On this day twelve years ago (egad), in the company of family and dear chosen family on a spectacular autumn day, I married my best friend.
Twelve years later, we own our own house, which was a lovely little dollhouse to begin with but is on the verge of being upgraded to wonderful what with the new attic (so close to being done, so close), and have not one but two beautiful children, who are joys and delights.
Today also marks the thirteenth anniversary of HRH and I doing our first road trip together, one of the joys I have continued to experience with him throughout our marriage. I’ve been told that the true test of a couple is if they can paint a room together without killing one another, but I suspect the ability to survive a road trip better attests to their ability to co-exist harmoniously. (Going through house renovations together may be the ultimate test of a relationship, however. On that front, I am pleased to inform you that both HRH and I are still alive, still unmaimed, and still married.)
We’re not doing anything to mark the event, really. We rarely do, but this time round we’re so wiped from renos and keeping up with a baby that our celebration will consist solely of sushi for dinner and an early bedtime.
I love you, HRH. We’ve put up with a lot of ups and downs, challenges, and obstacles, but you always give more than you’ve got to make sure our lives are stable and as good as they can be. We still have a way to go, but travelling the road ahead with you, our son, and our daughter is a joyful prospect.
Babies eat time, I am convinced of it. It is the only explanation. So, quickly:
New these past couple of weeks:
- Baby eyebrows have made an appearance, very faint and fair but definitely there.
- Her head of hair is growing longer! She’s developing quite the cowlick at the crown of her head. It’s all soft and fluffy. We are enchanted, because the boy didn’t have much hair for his first year.
- Cloth diapering at night is going very well indeed; hurrah for the nice thick all-in-one Bumgenius 3.0s!
- First stretch of time without Mum and Dad around; HRH’s parents babysat the kids while I was at the first orchestra rehearsal and HRH was at the parent orientation meeting held at the boy’s school.
- Most importantly: Baby smiles have made an appearance! Let me tell you, they make an hour of shrieking and refusal to settle all okay when she shares big gaping smiles with you. It was last Wednesday night after I got home from orchestra. Owlet had a bit of a rough time while we were gone what with gas pains and screaming, when I got home I was treated to her first deliberate smiles. She was kind of goofy about it, but they were real, wide, on-purpose smiles. Then she gave her dad some, too, so we all went to bed utterly charmed and snuggled to sleep.
I want to say that everything has been perfect since the tongue tie was cut, but we still have bad gas issues (and no, we are not exaggerating normal gas; this is horrendous and painful, and it wakes her up all the time so she’s still not getting as much sleep as she ought to). She also still has a lazy latch, and doesn’t drink hard or fast enough to properly satisfy herself before she dozes off, although it’s miles better than it was before. After an encouraging weight gain in the first few days after the cut, she dropped to packing on an average of only ten grams a day. The CLSC is just about ready to admit defeat and declare her just a small, slow-gaining baby; they’re waiting for her to hit eight weeks and then they’ll look to see if she’s been sticking to a general percentile curve, in which case she’s fine, because she’s thriving in every other way.
I think one of the hardest things this time round is fitting her into everyone else’s schedule. We have to wake her up before she’s ready to make sure she can come out the door with me to walk the boy to the bus stop, and again in the afternoon to meet the bus. Inevitably for the latter she’s only just finally fallen asleep for a nap no matter how hard I’ve been trying to get her to sleep all day, and I have to change her and get her into the carriage for the walk. Worse, sometimes she falls asleep on the walk, and I end up waking her up to bring her inside. We’ve sat outside for an hour or so a couple of times to make sure she gets some kind of afternoon nap, but it usually isn’t practical what with homework or weather or what have you. I can only hope that eventually her biorhythm will fit into the house’s schedule.
Ceri captioned this, “I has a snuggle”:
And here she is, all kitted out in handknits and accessorized with a handwoven for a day out in the cooler weather:
You can see how she’s grown just by comparing how that hat fits her now to how big it was when she was born, when we had to roll it up and it still fell off if her head wasn’t at the right angle, up in the post icon.
Last Wednesday evening was the first orchestra rehearsal of the season, and it was fabulous. Despite our principal being absent; despite sight-reading challenging music I’d never heard before; despite being up past when I usually pass out.
