The First Six Weeks of Motherhood

While I’ve been working on the adoption saga, I’ve also been typing up little bits and pieces of daily life. I’m going to share what I have here, and hopefully post on a more regular basis. This is my scheme to never have to write email again. (Jack doesn’t let me go online too much.)

January 31, 2006
On January 30, at about 10:30pm, Jack’s umbilical cord fell off. He now has a belly button. To soon to tell if it’s innie or outtie.

February 1, 2006
I’m torn between being enamored of Jack, wanting to watch him every minute, hold him all the time, and the reality of having a life that requires other actions, such as eating. And in the long term, it’s important to me that he learns to get himself (back) to sleep. I’m still worried that we’re doing things wrong.
Jack is adorable and growing. I keep forgetting that he’s so small. His skin color seems to change drastically with differing light. Most of the time, he looks coffee and cream to me, but in pictures, he often looks full AA. And in the house, he also looks a variety of shades, mostly darker than in “normal” light.

February 7, 2006
I have so much in my head, and I want to get it all down. Jack smiled for real today, from being held and kissed. Yesterday was a bad day for everyone, Jack was cranky, I was tired and overwhelmed. Max was suffering from sleep deprivation. Jack seems to be gassy. Dr. Johnson won’t take him because of the delay in vaccines, so I want to get a pediatrician so I have someone to whom to ask all my questions.
I burned last night’s dinner fantastically. Smoke filled the house. We can still smell it today.
Max wants me to go to sleep earlier, but I’ve always been a night person. I don’t know what to do about this scheduling conflict.

February 9, 2006
I want to focus on Jack and scrapbooking. I went through my 2003 winter scrapbook and forgot how much I really LIKED putting it together.
I spent so little time with Jack today, between my unplanned 3 hour nap and Roy coming over. Roy’s visit was good, but I still can’t figure out the camera.

February 12, 2006
I love Jack. I do feel like his mother. I’m not sure that I’m always doing a good job. Maybe it’s just that I’m not sure that he knows I’m his mother. Max’s mom being here doesn’t threaten me at all, but it does make me feel like I could be replaced. I am keenly aware of the piece of paper that legally binds us. I suppose I did carry Jack in my heart, but recently I’ve been thinking about what he thinks of me, and I’m just not sure he knows me yet.
I do love Jack, and he is precious, beautiful, fun. I don’t regret time I spend with him. I want to be close when he’s awake.
Sometimes, he cries these body shaking heaves of cries. They scare me, because I know the emotional intensity behind them. I want never to hurt him. I don’t want him to be high-stress like Max and me.
Max’s mom is here.

