The dreaded eyebrow dandruff

Just as the little guy was getting over his wicked case of baby acne, dermal disaster struck again: the Dreaded Eyebrow Dandruff. I have it (though it’s been in partial remission for a long time now), my sister has it, my dad has it…  it is basically the world’s worst case of dandruff, but confined to the eyebrows, ears, and in really really bad flare-ups, the sides of the nose and mouth. My ears still get a bit flaky, but since I massively cleaned up my diet a few years back, I’ve had mine under control. Other family members use an unpronounceable antifungal cream to beat it into submission.

I noticed it on the baby a couple of days ago. By proxy, he eats what I eat, so it’s hard to pin it on a dietary problem. Even for me, I have no idea which change in my diet made it go away– I changed an awful lot of things. And I’m not about to use a heavy-duty antifungal on my four-week-old baby, no matter how unsightly the problem is. But it’s hard to look at his poor bumpy, flaky forehead and earlobes and not want to DO SOMETHING about it, instead of being patient and seeing if it goes away on its own. I’ve taken to using my tube of Lansinoh lanolin on it.  Either it helps a lot, or the stuff was going away by itself anyway. We’ll see. He looks a lot better this morning. Here’s hoping that trend continues– though all his little skin problems seem to look better in the morning, and progressively worse through the day, especially as it heats up.

I guess the one positive note is that it doesn’t seem to be painful to him at all, and he doesn’t care about the cosmetic side of things: he is still a chick magnet, flakes and all.

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Sling, Sir Urpsalot

Yesterday we trekked down to Mundo Bebe and got a sling carrier for the little guy.  It’s a pretty simple piece of fabric, but it makes toting him around so much easier through the magic of weight redistribution. Hopefully he won’t outgrow it too quickly.

Little guy has been urping a lot lately. I was inclined to ignore this, as I’m not a novice at baby care– I took care of my colicky nephew from infancy through five years, and he had the worst reflux I’ve ever seen: urp everywhere, all the time. Little guy is not nearly as bad as that. But there are a few other things that make me think we have a small oversupply problem. Engorgement is a recurring thing for me– every time he goes more than two hours between feedings, I get painfully full. I feel like I could feed two of him (if I were stateside, I’d look into donating the excess).  At let-down, he coughs, sputters, and lets go of the nipple, dribbling milk all down my stomach. He is really, really gassy. He needs burping every few minutes while feeding, and he has frequent attacks of the monster farts– this is the one time he cries and we can’t figure out what’s wrong until the gas actually makes an exit. It’s quite frustrating. It seems to be painful for him.

All these things together point to oversupply.  Filling up on the sugar-rich foremilk before he can get to the fattier hindmilk can and does cause voluminous and painful gas. The overgenerous let-down is kind of like trying to drink from a fire-hose, and makes him cough and sputter and swallow too much air. And getting too much too easily in too short a time will certainly lead to messy urping episodes. I’m researching strategies for dealing with this.

Meanwhile, I’m having better luck catching him when he’s about to poop.  The monster farts are a tip-off:  if I dive for the potty at the first sign of farting, I can catch most or all of it before he goes in his diaper.

More potty adventures

We’ve had more misses than catches the last couple of days.  I can’t discern any signal for his smaller poops, and I’ve been missing some even when he’s signalling clearly– being half-asleep makes me slow to respond.  On the odd occasions when I take him to potty and he doesn’t need to go, he gets angry and yells. Then I feel like a mean mean mama pushing my potty agenda.

But we are soldiering on.  The victories and continuing absence of diaper rash make it worth the effort.  Plus, he seems to understand it already– and dislikes going in his diaper.  It could be my imagination, but he seems to be a little more insistent in his kicking and noises when he does have to go.  And when he has a bad case of the farts, as soon as I get him over the potty he starts grunting and straining comically until he manages to poop. At this point, if we stopped, I’d feel like I was letting him down, since he seems to be working with me. We don’t have to be perfect– he’s only three weeks old, after all. It is definitely enough that the diaper rash is gone, that he isn’t getting used to stewing in his own excrement, and that we’ve saved a few diapers and a lot of pee cleanup– after all, the reason we got him a potty at all is because he reliably urinates when we take off his diaper for a change, so this has saved us a ton of pee-soaked laundry.

