Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Parenthood: five weeks (and a day)

After a busy week, a busy weekend, and then a return to something like normal. Plus: smiles!

On Saturday, our friends Ben and Annick, who eloped the day Oliver was born, visited and were lucky enough to actually see (and hold) the boy. That is, he wasn't sleeping in confinement, which is often the case when people visit. It is terrific to see friends again and laugh and catch up a bit. We need it! Danijela and I have both felt fairly isolated since the birth, trying to get used to the new normal and avoiding most external interruptions to the anti-routine. I at least have got out to pick up groceries and other necessities. We have gone out for walks and had the occasional visitor, but not much, and the end of summer is an especially bad time to be stuck inside. Anyway, Ben and Annick brought some remnants of that summer sunshine, and I hope Oliver passed one some of his own light.

Danijela's parents followed (overlapped, really) for a brief visit before taking in some Toronto culture. They would return the next day to celebrate Danijela's mum's birthday.

Oliver was still having trouble latching, and his sleep that night was not what we are used to, but he was fine the next day. It's Danijela and I who are most bothered by the interruptions!

On Sunday, Danijela had the first of a series of mothering classes, recommended by our doula, so she would be away mid-afternoon for a few hours. Our friend and slightly less-recent mother Keira is taking the course with Danijela, so we arranged that her husband Joe and their daughter Evelyn would come to ours for the afternoon and have a daddy daycare. We all had lunch together—well, I bounced with Oliver while everyone else ate, then I ate—and Danijela and Keira took the TTC downtown. I'm pretty excited for Danijela. I think she could use the activity and the company and some different perspective that it's not easy to get from close friends or family.

Meanwhile, Joe and I tried to talk dad stuff without being interrupted, but we were unknowingly in the middle of a bit of an emergency: Oliver's swing was failing! It was acting erratically and wouldn't stay on, so I was having trouble getting Oliver to stay asleep, besides changing his diaper a bunch of times. Evelyn was fine—amazing actually—and gives me great hope for Oliver in a couple of months. She was wide-eyed, but entertained, not upset. She can sit up, sort of, and control her arms, sort of. She talks to herself and others, and puts things in her mouth. She responds to all kinds of cues. She wanted to be near her daddy, of course, but she could sit or lie by herself for periods without Joe worrying about meltdowns! What a pleasure. She did have a tired meltdown later on in the afternoon, but she is still a baby after all. Oliver was fine but for the fact that I couldn't put him down for any length of time, which is not unusual. I bottle-fed him in the mid-afternoon and he did sleep some, but mostly on my shoulder while we walked about the house. I did manage to throw one load of laundry in to wash, a surprisingly difficult task sometimes.

Then the moms returned and Danijela's parents, sister, and brother-in-law arrived. After Keira and Joe left, we passed Oliver around while the others ate dinner, and the men drank, we had cake, and finally Oliver slept, and everyone left. Alone again, with baby. One of these nights, we tried to watch This is Spinal Tap, but couldn't quite finish. We watch movies in two parts now. Sunday night was interrupted more often than usual, too, but Monday morning, I took Oliver upstairs and we hung out for a couple of hours while Danijela got much-(desperately-)needed sleep.

My big task for Monday was to diagnose the swing's condition and correct it, if possible. Danijela thought it was batteries. I was skeptical, since the people we bought it from said they replaced them only once over a couple of years, and we've only had it for less than a month. I suspected corrosion, which we had noticed when we first brought it home. I was just hopeful there was something we could do about it! I was right. There was moisture in the battery compartment, which we must have failed to eliminate when we first set the thing up. Some of the contacts had corroded, but remarkably not beyond repair. The setup is quite simple, too, and I could remove, clean, and replace some of the bits, even the battery contacts. Now it's back in working condition, and dry with the help of the hair dryer, although there is a bit of shock-absorbent sponge in there that doesn't seem to want to dry.

I finished up with the swing just in time to put Oliver to sleep in it, before our friends Finlay and Justyna dropped by with cheese, sausage, and fresh bread. This felt like more people in three days than we saw in a month. And despite not being able to show off Oliver, it was a pleasure to sit and chat with friends, even if there was light despair in our voices and fatigue in our eyes.

And somehow that night, I found time to bake a pumpkin pie with some frozen pie filling from last year, as well as round two of cherry tomato paste, with a few additional frozen tomatoes also from last year. However, I didn't know that the pie filling was the unseasoned and unsweetened type, so the finished pie was a bit of a bland surprise! In case this happens to you, though, all is not lost. You can mix up all the seasonings with the sugar and spread the mixture on top of the pie, and by the next day it will have soaked into the pumpkin—pie saved!

Since our new normal involves frequent trips to the breastfeeding clinic, that's what we did Tuesday (the day I started this post) for another follow-up. Despite nursing better over the past couple of days, Oliver showed no dramatic signs or intention of improving his latch, so the consultant suggested using a lactation aid to help fill him up. That means putting one end of a fine tube into a bottle of expressed milk and the other end in his mouth when he's nursing to increase the amount of milk he takes in and fill him up. It seems to work pretty well, but it is more labour-intensive than our previous efforts, involving both of us rather than just Danijela, and it doesn't take any less time than without! But it's a temporary measure while we attempt to increase Danijela's milk supply via herbs and a drug called domperidon. It all feels a little bit crazy, no doubt in part because of our new-parent state of mind. If I understand correctly, babies become much more efficient at breastfeeding as they grow, taking much less time and eating less often, but it's no surprise to me that many—most—mothers choose not to continue after a few weeks, since it sure can be a figurative and literal pain early on.

Anyway, things feel good. After the clinic, we drove downtown to pick some processed film for Danijela, grabbed lunch at Sense Appeal (cheap and delicious) where we ran into another friend, and walked to St. Andrew's Playground where we ate lunch in the warm September air. I had to amble around as I ate to keep Oliver asleep, and then amble some more as Danijela went for a quick shop. It was a treat to be out and about, to take in some of the city before the leaves and weather turn. Especially now as the city is on constant renewal. Too, I am used to travelling all around town and seeing what there is to see, although, not so much in the past year.

Well, now it's Wednesday, and I wanted to post this yesterday, and I'd love to take a nap, so I'll finish up.


In the five days from one appointment to the next, Oliver gained 170 grams (six ounces), and now weighs 4.68 kilos (ten pounds, five ounces), so still no worries about whether he's getting enough to eat.

Did I mention smiles? On the weekend, Oliver gave us his first big smiles, as well as lots of new (i.e., non-crying) talk. It really is a whole different thing now, and I'll gush about his beautiful newness when I'm more awake!

I don't think Danijela will agree, but I think Oliver is becoming somewhat predictable. Either we or he are settling into our roles and routines. Of course, I fully expect that to change completely now that I've said it.

More later!

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