February 20, 2006
I wanted to quickly write this down, today, because I want to remember this night. Max always takes nights, but tonight I did. And I got to sing Jack to sleep. I can’t remember all the words to the lullaby I like, and even Google can’t find them for me. Still, I really loved singing and rocking and putting down in his crib. He really is a little angel.
There are a number of “firsts” that I haven’t documented. The first time he deliberately took off Daddy’s glasses. His reactions to seeing me in glasses vs. me without glasses. The first night he slept in his crib. His first coo. His first smile—whether it was gas or not. Today, Max held Jack on his chest, while Jack was on his tummy. Jack could pick up his head higher than we ever thought he might. I think he’s going to meet a lot of these head-strength milestones.
Jack is a lot of fun to watch, even when he’s crying. I’ve noticed that, if he knows what he wants, he really tries to communicate. I realized that he wasn’t throwing himself over to one side because he was mad; he throws himself to one side because that’s the only way he can get to move there. So, if he starts squirming, I loosen my grip and see where he goes, and I try to follow. Now, this isn’t 100%, but it’s been really useful for the up-time after his bottles. (Feedings sounds like what you do to sharks and marine mammals.) Of course, sometimes he doesn’t even know what he wants. Watching the confusion can be a good way for me to get my bearings, instead of immediately doing something to make him stop.
I’ve stopped making light of his problems. Would I do that to a good friend? Or to Max? And yet Jack is my son, and just because he’s 1 month old doesn’t make his problems any less important to him than my problems are to me, and so on.
Right. So I’m done with the wise words of parental wisdom. I’m going to get me some ice cream, then go to bed. Yum, yum, yum, bed, bed, bed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
As all went fairly well last night, tonight I again gave Jack his last bottle for today. This time, I reflected upon how stupid I feel. Jack has this angry, bumpy rash all over his chest, neck, and back, and on parts of his face, arms, and legs. Basically anywhere clothes go. The doctor said it’s just a normal newborn rash. I know from my online support group that this type of rash happens to AA skin. But I feel like a doofus for being so helpless. I can’t even control my own skin when it breaks out. How will I care for Jack’s? I figured out a plan: 0) Possibly, bring him back to the doctor.1) Gather up all the lotions and put them away. 2) Give him a thorough cleansing of the affected areas. 3) Put hydrocortisone cream on the rash, like the doctor recommended. 4) Purchase one or more of the natural products recommended by my group. 5) Try each one individually, giving each a reasonable amount of time to succeed or fail.
I also worry about Jack’s head. Even when he first came home (OK, to the hotel), he was trying to hold up his head. Now, he’s pretty damn good at it. I’ve taken to picking him up under the shoulders, with secondary support to the head. I wonder each time if I’m squishing his brain stem. I treat him like he’s far more sturdy than maybe a 5-week old should be treated.
During up-time (the time during which Jack must remain vertical after eating), I watched ¾ of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. These twins have cancer, and the design team is building them a new, clean, germ-free house. Anyway, they go over to the twins’ grandfather’s house. That grandpa reminded me so much of my grandpa. Not in looks, but in the way that he spoke of his grandchildren. It made me miss my Grandpa so much. He was so proud of all of us. Gentle, uncomplaining, musical, smart, athletic. I started to cry and to shake because I was trying not to cry. Jack’s never going to know him, and I think they would really have loved one another. Some nights, I pray to my grandfather to watch over Jack, and make sure he’s OK.

Wednesday, February 23, 2006
Today’s the 23rd!?!?!? It’s so sad when I need Microsoft Word’s auto-complete feature to tell me this. I wanted to call my dad before he left for Florida. I guess he’s there now. *sigh*
Jack was a perfect angel all day. Then, at about 8pm, he turned into a screaming, red voodoo doll come to life. I have to admit that even his angry faces are so cute! He looks like he’s somehow 80 years old and a baby at the same time. However, screaming baby is not a fun baby. Annemarie happened to call at the beginning of the melt down, and she told me the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Shushing, Side-Lying, Swaying, and Sucking. So, we swaddled Jack (after changing the outfit he got wet when we tried to give him an ounce of water), and I trucked up to the nursery, shushing all the way. (Word apparently thinks that “shushing” is a word. Huh.)
We got there, I kept it dark, and I kind of put him on his side on my chest and started singing and swaying. (Singing is an acceptable form of shushing, I guess.) He finally started to calm down, and went to sleep. I turned on the CD player, intending to sing along with the Curious George soundtrack. Immediately, angry screaming baby had replaced calm sleeping baby.
Again with the singing and the swaying. No dice. Tried various side lying positions while holding him. Uh-uh. Finally, I put him on his back in the crib, got right down to his face, held his hands, and sang while looking into his eyes. This method worked a bit faster than the last. However, I had to be patient in extricating myself from the situation. I had gotten away from the crib and had reloaded the CD player with Lord of the Rings (instrumental), and was able to press play before he started up again.
Again, we used the baby in the crib, mommy holding hands and singing method. Much less time taken, baby is asleep. CD player is turned on. Mommy goes to the bathroom.
Mommy and Daddy talk about devil baby. Mommy goes into living room to watch Without a Trace and fold the last week’s worth of laundry.
Baby starts screaming.
Back up the stairs. Play with the baby in the crib. Baby is fussy, but not screaming. Realize that baby has spit up and his right ear is kind of coated. Eeew. Pick baby up, clean ear and surrounding areas, change incredibly wet diaper. (I happen to think that the diaper goes on dry, then immediately becomes wet as soon as the last snaps are done.) Again, normal fussy baby. Baby comes downstairs with Mommy. Baby goes from calm to crying in less than 60 seconds. The red binky isn’t good enough. Where is the green Soothie? There’s one on the table. Here, take it.
No dice.
Give the baby an ounce of water to calm him and fill his stomach. (Don’t do this if you haven’t already cleared it with your doctor. Jack was getting hungry all the time and spitting up, so we’re allowed to give him 1–2 ounces of water in a day.) Stand and sway with the baby, because sitting is apparently not the way the little gentleman wants to go. My back and knees are killing me. Finally, baby is lulled into a glaze-eyed stupor, and Mommy can sit at the computer and read while baby eventually turns into sweet-smelling, incredibly cute arm weight.
The end. For now.

