Marveling about this baby, weight check success, and other newborn news

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 –

Ay is such a sweet, sweet baby. I keep finding myself lost in thoughts about all the things that make him special as I gaze at him. So here are some of these things I’ve noticed about our newborn so I don’t forget:

He has a cry that starts out very high pitched, like a squeak or sometimes like the cry of tea kettle.

He has a tiny scab on top of his head. I remember Tee had one, too. I think they’re from the midwives at both births breaking my water.

He has an asymmetrical hairline with a widow’s peak off to the right just a bit. I love that he has two whorls in his hair – one at the back, and one right to the left of that widow’s peak. I think that whorl is part of why is hairline isn’t symmetrical. It’s ridiculously cute – I’m sure it’ll become hidden as his hair grows, so I’ll enjoy it now while it lasts.

He was born with incredibly long eyelashes and deep brown eyes.

He usually has a very serious look on his face as he gazes at us.

He has a tiny mouth, and an especially full lower lip, and often when he’s trying to latch he’ll end up catching his upper lip instead and it takes him a few seconds to figure it out and let go.

His ears have a folded top, especially the left one, which also has a slight crease. It’s interesting to think how he must have been contorted in the womb to come out with a fold in his ear like that!

He has at least one dimple, on his left cheek. I suspect he has two, a deep one and a shallow one, like my sister and I do, and like Tee also inherited. We’ll find out when he starts to smile.

He looks like a different person every day – first like me, then like Tee, and now like TH. I wonder who he’ll look like tomorrow?

Weight check went great! While Ay didn’t gain any weight, he didn’t lose any more weight either. In fact, he had huge poop today, and nursed a ton. I’m thinking if he hadn’t pooped until after the weight check, he would have shown a gain in weight.

And speaking of poop, I’m positive the fact that Ay had five poopy diapers in his first 24 hours contributed a lot to how much weight he lost, which the midwife’s assistant mostly agreed with yesterday and felt surer about today. She talked to the midwife and the plan is that they will do the one week exam a day or so early, just to make sure the numbers on the scale are still going up.

Now that Ay is no longer losing weight, I’m done with spoon feeding, so we’re back to nursing constantly, skin to skin, no silverware in sight. I’m no longer worried. My milk is in – I feel like I’ve got two canteloupes on my chest, and yet the engorgement isn’t all that comfortable at all. I’m glad that Tee still nurses and can help with that somewhat because Ay, while nursing a ton, can’t quite eat enough to take the edge off.


We put Ay in a sleeper, rather than the usual side-snap t-shirt, for the first time today for bed. It felt a little weird to put an outfit on him after three days of his being naked save a diaper during the day and a diaper and t-shirt at night. But the bedroom was a little cold, so I turned off the air and decided to give him more coverage.

I am making no pretense about the fact that we’re cosleeping. Nights have been mostly peaceful so far and I think that has a lot to do with both our kids being close. That said, our getting Tee to bed has been a challenge for sure the past two nights. A change may need to come soon with regard to how we do bedtime moving forward and I’m glad that TH has four weeks of leave so we can work on this together without risking anyone being super tired during a work day the next day.

The fact that Ay is mostly naked all the time (and me, too, from the waist up), is very different from Tee’s newborn days. Part of it is very intentional – I wanted to focus on resting, and skin-to-skin and nursing completely on request, and I’m glad it’s more or less working out. Part of it is also the time of year – Tee was a winter baby and Ay was born in summer weather. So who knows if Ay will wear many clothes at all this month before we start venturing out of the house again regularly! I do have one outfit I want to put him in – the ‘coming home’ outfit the Tee wore home from the birth center. Ay is a bit bigger than Tee was at birth but I want to try to get a photo of him in it tomorrow anyway – assuming I remember!

We also haven’t been swaddling at all. We do keep a baby blanket or two on top of him when he’s nursing skin to skin or if someone is holding him. But intentionally swaddling him to keep him still hasn’t yet happened. It may enter the picture at some point in the future, but for now, it’s just a tool in the back pocket.

