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August 2007

What we do when we're not sleeping...

I haven't posted a video in a while. Just haven't had time to think about getting the camera out until today. Here's a little clip of Maximilien and I playing on the floor in his room. He really loves the perspective. I often catch him laying on his back staring out the window. Today, we worked on his balance and I wanted to show him that it's okay to fall down.  He's getting braver everyday. He's started dive bombing everything with in his reach.  And he is still all about tasting the world around him.  I love how he looks over to me like he's saying, "Mama, watch this!" or "Look what I can do".  Everyday is a new adventure for us. Even though I lack sleep I somehow find the energy to do the mom thing.  Just looking at my son fills me with this energy I've never had before. 

Sitting up, getting stronger, being braver from PutYourFlareOn and Vimeo.


Aching

As I sit here and type this my body is aching from the lack of sleep. Maximilien is on a sleep strike. And last night he pulled his grandest coup ever, awake at midnight then 2am, 3am, 4am gave us a break at 5am and then up and ready to go at 6am.  It's 7:30am right now. He's been laying in his bed awake for nearly an hour now.

What is the deal?! 

He was sleeping 10-12 hours straight a night up until about two weeks ago.  Has our luck run out?  I can not wait until he can talk to tell me what is going on in his little world? Maybe it's the teeth but they are out. I obsessively check his mouth now to see if there are others making their way down but no dice just those two little ones on the bottom. Those two little dents de laits  that have changed things so drastically lately.

I thought I was done being that crazy sleep deprived zombie mama.

Just now, I stop to listen and I hear silence coming from Max's room. I rushed to check to make sure all was alright (I still do it, I don't think mama ever stop doing this, right?). The little booger finally fell asleep. Spread eagle, head wedged in the corner of his crib.

Sleep, baby. Sleep...


My stuff + Julien's stuff + Max's Stuff = WE NEED A BIGGER CAR!

We're home from the Alps. I wish I could say that I returned from this mini-break relaxed and rejuvenated but it's hard to feel that way when I was only able to sleep for two hours at a time for 5 days straight.  Maximilien was not too fond of sleeping at high altitudes. We were staying at my mother in law's chalet at Les Arcs 1600 feet in the Alps near Bourg St. Maurice.  I am sad to say that it didn't agree with me that much either. "Une question d'habitude", my husband says... Falling asleep was hard and I felt winded and tired the entire weekend.   I know that the lack of sleep didn't help that much either.  Poor timing for the teeth and the vacation and add a little stomach problems in there and Max was a rather miserable baby.  We learned that he still hates his car seat and that we need a bigger car.

Exciting things that happened in the last five days:

- Max officially has two teeth. His bottom two. They are the cutest little things and sharp too! We've made up a song to the Spider Cochon song instead substituting dents de laits for Spider Cochon. We are parents that make up silly songs for our kid.

- Julien and I were able to connected again as a couple. I feel like we've been having a bit of a lull in our relationship and over the last five days I've come to appreciate what an amazing marriage I have.  I am so lucky.

Peaches are good

- Max ate his first solids this weekend. White peach compote and yellow peach compote. He absolutely loved them both.  It was really amazing to see him actually make chewing motions as he ate the compote. Just last week he was not even interested in anything else but his milk. He is growing up too fast. The peaches also helped with his stomach issues and we had one moment of utter follies of cleaning up his explosive poop. It was in his hair and out the sleeves of his long sleeve onsie! It was so gross. There was poop all over the place but we were all all laughing so hard that it didn't matter.  I don't think we'll ever forget the peach poop.

- Max is becoming more sure of himself and comfortable with strangers holding him.  We visited Julien's father and met with all of his employees and Max was calm and smiley the entire time as he was passed from person to person. 

- I drove stick for the first time in two years. Just like riding a bike. You never forget.

- I feel like I am really starting to be apart of my French family. Julien's father's family is so lovely and wonderful with Max. I wish we lived closer to each other.

