This was the notation on one of Lorelei’s sheets from daycare last week – the ones on which they record bottles (inputs), diapers (outputs), and naps (kaputs). Incidentally, she just finished out her very first notebook of these sheets, which they gave us for posterity – they even pasted in a few candid photos of her here and there. It’s fantastic, our very own personal copy of Lorelei: A Retrospective.

I have to say, the question of nipple size never occurred to me. I didn’t know they – the rubber ones, that is – came in different sizes. This is the sort of maternal detail my sister-in-law is totally on top of and I am completely oblivious to, until I look over and compare Matthew (happily drinking his bottle) with Lorelei (pounding the side of her bottle with her fist and sucking so hard she’s practically turning it inside out).

At the drugstore I found a package of “fast flow” nipples for the 7+ month old. Lorelei is just now hitting 6 months, but I figured she could handle a more high-performance model than the 3-pinholer she’s been using since she was born. This one has an x-shaped cutout and is, according to the packaging, “ideal for thicker liquids.” I know they’re not talking about milkshakes, but I must confess that that’s where my mind immediately went.

We tried out the new nipples yesterday, and all went well. Bring on the milkshakes.

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Who Says Print is Dead?

December 10, 2010

Baby Vesuvius

December 7, 2010

One of the sleep-training books I read noted that some babies get so worked up about being left in their cribs to cry that they will vomit all over themselves. The book downplayed this as a potential problem, saying something to the effect of, “Many babies actually enjoy vomiting.”

This struck me as ridiculous until this past weekend. Eric and Lorelei and I were on a car trip, and I heard what I thought was a minor bit of spit-up from the back seat. When we arrived at our destination, it was clear that there was nothing minor about it.

Lorelei had managed to splatter herself, her car seat, and the back seat of Eric’s car with a veritable torrent of partially digested formula from a few hours before. I remember almost nothing of my physics classes back in high school, but terms like “acceleration” and “velocity” flashed into my mind as I surveyed the widespread damage in the back seat.

But the real kicker, in addition to the relative silence of the onslaught, was just how utterly pleased with herself Lorelei was. She was smiling and giggling – almost giddy, really – as if to say, “Hey Ma, look what I did! Let’s do it again!” Her clothes and car seat may have been saying “poor sick baby,” but her face was clearly registering “delighted Space Mountain patron.”

In the short time I have been dressing a baby, I have discovered some truths I believe are universal:

1. The cuter the outfit, the less practical it is (I include here garments with interesting snap patterns that are difficult to maneuver baby’s spaghetti-like limbs in and out of). And the frequent inclusion of pockets, while not problematic, is nonetheless puzzling.

2. Gender stereotyping starts early – I’m thinking here of Lorelei’s “born to shop” onesie. At the time it fit her, she did not yet even have independent control over her head. Born to nurse and burp, maybe, but that was about it.

3. There is no such thing as remotely standard sizing (can you picture one of those dressmaker’s dummies in a standard 3-month-old size? It would look like a little potato on a stick). There were some things Lorelei, a skinny 7-pounder at birth, was sized out of almost immediately. But there are 3-month onesies she still wears now, as a nearly 6-month-old. I think there are probably some back-to-school outfits out there that are too small for her.

4. Baby clothes come bound to their packaging with a ridiculous number of those nearly invisible plastic thingies that need to be snipped off, at which point half of the plastic thingie – invariably, I’ve found, the sharper half – vanishes inside the garment.

The good news is that you locate it again when you strip your baby down to find out why she’s screaming – it’s usually lodged somewhere in her underarm region. (There are also, of course, at least one or two plastic thingies your sleep-deprived self misses entirely, until your baby is half-naked on the changing table, when you discover that the left sleeve of the pajamas is intractably pinned to the right leg.)

5. Anything with supplemental ears: Extremely cute. I don’t know who first thought to do this, but I’m a fan.

6. Overthinking the design of baby clothes can get a little trippy. Example: Lorelei has a pink bear snowsuit (with ears, natch) whose feet are little bear heads. The world would be a very different place if adult clothes – or bears, for that matter – were designed this way.

