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Compartment 14B

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Navel gazing.

2006-02-13 - 11:46 a.m.

Grommet has a belly button! Her umbilical stump came off without fanfare or fuss at two weeks of age. I had been warned by more than one person that the stump would stink, as it was essentially rotting flesh, but it remained completely odourless until it detached. I donít know if this is because we only bathe Grommet a few times a week (we donít want to dry out her skin Ė easy to do in the dry winter months Ė so we donít bathe her too often and when we do we do so with just water most of the time) so the stump had lots of chance to dry, or if itís because we didnít use any sort of treatment on it (which is what was recommended to us Ė they used to use alcohol or other antiseptic treatments but a study showed that it didnít have any impact on infection and stumps rinsed with water only dropped off a day earlier to boot).

Sheíll be 3 weeks (already!) tomorrow, and she seems to be growing right before my eyes and despite the voracious appetite (she eats every 2 to 3 hours) sheís not chunking up, but seems to be elongating instead. I can feel the difference when Iím carrying her in my arms and she doesnít fit as snugly in my cradle hold as she used to. When I look at pictures from her first few days I definitely see the difference already. Iíd actually like to see a bit more flesh on her bones; especially if it means being able to go a bit longer between feedings. Babies should have a nice cushiony layer of baby fat.

A couple of points I missed in my post about breastfeeding:

I know that there are some who counsel wearing a bra even through the night. I believe this is for support and to hold breast pads in place. When my milk came in, however, the one nursing bra I bought was too small and constricting to be comfortable, particularly overnight. What I ended up doing, and have done since was fold a soft flannel receiving blanket into a long band and wrap it across my chest. Since Iíve been sleeping on the couch since coming home, I donít toss or turn so it stays where I put it. Besides, Iím only sleeping a couple of hours at a stretch between feedings, so itís not like 8 hours of moving in my sleep would displace it. Itís much more soft and comfortable than a bra. Of course, my boobs are still not huge compared with those of many nursing moms, so this may not work for everyone.

The couch is the other thing: when I came home I foolishly tried to stay in my own bed. I discovered very quickly that getting up from a totally flat surface when one has had a recent cesarean is a singularly unpleasant experience. The second night I wised up and moved to the couch downstairs, with the Grom in her cradle nearby. That way I could use the arms and back as leverage to muscle my way into a sitting position using my arms more than my abs. And once I was sitting, I already had a back support behind me and I didnít have to change to a different chair for nursing. Over the following few days I refined my ďnestĒ to include a tray table with the essentials on it (water, a snack, Kleenex, the portable phone, etc.), and a makeshift changing station nearby so that I didnít have to try to maneuver up and down the stairs. I now come upstairs to change her, and take over the bed in our bedroom after J gets up, but Iím still downstairs for the night.

Yes, I miss sleeping in my own bed. But since J has to get up at 3:30 am on weekdays and 4:30 am on weekends it just seems like I should do what I can to make sure that while heís in bed, he actually gets to sleep and not have to wake up when I do every two hours during the night. Even going to bed at 8:00 pm most nights, he runs a sleep deficit that he never really recoups. Fortunately, heís just hired a new guy who will eventually be able to open on the weekends, so at that point J should be able to have a day or two a week that he can sleep in. Heíll still have to go out to the business every day, but he wonít have to go in for opening and he wonít be actually working the till seven days a week.

For my part, I donít actually feel very sleep deprived. I usually go to bed when J does, and even with getting up every two hours to nurse and change diapers, I make up for it by staying in bed and sleeping when Grommet sleeps until I wake up feeling rested. I highly recommend doing this if you can Ė it makes all the difference in healing, not to mention in maintaining a good attitude towards new-parenthood. And of course, I couldnít do this without Jís support; he takes care of almost everything but the breastfeeding when heís home. I do small chores and laundry and try to plan for/provide meals, but heís really carrying the lionís share of keeping the household running by getting all our groceries and supplies and changing and bathing Grommet when heís home. I am a lucky woman.

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