Besides the lack of sleep I was thrilled to be out in nature and so happy to take in the fresh air like my life depended on it. I've forgotten how much I love wide open spaces and reminded that I am not a big city girl.  I was reminded of how I much I missed Kansas and how much sometimes France (especially driving back to Paris) resembles the wheat fields I grew up with. Julien and  I talked seriously about leaving the city.  The practicality of the grande ville is keeping us here in that Julien's job is here for now.  But we foresee that in a couple years we will leave Paris and perhaps move towards the mountains of France or even transplant ourselves to another country.  All depending on where Julien's job will take us. Anything is possible and that leaves us feeling very excited for the near future. 

Though I'm not feeling physically relaxed, mentally I feel better.  It's a start...


Teething + lack of sleep + sickness + guilt = bummed out mama

It's 11am. We just got up. That's pretty late for us. Maximilien usually wakes up at 8am ready to eat and play. He's had a tooth make an appearance this week and looking even closer there is a second one coming in! For 5 days now it's been late night feedings sometimes every two hours to calm him during this uncomfortable time.  Man, it reminds me of those first few weeks after getting home from clinic. Yes, I am that tired. My body isn't broken but I am so exhausted. It takes me forever to get to sleep and by the time I do fall off, Max is stirring again and in search of some mama comfort.

And on top of the fatigue, I'm sick. I don't know what I ate but it's made me sick and I spent the better half of the night in the bathroom instead of my bed sleeping. So, last night it was baby, pump, bathroom and a little bed time. And we're leaving for the Alps today for a mini vacation tonight. Not really a vacation for me because when am I never on? More so for Julien which he really needs and I'm glad to get away from Paris too. And every time we go to the mountains I feel better. Fresh air vs. pollution. No questions asked. This will be the first visit of many for Max. Just a bummer that the teeth decided to make an appearance this weekend.

So, we're going to the mountains... and I'm thinking cold weather, better dress warmly... this time last year I was pregnant and already not fitting into my regular clothes anymore. Well, I still don't fit into my pre-pregnant clothes. Granted I haven't been working too hard at dropping the pounds. In all honestly, I can't find the time during the day to exercise. And breast feeding leaves me hungry all the time so I haven't been eating any less. I am making excuses. It just bums me out.  Julien said something that kinda made me feel bad about how I could just wear my sweat pants and my polar fleece all weekend because I'm a mama. It's like he was saying I have an excuse to look like shit. I generally don't like to look like shit but I have my days where I made bed head my new hairstyle but the idea of wearing sweats and a polar fleece all weekend because I'm a mama made me feel bad. 

Sigh. Just another thing to add to my list of things to do.  Is it just me or has my to-do list gotten way longer since I became a mama.

And on top of all this I'm sick. Oh, yeah I mentioned that. I'm sorta out of it with the lack of sleep. All I feel like doing is laying in bed and sleeping and I can't. I have this little guy depending on me. He's sitting on the bed mashing chew toys into his face as type this. I look over at him and he reaches towards me (a new thing he's started), smiles and blows zerberts at me and I feel guilty for sitting here typing this entry. He's fine. He's playing with his toys. Why do I feel so bad?  Where is the balance?! Why can't I find the balance?  Why do I feel so guilty?

I'll be sans computer for 5 days. Which will be nice but I'm taking my journal with me and going to write down my thoughts the old school way. Maybe I can figure out why I'm so hard on myself.  I've never been so down on myself like this in my entire life. Wanting to have the best for Max is making me sacrifice everything else in my life. I know that this is not good. Must...find...the...balance.


Cinq Mois

Dear Son,

You're 5 months old now.  I think I say it every month and I'll say it again, I can't believe it.  With every passing day you I see more and more of your personality shining through.  One thing that has remained the same from the very beginning is if you're not happy about something you sure do tell us. The loudest cry, the loudest scream. Loud enough to make the neighbors turn their heads as we walk by. But as mad as you get sometimes, you are just as happy or even more so. Your smile lights up my day and night.  Lately, you've become such a pro at rolling over it's almost annoying for your mom and dad. Just last night you rolled over five time in your sleep. Not sure what you were doing but some how you end up on your back and then you started talking to yourself. And then the shrieking came that told us that you've had enough and want to flipped over again. Back to tummy, you're not even trying to do that yet.

