Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Plot thickens, resolve thins

It's been a busy week in the Fussy dojo.

It all started out with some great news. As anyone that has spoken to/emailed/been within 25-yards of Kitty in the last 6-months may recall, she was supposed to return to work last week after a short 8-week maternity leave. Her company was not granting her credit for her previous 3 years of employment, and was only considering her current 9-month run in declaring her ineligible for FMLA protection. A recent court case, in which a plaintiff in a similar situation had sued and won, resulted in a surprise change of heart. Sweet, right? As a result, she now does not need to return to work until July 7. She could have stayed out until August, but then the reduced income would have forced us to cut down on the number of organic vegetable boxes we receive each hour, and that just wouldn't do.

Kitty's mom, MeMa, had come into town to help Kitty with her anticipated transition to working mom (read: follow her around with Kleenex) and since we didn't want her to feel like her trip had been wasted, we made sure to make the most of her time here. Let's put it this way, fatherhood is far less forgiving of a hangover than I had anticipated. A sunny Memorial Day weekend is not a great time to have a free babysitter. A little too much going on. But back to the point, having Dot here was a huge help -- even if she spent the entire time whispering plans to Finn about moving back to CT under cover of darkness.

On Tuesday, the headache was (mostly) gone, and Dot was headed back home. That morning, we had our first meeting with the Occupational Physical Therapist at Children's Hospital. This was the latest battle in our longstanding war with breastfeeding, and at this stage in the game, it's safe to say that discouragement is beginning to set in. I won't recap everything we've tried, since I've already rambled on about that enough, but Kitty counted 15 different visits to different specialists in the last 8-weeks. Forget about the co-pays, that's like $1,000 in gas.

We were hoping (naively) for a silver bullet solution. Something that we could put into action in the parking lot and would have fully resolved all of our issues by the time we pulled into our garage. Of course, the prognosis was not quite so simple. We did get some new exercises to try, since apparently his sucking muscles aren't working properly (insert your own joke here). But that could take weeks to really make a difference. So that bummed us out.

Today, we had another appointment with the tongue clipping doctor. We had finally, and nervously, decided to go ahead with the deeper cut. The first cut hadn't made much of a noticeable difference in his ability to extend his tongue up or out, so to try and address both his feeding issues and any possible future speech/mouth issues, we agreed to do it. This time around wasn't quite as traumatic (for him; for us, still not so good) and he was smiling and on the bottle again immediately afterward. Unfortunately, it will take a little while to determine whether this is going to fix the problems. So we're still trudging along this slow, and increasingly discouraging path.

"Why do it then, you idiot? Why not just go entirely with the bottle?" That's a really good question. I'm not going to go into the benefits of breastmilk, because this isn't a New Age hippie blog. Though those benefits certainly play a part in our decision, the biggest reason that we keep fighting this thing is because we're tired of paying $30 for a little can of powdered pre-vomit. As the saying goes, why buy the formula, when you can get the milk for free? I'm certainly not high enough in the Church of Scientology to free bottles of Suri's formula (I'm only a Level IV), so we're gonna keep at this thing until it works.

Or until there's simply no more funny to be had. At some point, $30 starts looking like a pretty good price to pay.

After all, I think that's only one organic vegetable box, and I can definitely do without that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To all the English teachers out there, both amateur & pro

Thank you for all of your comments. As the son of an English teacher, I am acutely aware of my own spelling & grammar. My use of the word "irregardless" in my last two posts was intended to accomplish two goals:

1. Annoy Kitty - always my primary goal.
2. Comment on improper use of language online & at work.

I certainly achieved number 1, so it was all a success, even if my second goal got lost in the mix. Thanks to everyone that felt compelled to point out my issue. The only thing I ask of each of you in return is that you never again use the phrase, "I could care less." It's "couldn't care less."

As in, "I couldn't care less about this whole stupid breastfeeding topic."

Shame on you for calling our problems stupid! Have you no soul?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Boobs & baseball

While few things in life are certain, there are reasonable goals that should be relatively easy to accomplish. Chief among these are winning a baseball game with a $205 million payroll and successfully breastfeeding a baby. Unfortunately, as we have learned in 2008, both of these are surprisingly difficult to achieve.

