Baby Noises

I think Facebook is beginning to replace my blog posts. Everyone who reads here (that I know personally) is on FB and sees the photos, videos, and status updates there that would otherwise be here.

But in case you’re not, or you haven’t seen it, I posted a video Bea cooing and chortling at me yesterday. She’s just really started to make those laughing noises and, to be completely disgusting, it just makes me melt. Of course, I took the video with my new Blackberry (which does NOT replace the iPhone in my heart of hearts), so it isn’t a high quality.

I can’t believe how thrilled I am when she makes weird noises, but I am.

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Development in Real Time

Tomorrow Bea will be 4 weeks old. I’ve read Your Baby’s First Year: Week by Week a couple of times now and the milestones are a little confusing. Although I know they’re merely suggestions and you can’t compare babies as they all develop differently, our little girl is doing things I thought weren’t going to happen for weeks, if not months.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like she’s talking or crawling or offered to go get a job. But for the past few days she’s been chortling and laughing when we tickle her. I’ve tried to get this on video several times, but she gets a little distracted when I shove a camera in her face. She’s been smiling since day one which, until the laughing, I assumed was gas or just muscles moving involuntarily. She has been tracking things with her eyes for a couple of weeks, even moving her head to follow the object, and was watching our Baby Einstein language DVD a little before three weeks. What catches her eye are the contrasting lines and circles, but I did notice her watching a train go across the screen.

She also holds her head up unassisted for several seconds at a time and has been doing this for a while, as well. I’ve noticed that she tries to be patient when we’re making her a bottle now; she recognizes the sound of the bottle opening, being rinsed out, scooping formula, and mixing it up. When we put a burp cloth or bib on her, she starts to get really excited and starts throwing her arms and legs out.

Of course, she still head-butts me in the chest all the time, trying to breastfeed, refuses to sleep anywhere but attached to our chests, and farts constantly. But it’s been amazing to watch her go from a glassy-eyed, vaguely conscious newborn, to an alert infant that’s engaging in play. She’s discovered our faces and, for the past week or so, has put her hand up to my mouth so I can pretend to eat it or blow on it or make funny sounds which seems to really entertain her. It’s really funny to watch her do the same thing to Charlie but, when she feels his goatee, her eyes open really wide and her mouth makes this shocked little “Oh!”

I honestly didn’t expect to see any of this activity for a while. I’ve taken a few classes on development in psychology, and this semester I chose to take child and adolescent development in an effort to learn some things I can apply now, both to her and to my minor.

We’re not on a really great sleeping schedule just yet, but have managed to transition her into sleeping more at night. She was awake almost all day yesterday, which was a little frustrating because every time I tried to put her down, she would get fussy and want to be held while I was trying to get some laundry done, eat a little food, or go to the bathroom for a second. Charlie and I have been taking shifts on nights he doesn’t have to work: he goes to bed early, like 8 or 9, then sleeps till 1 or 2 in the morning. We trade off and I go to bed until around 6 or 7, at which point he goes back to sleep. A few times I’ve managed to work in several decent naps at night, making it sometimes as much as six hours of total sleep, which is almost enough to give me the energy to make it through the rest of the day. But not quite. The worst is the nights he works because he naps during the day, then leaves around 7 or 8. He might not get home until 3:30-5:30, depending on the day of the week, at which point he goes back to bed. By the time he gets back up, I’m running on fumes and have had, maybe, three hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

I’ve noticed in the past few days that Bea wants to eat only a little bit at a time. She’ll have an ounce or so, take a brief nap, then wake up wanting to eat again. It’s a viscious cycle. When she eats like this, and when she isn’t sleeping directly on one of us, she’s a restless sleeper. She squeaks, grunts, groans, moans, and squirms around. She also pees a lot more often. So, every time she eats and then naps, she pretty much has to be changed again. When she eats one large amount, like 4 ounces, she’ll sleep really hard, but we have to be careful to burp her or she barfs later on. She has projectile vomited a couple of times, and has barfed a few more, and it’s really scary. I don’t like it at all.

For the most part, she’s a really good baby. She cries when she wants to eat and, thus far, that has been the only time. She will get a little fussy when she wants to be held, but it’s usually not the kind of screaming that accompanies hunger.

