04 November 2014

Also... Cute Kid Pictures!

Zoe's first selfie with the wee babe child!
Do you want to making sleep, bezerker?
Even gangsta's gotta get their grading done.
Look mom, I got a new doll to play dress up with!  Also, Rocco photobomb.

03 November 2014

Crying over Spilled Milk

Disclaimer:  This post does not contain cute pictures with witty commentary.  I've broken our usual mold and written down my rambling thoughts as a new mom to Des.  Please excuse my typos and grammatical inaccuracies.  I blame "Mommy brain".  

Today I made a choice.  Sitting on the couch with my son after an “unsuccessful” nursing session and then giving him a bottle of formula, I decided to cuddle with him on my chest instead of pumping.  As he melted into my chest in a post feeding coma, tears streamed down my face and bathed his sweet smelling head. Why the tears?  Why this feeling of guilt and sadness?  I still don’t completely have answers to these questions, but I suddenly felt the need to document this journey… so here it goes.

Des is 5 weeks old.  He was a whopping 9 lbs at birth and in the delivery room the nurses joked that I would need to eat a lot to be able to feed this kid.  Or maybe they weren’t joking…  In his first few days of life, Des was sleepy sleepy.  He finally got the hang of latching on, but would promptly fall asleep as soon as he lay on my chest.  The lactation consultants set me up on a pumping regimen so that my milk would still come in and guessed that he would start to become more active once there was milk for him to drink.

And so it began.  My milk came in and Des nibbled, but was never in a hurry to eat.  At 2 weeks, Des was nursing constantly or crying.  At his 10 day check up, he was 8 lbs.  While the doctor wasn’t yet concerned, I was.  A few days later, I paid a visit to the lactation consultant who confirmed my suspicions that Des was getting precious little food from nursing.  Depending on the day, I call his eating style poky, laid back or dare I say lazy.  Whatever you call it, it was rapidly diminishing my milk supply.  At the suggestion of the lactation consultant, I went on a binge of nursing, bottle feeding and then pumping for each feeding-- for almost 2 weeks.  Des gained some weight and then I eased off of pumping and supplementing.  Then he gained a little weight, but not enough.  Now the pediatrician wants me to give him formula after every feeding.  And it breaks my heart.  Why?

I had issues with breastfeeding Zoe, but the issue was never my milk supply.  This is new territory for me, and it’s proved to be very rocky and emotional territory.  When asking the proverbial question “Why?”, there are many ways to ask and answer.  Why is this a problem?  Is it really just that Des is a poky eater?  Am I too skinny?  Am I too stressed balancing the needs of 2 kids?  I’ve done this before-- so I should be a seasoned pro-- what’s wrong with me?  And then the Mommy guilt sets in.  But it’s more than just guilt.  

Then there is this “why”: Why am I beating myself up over this?  Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just throw in the towel and declare Des a formula baby?  Sure-- “breast is best”, but at what cost?  I have this snapshot in my mind of the moment when I was trying out a supplemental feeding system with my 4-year old bouncing around in the background.  While I inserted a small feeding tube into my son’s mouth, I delicately balanced a vial in between my legs.  I reached out to get the 2 ounces of milk that I had pumped to pour into this vial, and my bouncing 4-year old bounced right by and bounced that breastmilk right onto the floor.  All that work and love soaking into the carpet.  It was enough to send me over the edge.  But instead of rage, I felt a deep deep sadness.  Talk about crying over spilled milk...

So why am I still clinging on?  Why is breastfeeding so important to me?  It really goes well beyond the health benefits.  I love the feeling of closeness that it gives.  I love the visceral feeling that my body is feeding my child and helping him to grow.  I love that it is something that only  I share with my child-- our delicious secret.  I’m not ready to give this up.

You could argue that by supplementing, I’m not completely giving up.  You could argue that he is still young and all of this will change.  But somehow, when raising a child, every problem seems eternal and insurmountable-- especially in the sleep deprived and hormonal haze of raising an infant.  It’s so hard to hold onto perspective-- but I’m trying.  

Ultimately, I fear that this “feeding problem”, as labeled on Des’ latest report from our pediatrician, is a sign of times to come.  Yes-- I know that he’ll learn how to eat well.  I know that he will grow and be loved, but if I can’t figure out how to do this very primal task of nursing my child, then how will I help him solve the bigger problems that life will present to him and us?  This is the fear that has bubbled up over the last few weeks, and I haven’t yet figured out how to sooth this fear, but simply voicing it helps me to regain some of that perspective that is so hard to keep a hold of.