The first concert of the season will take place on Saturday November 26th at 7 30 pm, at Valois United church, and this is the programme:
Beethoven - Prometheus Overture
Holst – St. Paul’s Suite
Sibelius – Valse Triste
Brahms – Serenade No 1
I’ve previously played the Beethoven and Sibelus. I thought I didn’t know the Holst till I played through it, and of course I know it; it’s an old CBC standard, nice and stompy folksongy stuff. It was the Brahms that tripped me up. I don’t know it, and it’s what we began with. It was not easy: it was a bit demoralizing as a starter to the first rehearsal of the year, and it’s going to take a lot of work.
This weekend the boy and I started our cello lessons again. It’s been about two months since I played seriously, so we took it nice and easy and played the Minuet I’d done for last winter’s recital, which went surprisingly well, then poked at the Dvorak Humoresque that I’d been working on in the spring, and finally did a bit of etude work. Then we started La Cinquantaine, which has a lovely elegant kind of controlled flick up to the A harmonic on the A string that I love to do.
The big news in private lessons, though, is that the boy is starting to use his big bow part-time, and has officially begun the first Suzuki book. We are going to work on French Folk Song, something he recognises because it’s my default test piece on any new cello I try, and Twinkle. So he has officially left pre-Twinkling behind! (And if I don’t get a move on, he’ll pass me in Suzuki, too. I know I play tonnes of other stuff and only dip occasionally into the Suzuki books, but if he passes me it will feel very odd indeed. But I’m only two pieces away from book four, so it’s very doable!) He has a new reply for his teacher when she asks him if he thinks he can do something she sets for him: “I don’t know if I can do that… but I’ll try!”
We had our first group lesson yesterday afternoon as well, and there are seventeen students with my teacher’s home studio this year, which is going to make for interesting floor plan dynamics come dress rehearsal time. I love the first group lesson of the season, because we sight-read the proposed group pieces for the recital, and anything goes bowing- and fingering-wise. There were some nice pieces — Monteverdi bits, an extract from Schütz’s Christmas Oratorio, a cello quartet arrangement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (which will please the Owlet no end, as she has decided Beethoven’s ninth is the perfect piece of music to relax ad pass out to), and a couple of other things that escape me at the moment. Nothing too finger-trippy if I’m on first cello, and some very pleasant harmonies indeed. The boy did well in following his teacher’s directions on the fly in his group lesson, too, in particular managing to pull off a full descending one-octave D major scale without ever having done it before. Mind you, then he decided he’d had enough and asked to go sit with me, and as he’d followed directions on three or four other fun things that were new to him his teacher was fine with that.
I have really, really missed my cello. Slipping back into it and seeing that I can pick up just about where I left off with only a few rough spots is a huge relief to me. I love making music with other people, and even with the challenges of a difficult commute, not much time to practice, leaving Owlet behind with HRH, and having to make sure we have enough bottles of expressed milk on hand, the good that it does me outweighs the stress.
My month-old baby is currently sleeping on her own. As in, not on me.
This is a major thing. Let me tell you why.
We’ve been having feeding issues, right? Well, last Friday at the weigh-in, the nurse looked at Owlet’s weight and said, “She’s gaining weight, but it’s still slow.” I wanted to howl. What the heck else can we do? I cannot physically feed her more; she’s already feeding for half an hour to forty-five minutes, about an hour apart, and if she’s not feeding she’s dozing on me. I can’t pump any more, because I don’t have the physical timeslot in which to do it because hey, there’s pretty much always a baby on me. (For what it’s worth, this nurse was also taken aback that the other nurse had told me to give Owlet formula to bulk her up faster. It’s just not what they do.) Totalling up the hours of sleep per day, she was only getting eight to ten as well, instead of the sixteen she’s supposed to be getting, and all of those on someone, because she would fall asleep after trying to feed so hard and long, or was clingy.
We finally found out why.
“Did we check for a tongue tie?” the nurse said. We did at my request, I reminded her, way back when she was only five days old. “Well, I’m going to check again, because I’ve run out of ideas,” she told me, and did. “I can’t be certain,” she said. “If she does, it’s a posterior tongue tie. I’m going to make you an appointment at the CLSC with a doctor. She’ll check, and if there is one, she’ll snip it. It will allow the tongue to come forward more and make the milking/drinking action more efficient.”
