Sunday, July 23, 2006

The problem with veal and gin

Last night, D took me out for a fantastic dinner at a veddy nice restaurant to celebrate my birthday (yes, the same one we went to last year; the difference this year is that, besides the fact that we did not indulge in anywhere near the amount of alcohol we did last year, our friends H and J kindly stayed home with Miss Ess rather than accompanying us on the splurge-a-thon).

The problem is that we've been sort of paying for that decision ever since then. H and J gave Ess a bottle at 6:30 last night; she chugged three-and-a-half ounces, stayed up to play for a while, and then slept on her little angled foam wedge until about 11:15. She nursed again at 2 or so, and again at 4. It was then that the problems began; Ess had horrible acid reflux, grimacing at each burp and whimpering when she'd spit up. (She's a spitty baby in general, but we'd never seen it cause her pain before.) It was heartbreaking... and really difficult to deal with, given that it was 4 am. D soon began to regret his offer, made when we first woke up (ie, before the reflux started), to get her back to sleep at this feeding. He ended up soothing her by propping her up against his bent knees for nearly two hours, until she finally slept around 6. After she nursed again at 6:45, he took her downstairs and let me sleep until she was hungry again at 8:45.

He still has not slept, and in fact is currently in the kitchen, making goat- and soy-cheese pizzas for me, mostly from scratch. (Yes, he deserves the husband of the year award, rather than the muttered half-sentences and grumbles he's getting from me today.) I got a little sleep in the early, early morning (by putting a pillow over my head), followed by that two hours early in the day, followed by a 45 minute nap with Ess on my chest as D watched the British Open. It is a measure of my extreme fatigue that I actually found golf to be interesting and worth paying attention to when I wasn't either nursing Ess or trying every trick in the book to get her to sleep.

Because that's the other problem; all day today, she has taken short little naps -- dozens of them, it feels like -- and woken up angry almost every time. This is a big difference from her typical pattern of nursing, playing contentedly for a while, then sleeping for a couple hours after she's been awake for an hour or two. We've gone, in one short day, from using the pacifier strictly at bedtime to popping it in her mouth at just about every little cry, since today there is no little cry that does not turn into a big old screechfest that makes the dog whine and cower between my feet while I curse under my breath. We've given up on putting her to sleep in the pack & play we keep in the spare bedroom just off the living room, since getting up every time she cries is more than our overtired bodies can handle. So right now she is sleeping next to me on the couch, swaddled and binkied... for a little while, anyway.

My hope is that this lousy day -- which probably would seem a lot less dire had it not begun at 4 am -- is just a consequence of the very rich meal I ate last night. There probably was a little dairy in it; I'm sure there was butter, which hasn't seemed to bother her before, but I think there was also some cream hidden in my delicious tortured-baby-cow appetizer. Or maybe she's objecting to the 2/3 of a gin and tonic I drank. Whatever it is, it's Not Fun.

And I know that is a simple fact of life with an infant. But that knowledge doesn't do much to make it easier as we're experiencing it. I've spent much of today trying to figure out what is causing this -- whether it was my diet yesterday, or the much-heralded four- or five-week developmental leap, a distinct possibility since her corrected age is 4.5 weeks and she's showing a bunch of the advances described for this period (including, thank jebus, smiling!! at long last!!) in The Wonder Weeks.

That tendency, to want to know why Ess is acting this way, and when I have a plausible explanation, to act much more charitably toward her and D, concerns me. There is not always going to be a why, especially in these early months. So I have to get over my need to understand what's happening and kick up my skillz at simply responding to whatever is happening using the best resources I have at my disposal. Sometimes, understanding cause and effect will make my responses better. Other times, futzing around and trying to use my big monkey brain to explain things that are inexplicable is just going to cause a cranky baby and a frustrated mom.

Ess has spit the binky out about eight times in the last 90 seconds, so my time for deep thoughts has ended anyway.