Sitting at his play gym

As I type this right now you are relaxing in your crib, talking with the animals hanging from the canopy above your bed. You sure are our son because you love your bed so much. Mama and Papa love their bed too. You even let us sleep in on the weekends sometimes though last Saturday night you were not having it with the sleep and wanted to eat every two hours. Boy, I was tired but happy to be there for you. Reminded me of our first month together and how we'd have our late night rendez-vous by the light of my computer screen. 

Kitchen utensils make the best toys

You have always been such an active baby since the day you were born. Kicking and waving your arms. Now you are grabbing things and waving them. Kitchen utensils are you new favorite toys. Why do parents buy toys when you can just give our kid a spatula? You grab your feet and letting them go with a force that shakes the changing table and sometimes scares your mama.  You have started having these moments when you're contemplating something.  You sit quietly looking hard at the kitchen plants or study your mama's face. You are always looking around and studying your surroundings. Learning. Assimilating. Curiosity has been your middle name this month.   Then you start to babble away and I nod as if I understand. This world around you has got to be so exciting, I look forward to the day you'll be able to tell me what you see.


Contemplation

I'm still kissing your cheeks like they are going out of style which for me they never will but just the other day you've started kissing me back! Be it an open mouth, tongue on my cheek but I'll take it.  It's such a sweet sweet moment. You gently put your hands on my face and as if you are pulling me towards you and you plant a wet one right there on my cheek. And you do it over and over again. Just copying what your mama does to you.

Just taking a break to blow some spit bubbles...

You are trying to nap right now and I went in to check on you and found that you had flipped yourself over again. You were crying. I picked you up and held you close. You  looked right in the face and barfed down my cleavage.  And then laughed. I wiped your face with my shirt because that's what your mom does and put back in your bed and you fell off to sleep. 

Max's grip

I sit here smelling of curdled milk thinking that I wouldn't change anything in my life right now.  You are the light and love of my life, Maximilien. Your father and I say it everyday. You have brought so much happiness to our lives we can't even begin to express it all.  Happy 5, big boy.

Love,
Mama


****edit****

PS. While playing in the park with a friend today you cried out for apparently no reason (so it seemed) and I saw right there that you had a tooth! This explains the last couple nights of late night feedings and sleepless nights. My stealth teether, you've got your first tooth today!


Handknit Love

Is orange my color?

Maximilien can sit up now. It is a new development that literally happened over night. I can not believe how fast he is growing up. Chatting with another mama friend online today, we were marveling at how fast our boys were hitting their milestones lately and at the same moment we both typed: :(  because it's just happening too fast. Our little boys are becoming big boys.

Max is sporting a bottom up raglan with a placket-neck that I knit for him in just three days. Three days! That's insanely fast for me. But I have to knit fast now if I want Max to wear something I make for him more than once. He's got some time with this sweater. I knit the 1-2 year old size.  Standing up he looks like he's wearing a mini dress.

Finishing this sweater was so fulfilling. I admired it as I laid it out to block and I was filled with this unexplainable feeling of love. I made something for my son. It made me think of my mother right away.  She was such the fiber artist. She made us all kinds of amazing things for us: Dresses for school dances, graduation dresses, bridesmaid dresses, curtains for our bedrooms, hand knit sweaters, scarves (or mufflers as Omma always said) to keep us warm, booties, gloves, hats, a tube top (from seeing a picture in a JCrew catalog!) a wedding quilt, afghans, and the list goes on.... I was so lucky to have all those wonderful things growing up and  I am so proud that I can do the same for Max. It will be a way to leave my legacy for him long after I'm gone just as my mother has done for me.

Handmade sweater and quilt

In the background is the quilt she made Julien and I for our wedding. This is a sweater that my mother knit for me after I showed her a photo in an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog of a sweater with long flared sleeves.

This is my favorite sweater and the last one she ever made me.


Discussion Links

I thought it would be easier to post all the great links that have been posted through out our little series of discussions on breastfeeding. There's been a lot of great advice and experiences shared. I really appreciate that you took the time to share with me and everyone else who read my blog. I think it's become a great wealth of information.  And it's really helped me through a stressful weekend. 