So where do I go from here?  I don’t know. By writing this blog post, what am I hoping for?  I’m not asking for advice or answers.  I’ve simply been amazed at how emotional and torn I feel over this first parental “bump in the road” that I’m experiencing with Des.  If I feel this way, I’m sure that there are countless of other new and “experienced” moms that feel this way or have felt this way before.  In a way, I want them to know they are not alone, and I’m also reaching out to the collective wisdom of mothers throughout the ages.  Please give me the wisdom to know if this is one of those challenges that I can overcome or if I should put aside my fear and pride and let it be.

01 November 2014

All the Hallows in the Hook

Raise your hands if you're excited for Halloween!  But first, the pumpkins.   Wee Des is our happy pumpkin this time around, so the amicable Zoster set to work in crafting a sad, sad, pumpkin to complement the jovial fella.

Scoop, scoop de doop.  This year's carver was a tough one, but no match for a determined four-year-old.   Zoe had already sketched out pumpkin face plans in her notebook, and picked the best one to be recreated on the good side of the pumpkin.  Then she watched and learned while papa wielded knife and set to work, realizing her design in the (pumpkin) flesh...   But before dusk, it was costume time!

That's right, Zoe went fully home-made this year as a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans.  (mama's genius idea...)  Big Z even colored in the logo sign herself, and piles of hilarity were had, both in sourcing the materials (they don't see clear garbage bags anymore!) and in the construction.  Let's just say it was not a particularly easy costume to take on and off.   The up side of a costume consisting of inflatable confectionary bliss, however, is that it proved to be a great insulator.  While everyone else outside froze, Zoster was boiling lava hot.  

01 October 2014

Desmond in the 4th Degree

Hey mama, your bump makes me wanna jump!

Monday, 29 September 2014

2am - Cara gets out of bed and paces around the house.  Things feel different.  2:15am - Cara wakes Tommy.  Says things feel different.  2:45am - Cara phones her doula, Mary. "Things feel different, Mary."

3am - Massive contractions put Cara on the floor, like in a major motion picture. 3:01am - Tommy realizes the baby is coming tonight.  Cara has known this for an hour...  3:15am - Tommy phones the doula.  Now the doula knows the baby is coming tonight.  3:20am - Tommy phones the hospital/midwives.  They want to "check" Cara.  3:30am - Like a finely tuned machine, the wheels of "help" are set in motion: Grandma and Grandpa begin the 1.5hr trip to Red Hook to help with Zoster. A great local friend, Mae, is en route to the house to cover the gap. The doula is en route to the hospital, which is preparing a room. Tommy is packing the car, and remotely canceling his Monday classes. Cara is deep into warfare with crippling contractions, now about a minute apart.

4am - Cara, Tommy, & some wild contractions arrive at the hospital.   4:05am - Our awesome midwife, Jane, checks Cara:  She's fully dilated and ready to go. 4:06am - Surgical team and OR are put on standby: a VBAC is ready to push. 4:15am or something like that:  Cara brings the push train to gonnahavababyville. 6:30ish am - Certain medical types begin to bat eyes around the room.  This seems an awful lot like last time. Lots of pushing, not a lot of movement.  Shortly thereafter - The doula kicks into gear; it's all hands on deck, and we're gonna have a baby.  Cara is doing pull-ups & squats.  Finally, it works.  The baby nudges past the pelvic bone, and a few pushes later, starts crowning.  This goes on for some time, but there's progress.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Everyone knows there's only one end to this story now, and it's a natural birth.

8am - Babyboy Costello is born.  He's a hair over 9 pounds, and measures a whopping 24 inches long.  Cara did it.  No drugs whatsoever. A perfect birth.  Everyone in the room is thrilled.

Some time later, babyboy becomes Desmond Clay Costello.  

5 minutes after birth. They look great

Of course, wee Des is not alone.  His capable big Zoster arrives on scene in the afternoon to begin teaching him the ropes.  She's been waiting to hold him for the past seven months! 

Even she is proud of her amazing Mama.  Sure, she wanted a little girl named "Elsa" but soon enough she'll discover that it's Papa's fault that little Des arrived as a boy.

 Be well, little guy.

©Desmond Clay Costello, b. 29 September 2014

08 April 2014

Out of Hibernation

It was a long winter.  You think that all of the snow and cold would have been a great excuse for us to keep right on top of the blog... but we kind of went into hibernation in our house.  The good news: we are now seeing the light of spring, and it is fantastic!!

Our Tuesday ritual all winter was to meet up with friends at an indoor play space.  It was great fun, but the gymnasium walls never inspired too many pictures.  Now that the snow has melted and we are seeing some warmer days, our Tuesdays have evolved into adventures outdoors.  Today, the adventure was a small local zoo (amazingly run and maintained at a high school!)

