Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Applying the Night Nurse's Advice?

Mack looks peaceful in this picture, but let's not be fooled.

Last night was another rough one, Shana sleeping with Mack on her chest on the couch from 1AM to 5AM, unwilling to go through the difficult late night rhythm of trying to put Mack on his back in the co-sleeper, followed by shrieking / spiting up / shrieking / changing his poop / shrieking / comforting etc.

If we thought a night nurse would provide the tips necessary to find peace in this hurricane of parenthood, we were delusional. Again. (We made the same mistake with Nate). In some ways, the baby nurse's suggestions have exacerbated the situation, as if the Red Cross, in attempting to help the poor folks of Haiti, introduced onto the island a new strain of small pox.

The night nurse's tips are focused on making sure Mack nurses enough to sleep for long stretches, as well as changing and swaddling him relentlessly. To accomplish this, we'd need to wake him up if he passed out after 10 minutes of nursing (to feed him more) and top off as needed with formula. We'd also need to swaddle him and comfort him and stretch him out as long as possible so as to avoid feeding him on demand.

Since I'm not home most of the day during the week, I'm more ready to commit to the night nurse's advice in the evenings. This often involves pushing into a hail storm of crying and screaming. Shana, who's with Mack all day, is (understandably) less interested in applying the baby nurse's advise. It's therefore hard to know what to do when Mack's screaming only after 40 minutes -- after taking 3 ounces of bottle. Do we try and comfort and put him back to the co-sleeper in a swaddle, or quiet him on the couch and let him fall asleep on our chest? Shana and I butted heads on just this point last night. Fried and exhausted, neither of us have the head to know whether to lead or follow either. We end up in different rooms with different boys in a tight-faced, man-to-man defense. We ate dinner alone.

The night nurse returns tonight, so that's good. Seriously.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scooting at the Pier

Meanwhile, as Mack slept all swaddled and cozy...

... Nate and I took his scooter to the pier for some scooting and waterfront exploring.

Despite the chill, Nate had room to stretch out on his green scooter (in front of Roebling, he only had a block of sidewalk to ride) and that made him happy and free. Seeing 3 big kids with scooters near, Nate scooted up to them, joining the pack. They took him in. No one said a word; no one had to. They were all on scooters and there was nothing else to do but scoot to the end of the pier near Northside, a long stretch of renovated pier extending out towards the east village like a finger.

Soon, the scooter pack was off, thundering west towards the end of the pier, towards manhattan, towards the sunset. Little Nate in his green jacket was right in the mix.

At one point, he passed the tall girl and the boy in brown.

He couldn't catch the boy in the black coat but that didn't seem to bother him.

When the foursome hit the end of the pier, the 3 big kids looked at each other, then at Nate, then at each other. They were breathing hard from the ride. Nate looked up at them. No one said a word. No one had to.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Baby Nurse!

We hired a night nurse -- Patricia -- to school us on better getting through the night with Mack. All of her tips were terrific and openly received (feed him slow so he doesn't spit up, wake him up if he falls asleep on the breast by changing him, top off with formula for longer rests, tight swaddle after he's changed and fed, etc.); most importantly however, Patricia gave us the opportunity to sleep though the friggin' night. To get 8 hours of sleep, holy crap, incredible! To do this right though, we had to ship Nate to Ron/Simma's. To complicate matters, Nate contracted pink eye. Desperate for our 8 hours, we took Nate to the doctor's in Tribeca and got the drops needed. (Funny note on that, we told Leisha this morning about Nate's pink eye and she said that the remedy she swears by either coconut water or breast milk). Anyway, those 8 hours were incredible, allowing us to be stronger the following day (and days??). We will see Patricia again on Wednesday...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Weeks Old for Mack

Mack is a little over two weeks old now. He's filling out, nursing more easily (Shana's no longer in pain at least). The family has moved past its initial adrenaline rush in having a second baby, and settled into a bleary-eyed zombie state of sleeplessness, short-temperedness and self-preservation. The way I feel these days, it's like studying all night for an exam, taking the test, piling into a crowded car and hitting an amusement park. And THEN finding yourself running from the law for a crime you didn't commit. The intensity doesn't stop and you're expected to make good decisions on no rest.

It's kind of like what Avon Barksdale tells D'Angelo in The Wire, Season 1, describing the fate of his older brother, who lies in a vegetative state in a dingy government-run hospital after being shot in the head but not killed. He knows you can't plan for everything.

"The thing is, you only got to fuck up once. Be a little slow, be a little late, just once. And how you ain't never gonna be slow, never be late? You can't plan for no shit like this, man. It's life."