So here's what's been posted up to date and a few more links from me:

- US breastfeeding laws for each of the 50 states.
- How long should one breastfeed for?  (La Leche League)
- Extended Breastfeeding. (LLL)
- Let down, BF terminology for Milk Ejection Reflex (Wikipedia rocks!)
- Kelly Mom, great BF and parenting website.
- How does milk production work?
- Your period could cause low milk production.(Not true for all women but for me, yes!)
- Rice milk and soy milk for infants and toddlers.
- Mother's Milk Tea to increase milk production.
- Fenugreek to increase milk production. (after taste is kind of like maple syrup)
- Oatmeal to increase milk production. (very good with peaches and cream)
- Dark beer to increase milk production. (My choice is Guinness, a glass in the evening is lovely)
- Hands -free pumping bra.
- Caroline suggested making a hands-free pumping bra myself . (It works!)


I wish I could figure out how to blog and pump at the same time.

Yeah, lots of breast talk going on right now on my blog. Well, that pretty much is my main thought after Maximilien and my husband.  And this is my blog, so I can talk about whatever I want. :) It is so cool that so many of you are so willing to discuss. So here's a little ditty I've been dealing over the last week...

I've noticed  sudden change in my son's behavior before bed. Meaning that he cries hysterically and tries to eat his hands incessantly.  You guessed it, he's hungry.  I've been suspecting something going on with my breasts since we got back from the US early June.  My milk supply wasn't as abundant as it had been since Max's birth but I chalked that up to my body regulating itself and making the amount of milk that Max needed. But then something strange started happening, my left breast wasn't producing as much milk as my right. It became so obvious that my right breast was bigger than my left. Talk about weird when I'd look at myself in the mirror. I completely stopped having a let down on my left side. It's like my left breast went back to being itself like it was before I became pregnant.

So essentially since  July, Max has been living off one boob. :)

Weight issues came up at his three month check up. He gained nearly half of what he gained the month before. It was even less the next month and that was when we started having the poop issues. And this last month he only gained 380g when on average he should be gaining 500g a month, according to Max's pediatrician and what I read on Kelly Mom (great website, btw).  But he kept shooting up in height and that reassured me and the doctor that all was well. Max was happy and sleeping well up until about three days ago.

I've noticed when he nurses he pulls off almost every time and cries from frustration. I have to keep nudging him to take the breast again. Hoping that I'd have a let down to satisfy him. After two days of this I sent Julien out for formula last night because I wasn't going to have a starving baby and he needed sleep.

For the last two days I've breast fed him and given him 80cl of formula and it seems to be enough for him. He pulls off from the bottle happy and ready to go to bed.

But this worries me about my milk supply.  I've read the La Leche League website about low milk supply and it seems like they don't like to say that a mother has low milk supply unless it's the final straw. They talk about doing breast compressions (tried it), working on latch (done that), nursing more which is hard because when nothing comes out Max doesn't want to nurse so that doesn't work and pumping more.  So with the latter, I called my doctor and got a prescription for a hospital grade electric pump and it was delivered to my apartment today.  I'm going to go pump before bed tonight and then set my alarm and pump again in the middle of the night to see what I can get. 

I may sound a little desperate because I do feel a little bit desperate. And disappointed.  I don't understand what is happening to my body but I sense something has changed recently.  I know it's okay to let Max have formula but it goes against my plan to breast feed him because for me I feel like that is what is best for my baby. 

Even Max knows the difference. He sort of rejects the bottle of formula the first few times we try to give it to him but then he gives in.  Maybe it's my imagination but I believe he knows the difference. But it satisfies him enough at night for him to go to sleep and that's what is important right now.

So my play list of songs tonight include some Beatles, Frou Frou and a the woosh woosh from the breast pump. I'm off to make this work...

Tire Lait Kitetmatic

Any advice or experience with this that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it. I'm still waiting for someone from the LLL to write me back. Kinda bummed that no one's written me back yet.