Postpartum: not for wusses

The boy is three weeks old.  Nobody gave him the memo on how breastfed newborns are supposed to gain weight more slowly than formula-fed babies. He is packing on insulation like nobody’s business. When he was born, he was eight pounds, and a long, skinnyish 21 inches. His elbows and knees had folds like saggy elephant skin, and his fingers looked long and wizened. Not anymore. He is a mass of dimples.

Ever since the blocked duct incident, left boob has been seriously overperforming. Right boob is totally normal, doesn’t get engorged, steady-as-she-goes…  but left boob almost fills up before the little guy can finish emptying it. Did it step up production because we nursed more from that side to get rid of the blockage?  I woke in the dark this morning and it was so painfully full I could see lumps on it where the ducts are, and little guy couldn’t get a grip on it. I sat in the bathroom and hand-expressed about a fourth of a cup of milk just to get things loosened up a little so I could feed him.Is there any way to get left boob to slow the heck down, or do I just wait for the little guy’s consumption to pick up and even things out naturally?

Postpartum is not for wusses. The first week, I could hardly bear to even wash around the stitches. Not because they were painful and swollen (which they were), but because the geography was so altered it was frightening to me.  Now at three weeks, I’ve got a better picture of it, and it’s still a bit frightening.  I have a Bartholin’s cyst. I dont’ know if it’s from the stitches or the swelling, but something has blocked the duct to the Bartholin’s gland on the left side, and it is swollen to the size of a chocolate truffle and feels like a rock under my skin. And it hurts. My pelvic floor muscles are still stretched out like old elastic. I’ve regained enough strength there that I’m not leaking urine when I sneeze, but once I sit down to pee, I can’t stop. I try, but no matter how hard I squeeze, I can no longer cut off the flow in midstream. I trust that’ll come back eventually, but I’m wondering how long it will take.  The biggest concern, though, is that I think I’m dealing with some organ prolapse. If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing the TMI is not a problem. And I really, really wish someone had told me about this stuff before I had the baby, so it wouldn’t feel so scary now. Lying down, everything feels relatively normal, but upright… things are bulging into my vagina that didn’t used to bulge there. If I had to guess I’d say it is my rectum in the back (which would explain the vengeful return of the constipation– things are just not the right shape in there) and my uterus in the front. These things register as a constant feeling of pressure on the pelvic floor whenever I am standing, and the front-side bulge (which could also be my bladder) is large and low enough that it “holds the door open” when I’m upright. It’s a strange and disturbing feeling.

I looked it up, and found that some 50% of women who have kids experience some degree of prolapse. The prognosis: It can improve over time, especially with good posture, but it never really goes away. Gulp.

Here’s what I don’t understand: when you are pregnant, and everyone and their sister is telling you all their horror stories about pregnancy and childbirth…  why is it that everyone tells you about the sleep deprivation and hemorrhoids, but not this? No mention of organ prolapse, when it happens to half of mothers? Is it too embarrassing because it’s a continuing problem? That’s one thing I would have liked to be a little more mentally prepared for!

At three weeks old, my son is already a fashion snob

My mom sent us a lot of cute baby clothes while I was pregnant, and we also bought some locally, down at the mercado. The local ones are invariably made of pima cotton, while the ones my mom sent are regular cotton. I don’t know why the local ones are all pima– it seems to be the only thing available for baby clothes here. Pima cotton is somewhat softer than regular cotton.

The little guy can tell the difference. He doesn’t have a problem with the regular cotton clothes– which is great, because they’ve been very handy. But when we put the pima onesies on him, he puts both hands on his belly, splays out his fingers, and rubs his belly and chest. He never does this with regular cotton, but he does often rub the top of his head the same way, especially while nursing. This is understandable, because his hair is so soft and fuzzy.

