Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ups and downs in babytown: eight weeks of parenthood

So, wow: two weeks.

I want to thank everyone who has offered help and advice, given us clothes and other baby stuff, and brought us food and cheer over the past eight-plus weeks. We appreciate everything, even when we haven't been able to use it! We are both feeling much better about this parenting business, and Oliver is growing and developing as well as we could ask.

Now the news!

When I started this post two weeks ago, I wrote that since things had gotten better, we were probably in for a big change any day, which would shake our newfound confidence... At that time, breastfeeding had improved dramatically—Oliver feeds faster and gets fuller—and I suppose he had settled into a loose pattern of sleep—up to six hours at a stretch—that was allowing us to feel moderately rested. Then, at about seven weeks, the change came. Oliver's appetite increased and his sleep declined. For the next week, our panic climbed near previous heights: a week-long growth spurt, and boy did he grow. We're still feeling the effects, and things certainly aren't back to where we'd like!

But let me step back in time.

The past two weeks were full of appointments, visits, events (both fun and responsible), and continuing developments. The thing is, while Oliver doesn't seem too far from where he was two weeks ago, I feel like I can hardly remember what it was like then.

In week seven, he had his final visits at the Better Breastfeeding Clinic, the midwives, and the osteopath, and all were satisfied with his progress. He weighed 4.92 kilos (~ten pounds, thirteen ounces) that Tuesday, and 4.96 kilos (ten and fifteen) by Thursday. The midwife also measured him at about fifty-seven centimetres.

A pediatrician at the breastfeeding clinic thought he heard a slight murmur, and recommended we mention it to Oliver's permanent doctor when we saw her. However, he told us not to worry, which was hard to avoid.

The osteopath showed us some more positions to release gas, and endorsed Dr. Karp's use of soothers, so that was reassuring. She also recommended Danijela have craniosacral treatments. If she does, it will be interesting to see the results.

Then we had an informal baby choking and CPR lesson with our friends Juli and John, who are especially concerned since their daughter is starting to eat solid foods. There's a worry we have to look forward to in a few months.

On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, Danijela worked her third wedding since Oliver was born, this one the longest at eleven hours. My mum came by to help out again, and Oliver was fine except by the end of the night he had taken all the milk we had collected, and I was worried that he'd want more before bed. Luckily he didn't, although he fed soon after Danijela got home. Somehow, I also managed to make chutney and pickles that day.

Our friends Jen and Mike had invited us for Thanksgiving dinner the next day in Hamilton, and with the lure of a bacon-wrapped turkey—as well as a social visit, of course!—we were keen to go. And we managed it, even though Danijela was exhausted from her long day. It was well worth it though. I hate to miss a Michael Kennedy feast, and this one was no exception. Plus, we got to see Marco and Melissa and their two-week-old daughter. We didn't want to reflect on our own experience of Oliver at two weeks! But it was a treat to see another family so new, and it was a reminder that things move so quickly. We also passed on a bag full of Oliver's clothes, some of which he didn't even get to wear. That night in Hamilton, Oliver slept for six and a half hours straight. Life was good.

The next day we gathered our energy to drive back to Toronto for a nice big family Thanksgiving at my folks' house, with Anne and Robert, Danijela's parents, and Snjezana and Carlos. We filled ourselves up again, and stocked up on leftovers, looking forward to the next weekend, when we'd head back to Hamilton for Danijela's family slava dinner. But this was the week...

We assume that it was all a growth spurt that has been causing Oliver to wake more frequently, but there are probably other factors. The less sleep we get, the more stress we feel, and I'm certain that affects Oliver's state. And now that Danijela has brought her computer home from her studio to work, things feel a bit less loose than before. Also, he seemed to be napping more during the days, and even had a couple of unprecedented three-hour early evening sleeps. Maybe that was keeping him from sleeping at length. I don't know. Of course, those extended daytime sleeps are making it easier for Danijela to actually get work done at home, and should allow me to cook us up some dinners.

We managed to get to High Park for a couple of walks to see the colours, although there wasn't much change yet, and we tried to get dinner at the new Hey Meatball! restaurant (simply, "Hey!") on Roncesvalles, but one night it closed early and the other we learned that their dinner menu doesn't include meatballs—how disappointing! (It's also fairly pricey for what looks like pretty basic fare.) I think we both managed to fight off burgeoning colds, too, despite our advancing exhaustion.

Meanwhile, I worried about frost and having the time to pull down all my tomato plants. I managed to get them out mid-week and make (and then burn) another batch of chutney. Still waiting to make more pickles and plant my garlic though!

Somewhere along the way, we learned that Jane and TJ and Raven were coming to town—yay!—for a whirlwind weekend visit so TJ could participate in The Shows, a Toronto Fashion Week event showcasing ex-pat Canadian designers. Of course, we already had a full weekend ahead, and we were worried we might not even see them—at least until the show on Tuesday, which we wouldn't miss if at all possible.

Saturday, friends Leslie and Andrew finally got hitched after sixteen years. We were excited about this for many reasons, the big one being that we were going out without Oliver—gasp! My parents brought Jane and Raven along to babysit, so we had a brief reunion while we rushed around getting ourselves ready. I had to instruct my mum in diaper-changing, bottle-warming, and to-bed-putting—well not really instructing, but you know, we have our ways of doing these things. It was too much a rush, especially when we see the London Gorleys so infrequently, but it can hardly be helped. We are lucky to see them as often as we do (in fact this year has been especially good to us). It was only in the spring they were in Toronto last, and nearly six-year-old Raven seems to have grown up quite a bit. I'm sure attending school is making a difference.

The wedding was lovely, the ceremony brief and charming. I find most ceremonies short after being at so many Serbian weddings! Sometimes I want them to go on a bit—to be a bit more ceremonious—but maybe not to the length Danijela's and mine did. It was a great pleasure to see many friends, although we left before dancing. Our babysitters were also getting tired.

Then back to Hamilton on Sunday! It never stops! Danijela's family's saint is St. Michael and their slava day always falls on or around Thanksgiving. Slava is always an important dinner, similar to Thanksgiving, but this year was especially important, due to the new addition to the family—Mile and Mara's first grandchild. Snjezana and Carlos were there of course, along with our friend Tijana and one small branch of Danijela's mum's family: her aunt, uncle, and cousin. Given the gravity of the occasion, Mile had also invited the family's priest—now retired—Otac Lazar, to sing and bless Oliver. It was fitting, as he married us and will probably christen Oliver, too. Mile had already opened (and the party—mainly he, Carlos, and Otac Lazar—had gone through) a third of a bottle of very good cognac reserved four years earlier just for the occasion of Oliver's birth. I caught up quickly before dinner. It was an important celebration after all.

Oliver was happy enough to be doted over by family, and we were happy to have someone else take care of him for a little while! That night, the Hamilton magic returned and he slept for six hours. Was the growth spurt over? Could we return to background panic? Could we sleep again? Would I once again avoid a hangover? Tune in next time to find out!

But seriously, I want to stop here, so I can think about other things for a minute. The boy will awake soon, and then, who knows!


Babies don't blink.

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