If you’d asked me about all of this two weeks ago, I would have been hysterical, in tears, wondering why she wouldn’t leave my boobs alone. Switching to formula was actually a good decision for us; otherwise she would have been eating every half hour and my nipples probably would have fallen off by now due to the lack of open pores for milk to come out of. Even though it’s not the choice I would have made for my baby, it’s pretty much the only option we have, unless I don’t want to leave the house for the next 11 months.

But the Good News Is . . .

We’ve already managed to cut out almost $175 from our monthly costs by: getting rid of cable TV and the DVR (sniff, sniff), discontinuing Charlie’s gym membership (a place he hasn’t visited in a few months), and switching our cell phone plans (bye, iPhone).

Have you heard of Credo Mobile? If we moved to them, 1% of the profits from our phone plan would go to a progressive organization of our choice. Not only that, but we could get two phones for $40, and the same service as we have now for about $40 less per month. Unfortunately, it’s on Sprint, which means most of our calls to our friends on AT&T’s network would no longer be free. However, I rarely use my phone, because I can’t get a signal in the house.
If we could get better service, though, we could also get rid of our land line (another $30+ per month). Charlie said if that were the case, he’d prefer to keep a limited cable package in an effort to not have to go out and buy digital rabbit ears for both televisions.

We have one item on the table that would benefit us in terms of Charlie’s schedule (no more working till 5 or 6 in the morning), and which would contribute a portion towards healthcare each month. I can’t say anything more about it in a public forum for the time being, though.

I did the math (I have a calculator) and my loans and grants from school these next two semesters, properly budgeted, would equal more than I make at the coffeeshop in the same period of time. Isn’t that sad? And what I’ve heard from my friends with babies, it sounds as if daycare, alone, is about what I make working full time. So it doesn’t seem cost-effective to go back to the coffeeshop just to use my checks so someone else can watch my Bea.

I’m trying to keep a positive outlook, which I know sounds impossible for me, given my previous post in all its glory. I’m reminding myself that I can spend a lot more time with the baby than I would if I stayed at the coffeeshop. And, as Mel pointed out, I can expect a much higher salary once I have my degree. I’m so close to graduating. As burnt out on school as I am, I would much rather get paid to learn and spend time with Bea than making this ridiculous chit chat with customers who could give two shits about my financial circumstances. People will want me to bring in photos of my baby for them to see. People will expect me to work really hard, make their drinks really fast, with no consideration to how difficult it is for me to be there just four weeks after giving birth. They’ll say the same thing over and over and over again: “So, gettin’ any sleep?” And they’ll laugh at how clever they think they are.
Don’t get me wrong, though — there are some super-sweet people I’ve become acquainted with (even made friends with) from working there and I’m really glad for that. But for the most part, it’s selfish assholes.

It’s difficult for me to make polite chit chat with them now, when I’m just going in once every couple of days for an americano. The best is when they can’t believe I’m going back to work so early. They can’t imagine why I wouldn’t just take off the entire 12 weeks. And I say I need the money. And they ask “Doesn’t your husband work?” And I say of course he does, but I don’t point out that he isn’t an attorney or a politician; he wants to be able to sleep at night knowing he isn’t ripping people off.

When It Rains, It’s Like a Monsoon Over Here

It seems like every day of the past week we’ve gotten more bad financial news. First it was the hospital bill, then I got the bill for the baby (not knowing they would separate it and we’d owe two different things, both of which are just stupid amounts of money and I have yet to determine what, exactly, I’m supposed to pay for either of them). Then student loan after student loan started coming due because I dropped out of classes last semester. Every afternoon I’m calling a different 1-800 number to go through a mind-numbing series of menus and questions, pressing one and two and one again and then hitting every button on the phone in a desperate attempt to get a real person on the line.

This, despite the fact that I’ve been registered full-time for classes since March (just one month after I withdrew). The loan people don’t seem to have access to that valuable bit of information – only that I wasn’t in school for a period of time long enough for them to tell me I need to start paying them. As it turns out, IUPUI is a part of something called a national clearinghouse (I think that’s what they told me) which means they refuse to sign in-school deferment forms for student loans any longer. They just tell you “We’ll update the system when classes start.” Thanks, but my loans are over 30 days late, so I can’t really afford to let it go any longer.

