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January 2008

Sick Baby

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects to leave their one-month Well Baby check in an ambulance. Post up (such as it is) at REDBOOK but the short version is that Caroline has something akin to RSV and has been hospitalized. Also, I am quite possibly the worst mother in the entire fucking world.

The good news is Steve brought me some much needed stuff this morning so that I am no longer wearing those pre-pregnancy jeans that don't quite fit but were adequate for a quick trip to the pediatrician's office when I wanted to briefly fake svelte. And the toothbrush was nice. Did I learn nothing from all those third trimester OB visit? Always pack for the doctor as if you were going on a weekend trip. Always. Steve also brought me Edward as I decided that I would rather risk having him exposed to god knows what here than go three days without him.  Besides, we are "isolated" so no one is allowed into Caroline's room without a gown and mask. In theory this is to protect them from her but it works both ways.

Will update when I can. Good wishes for a speedy recovery appreciated if offered.

So Far

Hmmm, maybe it isn't yeast after all.

White-coated tongues - check.

Lighter under nipples sensation - not so much.

Based upon your comments re. thrush I think I might have been mistaken about my own state of infection. The right side just stings; it is not making me contemplate suicide. In light of the fact that Edward is such a rotten nurser (not that I blame the poor kid. faults on both sides, no doubt) it is possible I am just sore. I don't know. How do you tell? I guess I can ask the pediatrician what he thinks at their one month appointment on Tuesday. In the meantime I am upping acidophilus consumption (although I already live on yogurt so I am not sure what the deal is there) and pouring vinegar in/on everything. Thanks for the advice.

Steve and I, by unspoken agreement, have broken childcare down thusly: he gets Patrick and I get Caroline and Edward. It is not a bad arrangement, although he understandably looks a whole hell of a lot better than I do - all fit and rested and full of fresh air from sledding and carpools. He came into Edward's room (which I am using as baby central; Caroline's room is where I put the car seats and store packs of diapers) this morning and asked "How are you?"

"I am DYING," I said. And I was. Last night was hideous. Hideously hideous. Caroline and Edward tag-teamed being awake and fractious all night long. Three minutes after one would finally finally pass out the other would start. My goal every night is to quickly get the babies to sleep after feeding them so that I can return to the electric blanketed embrace of my own bed, but most nights I eventually wind up just grabbing a baby (or two) and collapsing on the bed I have set up in Edward's room. The very nicest thing about these two is their current willingness to sleep as long as they are pressed up against me. They are usually good about going to sleep in their own space, too, but when all else fails it is nice to know I can snuggle them into unconsciousness while going back to sleep myself. Baby Patrick, in contrast, did neither. He would not sleep alone and he would not sleep on me. Every night was a struggle until he would finally fall asleep nursing but then I would be unable to move or he would wake up again. Gak. But nevermind... I highly recommend having a bed if there is space. Hmmm, here, while I am thinking about it, my list of a few things for a baby's room that make life easier:

1. a bed - ours is an old futon loveseat thing. not amazingly comfortable but not terrible

2. a good sized chair, preferably with an ottoman or foot rest. I am using an armchair from the living room. I added this terrific bed sitting cushion from the Acacia catalog and that setup really is amazingly comfortable. The cushion even has these side pockets that the breast pump bottles fit into nicely

3. lamps with dimmer switches - one where you change diapers, one near the chair. can't go wrong with dimmer switches

That is all I can think of right now, but feel free to add your own suggestions

So apart from last night the first month has been like a tropical vacation, all things considered. After the horrible time I had with Patrick I was seriously terrified that two babies would be a living nightmare but they have been very easy. I feed them around 11, they wake up around 3 and then they sleep until 7 and are back asleep until 10. Not every night, of course, and if they wake up at 3 I do not go back to sleep until about 4:30 because it takes me that long to change feed burp and settle them both but still... not fucking bad. Steve does not do anything during the night, but he gets Patrick up and fed and to school every day while I sleep in with Caroline and Edward. Right now he is starting work on another basement improvement project (I don't even ask anymore, I just hear hammering) and Patrick is acting as his subcontractor. Earlier he and Patrick ran errands while I fed Caroline and Edward and dealt with the laundry. During the day the babies sleep together in a pack n' play in the living room or look around at things. They are quite easy-going, so far - happy to be held and happy to be wedged into a Boppy. It is all remarkably pleasant, which is good because I was so determined to have this family that I would be bummed if it sucked.

