Poop, Rashes

When I thought about having kids, this was one thing I did not expect: my whole life now revolves around poop. My poop. Piglet’s poop. Probably other poop, too. I dunno.

Pregnancy destroyed my digestive tract. I don’t know how or why, or when/if it will ever return to normal function. In the ten weeks since Piglet was born, I’ve had a couple of spells where things worked more or less how they were supposed to, but it doesn’t last long. Then I go back to counting the days since my last bowel movement and debating what to do about it. I’ve had to resort to glycerin suppositories (oh sweet relief!) twice now, because the Milk of Magnesia gives Piglet the runs and makes him totally miserable.  I eat three spoons of flaxseed meal every morning, and heaps of green vegetables at lunch and dinner, all to no avail. Is this the lingering effects of pregnancy hormones? Is it some permanent damage from my intestines shifting into the spot my uterus once occupied (before it slumped down to bulge into the front of my vagina)? Rectocele? Is my abdomen just too loose these days to maintain the proper internal pressures? Is it laxative dependence?  I don’t know, but I really, really, really want it fixed. The sooner, the better.

Did I mention that Milk of Magnesia affects Piglet?  Yeah. It’s listed as safe for breastfeeding, but…  not pleasant, I guess. The screaming was awful, and I think not all of it was from the MoM, but for a while there, while I was taking the stuff, his poops went a little greenish, and the texture changed from bee pollen granules to liquid. As he went back to bee pollen, the screaming also subsided a lot.

EC is going well. I had a migraine the other day, and strangely this meant we caught almost every poop, because I had no tolerance at all for any crying, so I was alert to every squeak, and just put him on the potty whenever he squirmed or made noise. We had a couple of false starts, but mostly he had to go.

Please note that this did not cure the cranky episodes. We still have to walk him around and sing to him a whole lot in the evenings to keep our neighbors from complaining to the landlady. But there seems to be some reason for it now. After a while he nurses and goes to sleep. And that’s the end of it. And then we can say “he was tired” and shrug and go to bed.

On another note, Piglet got the rash again this morning. He had it a week or so ago– this sudden patchy red rash on his back, with little bumps in the red patches. It went away about half an hour after we noticed it, and we were totally at a loss on what it might be. I have an inkling now: I think it might be eggs. Both times he got the rash, he was hanging around shirtless, and I picked him up after cooking and eating eggs for breakfast. I may patch-test this theory when I’m feeling a little more brave, and deliberately rub a little egg on him to see if it happens again. Then we’d know for sure.

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Cry, cry, cry

The colic-y stuff actually seems to be getting worse.  He’s not so inconsolable now– we can get him to stay quiet as long as we are holding him, walking around, and singing to him. But the duration and frequency are increasing. The start of “cranky time” is creeping earlier and earlier, but it always seems to end between 10 and 11pm.

Cry-it-out is not an option. I mean, I’m morally opposed to it, but I get as tired and wrung out as anyone, and I have had to just put him down and let him scream for a little while a couple of times, to avoid violence. I believe the cry-it-out strategy is born of the unnatural situation that is the modern nuclear family– i.e. not enough women in the household to take care of an infant. This is a curious historical/cultural anomaly.  I think it’s inevitable that women must sometimes leave their babies to cry, because we don’t all have the mental fortitude to hold an inconsolable, screaming, refusing-to-nurse child for three straight hours without hurting it. But I also think it is very, very wrong for “experts” to address this strategy as something good for the child. It’s an inevitable evil.  But there’s no way this is the norm– the best thing– for the human animal. No other animal would do this: the babe would be eaten!

That’s not why we can’t let him cry it out. Obviously, the wolves aren’t going to get him, here. But the couple of times I’ve had to do that, we’ve ended up with the landlady/neighbors at our door. And if you thought having an infant screaming in your ear was bad, try communicating what’s wrong with him to your landlady in an unfamiliar language WHILE he is screaming in your ear. Or trying to understand your neighbors’ suggestions for home remedies, and communicate back that you understand, and that you’ll try it. Or having the screaming occasionally punctuated by an anonymous neighbor lady yelling across the lobby to let me know what a bad mother I am (yeah, my Spanish sucks, but some things come through crystal clear). So it’s good that he’s actually consolable these days. But it’s grueling. It’s getting to be five hours at a time of walking him up and down the lobby, singing anything that comes to mind (lullabies, Patsy Cline, the communion hymn from church…)– because for five hours if he’s not being actively comforted, he’s screaming. At the end of the day I crawl into bed and pass out, praying that the next day will be better… and lately the next day has always been just a little bit worse.

Just to complicate things, my husband has developed severe lower back pain and can’t carry the baby, so only I can do the walking part. He has been filling in by doing the stuff Piglet has been preventing me doing: like cooking dinner and washing the dishes.

The Cusquena ladies’ remedy for colic (it didn’t work for me, but hey, anything’s worth a try!) is to chew a little peppermint leaf, spit it into a little water, and feed the baby a couple of small spoonfuls of the water (not the leaf).

At least he’s sleeping well at night. He wakes up to eat at 3:30 and 6:30 like clockwork. And I’m so tired these days that even our wailing abuela neighbor can’t keep me up.

In the mornings, when Piglet is in a good mood, I’m beginning to see little signs of communication. He seems to actually understand me when I say “are you hungry?”– he goes into his little tongue-out, head-bobbing nursey-face routine. And when he gets all squirmy and grunty and I ask if he wants to go potty, he calms down a little, and his facial expression changes. That didn’t work out well this morning, I admit: he squirmed and grunted, I put him on the potty, and he totally freaked out and yelled. He was hungry, and the potty was not where he wanted to be. But I hadn’t misread him: as soon as I took him off the potty he peed all over me and the changing pad and the bed…

He’s also started imitating us, just a little. Sometimes if you stick your tongue out at him, he sticks his tongue out. And most of the time, if he’s in a good mood, we can make clicky noises at him, and he’ll make clicky noises back to us.

