Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Good Baby

Wifey got a job at national infant abuse prevention organization when she graduated with her Masters Degree and so we moved back to the land of gaybies and Mormons. She worked there for the past two years, implementing programs across the U.S. designed to inform parents about normal infant crying. She is very knowledgeable about the crying curve, and because of her work, I know a little as well. Crying peaks in the second month (where we are now) and then gradually drops off, usually ending by 3-5 months.

I’ve been told my whole life what an easy baby I was (especially compared to my older sister). I was quiet and independent, not even crying when my eardrums ruptured. I was convinced that I would make an equally “good” baby. I used to tell Wifey that I just knew we wouldn’t have a high crier. Little Bubbles always seemed so content in the womb. He loved listening to Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, taking baths and showers. He tolerated constant contractions for months with no signs of distress. He was a mellow little guy in my mind

Well, it turns out that we do have a high crier. Now, even though I shouldn’t feel like it’s necessary, I feel like I need to say that I love our little boy more than anything. Even when he is crying I look at him and am filled with love. His crying doesn’t anger or frustrate me or sound like nails on a chalkboard. It simply just breaks my heart. I am terrified about leaving him with a nanny next week when I go back to work. I love him, but what will someone who doesn’t do when he cries all day, especially when she can’t soothe him by breastfeeding?

I have discovered that it is not acceptable to be honest about what our days and nights are like. Most days if he isn’t nursing or asleep, he is crying. Sometimes it’s just fussiness, but it is usually a sad, high-pitched, scratchy scream. As I hold him, he bobs his little head like a bird on my chest. I breastfeed on demand, believing that he knows what he wants and needs. As his Mommy, I want to provide what he is communicating, in the only way he knows how, what he needs. But I do know that after he’s been breastfeeding for an hour, he really isn’t hungry anymore and I can physically only comfort nurse for so many hours a day and he needs to sleep sometime. When I try to soothe him any other way he cries. When Wifey tries to soothe him he cries. If he falls asleep and I move, he wakes up and cries. Sometimes I just want to cry with him. It is like this all day, everyday. Sometimes a walk will calm him down and put him to sleep. Sometimes I nurse him to sleep and then, because I know if I move even an inch he will wake up and cry, I sit with him while he sleeps. I think of the loads of dishes and laundry that need to be done, the meals that need to be prepared and eaten, the phone that is ringing just out of my reach. Then, I look at him and realize he needs me more right now than we need a clean house. I do love just being with him and watching him sleep. It is beautiful and I feel so lucky to have this time with him.

People often ask if he is a “good” baby. Now, there is no such thing as a good or bad baby of course. I answer honestly, the question they are really asking. I believe it is beyond important to be honest about our experience. There should be no expectation to pretend that you have a baby that eats, sleeps, and is a happy smiling fool the rest of the time. Social media seems to have encouraged people to show the life they want people to think they have, the kids they want people to think they have,  the parents they want people to think they are. When it comes to unsoothable infants though, it can mean life or death to have such unrealistic expectations.

When I say that he cries all the time, is unhappy, or upset all day. I get the following responses:

  • Well at least he’s cute, or but he’s so cute
  • He always seems happy when I see him
  • He’s always asleep when I see him
  • At least he’s healthy
  • I’ve never seen him do that
  • Have you tried x, y, z?
  • He is probably just x, y, z.
  • Something must be wrong with him

I also get responses that imply that I am complaining about him, and that doing so is not okay. There is a big difference between stating facts and complaining about those facts. There certainly wouldn’t be anything wrong with complaining about it though.

Better responses would be:

  • I’m sorry that must be hard/frustrating/sad/difficult/stressful/exhausting
  • Is there anything I can do to help?
  • I know it’s hard, but it’s normal and it will end

Or better yet, just listen and empathize. And even better yet, don’t ask people if they have a “good” baby. Sure, ask them about sleep, crying, eating, smiling, but leave the judgement out of it. No one wants to call their baby bad. Make sure they know about normal infant crying and that it is better to put the baby somewhere safe and walk away than to stay getting more and more frustrated. People who shake their babies are normal people. They don’t fit any specific demographic. They just snap because they can’t take it anymore in that one second it takes to lose control.

