will was 3 months old and then to gradually decrease it. The last time I tried this (many, many weeks ago), my milk supply plummeted again and there was all-around general despair. So I am naturally petrified of trying it again. The last couple of days I have reduced my dosage to 80 mg (8 pills a day) instead of 90 mg, and so far so good. I’ll hold steady another couple of days and then drop it by another pill to see what happens.

Other things to review: sleeping through the night. By the time Will was about 6 or 7 weeks old, he was sleeping around 8 hours at a time—usually from 10pm to 6am. It worked out really nice for mama. Except for the plugged ducts that I endured when he first started going an 8-hour stretch without nursing. I was constantly worried about what this would do to my precarious milk supply, but as long as I was taking the Domperidone, things were okay in that department. It was just that during the daytime, it seemed like he cried all the time and he rarely napped for more than a few minutes at a time. It was exhausting. Then a couple weeks ago, I was listening to the New Moms New Babies podcast and realized that some of this fussiness might be because Will was not getting enough sleep. It was like he would get so tired that he couldn’t fall asleep, or that he would refuse to let himself fall asleep for fear of missing something that might happen in this great big world. So I decided to get better about making him take naps and get to bed earlier at night (Ha! Easier said than done!). What has resulted is that usually I can get him to take at least one nap during the day, and usually I can get him to go to sleep for the night around 7-7:30. The drawback to this is that instead of “sleeping through the night,” he would sleep until about 3 or 4am, so I was back to a nighttime feeding again. The past two nights though, he has actually slept from 7:30pm to 6:00am, so that has been really nice. The end goal of all of this, of course, is so that he is less fussy during the daytime. So far it’s been hit and miss. We’ll have to see how that turns out.

Onto the milk, soy, and acid reflux issue. It’s been at least 7 weeks since I’ve had any dairy and at least a month since I’ve had any soy. The green poops finally ended (again, sorry Will, if you are grown up and reading this some day), but as I’ve mentioned the crying and fussiness has not. As far as the Prevacid, I honestly didn’t feel like it was doing anything, plus his prescription was starting to run out, so I’ve been cutting down his dosage (the doctor told me to do that). I’ve noticed no difference in his crying whether he takes it 3 times a day or 1 time a day. And really, I don’t think his symptoms are consistent with acid reflux. He spits up sometimes, sure, but all babies do that. The main thing was that he cried all the time, and especially he cried after I fed him. I think the doctors just wanted to give him acid reflux medicine to make me feel like they were doing something, not because he actually had acid reflux. As far as dairy, I don’t care if I ever eat that again, but I decided that when he hit the 3 month mark I would gradually reintroduce soy. So far, I haven’t noticed much of a change, so we’ll have to see how this pans out.

So much more to say, but Will is crying so I need to try to figure out what he wants. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Almost 3 months

Human babies are born about 3 months too early. They are extraordinarily helpless, particularly compared to other primates. The evolutionary narrowing of our pelvises for bipedal walking necessitates giving birth to a small and underdeveloped fetus, and this is further complicated by the evolutionary expansion of our brains, which leads to a big ol’ head. Astute observers, such as Dr. Harvey Karp, have termed the first three months as the “fourth trimester.” A lot of babies’ crying and fussing during their first three months in the world isn’t really because of things like “colic” or “acid reflux,” but rather, because they are just not ready to be out of the womb yet. Unfortunately for babies (and those of us who take care of them), the locomotor patterns and brain size of our species makes it necessary for them to get evicted early. If they stayed in there long enough to actually be ready to be born, they just wouldn’t fit through.

I have high hopes for this next milestone—Fig’s 3 month birthday. Many people assured me that from personal experience it would get better by 6 weeks, but that date came and went. Weeks 9 and 10 were amazingly, sublimely perfect though, and I thought that the worst was behind us. Then weeks 11 and 12 hit with a vengeance. The crying never ends. It is so frustrating because Fig’s behavior really hasn’t changed much since the beginning. He cries, so I feed him. He falls asleep while nursing. Eventually he drinks all the milk but continues to non-nutritively suck. When I finally need to get up to do something, I take him off. He wakes with a start and begins to fuss, then gives way to all-out howling within a few seconds or minutes. We’ve had him to the doctor a million times. First they told me I had a low milk supply, that the crying was because of hunger. So I did a million things and eventually got more milk. “At last,” I thought. “The baby will be happy.” Not so. Then they told me that he had acid reflux. So we tried Zantac, then Prevacid. There were some good times, but then the crying returned. All that’s left to hope is that Will is still in the limbo of the fourth trimester and this is all about to end soon.

It’s just that it reminds me of the morning sickness. That was supposed to get better around 12 weeks. But 12 weeks, then 13 and 14 came and went. I had a few friends who said their nausea had persisted to 16 or 18. Those came and went. In fact, the whole damn pregnancy came and went, but the nausea remained. And just like the remedies I tried for increasing my milk supply and soothing Will’s crying, I tried everything for morning sickness to no avail. Finally the Zofran worked just enough (much like the Domperidone works “just enough” for my milk supply) that I could get through the day without thinking that I might be better off dead.