OK so maybe its not exactly like what Avon's talking about. But we try to make the right decisions with our newborn and family, and try to never be a little slow, be a little late. Mostly we muddle through and press on. Nate has been no trouble with Mack, kissing him on the head, being gentle, even wanting to be helpful. But Nate is a toddler and at 2 1/2, we can't expect him do be so well-behaved and selfless. He has his owns needs and we are walking this tightrope between giving him what he wants -- so as not to feel excluded in light of Mack -- and catering to his every need and spoiling him rotten. Also, I'm finding it difficult understanding from where Nate's naughtiness might stem. Like, is Nate throwing a fit because he's reacting to Mack and the attention Mack's getting, or, is Nate a normal toddler who's just going through some normal toddlerness? Who the hell knows.

Back at the apartment, Mack's challenge seems different than what Nate threw at us early on (do we even remember accurately??). Mack can't be put down -- he wails uncontrollably if you try to put him on his back, in the bassinet, or in the swing. So he's on Shana's body all day, and on my body much of the evening, then Shana's body during the late hours. He is also nursing more than Nate did in the beginning, which further tethers him to an exhausted and fried Shana.

Last night was particularly brutal. We started out the night at Mole, a dreary Mexican restaurant close by. Nate was restless, then over-tired, then hysterical. Mack likewise could not be comforted and started to lose it. We bolted early and returned to the apartment all miserable and pissy. Nate refused a bath (I wanted to force him, Shana didn't, causing a mini-battle between the parents), and Mack bawled and bawled without relent (I wanted to try to comfort him leaving Shana to deal with a cranky Nate, while Shana wanted to try feeding him, causing further frustrations between the parents). At one point, both boys were screaming. There was nothing to do but feel terrible about one's situation.

Shana eventually put Nate to bed and I brought Mack into bed at 8:00PM. From there it only got worse. Mack couldn't be put down and thus slept uncomfortably on my chest for a few hours. Shana tried to sleep. The hours drifted by like a hallucination. Mack fussed tirelessly. We fed him formula. We changed his poops, which caused him intense grief and shrieking. Shana took him at 1:00AM or so, Mack sleeping on her chest. As the night wore on, Shana and Mack became moist from Shana's sweat, a reaction to the hormones leaving her body. Mack spit up frequently. Crying erupted, making sleep impossible for Shana and me.

"I can't... I can't..." whispered Shana at 5:00AM, handing Mack to me. She'd been up all night pretty much, in a cycle of crying, feeding, spit up, pooping, gas, etc. I put him on my chest. He had a moist swaddle blanket limply around his legs. I removed his wet top. He bawled and screamed. I fed him formula. He slept but not peacefully. I tried to burp him in the laziest and lamest manner possible, basically patting his back while not even picking up, like one might pet a dog. Mack burst out in screaming hysterics. "You gotta put him closer to your chest," muttered Shana. Self-hatred and exhaustion seeped out of my pores. Ashamed, I sat up in bed thereby foreclosing any possibility (delusion?) of sleep for myself. Mack calmed and then spit up warm goop on my shoulder.

It was 7:00AM and Nate could be heard in the distance. Shana got him and made coffee, a necessity against being a little slow, a little late. A new day was beginning.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy one week!

Mack is one week old tomorrow! He is doing great--eating and pooping like a champ and sleeping on and off, though never enough at night.
So far he's a calm, alert baby with big curious eyes and a strong, feisty body. Nate is doing great with him--kissing and hugging him and mimicking his funny facial expressions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Labor day

Mack’s birth was a hell of a lot easier than Nate’s. Basically I woke up early on the morning of Feb 7 and knew something was weird. I went to the bathroom saw some blood and then came back to bed. All of a sudden I felt a pop and a rush of liquid. Michael?
My water just broke.
We still weren’t sure exactly what to do because we are so dumb with this stuff so I called the doctor on call who failed to call me back. I sat on the toilet for awhile because the amniotic fluid was mixed with meconium (aka poop) and it was sort of gross. Finally Dr.  Maldonado called me back apologizing for not getting back sooner and I was like : I am in Full On Labor!
We had already called my parents who were on call to come and take care of Nate and they rushed over from their rental on the upper east side. I rushed out with my towel as soon as I saw my dad and into a black car where the contractions started to be intense.
At the hospital I didn’t even go into triage because I was so close. They just put me in a room where I demanded an epidural. With a little relief, I then explained to the nurses how I pushed for 3 hours with Nate. They were impressed. Then they told me a story: the woman who had recently vacated that room had pushed for 12 minutes.
With that story in mind, the labor started. 11 minutes later with some pain but nothing like before, little Mack came out. He was perfect.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


On February 7, 2012, Mack Jacob was born to this world. Here he is a minute or so after birth.