Also, has anyone given their 5 month old baby soy milk? Just curious...


For how long?

I am really enjoying the free flowing discussion we are having here about breast feeding, formula feeding, breast or bottle in public, etc... The vibe is so positive and groovy. Thanks. :)

Another non mama and mama brought up another question out of curiosity about the benefits of breast feeding beyond one year.  How long should one breastfeed?  While I haven't really given too much thought about extended breast feeding  at the moment because Max is only 5 months old. There is one thing I know I'll probably practice is child led weaning of the breast.  I would like my child to let me know when he's ready to move on. I feel like that would be such an awesome way to empower my child starting at a young age.  That being said, I know that when we will have our second child I would not like to be breastfeeding two children at once.  We'll probably try for the second one when Max is around 15 months old. So, if he's not ready to wean by 15 months, my theory of empowering my child to chose to wean will be thrown out the window. But we'll see....

What are you thoughts and experiences?  And please check out the comments/question (linked above).


Where is it appropriate to feed your baby?

I'd like to start of by saying that I am thrilled that we had such an open (non-aggressive) conversation about breast feeding and formula feeding. Perhaps those aggressive types are not reading my blog but I feel like we've opened a very nice dialog here and I wanted to thank you all for sharing your thoughts.  We need to hear more real stories like this to show that there are choices to be made and no one should be passing judgment. Who are we to judge one another? We should be supporting one another!

A non mama posted a very good question in my comments in my last entry that I wanted to open up for discussion.  She asked, "Where is it appropriate to feed?". I am making the supposition that she means to breast feed?  I personally believe that anywhere you can bottle feed your baby you should be able to breast feed your baby.  Unfortunately, society has other ideas. Again, why?

Back in June I has some slight fears about breast feeding in public. I was traveling back to the US to introduce Maximilien to my family. And I was a little afraid to breast feed in public due to some (horror) stories I had heard in the news. Stories of women being kicked out of restaurants and places like Target and Victoria's Secret for breast feeding their child.  The Victoria's Secret really stood out, hello there are boobs all over that place. I digress... anyway, my friend suggested that I educate myself on the laws of the states I was going to be visiting about breast feeding in public. Some states actually ban it in public places. Some states don't have any laws at all concerning breast feeding  Here's the list of states that allow and the specific language for each of their state laws. I was going to Virgina and their state law says that a women is free to breast feed on any state own property.

There was only one time I needed to breast feed Max in public and that was in Target while my aunt and I had sat down to have a cool drink. I came prepared with my Maya wrap and I used to shield any part of my body that might offend. I refuse to cover my baby up while he is feeding. He nursed for thirty minutes while I enjoyed my drink and conversation with my aunt and nothing happened.

What has been your experience breast feeding in public? And what are your thoughts on this matter?


Starring Maximilien...

I love books. I hope that Max will grow up loving books as much a I do. We already have a couple favorites that we read everyday. I see the wonderment in his eyes as he looks at the colors and I love watching his feet kick as I read about the very hungry caterpillar and his journey to become a butterfly.

I found this surfing the Internet when I should be fast asleep (It's 3am in Paris):

Starring Maximilien...

Make a storybook starring your own child! What a great idea to encourage your kids to read more. Who wouldn't want to read a story and see your own face?  I've made a basic one for Max as the other stories are more geared towards toddlers.  Your first eBook version is free!  Make your own here at https://www.imagitales.com

 

Alright, this mama is off to bed now!


"Breast is Best" is not a good enough argument.

I was reading over at Strollerderby about their heated discussion about breast vs. bottle and the seeming lack of support that women get in the US after having a baby. It got me thinking about those first few days after Maximilien was born and wondering how different things would have been for me if I had given birth to him in the US.   