Another back pocket tool that will get broken out as soon as I’m getting out of bed regularly are our wraps and the sling. I’m excited about using them and learning carries. Not in any rush though, since I’m not supposed to be walking or standing or doing much out of bed for long periods of time, and my tail bone and perineum would appreciate it if I took that suggestion seriously through at least the end of the week. But I thought about suggesting a carrier for TH today when he was holding Ay while I got myself ready for bed. I’ll have to show him how to use one in the next few weeks!

Milk in!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 –

Things seem better this morning although a long night. I didn’t sleep at all before about 3:30 am because I was focusing on nursing Ay and he was having a hard time staying latched while side lying, which meant that I had to sit up in bed to nurse him. A little after 3, I was finally able to lay down.

Just before going to bed last night I thought I noticed a faint tingling sensation and that my breasts seemed heavier than they had earlier. But I wasn’t leaking and didn’t feel engorged like I remember when my mature milk came in with Tee. So maybe it was wishful thinking.

This morning though my breasts definitely felt full. I wasn’t leaking and couldn’t hand express a ton but they were fuller and heavier. I didn’t have that feeling of rock filled canteloupes I got the first time. But then again, I’ve been nursing Ay constantly since he was born, and Tee has nursed a lot, too. So there have been very few breaks from nursing, even when the baby is sleeping.

I remember reading something in a breastfeeding reference book during my training this past year that the feeling of engorgement after a baby is born and one’s mature milk comes in is not so much a feeling of one’s milk “coming in” (since milk is there all along and the colostrum slowly turns into transitional milk and then to mature milk), but more the feeling of the point at which the milk one is making outpaces the milk one’s baby is (or babies are) removing. So maybe I shouldn’t expect that same engorged feeling since I have had two kids, one with a much bigger appetite than the other, removing milk since the baby was born.

I woke TH and we fed Ay the milk I was able to express into a spoon – just like yesterday, it was definitely milk and not thicker colostrum. And just like last night, Ay seemed a little jolted by such a large serving of milk at once. But he ate as much as I could get out – probably seven or eight spoons with several drops each just like when I first sat with J, the midwife’s assistant, and later with my mom and B from LLL. And just like last night, I could clearly hear him swallowing. Once I’d tapped out, I offered him the breast that he hadn’t been nursing when he woke up. I made sure to do breast compressions as he nursed and I finally heard swallowing while he nursed! Such a relief.

It’s one pm and I think I can officially say the milk is in (it’s hard to let go of that terminology, even when I know that it’s inaccurate ☺ ). At the very least, it’s clearly coming in, although it’s so unlike how it happened with Tee.

Last time, I remember a sudden tingling sensation (first time feeling letdown), my boobs seemingly growing huge right before my eyes, and milk literally shooting out of both sides from the pressure. It was dramatic.

This time, though, it’s like my milk is sneaking in with hopes that no one notices. When J was here yesterday, she commented that my milk was no longer creamy yellow colostrum, but watery and white milk – just not in the copious amounts I expected to have by then given that I’m nursing a newborn and a toddler and remembering that I had enough milk to leak by two days after birth.

I noticed before going to bed last night that my breasts felt heavier. A couple of hours ago they felt a little hard and lumpy. TH was out at the museum with Tee this morning so my mom helped me spoon feed Ay for the second time today. We’re nursing a ton as usual, too, but whenever he seems especially awake and alert, I’ve been spoon feeding, too. I was able to get milk more quickly than yesterday, but it was about the same amount in total. Not a ton, but as Betsy reminded me, a newborn with a stomach the size of a thimble doesn’t need tons of milk.

Whenever he nurses, I’m doing hand compressions and listening closely now for the sounds of him swallowing. I’m definitely hearing swallowing today, but not as much when he nursed alone without me also compressing. I do think his latch may be a little shallow. But he’s also three days old, with a three day old’s tiny mouth. His weight check is in a couple of hours. My friend V so graciously pumped some milk for me and dropped it off this morning to have on hand in case of an emergency or bad news with the weight check tonight.

