We are blessed to have several wonderful baby carriers, three of which can be used even with very small babies. I'm devouring Dr. Sears' Baby Book at the moment and one of his principles of attachment parenting is "baby wearing". He (a pediatrician and a father of eight) and his wife (a nurse and a mother of eight) are BIG fans of the sling. And so am I... in principle. I love the idea of having my baby close to me as much as possible, but having free hands for the various tasks of life. Only problem... Caroline has NOT been a fan. Our first several attempts with the sling she SCREAMED, no matter how we positioned her, no matter if I moved, bounced, gave her something to suck on. And speaking of sucking... one of the virtues of the sling is supposed to be that one can feed hands free and discretely. But she REALLY hated eating in the sling.
Note that I was using past tense above, because... over the past three steps we've been making baby steps of progress in the baby wearing department. One theory about Caroline's dislike of the sling was that she has her daddy's internal furnace and she was overheating. So we tried putting her in the sling in just her diaper (after she was fed, changed, burped and very mellow- note we tried the sling in clothing when she was fed, changed, burped and mellow before and she was irate in seconds!) and... she fussed a bit at first, but then quieted right down and stayed content for about oh... I don't know... five plus minutes. And then when she started fussing again I shifted her to a breastfeeding position and she ate for five or more minutes before getting quite upset and needing to be removed. But hey... 10 minutes, 2 positions? This is PROGRESS. The next day she was super mellow at some point, and clothed, and I decided to try again. And... maybe 15 minutes of contentment in an upright position, moving about the house. PROGRESS. And today... mom (Mamie) and I had a big day out on the town with Caroline. We dropped off loads of stuff to the Salvation Army (thinning out the possessions given a TOTAL lack of storage in our cute little house and an increase in STUFF due to baby), meeting mom's best friend and touring the building she helped to design, going out to lunch with mom's best friend, getting my hair done (colored- a longish affair), getting a quick dinner, and then heading to a mid-week Eucharist at the Episcopal church on campus (wanted to make sure mom got to at least one Episcopal Eucharist in her time here), and then to a friend's house to pick up their extra vehicle for a recycling run tomorrow. Phew. This was almost 10 hours out and about. And she was immensely cooperative all day including... parking was such that we had a bit of a walk to the Episcopal church. Rather than carrying the heavy car seat, we opted for double swaddling her and putting her in the sling, worn by Mamie. She was SUPER content for the whole walk to the church and for the first, oh 10-15 minutes of the service in the sling on Mamie. HUGE progress. And then after church, back into the sling for the walk back to the car. She was asleep when we put her in the sling this time and she stayed so... WOW!
As if that weren't enough... a goal for this week was to figure out pumping and/or manually expressing milk and introducing the bottle so to make it possible for daddy and babysitters to feed Caroline when needed (and to give me a break occasionally... ah... don't get me wrong... I love breastfeeding, but... a break... occasionally... is welcome). We kept meaning to get around to this, but have been so busy with our house organizing and other stuff this week that it kept getting put off. But yesterday we got one of the two mechanical pumps that had been passed on to me sterilized and we gave it a try last night. Caroline was on one breast and the pump on the other. And... pfft. Pretty pathetic. Caroline was rather lazily eating and I think that was inhibiting let down on the other breast... to boot... we had, unawares, sterilized the weaker of the two pumps. It didn't feel like anything, but it was working, at least occasionally, however we only ended up with a teeny amount of milk in the collection cup before giving up. I so wanted to have at least an ounce collected so Kev could give the bottle a try. Ah well. Twas not to be yesterday.
This morning as I fed Caroline I was reading the breastfeeding chapter in the Sears book and arrived at the portion about manually expressing milk and decided to give it a try on the other breast as she ate. And... between both breasts I managed to collect an ounce... it got easier as I went along. I was hoping for two ounces, but hey... for a first attempt a whole ounce aint bad. Awhile later when Caroline was hungry again Kevin tried the bottle and... a screaming baby was soon transformed into a happily sucking baby. And Kevin was THRILLED. "Is it strange that I'm so happy about this?" He asked. NOT AT ALL. This is a BIG step. HUGE PROGRESS. And that she took a bottle on the first try?! Alleluia! (Pic of the first bottle feeding to follow later.)
Further, tonight when we got home from our busy outing the other, stronger pump was sterilized and we gave it a try as Caroline nursed on the other breast and... TWO OUNCES collected. Awhile later... screaming baby transformed into happily sucking baby as daddy fed her all two ounces in no time flat! PROGRESS CONTINUES! The stronger pump really is not all that comfortable, but... to give Kevin the joy of feeding his beautiful daughter... TOTALLY worth it. And hey, it is not like breastfeeding is always all that comfortable!
And as for the nursery... well... hauling out the Salvation Army load- progress. My sister and I bought a dresser on Craig's List a few weeks ago only to discover when we got it home that it reeked of smoke. Crap. My sister did several things to try to remove the smell. No luck. My mom has made huge efforts and... it is A LOT better. We still have a bit to do I think... but... it is tolerable now. Tolerable enough that all the clothes are (thanks again to mom's efforts) organized by sized into the drawers. We bought a pink set of cubicles in which to put some bins that we have been sorting various things into and Kev got that put together yesterday and mom has been arranging and organizing the various cubes and bins. (And there is something pink in our girl's room!) And today... THE CRIB ARRIVED! We're borrowing a crib from a member of one of our churches. It looks great. And tonight we got the crib bedding (thank you Auntie Nancy!) into the crib, the changing table set up, figured out where we're going to hang things on the wall, reorganized some things... All that remains to be done in the nursery is to hang things on the walls, get a few things out to the shed for storage so that the closet doors (behind which mom has quite well organized the closet!) can be closed, set up a fountain that dear Fran gave us years ago, hang a lovely piece over the changing table, and... eventually get some sort of valance for the window. But... friends... this is the room in which all of our unpacked boxes, and various other junk has been stored for the last six months we've lived here. Mom has diligently widdled it down. And worked miracles. By the time she leaves it will be a useable nursery. This is HUGE PROGRESS!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, mom!
And our baby... she's making progress too. We haven't heard a laugh since the other day. But... lots more quiet alert time, lots more focus on the world (and especially the faces) around her, and lots more interactive smiling... so rewarding!
Ah... this progress feels good.