Patterns, potty breakthrough, one size up, baby acne

For the last three days, the little guy has had a horrible case of acne. Poor thing! It seems to be lightening up, finally, but… still looks bad. We hauled him out to the appropriate government offices yesterday to get him a legal birth certificate (instead of the medical cert from the midwife). We expected the worst, given our experience with the post offices here, but it actually went very quickly and efficiently, and we were out of there in under twenty minutes. It only took that long because we had to stop and let the kid eat for a few minutes. The bad part of the trip was walking around in the heat, carrying the baby, with a (light, cotton) blanket covering him. Felt like being boiled alive, and I was worried about overheating him the whole time.

He has settled into some semi-predictable sleeping patterns. He takes a long nap late morning and late evening. After the evening nap he usually wants to marathon nurse until about midnight, and then he (and I) get to sleep for two hours– three on a good night. Then he wants to nurse for about an hour and a half, then sleep for an hour or two. Then at 5am the wailing kicks in from next door and I don’t get any more sleep no matter what the little guy does.

He has been doing this really irritating thing while nursing: he’ll get fidgety and growl at me, and kick his legs. It’s like he’s trying to start a fight with my boob– he doesn’t usually break suction, but he will pull his head back and stretch the nipple pretty far. Yesterday, on a hunch, I de-latched him when he started this, pulled out the potty from under the bed, stripped off his diaper, and held him over it. Lo and behold! He let loose in the potty with a large, loud poop. Using this signal, we’ve successfully avoided a few poopy diaper cleanups since then.  I think every poopy diaper we avoid is just a little less irritation for his poor rashy bottom. The zinc oxide cream doesn’t seem to help much with that, but keeping him out of his diaper more often so he can dry out properly does seem to help. Some. The potty thing: I have a lot to learn, and I certainly don’t “catch” everything. I mean, he has a tiny bladder and he nurses constantly, so he pees an awful lot! But this is encouraging at the same time, because he pees almost every time I get out the potty. I count it a victory every time I can put his same dry diaper back on him after a pee. And this is happening more and more often.

He’s outgrown the newborn diapers and moved up to the smalls. We are curious to see how much weight he’s gained now, but have no scale to measure it.

On the postpartum front: I’m feeling almost back to normal.  My belly still kind of slumps down beside me in bed, but I no longer feel as though my internal organs will spill out if I sneeze. I think that’s progress.

More potty talk, blocked duct, migraine

Z is two weeks old today.  Overnight, the IPT project went from a mere interesting experiment to a very exciting prospect.  Z, it turns out, communicates very clearly when he has to pee– He kicks his legs and makes this little “Uh, uh, uhuh” noise. And we made it the whole night on just one dry diaper– finally had to change it out due to a wet fart, not because the diaper was wet. We still went through a fair number of diapers yesterday, but also successfully went “on cue” ten or twelve times. I also switched from using the little potty– which is still handy for when I’m changing him and he starts to pee– to holding him over the bathroom sink, as some of the IPT/EC websites suggest, and this is a lot easier. It also negates the need for wipes, since I can just rinse his butt in the sink. His diaper rash is completely gone.

Three nights ago, Z had a blessedly peaceful night in his own bed– slept four hours, then three hours– and I got a decent amount of sleep and felt great…  except that my breasts were so engorged he had a hard time latching on to eat in the morning. As the day progressed, it was more than just engorgement. A whole section of my left breast had become swollen, hot, and extremely painful to the touch. I had a blocked duct. Z dutifully kept that side cleared out yesterday and today, and it seems to be getting better. But I also seem to lose most of my progress overnight, when he’s not nursing as often.

As if that weren’t enough, I developed my first real migraine since early pregnancy yesterday evening. There was no acetaminophen in the house, and I wasn’t sure if it was safe to take anyway, so I decided to tough it out. I got no sleep. I was in tears every time I had to get up to pee, because going from horizontal to vertical and back was excruciating. The headache continued through today, and finally in the afternoon, my husband went out and picked up a popsicle and some acetaminophen (which is fairly safe) because there was no way I was going to get through the evening without him otherwise. I couldn’t even get up to change Z’s diapers.

Still not feeling 100%, but a little Tylenol was a blessed improvement.