I remember about the 4th night at around 4am I had been up with Max trying to feed him and calm him down and utterly failing at both.  It seemed like he had been crying for hours.  My milk had not come in and I was sore, sleep deprived and emotional.  The night baby nurse came to check on us and found me slumped over crying and holding Max against my broken body.  I had no idea what to do.  And all she did was sit with me while I cried and put her hand on my back and said nothing. We sat like that for at least 15 minutes until I finally was able to say something.   I expressed my frustration that I was unable to nurse Max and satisfy him and that I felt like a failure.  She pulled a bottle of formula out of her pocket and said to me simply, "you will not be a bad mother if you feed your baby formula."  I fed Max 20cl of formula. And he went right to sleep.  She put him in his bassinet and offered to take him to the nursery so I could sleep.  I told her I would sleep better if he was with me. She said then in that case that she'd be back in an hour to check on us.  I was fast asleep and never heard her come in to check on us but when I awoke that morning because my milk had come in there was a little noted that said "Courage" on it and a little bottle of forumla right next to it.   I got up to take a hot shower to relieve some of the pressure from engorgement and when I came out of the shower  the night baby nurse was there. She had gotten off her shift and on her way home stopped in to see if we were doing alright.  I told her that my milk had come in and I felt better after getting a few hours of sleep. We sat on the bed and she watched as Max latched on. She showed me a few tricks to try to get him to open his mouth and we sat there while Max nursed his little heart out. Before she left she told me I must always follow my instincts.

I don't know if things would have been different if I had to of gone through that scary night alone.   I feel lucky that she was there because I honestly think I may have given up.  What she said stuck with me because less than three weeks later I had mastitis and  fell terribly sick.  My right breast was engorged and I had to take antibiotics to rid my body of the infection. Max hadn't had a good feeding in two days and he was crying  non-stop. I remember sending Julien out to the store to get formula and you know what? I felt fine about it. I supplemented Max with formula while I was taking my antibiotics and then switch back to the breast exclusively. And all was well again.

Getting back to the Strollerderby debate on breastfeeding, I feel like there are too many people try to enforce the benefits of breast feeding by simply saying "Breast is best!" and stopping there.  I believe that the stigma that breast feeding has could be avoided if women were educated on the choices they could make and if they got the proper support that they need. 

About a month ago I started to doubt my milk production because Max hadn't gained enough weight and his doctor asked me if I was making enough milk. In the moment it freaked me out. After getting home and thinking about it, I felt like it was unfair for the doctor to ask me a question like that. I emailed my local La Leche League office and asked my questions about the possibility of milk  production dropping off.   The response I got was a little bossy so to speak. I had written that we had given Max the bottle a few times (with breast milk) and the person wrote back saying that I should avoid all together the bottle because that could sabotage my milk production and that "Breast was best!". That was all the argument she gave me.  I felt disappointed  because she could have been more diplomatic in her response.  She never talked to me once about doing supplemental pumping to increase my milk supply.  I tried for a few days to follow her advice and not give the bottle but it didn't work. Instead I followed my own instincts and found my own system to feed Max with a bottle of breast milk at night and I pump after he goes to bed and try to pump once more during the day during one of his nap times. 

I speak only from my own point of view and I honestly believed the first few days of Max's life  I was going to fail as a mother because I wasn't going to be able to breast feed.  Sure, there were external factors playing into things like I just had major surgery, I was suffering from post partum depression and the anxiety of becoming a mother.  Breast feeding did not come easily to me. I had cracked nipples that bled, blisters and delayed milk production. All these things can play tricks on your mind but I had great support from the midwives, my doctor, my husband and friends.   And for me that made all the difference.

Boy, this turned out to be a long entry... Max is napping and I should be pumping. I better get to it. :)


 


Alone time


Max playing by himself, originally uploaded by PutYourFlareOn.

Modified tummy time I learned at mommy and me yoga, to build up baby's upper body strength put a semi firm pillow under their mid section so their feet are barely off the floor. Baby will lift feet pressing more on their arms thus building up their upper body strength. Think teeter toter effect. You can also do this sans pillow by just lifting baby's legs gentle off the floor so that they are pressing against their arms.

Also good for making Max burp!

Every morning I get about 30 minutes to myself for breakfast and shower while Max plays by himself.  I am hoping that I am building confidence in himself by doing this. When we first started doing this he'd cry and want me to be close to him but I'd stretch the time a little bit everyday and now he plays by himself for 30 minutes giving mama a nice little break.