Sunday, February 26, 2006
It’s very early on Sunday: 12:11am. I believe that Jack has a cold. I’m not overly worried. He’s in good spirits, alert when he’s awake, not lethargic, but he is tired. He ate at 8:30. I tried to wake him up at 11:30 for his next meal. He was awake for maybe 5 minutes, then went back to sleep while I was burping him. I could not convince him to wake up. I even brought him upstairs and put hydrocortisone cream on his neck (rash). He woke up, made an unhappy face, wiggled a bit, and went back to sleep. I brought him back down—no dice. I sat at the computer with him sleeping in front of me, trying to find out if I was supposed to make him wake up to eat. The books and web sites I visited say to make sure that baby gets up to double the amount of fluids he usually takes. But Jack’s not even 6 weeks old. I’m not sure his little tummy can handle it. I couldn’t find what I wanted to know: Should we rely on him to wake himself up when he’s hungry, in the name of letting him rest? Or should we try to make him eat formula or drink water to make sure he’s getting enough fluids? I’m leaning towards the first one, but this is his first cold. If it is a cold. It might be allergies. The biggest reason I think this is a cold over allergies is that his poop has been liquidy and yellow and streaked with mucus. (You childless people just thanked your lucky stars, didn’t you?) Apparently, that’s the sign of a virus, such as a cold.
Why is it that the books never seem to answer the problems you actually have? One site had a question from a father in a custody case asking if the behavior he was experiencing with his 2 daughters was appropriate (ex-wife said no, counselor said no, site said yes, I said yes; the ex and counselor were being sexist), a grandmother asked about her granddaughter’s vaginal health. But nothing about what to do about sleep when a baby has a cold.
The love that I feel for Jack grows every day. He melts my heart with his eyes. He’s beginning to coo: “Goo,” “Ge,” “Oh.” And he’s beginning to interact a bit with us. He looks like he’s enjoying the company. I think he’ll smile soon. He’s a happy baby, overall.
I should add that I feel terrible for not being vigilant about hand-sanitizing. We drop his binkies 80 times during the day and we wash them with clean water, but not necessarily hot water. It’s hard to do stuff like that one handed. I think I’m going to buy a dozen more, just in case. But more than that, I’m sure that there’s more I could have done for him so that he wouldn’t be ill. I must try harder.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
It’s very early on March 1st. I just want to remember a couple of things.
First, Jack spent a good portion of the weekend figuring out how to hold his pacifier. He finally did on Sunday night! And he even proved that I wasn’t a liar when we went to the doctor. We were in the copay area, and he kept popping the binky out of his mouth, and I kept saying, “But he just learned how!” Finally, Jack got it together and held the pacifier. All of the nurses and staff were impressed. They also called him a “little guy” which to me is weird because, you know, I saw him at 3 days old. He was little then. Now, he’s a hefty little gentleman.
Second, Sassy kissed Jack yesterday. She has been investigating him when I sit down with him, especially on my recliner. She’ll sit on the right arm as Jack eats or sleeps in my left. Yesterday, Jack and I were brushing Sassy. (I take Jack with me to brush Sassy so she knows he’s not a bad guy.) She smelled all around him, then tentatively licked his right pinky finger. Jack pulled it away, so Sassy went back to being brushed.
Jack is now 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and he just has a mild cold. We’re also switching him to ready-to-eat formula, because that stays down better than the powder.


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