As you might imagine, we saw some animals...

The Emus are pretty cool Mama, but check out this FENCE!
But more importantly, we saw some friends.  Nine of them in fact.  All girls.

The beginning of a "Secret Club Meeting".  A true meeting of the minds.
Zoe liked the animals, but she was slightly more impressed by the architecture.

Yup-- I think this wall will pass inspection.
And the mud. But it was some pretty impressive mud if I do say so myself.

Who needs mud pies when you can have this!
Happy Spring!!

23 February 2014

Who's house is it, anyway?

Hey Zoster,

    We'd like to recap a lengthy car conversation that we had today, whilst driving you from a brilliant kids theatre show (oirish pirates, oh my!) to a string quartet from Julliard playing in the local library.  In the snow, we should mention, since it was super duper snowy today.

    We drove by a house that we didn't buy, but wanted to, and you mentioned our house in Red Hook. So we talked all about how we really bought that house for you. Mama and Papa don't really need the huge backyard.  Frankly it's a gigantic pain in the arse all autumn, what with the raking and all...  But you jumping in the piles of leaves - there's value in that.

   There were all the other houses.  There was this fantastic place way up on a hill that Mama really wanted.  It had a huge great room flanked by 14' windows that looked over the surrounding hills. And a woodbunrning stove in the middle of the room, and quite possibly the prettiest granite counters in the history of this world.  They looked like pink woodgrain running the length of a very long, very new, galley kitchen. But then there were the cliffs on one side of the property, and the unbelievably hilly terrain that surrounded the house.  You'd never, ever be able to play with a ball outside.  That much was abundantly clear.

     There was the mod custom architect-designed 50s place that Papa wanted.  It needed a wee bit of freshening but had a courtyard - A COURTYARD! - and was just dreamy and swell.  But in the wrong school district.

    Then there was the cape.  Your mother's heart still burns at this one.  It was 1930s splendor, all craftsman wood detailing throughout (buried in countless layers of paint papa adds...) and full of charm.  It also conjured up memories of our 1920s townhouse that treated the first years of this family so well.  And, let's be clear on this, the property backed up onto a stream and had a heart-shaped pond.  Yup. And it was even really close to the cutest town in the Hudson Valley - just a half mile - but you'd never be able to ride your bike there. It was a major road with no shoulder. You were three and we were terrified for you walking to your friends houses in your teens...

    And then there was the colonial.  It was on 8 acres of pretty neat terrain, had a lake and stream and a huge granite outcropping in the woods.  And you know what - we would've actually bought that one, but the listing agent was a . . .  piece of work.  There was an imaginary bidding war, and we decided to leave it and head to greener pastures.  And the mosquitoes were intense.  So intense, in fact, that the previous owners had added on a $50k glass room to the house - just to enjoy the yard without the bugs.

   So we bought you a nice little 1950s ranch.  In papa's parlance it's "bog standard" but in a great neighborhood.  You and mama can walk down the street to the library for story hour, and stop at the farmstand on our corner for fresh produce on your way home. School is just a few blocks away, as are some pretty great restaurants. And we get thousands of trick-or-treaters because the the village is that great.  (Take that, Squirrel Hill.)  Sure, the house isn't architecturally significant or estate-like; as a matter of fact it's probably the most ubiquitous floorplan in this country, perhaps even eclipsing the Levitt homes that sheltered your predecessors.

    And let's be honest, for many months you waxed poetic about how our new house has TWO bathrooms, one that is pink and one that's green.  That is a neat fact - though it'll soon change. And the back yard - it's one thing to be in a village, but to pull off being in the village with a couple acres and woods behind the house is like an awesome mullet; business in front, party in back. But you can't build a swingset on a mullet, and your papa built you a pretty sweet swingset back there.

   So when you're a teenager and storm off to a friend's house to complain about this, that, or the next thing, just remember that we bought this house for you.  After all, that's why you were able to walk to your friend's house.

 - Mama & Papa

16 January 2014

Food Man

We usually discourage Zoe from playing with her dinner-- but when "Food Man" shows up at the dinner table, how can you turn him away?

Designed completely by Zoe, Food Man led a short but happy existence.  For now, we will spare you with all of the details of his graphic demise. RIP Food Man, and in the words of Tommy, "See ya on the flip side".

05 January 2014

Ode to Zoe

Dear Zoe Mae,

Some gifts of Christmas are sparkly and magical;

Some gifts promise to love all the day and night through.

Some gifts have history and treasures within,

But the best gift of all, dear Zoe,  is YOU!