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Basketball or Watermelon

I thought it would be fun to take weekly bump photos outside, documenting t he growth and change of my body and Bubbles along with the changes in nature throughout the seasons, We started out taking the weekly belly photos at 6 weeks and surprisingly only missed a couple…until the  end of the pregnancy when we Wifey started her new job and we got really busy. I’m working on making a little video, but am not done quite yet. For a sneak peek here is the 6 week shot and the last one we took at 34 weeks. I don’t think I got too much bigger those last two weeks. I didn’t gain any weight for the last month I was pregnant.

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I went back and forth about taking professional maternity photos. Then, one of Tough Cookie’s friends asked if she could take our photos for a project she was doing on LGBT families and we agreed. Tough Cookie worked for her back when my stepbrother was a baby. She introduced Tough Cookie to photography and sort of inspired her to become a photographer, so that was kind of cool. Here are a few of those pictures:

 

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One Month

I realized I never said what we named our son. We had a naming ceremony when he was 9 days old, finally announcing his name to our family and friends which was why I didn’t include his name when I announced his birth here. His name is Matthijs. Matthijs is after my great-grandfather, my mom’s grandfather who immigrated to the United States with his wife and all their children in 1950 from The Netherlands. I never got to meet him, or my grandmother, but I have heard that he was an incredible man. We wanted his name to have meaning other than we just liked it and it fits him perfectly.

1monthedit

  • Matthijs loves showers. To be fair he’s only had two baths, one he hated and one he enjoyed for a couple of minutes. Showers though, he loves. He moves his little feet in the water and cuddles up in our arms and falls asleep. I could tell he liked the shower while I was pregnant too. The kid is like me, he likes the heat.
  • He also loves to cuddle. The only place he will sleep in someone’s arms or on their chest. We try to put him to sleep, or when he is already asleep, on his back in our bed or his crib or his bouncy chair he wakes up almost immediately screaming. He can tell when someone isn’t there wrapped up around him.
  • Nursing..I could write a book about our breastfeeding relationship. I’ll just say that it’s been hard. One day he nursed for 5 hours straight, with a few 10 minute breaks. We’ve negotiated and it’s not as intense now, but he’d still nurse all day if I let him.
  • The only other thing that really calms him down is being outside. Sometimes he wants to go for a walk in the stroller, sometimes he just wants to be held outside and sometimes he wants to be worn in the K’tan. It’s an immediate reaction though, which is so interesting. He will be crying and crying and nothing is soothing him and then if we take him outside he stops immediately and just looks around as content as ever. He takes after his mom’s, we love the outdoors too.
  • He absolutely hates diaper changes. I’m not sure when this changes for most babies, but I’m doubtful that it will ever be a fun experience for him. He screams the saddest screams ever as soon as we put him on the changing table. At first we thought the wipes were too cold so we bought a wipe warmer, nope he still cries and cries and it ends up taking longer to change him because he wiggles and moves his legs around so much. It’s hard, poor kid.
  • He started rolling from his back so his side the first time I laid him on his back and walked away. One time when he was on his side he rolled to his stomach and moved his head to face the opposite direction. He’s strong. When he wants his body to be in a different position, he makes it happen.
  • He has the most adorable dimples, like me. Wifey and I were pretty excited when we saw them for the first time.
  • He also reached and passed his birth weight finally! It took a whole month and a lot of pumping and constant nursing, but he’s growing and eating well now.

There is so much more to write about his first month, but those are the main points that stuck out for us. I can’t believe he’s been on the outside for 6 weeks already. Time flies and I’m dreading going back to work in 2 weeks. It’s going to take a tremendous amount of willpower to leave him.

Oh and this happened today. The first real smile caught on camera. He may have smiled a couple of times before, but we weren’t sure. Today he smiled with his eyes open wide and kept doing it for a few minutes. It was the most wonderful moment and made all the hours and hours of crying just disappear.
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