I’m hoping that he has reached the bottom of the curve and that he at least didn’t lose any more weight, even if he didn’t gain.

Rough evening

Monday, June 8, 2015 –

What a stressful evening to what started out as such a good day.

Things were still going so well in the afternoon. TH’s parents came with the TH’s sister’s kids to see Ay. (The kids mostly played outside or downstairs with Tee with TH and his dad taking turns watching them.)

J, the midwife’s assistant who also attended Ay’s birth, arrived right when they left to check us. The appointment started off great. Ay passed his hearing screening. She asked me about my tear and I told her about how earlier I had taken a shower and that I was pretty I may have reopened the wound. I told her I was more or less okay with it, because what can you do, you know? She said if I was still worried about it, they could check it for me at a future visit later in the week, but in the meantime, to keep following their tips to aid healing.

Then we talked a lot about my birth, and I really appreciated hearing her perspective. I was nursing Tee and she had climbed up on the bed beside me to take my blood pressure, so we were sitting next to each other while we talked.

Yesterday, N, the midwife asked me two interesting questions about my birth. The first went something like, what was the best or most memorable part of my birth? I answered that I did it, that I finally got that baby out after a day that seemed like it would never end, and that he was born safely and healthy at home. Then I went on to say that the turning point of labor for me, that moment that I suspected may have involved some reverse psychology on her part to motivate me to start trying other things to help labor continue to progress and to avoid a transfer for pitocin. It was a really hard moment for me, and besides the moment where my son was born, it’s the moment that most stands out in my mind about his birth. But more on all that when I get around to writing up Ay’s birth story.

The other question she asked was if there was anything I would change about my birth. And here I laughingly said that pretty much everything that happened after she motivated me to start doing things to augment labor felt pretty horrible, but I wouldn’t necessarily change that part, since it seemed like that’s what needed to happen for labor to get going so Ay could be born. And his actual birth was pretty incredible.

So while we were chatting, J mentioned that the midwife had included my comments about what I’d thought was the turning point in my labor. And I told her that yes, that had been a very difficult moment, where it seemed like the people in attendance were close to letting me throw in the towel, and that it was a moment made even worse because it happened when TH had stepped away briefly. She said that it was great that I’d shared that with the midwife, because it would be helpful for other parents she attended in birth to know that giving the news of a possible transfer like that – without the birthing parent’s support person there at the same time – could be a big blow. I was glad that she took my comments seriously and that it might help another mom in labor in the future.

With that conversation behind us, and with Ay now calm again after nursing, she weighed him as the last thing. Unfortunately, after dropping from 7lbs 11oz to 7lbs 4oz yesterday, he was down another four ounces today at 7 lbs even — he is close to having lost ten percent of his birth weight. Yesterday, at his weigh-in with the midwife, she seemed totally unconcerned about the weight drop. We’d been doing skin to skin and nursing pretty much since Ay was born, he had had four or five poopy diapers, and he was peeing constantly, all over us! But now it seemed like the good news had gone out the door.

J seemed pretty concerned. We talked about the signs that can help determine how much milk a baby is taking in. He had five meconium diapers in the first 24 hours including the stool he passed at birth (which is probably why the first weight drop was so high). But he had only one poopy diaper this morning. He hasn’t been peeing on us at every change today like he did yesterday. In fact, while we think he has been peeing today, it was frankly hard to tell how much since he is wearing disposables until the meconium stage passes, and the brand we’re using doesn’t have a wetness indicator.