So off we went to our appointment yesterday. I was a bit nervous. On one hand, if this was the issue, fantastic; feeding would become more efficient. On the other hand, the procedure involves someone sticking a pair of scissors into a baby’s mouth and cutting flesh. The nurses and the doctor were wonderful, though, and asked me not only all the questions everyone always asks me, but new ones as well. (They kept asking me if I was in any pain, and I kept telling them that no, no, I really wasn’t. They really didn’t seem to believe me.) And they both checked, and yes, there was a posterior tongue tie. The doctor explained everything to me clearly when I asked, and they wrapped her up and I looked the other way. Owlet was an Angry Owlet, because people were holding her tightly and there were fingers in her mouth, but snip, it was done, and the doctor said, “Oh, there’s not much blood at all,” and then, somewhat dryly, “She’s sucking on the gauze I’m holding in her mouth. She’s fine.”
They passed her to me quickly to nurse her, and as I took her I saw her make her little signal for “milk please now,” sticking out her tongue like a kitten lapping. And holy cats, she stuck it out further than she ever had. We latched her on, a brilliantly good latch, and it was like night and day. The sensation was totally different. And she drank, and she swallowed, and kept swallowing, and she drank so strongly that I was completely overwhelmed at how much difference a tiny bit of membrane can make.
Essentially, a tongue tie (ankyloglossia, to give it its proper name) is a situation where the tongue doesn’t fully separate from the bottom of the mouth during gestation. They can stretch over time, and they rarely cause dramatic issues in everyday life (although if severe, they can, of course). But they can impede efficient milk transfer in breastfeeding babies by limiting tongue motion, and that’s what was happening here.
Suddenly Owlet is feeding so efficiently that her nursing sessions are done in about fifteen minutes. She’s not exhausting herself by trying to get enough milk through a bad connection; she’s eating as much as she used to in a forty-five minute session in one-third of the time. She can sleep afterwards, really sleep, instead of clinging to someone and dozing lightly, because her tummy is full enough that her body relaxes into sleep to process it. She’s taking in less air as she swallows; she’s not gulping and gasping any more as she works so very hard to get milk, which in turn means her digestive system isn’t handling insane amounts of gas. And she’s not screaming as much as she used to. There was noticeable change yesterday afternoon and evening, and even more today. The doctor told me to cut down on her supplementary bottles after nursing, because she’s going to be getting a lot more milk by nursing now, and gave me a few different tricks to retrain her latch and habits as well as exercises to do to make sure the frenulum doesn’t heal right back where it was prior to being snipped.
And on top of all that wonderfulness? She’d already gained just over an ounce a day since the weigh-in last Friday, bringing her weight to about 8 lbs 6 oz. And that should increase even more rapidly now that she’s getting more milk in a shorter period of time, and sleeping better.
She has been napping for an hour and forty-five minutes now. I have made cloth wipes, wipe solution, a load of laundry, and set bread to rise. And, obviously, have blogged for posterity. (Hullo, posterity!)
Unrelated but very exciting as well: last night on Kijiji we scored a European stroller/carrycot combo that turns into a carriage/landau type pram, for only $45. At last we can take neighbourhood walks without buckling her into carseat and perching it into the stroller travel-system style! The angle was all wrong and she was too upright, so her head would flop forward. (The stroller can’t be used for infants, either; the furthest down it reclines leaves them at the same odd too-upright angle.) We used the carriage this morning, walking to the bus stop with the boy and then to the pharmacy, and it’s brilliant. As a bonus, I can change her diaper right in it. (HRH was more impressed by the adjustable shock absorbers.) The sellers even dropped it by our house on their way elsewhere. It’s slim and light, a relief after looking at all the heavy, bulky North American strollers that recline completely.
Overall, yesterday was a Very Good Day.
Technically four weeks was yesterday, but we didn’t want to take anything away from the boy’s special day. (Speaking of which, we got a garbled report of the first day of school, and it sounded like there was some weird kind of grade one/new kindergarten split class happening, which is mystifying, because kindergarten is so labour-intensive for a teacher I cannot imagine one having time to teach grade one as well. Any split class is hard to juggle, but K/1? Very odd. We should get intro letters today or next Tuesday clarifying things. On the other hand, the grade one desks were set up in the boy’s old kindergarten room, with his old teacher, so maybe he’s mixing up last year being kindergarten with having the same teacher and room for grade one?)