Then everything else is due for the first time that I have no paycheck: rent, cell phones, insurance, you name it. As Charlie is budgeting his checks to cover all that stuff, we suddenly have to buy diapers (people have given us a ton, but Bea couldn’t fit into anything but the newborn size until just a few days ago and we had zero of those on hand). Then Trinity’s eye medicine prescription runs out and the vet wants to see her before he calls in another script — like anything has changed since the last time he saw her — but we manage to talk him into calling it in “just one more time.” That would have been another $90 just for a visit, on top of the $70 for her prescription.
And then the dentist sends us a notice that I still owe them for my last cleaning, which I completely forgot about, my credit card payment is due, and the OB is calling to reschedule my 6-week follow-up visit after delivery. Except no one can get me in on a day when I’m not already working, or I have to wait until after August 31st. I honestly don’t even care anymore. It all seems fine down there and we can’t really afford yet another bill.

I also am unable to breastfeed (let’s not get into the guilt over that) and we’ve had to taper her off the boob juice and supplement with formula. As it turns out, I have a total of four out of a possible thirty pores that are open on my nipples (sorry), which explains why she was cluster feeding and needing to be on me twenty four hours a day: hardly anything was coming out. I was completely engorged, raw, in pain, and trying to find any way I could to relieve the discomfort. I discovered this when I was pumping one afternoon and took the advice to turn myself towards the ground to ensure that it was “spraying” rather than dribbling out. There was only a minute dribble and I could see exactly where it was coming out: one pore on the left and three on the right. Apparently, most women have a total of 10-15 on each side. So we can add the cost of formula to our budget.

Today I get a text from work saying my insurance paperwork is there to add Bea to my coverage (which I have to do and turn in within the next few days or they won’t pay for any of her hospital bills). Stapled to the paperwork is a note from the owner with a breakdown of what I owe them. After taking off barely five weeks in maternity leave (a week and five days of which was before I had the baby), I owe the company almost $300 for what they couldn’t take out of my check in health insurance because I didn’t get paid during that time. This could be completely naive and ignorant of me, but I had no idea they were going to ask me to pay for that. Adding Bea to my insurance is going to cost me about $110 per month, which wouldn’t be so bad if I got paid more or could go right back to full time. Instead, I’m probably not going to get any checks for the first month as I get “up to date” as the owner put it.

Only one problem with returning to work next week: Charlie has three concerts that week, all of which conflict with when I’m working. He’s either got one the night before I’m scheduled to open, or an evening when I’m scheduled to close. He has to be at work no later than 6:30, I wouldn’t get home until 7:30 or later. And, my first day back is on a Sunday and I’m going to be closing. There is absolutely nothing worse than having to close on a Sunday at that place. Nothing.

To top it all off, we went out Wednesday night for Audrey’s going away party and a huge group of really loud, really rude people was seated right next to our table. I honestly wasn’t ready to take a three-week old out to a restaurant, but I couldn’t miss Audrey’s last day in town. In hindsight, I should have just gone alone and had Charlie watch her. Bea started to get really upset and, I’m assuming, overstimulated, so Charlie and I had to make a quick getaway. As we’re strapping her in to the car, she starts getting really riled up, so Charlie hops in the driver’s seat and is trying to back out of the space as quickly as he can. When the car gets moving, she usually calms down.
Unfortunately, there was a large cement pole sticking out of the ground which we promptly ran into (in our brand new car that’s supposed to last us the next fifteen years). There’s a huge gash and dent on the back driver’s side, and he managed to almost pull off the entire bumper. Bea started screaming even louder, and as Charlie got out to check the damage, a panhandler came up to us to ask if we needed any help. I’m trying to tend to the baby and Charlie’s all pissed about running into the pole and when he tells the guy no, we don’t need any help, the guy asks him to spare some change. Charlie snapped, “Dude, I’ve got a f-ed up car and a screaming baby. I don’t have time for this!”

The good news is, if I stay in school, my student loan refund for the next two semesters is about what I’d be making at the coffeeshop working thirty hours a week, so now we’re trying to figure out how to cut non-essentials and budget for her doctor’s visits, as if we didn’t have any insurance. I mean, how much can a handful of vaccinations cost? I did some looking around online and well-baby checkups plus vaccinations for the first year (average cost for the U.S.) are about what I would pay out in insurance every month for the both of us. And she’s already had one, plus her next one would be covered by insurance.