We took him to the botica this morning, and weighed me holding him, and me without him. Not the most accurate way to measure the baby, but after translating out of the metric, the boy weighs roughly sixteen and a half pounds. Most of it in his thighs. The curious thing, though, is that I now weigh less than I did before the pregnancy. I started at 120 (naked), and now weigh about 117: and that’s while wearing shoes, a floor-length denim skirt, and the five meters of jersey cotton that I am using to carry Piglet around in. So it’s entirely possible I’m under 115 now. I’m not sure what to make of that, when my boobs are bigger than ever, my belly is still on the paunchy side, and breastfeeding makes me hungry all the time, so I’ve been eating like a horse. I think a lot of it is muscle atrophy.

In better news, my blood sugars seem to have stabilized. I’m guessing the crazy low glucose numbers are what make so many people give up on a low-carb diet. Those first few days can be really brutal. But I’m very, very glad I stuck it out, because now that my numbers are consistently in the 70s and 80s both before and after meals, I feel so much better. If I were still randomly plummeting into the 40s and 50s, I don’t think I could handle Piglet’s cranky spells at all. It’s a little disappointing to find that my blood sugars don’t appear to be the cause (and therefore the cure) of his ills, but…  stable blood sugars are good for both of us anyway.

First foods, potty update, sharking, screaming, atrophy

My son’s carnet has food recommendations on it. Delightfully, it says in very clear terms that for the first six months, he should have nothing but breastmilk. When it comes to introducing solids from 6-24 months, it recommends a lot of the things you’d expect, like avocado and bananas and rice, and also quinua, higado (liver), and cuy (guinea pig).

The pottying continues. I can’t really tell if we are saving any diapers, but we are certainly staying well clear of diaper rash, which is a huge relief.  We’ve had a couple of incidents where he griped at me while nursing and I did everything *but* put hom on the potty– burped him, pulled him away for a minute in case it was a gushing let-down that was the problem, walked him around…  and then after all that he let loose a massive poop in his diaper and felt much better. And if I’d been paying better attention, we probably could have kept the diaper clean. On the other hand, we’ve had pretty good luck catching him at the usual times, like when he first wakes up. Pretty good for only five weeks old. I’m not sure if the lack of rash is more attributable to going potty more and getting him out of poopy diapers very quickly, or if it’s because we rarely use wipes– I rinse him off in the bathroom sink instead. Either way, rash free = good

I had been coming down with a cold I was sure would become bronchitis, but I put off taking the antibiotics until I could confirm an infection with the arrival of yellow or green phlegm. It never happened. I still have a wee bit of congestion, but I think I can safely say I killed this cold without any drugs. Yay!

Breastfeeding had been going really well, except for being engorged way too often. That seems to have slowed down, but I’m still dealing with a seriously overactive let-down. I can’t always feel the let-down happening, but I can tell it does, because the boy chokes and sputters and pulls away and gets cranky. And often when he pulls away, my nipple is actually shooting out milk, so that it sprays onto his face and neck. Not sure there’s anything I can do about that except wait till it slows down before I offer him the breast again. The worst problem here is that sometimes he doesn’t want to let go, so instead he bites down on the nipple to stop the gushing, kind of like the way he was latching our first few days– little shark bite! Ouch!

The hardest thing this last week has been recurring episodes of evening screaming. The only thing that consoles him– and it doesn’t always work– is lying face down on my husband’s arms while my husband paces the floors. I am so out of shape and the boy is so heavy that I can’t keep this up for more than a few minutes, so the lion’s share of the chore goes to my husband.  It’s maddening, because we don’t know what is causing him to scream. He seems in pain, but we’ve tried all the exercises for baby gas relief, and they have no effect whatsoever. The timing is curious. It doesn’t happen every evening, but it only happens in the evening. So far the pattern is consistent: he screams and kicks and writhes and acts like he wants to nurse but when he’s put to the breast he can’t calm down, gives up after a few sucks, and reverts to screaming. A little before midnight, he finally manages to nurse (always on my right side!), and then goes to sleep. The screaming is nerve-wracking and exhausting. I wish we knew what was wrong.

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!

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.

Experimenting with IPT: Because we are obsessed with excrement

Diapers are expensive. They also seem to be causing a bit of a rash on the poor hijo’s behind. So we picked up some Desitin, and I’ve been trying to let him go diaperless during feedings, when I’m holding him anyway. I just grab a cloth diaper and drape it loosely around his butt, set him on a waterproof lap-pad, and let him pee at will while he’s eating. I figure it saves us a diaper each time, because he reliably goes while he’s eating. It also gives his butt a chance to air out and dry completely, which seems to be helping with the rash already.

Just for kicks, we also picked up a tiny potty down at the Metro– because he has a tendency to pee as soon as his diaper is removed. Today we assembled all the bits and pieces for a diaper change, took off his diaper, held him over the potty, and– wonders!– he peed, and then gave a great heave and pooped in the potty as well. The best part was that it left almost no poop on his poor red rear, so we didn’t have to further irritate it with vigorous wiping.

I tried it again later, but the potty stayed dry. IPT (infant potty training) is a bit of a misnomer. It should properly be parent training– it’s all about watching the baby and figuring out when he is most likely to pee, and what his face looks like when he’s getting ready to poop. There is also something to the position: I hold the baby facing away from me, grasping his thighs so that his knees are pulled up and he is not actually sitting on the pot–it’s just there to catch. Between the upright position and the gentle squeezing effect, it encourages him to let loose.  Third try, this afternoon, more pee in the potty! yay!