At four weeks old, Miss Owlet is starting to smile at people. She’s filling out a bit, although she’s still tiny and thin; I can see folds beginning to develop in the skin of her arms and legs. We’ve moved from newborn to size 1 disposable diapers (we use them at night while she’s still soiling so many diapers, because she sleeps downstairs with us and all her cloth diapering stuff is upstairs, and trust me, you don’t want us carrying her upstairs while half-asleep or trying to handle the mess of cloth in the wee smas on the bed). Except when I went out yesterday to buy new ones I bought the newborn size again, and while they fit, they’re tight. Same with the cloth diapers: the newborn size covers we use with flats are a just-fit, but the small covers and prefold diapers are still too big.
She’s gaining weight slowly. Last week she passed her birthweight, hurrah! A week late, but she got there. I had an unpleasant experience with a CLSC nurse who told me she wasn’t gaining enough or fast enough even with the supplement four or five times a day, and that I had to supplement her more. I couldn’t, I told her, because I couldn’t pump any more milk. “You’ll have to use formula, then,” she said right away, and I was stunned. She didn’t seem to listen to me when I explained that we were a week behind because of nursing issues in the first ten days, which explained her apparent slowness, and didn’t even address the other health concerns I brought up. It’s my right to ignore the health advice given to me, so I did. Instead, I started taking fenugreek to boost milk production (just to get a head start on a freezer stash, since supply is not the problem; it’s that we can’t make a baby who is satiated eat any more than she already does, and that baby spends most of the day nursing anyway) and worked out an extra time to pump when HRH is home and can take care of her while I do. I saw our new pediatrician on Monday (whom we love, and who will also be my new GP, hurrah) who was equally horrified at the nurse’s suggestion and commended me for ignoring it, saying that if we switched to formula we’d be jeopardising an already shaky breastfeeding situation. She understood right away that it wasn’t my milk supply that was an issue, it was the fact that if the baby is nursing most of the time, I don’t have the opportunity to pump. She’s fine with the slow weight gain (there is weight gain, after all; it’s not like it has stopped or has become weight loss), but she’s asked to see Owlet every two weeks instead of the usual four to keep track of it. Her head circumference and overall length have increased, so there’s definitely growing happening. I have another weigh-in at the CLSC this afternoon, and I’m kind of dreading it. I hope I get one of the two other nurses I’ve dealt with and like very much.
I dislike sleepers because of all the snaps, which are a pain when changing a diaper, so Owlet wears tiny leggings and t-shirts or tops most of the time. Today I put the cardigan I knit on her over her sleeveless shirt for the walk to the boy’s bus stop, and it fits!
It’s a bit short, but I knit it that way thinking of how crumpled newborns are, and I seem to remember mentioning that I was considering crocheting trim on the bottom anyway; that will add length. Or I may knit a flared open skirt-type thing to stitch onto it, making it more like a swing coat. I’d forgotten how soft the yarn is.
The ring sling my mum bought us while she was here is a boon. I use it around the house when I need to get stuff done and can’t sit with her in my arms. I also use it on the walk to the boy’s bus stop, and it’s brilliant. I especially appreciated it yesterday, because the boy’s bus home was an hour late getting to the school to pick them up (traffic, we hate you), so we were standing in the sun for a long time. I covered her head with the long tail of the sling, and even nursed her for half an hour while waiting.
She likes looking at vertical lines, and keeps an eye on the posts of the bed headboard, and the lines of the wall board, too. She likes looking at the sun patterns on the windows, and at the window frames. She’s so much more engaged now, sitting up propped against someone and looking around, examining people’s faces and making all sorts of interesting noises. She likes sitting in her swing at supper time; we pull it up to the table so she’s sitting with us while we eat. Sleep at night is going well, too; she usually does two three-hour stretches and goes back to sleep easily after nursing. (Now that I’ve said that publicly, watch it blow up.) Daytime sleeps are getting slightly better, although anything would be better than Not Sleeping At All, which is what was going on before.
Sparky is in love with her, and cuddles her whatever chance he gets. He is a very proud big brother:
I came into the room the other day to find her on his lap… she’d been fussing, and he’d managed to lift her out of her Moses basket then sit down with her. I’m glad I didn’t see it; it probably would have given me a heart attack. As it is, we had a talk about only doing it under supervision, and once she’s less squirmy.