Last week one morning I went for a run while Rob watched Will, and I listed to a back-episode of the “New Moms New Babies” podcast. They had a “sleep expert” on the show, who explained that babies of Will’s age need about 16-18 hours of sleep per day, and they need to go to bed by 6:00pm. If they’re not getting enough sleep, they can be fussy and crying, etc. I thought, aha! This is it. Will is not getting enough sleep. He goes to bed at 10pm and gets up at 6am and only takes a rare catnap or two during the day. It suddenly all made sense. The night before, he had been crying at the top of his lungs after I fed him around 7pm. Nothing would calm him down—not rocking, swinging, swaying, singing, bouncing, soothing, etc. Then all of a sudden in mid cry, he fell fast asleep in my arms. I didn’t know what to do. I kept holding him for a while and finally put him down in his bed-- where he slept soundly until about 3am, had a diaper change and a bite to eat, then fell back to sleep for another 3 hours. When I listened to the podcast I felt certain that he was crying because he was tired, so I decided to institute an earlier bedtime and more naps from then on.

He’s been going to bed much earlier, around 6 or 7pm, but unfortunately, I haven’t noticed much of a reduction in his crying during the day. On the plus side, he is getting more sleep, but on the downside, he isn’t “sleeping through the night” anymore when he goes to bed at 6pm. Usually he wakes up around 3 or 4 and then sleeps a couple more hours until he wakes up ready to go at 6am. Then the rest of the day is spent eating, crying, eating, crying, with a few naps interspersed in there when I can get him to take one. Rob says Will is still getting adjusted to this new sleep routine and he will settle down once he gets used to it. I hope so. We’re only a few days away from the 3 month mark here, and if that comes and goes with no end to the crying, I will go off the deep end.

In other news. I’ve had recurrent pelvic pain since Will was born. It felt like my pubic symphysis was separated, probably because it was. It started feeling a little bit better last week, and I decided to celebrate this by running a 5K on Saturday. It was a bit of a logistical challenge, but the planning phase was more difficult than the actual race. I had pumped milk to take in a bottle for him, but we ended up not using it. The race was at Crystal Lake Park, which is near our house. We drove over there and I picked up my race number, then I went back to the car and fed him until just before the start of the race. The whole thing would not have been possible without Rob, who was probably skipping a bike ride just so that I could do this. Rob and Will positioned themselves at several locations throughout the course to cheer for me, which was really nice. Will looked utterly uninterested and kind of peeved, but at least he wasn’t crying any of the times that I ran past him. Running the race was actually pretty tough. This is partially because my pelvic bones haven’t completely realigned, and partially because I haven’t run more than 2 miles consecutively since Will was born (because of pelvis and lack of time). It was also difficult for me because I am like 500 pounds overweight. And because it was pretty windy that day, and there was one large hill. I started the race with my only goal being to finish it in one piece, and I thought that maybe an outside goal could be 30 minutes. At the start line I met up with my old running buddy, Norm, who wanted to finish it in 24. As we took off, I thought that maybe I’d be able to keep up with him, but less than a quarter of a mile into it, I realized that 8 minutes miles were way beyond my grasp at this point and Norm was so far in front of me that he was out of sight. In the end, I finished in 27:43, feeling like I was going to vomit, but happy under the circumstances. I think I just needed to do this to prove to myself that I still could, despite having had a baby and despite being 500 pounds overweight. It was really nice of Rob and Will to organize their schedules so that I could do the race.

Melissa's first race since Will was born


Melissa in mile 3

Mile 3

At any rate, Will is taking an impromptu nap that may end at any second, and I’ve got laundry to fold and 10,000 other things to do. Thanks for reading.

Grins & giggles

Between the tears, William smiles

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Dissrotation

Last fall, SL initiated the “Dissertation Lunch.” Around once a week, he would take me and his other two students (hi, J and P, if you are reading) out to lunch somewhere. At first, J and P and I were a little bewildered by this. We fully expected that SL would start grilling us about our dissertations as soon as we sat down to eat. During our first lunch, no one’s dissertation was mentioned. Research was not even discussed. Most of our attention was focused on the cuteness of P’s 3-month old baby, who had joined us. I, for one, hoped that P would keep bringing her baby to these lunches so that we could all remain light-hearted and avoid talking about our dissertations.

It remained that way. We really never did talk about our dissertations very much. I guess it was just to be some sort of bonding thing for us all. One week as we were planning what day to meet, SL sent out an email to the three of us, and the subject line read: “Dissrotation Lunch.” Apparently SL did not notice this typo, but the 3 of us found it so amusing that we have often continued to speak to each other of our “dissrotations,” and I for one, have thought of my dissertation as my “dissrotation” ever since.

At any rate, I turned my dissrotation into my committee on Thursday. They’ll have about 6 weeks to read it, as the defense date is scheduled for December 11. I’ve got Fig’s outfit picked out for the defense day already, and I’m seriously hoping I can be out of maternity clothes by then (though if this would require me to stop eating heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar, it is looking unlikely). If I actually manage to pull this off and finish this thing, I wonder if I’ll have to change the name of the blog?

Melissa's dissertation

Thanks for reading.