I guess we’ll find out when I call the pediatrician’s office on Monday. I know sometimes doctors give discounts for people who pay by cash or check and don’t have insurance. It may not be worth it to stay full time and be completely miserable, in which case, any money I made on top of the budgeted student loans could go towards doctor’s visits, and I wouldn’t have to try and schedule myself around Charlie’s shifts . . . Better yet, maybe I could just quit and get a job somewhere else.

Follow-Up

Okay, so I lied a little bit. The birth wasn’t exactly as carefree as I made it out to sound, but since everything turned out well, I didn’t see the point in worrying anyone. When my water broke that morning, I noticed the color was odd (not clear) and immediately knew it was meconium, the tar-like substance that builds up in a baby’s intestinal tract while it’s still in the womb. In other words, she had a bowel movement while she was still inside.

When we got to the hospital, they put me in the OB ICU unit and we had to have several pediatricians on hand to tend to Bea when she was first born. Despite the fact that my contractions were working and I felt like things were moving quickly, her heart rate kept going down and they would move me to one side or another, or put me on oxygen for a little bit. And even though I got in at around 7 in the morning and had her before 2 in the afternoon, around 10:30 they were saying that if things didn’t progress any quicker, they were going to put me on pitocin to speed things up.

When she was born, the doctors said, she would not make any noise. They didn’t want her to take her first breath before they suctioned out all of the meconium. And, wouldn’t you know it? She screamed as soon as she came out. I was petrified at first that she would inhale the stuff, and all the worst thoughts were going through my head.

But she turned out perfectly fine.

Of course, the cost for everything is was outrageous. I got my first bill yesterday (over eight grand), and the bill for the baby today (over $2500). Because I’ve already met my deductible, insurance is supposed to pay 70% of that, which means our out-of-pocket costs should be around $3500. That doesn’t include the cost of the non-stress test or the last ultrasound, which are another thousand after insurance. Ugh. Suffice it to say I’m going to have to make a trip to their payment office, combine all of my bills, and then apply for some kind of financial assistance.

Yesterday afternoon we took a walk over to the coffeeshop where I asked Sarah to go ahead and put me back on the schedule. I’m really not thrilled with this at all. I still feel tired all the time, despite sleeping more (I’ve been pumping and bottlefeeding that because I think the flow is really slow for Bea and this may be why she spends so much time on my boobs), and I’m not operating at 100% quite yet — I mean, yesterday she was officially two weeks old. I think there are still two weeks of schedules made out in advance at work, though, so I will have had 4 weeks to recover, making my total time off about 6 weeks.

Shit.

I Swear I’ll Never Be Bored Again

smallbeaI am a wreck. A total, complete mess. I love this little girl, but I swear if she doesn’t get off my boobs I’m switching to formula.

No, really, it’s great; last night she slept from about one in the morning till almost eight, waking up only two or three times (I forget exactly how many). The only problem I have with that is she’s a looooooong, slow, leisurely eater. She likes to take her time. So I slept with her on my chest and I got almost five hours of sleep in a 12-hour period of time. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Not just sleeping with my daughter (oh, my god, I have a daughter), but being able to sleep that much. It’s the most I’ve gotten in over two weeks.

I have found myself getting exasperated and weepy on more than one occasion, several early mornings in a row. Bea is, apparently, a “cluster feeder,” which means she can spend, literally, hours nursing. She doesn’t eat the whole time; she’ll fall asleep for a minutes, wake up and go back to nursing, then space out for a while, and go back to nursing again. The longest stretch of this lasted about six hours one night and I thought I was going to go insane. The sensation of her doing that was driving me batty. The hardest has been when Charlie is at work (he went back Friday night) and I’m doing it alone. I honestly cannot imagine how any women could do this on their own, with absolutely no help, and I feel incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner. He obviously loves the crap out of her.

I’m healing well and the labor and delivery went really well, too. I feel so lucky, despite being sleep-deprived and stressed out at times, that I didn’t have more complications. I was so worried about how it would all go and then in the delivery room as I began pushing, I started hearing from doctors and medical residents how I was “made to have babies,” and my pelvis is “perfect” for delivering. I told Charlie not to get any funny ideas; I ain’t birthing no more babies. At least, not for a while.

Could I do it all again?

I don’t know. Maybe.