Stop me if you've already considered this, but baseball & breastfeeding are actually quite similar. In baseball, you field a team of nine starters, plus a bench and bullpen. Egad! Breastfeeding is exactly the same! Between the doulas, the midwives, the lactation consultants and the occupational therapists, we have to actively manage our roster to keep it within the 25-man major league limit. This doesn't even count our farm system of friends, relatives and grocery store checkout people. These folks are all actively playing the game, backing up the battery of mom and dad as they throw their best stuff at the baby in the batter's box, while the ump (apparently, anyone that has ever seen a picture of a baby in a magazine) judges your decisions and calls balls and strikes.

And why/how is breastfeeding so difficult? Isn't it the most natural activity in the world? Didn't the survival of our species depend on our ability to get this one little activity right? I'm pretty sure that they didn't have Similac or breast pumps at the Sumerian Babies 'R' Us, so how did they overcome issues like the ones we've had? The experts will tell you that while they may not have had occupational therapists back then, there was more in the way of community nurture. There were wet nurses and there were female relatives to assist.

I'm sure that's true, but is our issue also due at least in part to an overabundance of information? Do we stress out about the problems we're having primarily because we can read blogs/articles/bathroom walls discussing these issues and therefore feel validated that there is a problem? Were the folks in the olden days just blissfully ignorant, breastfeeding away while their boobs felt like they were being mauled by wolves? And what about those kids that just couldn't breastfeed properly due to something like -- oh, I don't know -- a tongue tie? Did those children just not survive? Were they the cost of evolution, eliminating the weak genes from the pool? If the bottle had never been invented, would we now be a race of Gene Simmonses?

(Incidentally, it's no secret that evolution has stalled, or even backpedaled, along the way. You only need to spend some time online or in a corporate office to see how far we've fallen. OMG! LOL! Irregardless, we're not here to boil the ocean, are we?)

I don't have any answers. Just questions. The only thing I do know for sure is, if my baby needs a therapist for his current occupation of breastfeeding, that does not bode well for his future career success. Of course, if he goes the corporate route, he'll have no problems whatsoever. There are many successful business folks that are completely unable to recognize a boob.

And that's the only reason that I've still got a job.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lazy? Technologically challenged? No problem.

I know that constantly checking blogs for infrequent and elusive updates and/or figuring out how to configure an RSS reader to notify you of new posts is not something that many of you have the time for. Which is surprising, given how little most of you have going for yourselves at the moment.

Irregardless (yes, Kitty, I said it), for those of you that are too "busy" to keep up on your own, I've put a little subscription box in the lower right hand corner of the page. Just above the (depressing, but excellently written) Yankees blog. So sign up, sit back and do whatever it is that you do when you're not thinking about my son.

Which must be very rarely if you're still reading this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Finns to the left, Phinns to the right

When my father was growing up, back in the 1800's, Brian must have been an exotic name. Like "Poughkeepsie." Or "Gluten." By the time I was in school, however, there was a four Brian per class minimum. Despite what you may have heard, I was saddled with my nickname simply because there were too many Brians on our dorm floor my freshman year.

When we were choosing the boy's name, we wanted something that would stand out. Something distinctive. We thought we had it nailed.

We were wrong.

We have already met two other F/Phinns, both in Seattle, both born in March. We'd better start thinking of a nickname now. It would suck to be stuck with a name like "Woody, Jr." due to lack of planning.


One of the other Finns is in our PEPS class. PEPS is a support group for new parents. We gather weekly at each others' houses, stare at our own babies for two hours, then leave. There is also a snack. It's very fulfilling.

Kitty's upset because during the PEPS introductions -- when we were asked to tell our birth stories -- I took the time to inform everyone how Finn's arrival was, and I quote, "the worst day ever." For those regular readers of the blog (whatup, Derek Jeter!), you know that we had some "issues" on that first day. I would like to to once again reiterate: "worst day ever."

However, and I say this for the record, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. Yes, it sucked jumping in the car and chasing my newborn's ambulance to the hospital, the entire time thinking that a decision that I had made had put my baby's health at risk. And yes, it sucked having to watch my wife in constant pain for 37 hours, half-heartedly trying to talk her out of an epidural that I knew would have made us both MUCH happier. But in the end, our baby is healthy and the birth was done in a way that made the process itself as stress-free (for her) and low-impact as possible (right up until the end). It's easy to look at the bad stuff and question your decisions, but it's impossible to measure how much of a positive impact those decisions had on the experience.

And when it all works out OK, why would you ever change it?

Of course, next time...