J asked if she could listen to him as he nursed to see if she could hear him swallowing. We both strained to listen to Ay as he nursed and didn’t hear any swallowing. Her concern now was practically making me panic. I felt like a shitty mom and a fraud. Here I was thinking everything was going fine, and yet I had missed the fact that he might not be getting milk. :-( Argh. What kind of LLL leader doesn’t recognize signs that her child isn’t getting milk anymore? We talked about next steps – she suggested I keep nursing on cue, and recommended that I try to spoon feed him expressed milk as well. She also said that if I was comfortable with milk sharing, I could ask around to friends I know who are nursing to see if any minded pumping a little so that I could have some on hand if Ay continued to lose weight. She consulted with the midwife over the phone, and they agreed that she would come back again in tomorrow to do another weight check.

I asked my mom to help me by holding Ay as I worked to hand express milk into a spoon for him. It was incredibly hard work to get even a few drops out of either breast, but I kept trying, and I managed to halfway fill a spoon with breastmilk. My mom held Ay steady for me as I fed it to him. It took him a second or two to realize what was happening, but he perked up immediately and swallowed the milk I’d poured into his open mouth. J agreed that a half-full spoon of breastmilk was a good amount to offer each time. Before leaving, she suggested we try to give him a little more this way tonight, and to do it a few more times the next day, too.

I managed to halfway fill eight spoons with breastmilk, and my mom and I fed this to him. By now, TH was home. He had taken Tee to play at a local botanitical garden with his cousins and TH’s sister’s family. He didn’t seem too upset by the weight news, but I couldn’t tell if that’s because he’s usually pretty calm about things like that or if it was because he didn’t understand how important it is for a baby to gain weight in a certain amount of time after being born.

He began getting Tee ready for bed and I hustled to work.

I contacted two close friends from our mom/play group who are currently nursing toddlers and asked if they wouldn’t mind pumping some milk to have ready for us just in case Ay showed that he had lost more weight the next day. I heard back from one right away that she would be happy to help out and would pump for us in the morning.

I realized I sucked at hand expression even after watching videos to figure out a technique. Or maybe I just didn’t have much in reserve to hand express right now. I was in a state and after my mom asked if there was anyone I felt comfortably calling to ask for help, I decided to call another LLL leader – I chose B because she lives close by. It was after 9:00 pm, but she answered my call on the first ring and said she would come over right away.

Twenty minutes later, B was here giving me an incredibly uplifting and rallying talk, while she encouraged me to let nature do it’s work by staying naked from the waist up and laying skin to skin with Ay as I’d mostly been doing. She watched as I tried again to hand express and said that my technique was fine and the amount I was able to express was perfect for a newborn baby with a stomach the size of a thimble. And knowing that I’m tandem nursing both a newborn and toddler, she encouraged me to keep nursing Tee because more demand leads to more supply. She left me feeling like I can trust my body and my baby to figure this out and in the meantime, I still have the option to spoon feed my child breastmilk, which we did a little more of after nursing again, and before we all went to bed tonight.

At bedtime, TH went to try to get Tee to sleep, but Tee had a meltdown. TH got him settled and asked me to nurse him to sleep. I’d been trying to avoid that for a little while tonight so that I could focus on nursing Ay. But I did because Tee was being so sweet and waited patiently for me while sitting in the side car crib, and Ay seemed to have nursed all he was going to for the time being.

Tee and I talked a while, but he was wide awake and nursing him wasn’t helping. I decided that I could at least be using this time to hand pump while he nursed and called out to TH to see if he could bring my pump. TH came in and instead suggested I switch back and let him settle Tee. I wanted to try the pumping thing though and said maybe we should just let Tee stay up a little while – the routine was totally out the window by now, so I didn’t think 30 minutes more of staying up was going to make much difference.

Ugh. I don’t know what the hell happened from there. TH got pissed because he felt I once again was making an executive parenting decision. We had an argument about Tee nursing to sleep. I suggested TH try to rock Tee in one of the two rocking/glider chairs our parents so kindly gave or let us borrow. The whole discussion devolved into an argument. By the time I finally got Tee to sleep, I was pissed and frustrated and TH was, too. He came up to talk to me about it. We were both too angry to talk rationally and instead had another fight about Tee, and why the hell he’s still nursing to sleep at two and a half and what our plan was to change that.

Argh. What a way to end the day.