And of course it helps that they are cute and soft and smell like clean new rain.

Edward, by the way, looks EXACTLY like Patrick as a newborn. EXACTLY. The last time I said this Patrick channeled his inner preteen and said, "I KNOW! You have said that ABOUT A BILLION TIMES."

Jeez, sorrrrry.

Steve was holding Caroline the other day and I looked over and gasped and said, "My God she looks just like you!" Then I thought about it and amended, "I mean, she looks like you in that you both have a ridiculous amount of black hair. And sideburns. I guess I could say: my God she looks just like Burt Reynolds!"

Steve was offended. For both of them.

I have subsequently decided that Caroline actually looks like Audrey Hepburn. And despite being so weensy in general she has ridiculously long legs such that she is now wearing the newborn sized sleepers. They are voluminous around her middle but the preemie clothes were too short in the arms and legs. So long limbs plus the big eyes and a nicely shaped head that can wear a short sleek cut - pure gamine. Lucky kid. Better Gigi* than the Bandit, non?

Patrick calls Edward - Dreadward, combining the Drake and Edward you see. Personally I like it, especially since his original suggestion was... Fredward. How awful would that be? Little Fredward. He calls Caroline Sweet Girl and Pretty GIrl and Sweet Little Caroline and uses the same sing-song with her that he uses with our crazy closet cat. I suppose I should be discouraging this obvious gender bias (what? no Pretty Dreadward or Sweet Little Dreadward?) but I dunno. It's really adorable.   

*Wasn't Colette inspired by Audrey Hepburn? Am I remembering that correctly?

PS Widget fixed. New post up at REDBOOK.



I just love Caroline's eyes.

My mother's blanket collection continues - this is the gender neutral pink one she created. As you can tell - very masculine. She did the blue one you admired, by the way, and was very flattered by your compliments, so thank you.

Edward is nursing so this is a one-handed effort. I think I (we) have thrush. Is that a pediatric call or an OB one, do you think? Bear in mind that my OB has a nurse line and a cheerful obliging staff who would willing take one's word for white coated tongues and newly burning nipples; unlike the pediatrician who has no such phone-able nurse and a perverse desire to bring small babies into their germy offices in 0 degree weather.

I'm just saying. 

And I CANNOT BELIEVE that the Giants beat Green Bay at home. I CANNOT BELIEVE that Eli Manning (ELI MANNING. You KNOW how I feel about him) is going to the Superbowl. I take small consolation from the fact that the Patriots will use his bones to floss their teeth. I just can't like the Patriots. I suppose there is something admirable in perfection but they leave me cold.

PS Actually the patronage was not blog-oriented. I always think ya'll are helpful. I mean, except for those of you who are clearly whackaloons and post comments that are the written equivalent of wearing clown shoes. I just smile tolerantly in those cases and am grateful for the diversity of humankind. And the fact that you are not my neighbor. When I mentioned being patronized I was thinking about the post-hospital call nurse who asked if I was breastfeeding, wrote down my response and then proceeded to state five painfully obvious things very. very. slowly.

PPS I know that the widget is not working. Julie looked at it for me and declared it hopeless. Utterly utterly hopeless. Something about RSS feeds. If it continues I will ask the good people there to investigate.


New photo plus post up at REDBOOK.

See that? I zig, I zag. Post here, post there... you never know.

