The Orion Nebula

This is one STELLAR nursery!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Daddy is High Contrast

We've been waiting for it for two weeks. Today, while Doombot was tickling Orion's tummy to buy me time to pump a couple of extra ounces for our still hungry squirrel, Orion smiled. Boy, when people tell you that other shit is gas and that you'll know a real smile when you see it they're right. His eyes lit up and his little gummy grin just brought both of us to tears. He did it again a few minutes later. Both times he was looking straight into his Daddy's eyes.

I'm thrilled, obviously. But it stings a little too. Who is the one who has lived the last year in exclusive service of this baby? Who is the one who had a giant hole hacked in my thorax to make sure he made it into the world safely? Who has fed him with milk from my own body? Who has gotten up in the night a zillion times, forgoing the pain medication I could have been taking to deal with the pain of that surgery so I could be clear headed for him?

I've realized that its only been since I've been a mohter myself that I've realy even started to appreciate the sacrifices that my own mother made along the way to take care of me. But, man, was I a shithead to her for years...way longer than I had any right to. Now this smile thing is making me wonder. Is this how it always is? Are mothers always underappreciated, sometimes even resented, while dads are the fun ones? Don't get me wrong, I want Orion and Doombot to have a really special relationship. But damn ya'll. Where's my gummy grin?

The line we're telling each other is that Doombot is getting the smiles because he's got black facial hair that mimics that high contrast black and white infant development crap. Hopefully I'll be able to buy that story long enough to get a smile of my own.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Coming Out of the Dark

The last six weeks have been a blur. It turned out that Orion is a gas factory, due mostly to the fact that he takes great big gulps of air when he eats. It doesn't matter if we use the cheap bottles with the old school vinyl nipples or the swanky BPA Free ones with a zillion parts. (Side note...why would anyone with a new baby accept a feeding system that requires each bottle to come with its own teeny bottle brush). I've come to understand that pretty much every bottle on the market right now is great for keeping air bubbles out of the milk, but with only two shapes of nipples out there nothing can keep my kid from swallowing great gluggling gulps of air every time he comes up to breathe.

It turns out that a bunch of air in a baby's tummy tends to create reflux. We learned all of this last Saturday night when we ended up at the ER at 1am begging for someone to fix our screaming baby. We'd gotten very little sleep for a week and his problem was getting progressively worse. An ultrasound and an x-ray showed huge pockets of air in Orion's intestines, which was a relief in some ways. First, we were vindicated in that, duh, you'd scream too with a belly ache that bad. Second, we got to make everyone in the ER to look at the screen so they would believe us that no, he's not screaming because we abuse him thankyouverymuch.

We dragged ass home with a prescription for Zantac and instructions to double the amount of Mylicon Orion gets. After a week of the new routine (and a switch to stage 2 nipples) things finally seem to be getting better. I did screw up the routine a few days ago by trying to introduce some formula. Within 24 hours we figured out that was a bad idea and went back to our regular "all breast milk, all the time" programming.

Orion still wakes up every three hours at night, which sucks. However now he's waking up mostly happy. He's passing his gas (even though there is still straining involved) and pooping regularly again. I hope this new, happier baby is the one we get to keep because Beelzebabe wasn't making a lot of friends at 3am.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Whooo Are You?

I'm sure anyone who has lived through the first three weeks of life with their brand new baby will forgive me for not updating. I've been simply undone by some elements of newborn parenthood that I just did not anticipate. First, I never have any idea what day it is. Well, I sort of know. It's just a different week than it used to be. The Orion calendar looks something like this:

Monday- Houseday
Tuesday- Americanidolperformanceday
Wednesday- Americanidolresultsday
Thursday- Hockeyconferencefinalsstartday
Friday- Nodailyshowday

What I really don't know is how one day relates to another. Twice in the last two weeks I've had converastions with people where we arranged for them to come over "the day after tomorrow" and by the time the day came around I had completely forgotten when we had made the arrangements, and therefore, which day the plans were for. I end up having to make lots of calls like, "Hi mom! Which day were you going to come over?" only to have the answer be, " I'm on my way now." Which would be fine, if I still bathed every day.

It's been a mixed bag on the baby front. I'm happy to announce that Orion is no longer yellow. The process dragged out way longer than it should, but eventually resolved. His eyeballs were the last pockets of yellow to give up the fight. He has clogged tear ducts that cause goopy eyes all the time, a full face of baby zits, and epic hiccups that leave him miserable as his little body spasms with each one. He had a week of colic that turned us into zombies, but with the help of The Happiest Baby on the Block we've learned how to deal with that.

Getting him fed has been a complete enigma to me. Initially my inconveniently placed nipples and oversupply of milk made traditional breastfeeding more trouble than it was worth and led me to pump exclusively. A couple of experiments with formula convinced us that the constipattion wasn't worth it, so I pumped and pumped and pumped. Eventually I began to view the pump as my own personal anchor and decided to switch to formula anyway. I changed my mind 24 hours later (that was a week ago) but I'm still struggling to get my milk supply back to where it needs to be to get Orion fed sufficiently. No matter what he's eating, I still can't figure out how much is enough and how much is too much or too often.

Looking at it from a purely academic perspective, it would be tempting to think I have regrets. The easy conclusion would be that I resent the baby for not being physically perfect, for not eating the way I want him to, for tying me to the house, to the pump, and keeping me from sleeping. But somehow, one look at his little face transcends all of that.

He still doesn't do much, after all he's only three weeks old today. But the other day he started making eye contact. Yesterday he got a really serene look on his face, made a perfect little circle with his lips and let out a soft, sweet, "whoooooooo" that melted my heart.

I love this little boy. I still don't know what I'm doing with him, but I love him.