7. Whatever it is, or whatever part of the baby it’s meant to cover, it all, without exception, eventually winds up covered in drool, poop, pee, half-digested milk, or all of the above.

As soon as you have a baby, the powers that be (i.e., pretty much everyone who crosses your path) start pushing you to breastfeed. It’s sooooo good for the baby…think of the bonding!…breast is best…modern science has not yet come up with anything even remotely comparable to the wonders of breast milk…you’re the worst mommy in the whole wide world if you even consider feeding that sweet new miracle anything powdered and processed…and so on.

In some respects, I get it. Breast milk is uniquely formulated for the nutritional needs of your growing baby, and the bonding is very nice (as is the fact that you have one hand free when you nurse; I was able to read a surprising number of books this summer during those early days when pretty much all you’re doing round the clock is feeding the baby).

But what they don’t tell you? Stopping the breastfeeding is a bitch.

Setting aside for the moment the passing of a sweet era with your newborn, as well as the inevitable guilt the La Leche folks heap on you for weaning before the baby is old enough to drive, it’s just not a fun time from a physical standpoint.

All of a sudden, that milk you’ve been cranking out for the past several months has nowhere to go. Even if you’re careful to cut back gradually, and even if (like me) you’re not churning out all that much milk anyway, you’re likely to wind up sporting a pair of painful, lumpy softballs. And most websites are no help, as the recommended cure for nearly all engorgement/blocked duct problems is to nurse more. There’s apparently some very fine line between nursing/pumping just enough to relieve some of the pressure but not enough to trigger continued milk production. I have not yet found the correct side of that line.

Making matters worse is the fact that one of my boobs (Lefty) has pretty much gotten on board with the whole weaning process – the one Eric has always claimed never produced its fair share of milk anyway, based on my pumping output – but the other has not. I’ve tried having Lorelei nurse on that side a bit, but she’s been quite eager to try out those new teeth of hers, which are like miniature white razors. The first time she chomped down, I literally saw stars for the first time in my life. (It was just like one of those old Tom & Jerry cartoons.)

Signing off with heating pad in hand,

Lumpy & Lopsided in Portsmouth

Hands

November 24, 2010

Lorelei has just discovered her hands. It’s pretty cute – every once in a while we’ll catch her with her arms outstretched, looking them over as if she’s evaluating a recent manicure. She also likes gazing at them while she’s working on a bottle, an activity I’ve dubbed “dinner and a show.”

The other day, I was feeding Lorelei a bottle of breast milk that she was having none of. She was trying to be a good sport, but I could tell she was just faking it to be polite and letting most of it cascade down her chin (chins, actually – she’s really filled out lately) and neck.

I wondered if there was something wrong with the milk, as she’s not generally picky about her food (hence the multiple chins). When I took a whiff, it smelled as if I’d locked it in my trunk for the better part of August. Mystery solved – I wouldn’t have wanted to drink it either.

I thought that maybe I hadn’t washed the bottle well enough, or that I’d inadvertently left the milk in the fridge too long, but I discovered yesterday that my milk is starting to go off nearly as soon as it leaves my body. It’s a little disconcerting.

I looked online, and the problem seems to be that I have an excessive amount of an enzyme called lipase, which starts breaking down the fat in the milk as soon as it’s expressed. I didn’t used to have this problem, but apparently now I do. There’s nothing I can do about this short of scalding and cooling the milk before it starts to turn – going into the home pasteurization business, essentially.

Even setting aside the fact that I’d basically be pumping directly into a saucepan several times a day, given how quickly the milk goes bad, there’s the separate issue of just how little of it there is. Ever since I went back to work, my supply has dwindled to the point that I’m only able to pump a little more than one bottle a day. The rest of the time, Lorelei has formula (which, it must be said, she enjoys immensely; she’s clearly on target to embrace all manner of highly processed foods in the near future).

I had really hoped to keep giving Lorelei breast milk until she was 6 months old – about a month from now – but I think it may be time to end the milk heroics. Gisele B√ľndchen would be horrified, but it’s not like they call her the “Boobs from Brazil” for her extensive lactation expertise.