Caroline (pronounced to rhyme with wine but I am not all tweaked about that. I mean, if you want to rhyme it with win it doesn't bother me. also, the Kennedys? like Rose and Ethel and whatshisname P? THOSE Kennedys? man, that NEVER occurred to us. I suppose Edward Caroline and Patrick must just be names that appeal to the post-generation Irish with conflicted aspirations to both heritage and WASPdom. or something) had a feeding tube for the first couple of days. A thin blue tube that ran into her nose and then down into her stomach. It reminded me of my terbutaline pump in that it was made of the exact same stuff and I was similarly terrified of accidentally ripping it out. The logic behind the gavage was that she was too weak and sleepy to eat and they did not want her weight dropping much below four pounds as that would make her even weaker and sleepier. It took a few days for her to actually take a bottle and we cheered when she got through 3 cc's before collapsing in exhaustion. At intervals during her hospital stay we experimented with breastfeeding, enough to conclude that the spirit was willing but the flesh was... well you know. She would latch and suck but 1) she never got anything out and 2) she would then be so tired from trying that she failed to take a bottle for hours afterwards. We focused on getting her weight up (with formula. and minuscule quantities of expressed breast milk. from a bottle) and I would only let her fool around with nursing a little. I figured we could sort it out after she was able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. In the meantime I tried to breastfeed Edward as much as possible.

Edward was bigger at birth but still, let's be honest, something of a runt. He dropped to just over five pounds by day two and he had some nursing issues. Like Caroline he was willing, but like Caroline he was not particularly effective. The lactation consultant and I experimented over the course of the week with him and breastfeeding and the scale and bottles and the supplemental nursing system and eventually concluded that he has a weak latch and not a whole lot of stamina. He would get some breast milk (maybe half an ounce) and then tended to pass out or just pacify himself. So he was being supplemented as well (with formula. from a bottle.)

Gradually, as they both get bigger and are able to effectively nurse for longer periods of time, I am breastfeeding them more and bottle-feeding less. Last night, for example, they just nursed all night. This morning Caroline just breastfed but Edward was still hungry after nursing so he got some formula when he was done with the breast. Tra la la la la.

It is all completely different from how I handled the first few weeks with Patrick (exclusively breastfed, sheer misery, urgent care at 6 days for dehydration as I did not realize that a) my milk had not come in because b) his latch was all wrong, breastfed for a year regardless, so fucking stressful that first month though) that it feels like cheating. I nurse, I pump, they get formula, expressed breast milk, whatever... why, I even give one or the other a pacifier when I am feeding A and B realizes that s/he is so hungry that they will DIE if they are not fed THAT SECOND scream scream.      

I know this is all completely wrong and in theory I have messed up both babies so that neither will ever eat again but... it's working. They are both growing like small weeds (Steve just bought me a scale. I cannot wait to see how big they actually are but Edward is out of preemie and into Newborn and Caroline has graduated from the TEENY preemie clothes into the tiny preemie clothes. also the little hats no longer fit her) and I expect they will breastfeed exclusively at some point in the not so distant future. Or not. I am not stressing about it.

My milk supply, by the by, is still kinda crappy and I am just glad that I do not have to keep anybody alive via pumping. I get about two ounces every two-three hours. Since this is a 900% improvement (yes I smell like maple syrup) over last week I think it is a victory but I am not particularly optimistic that it will ever skyrocket from there.

Oh and I loathe being patronized (who doesn't?) It makes me cranky.

Patrick walking in the door... now. Yes! Peanut butter and jelly is so easy.   


I have two new children, no internet access, 500 stitches in my, um, well anyway but I wanted to check in and say hi and thank you for the good wishes and oh WOW, I have two new children.

Caroline Jane and Edward Drake are here and in general good health and high spirits. Caroline was 4lb 2oz and is still in the NICU (well "special care nursery" - nothing critical and she is their only patient) regulating her body temperature and gaining weight. Edward was 5lb 15oz and other than some jaundice (which worked out beautifully as it bought him a night in the nursery as well) he is fine. They are both remarkably hairy, hers is black and his is a medium brown. Eyes newborn color. Both cute, of course, particularly if one is partial to babies or monkeys or baby monkeys. 

I am camping at the hospital with him as a border. No internet but I will check in as I can. I hope to be home with them both by this weekend but we'll see. Jumbo birth story post going up soon at REDBOOK, so check the sidebar for that if you like. My mother tells me that if you click from that handy widget that Julie made me it will take you right to the post without making you watch Citizen Kane first. Not sure if that is true, but why would my mom lie?