Sunday, August 28, 2011


To commemorate the summer off with the baby, I thought I'd do a post about our normal routine (note the word "routine", not "schedule". Josie scoffs in the face of schedules... at least for now), especially since I suspect this routine will be quite different now that Ryan has gone back to work, so it will be interesting to see what stays the same or changes while I'm on my own for the next month before I go back to work too.

For a while, Josie was waking up right around 4am and 7am every day for feedings, and then we would keep her up after the 7am feeding, Ryan would go mix up some of the crazy oatmeal he cooks up (my favorite was the banana and peanut butter version). However, after noticing that Josie still seemed pretty sleepy after the 7 o'clock feeding, we tried putting her down again afterwards instead of keeping her up, and voila. More sleep for all. Yay! So now she gets up for the day around 11ish, which begins one of my favorite parts of the day - Josie waking up. She just loves her changing table, where she has her friends, Mr. Wicker Basket and Abby, the lotion bottle. She's generally a happy camper when she first wakes up, so we unswaddle her, which prompts much stretching on her part, then she usually squirms around and smiles while we sing her ridiculous songs, give her stuff to hold, and change her diaper.

Once she's all clean and decided she's done with the changing table, Ryan brings her over to where I'm sitting in the nursing section of the nursery, and perches Josie on the stack of pillows so I can feed her (and do my morning internet browsing, using my awesome keyboard/mouse tray Ryan set up for me and the laptop stand/temporarily-repurposed high chair).

After she's had her breakfast, Ryan takes her back for a burping session - lately to the rhythm (and tune) of "We Will Rock You" (which then tends to lead to "We Are the Champions", and then a detour off into some Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John, etc.)

After attempting to get all her burps and spit up out (although it's never-ending), then she goes in the carrier for our morning walk.

Once we get back, Ryan keeps her in the carrier (where she's either asleep or at least quietly entertained now) while I go take a shower and Ryan gets lunch ready. I scarf lunch down before she realizes that I'm in the same house and I'm not feeding her, then go to nurse her again while Ryan eats.

Depending on the time (and how sleepy she is), we either keep her up for a little while now singing and playing with her (primarily waving her hands and feet around and making faces at her), or I try putting her down to sleep. On a good day, she will nap for around 3 hours or so... on a bad day, she'll last about 10 minutes and then we realize the day has likely begun its slow descent into Overtired Babyville. I normally will feed her in the nursery and then move her to her crib, where I usually end up watching her sleep on the monitor.

We've also had some success with feeding her in bed and then leaving her there to nap, which worked well as long as someone stayed close enough to provide a barrier for one of her arms, since we found if we did that, her startle reflex wouldn't kick in and she would actually stay asleep unswaddled.

A third nap-time option is to just leave her on me. Obviously, this is not a good plan if we have any hopes for a 3-hour nap, but if she's been having troubles napping, this at least is a fairly safe bet to ensure she gets some sleep in. And then I get to stare at her zonked-out baby face and cute little hand dimples.

If she does go down for a nap in her crib, we spend this quality time by doing laundry, usually. Babies seem to generate a lot of laundry, especially ones who spit up a lot. Or sometimes I'll nap with her for an hour or so, before getting up and doing laundry :) Once we've made an attempt at cleaning up the house a bit, I will usually spend some time fretting about how I never get anything done that's not related to housework (note: I did this before we had a baby too, so this is really nothing new).

The previous few paragraphs all assume that Josie has taken a decent afternoon nap - if she hasn't, then chances are we spent most of the afternoon cycling through playing with her, nursing, and trying to get her to sleep. At some point in the day, she'll probably get either a wipe-down or a bath, after which we'll fluff up her hair as much as possible because we find that sort of thing amusing.

Sometime around 7pm, Ryan and I will eat dinner (together if she's still asleep or tolerating the swing/bouncer, in shifts if she's not) and then try to keep her up for a bit before putting her down for the night. We usually attempt to put her in the swing or bouncer, possibly on her play mat, or just prop her up on our legs and mess with her hands and feet more (which seem to be endlessly entertaining to us at this point, but not quite as much for her).

Usually around 8:00 I start to look forward to getting some sleep... which is a bad idea, since Josie hasn't gone down for the night before 10:00 for weeks. And yet, I still hold onto those memories fondly :) So I usually end up nursing her again around 10:00, normally in the nursery with The Sopranos on in the background (I'm over halfway through all 80-some of the episodes now...). She drifts off to sleep, I swaddle her up and then make the trek across the hall to our bedroom, and either nurse her again in bed or walk with her for a while if she's woken up, and then into the crib she goes, where hopefully she'll sleep peacefully for a few hours before we get up and do it all over again :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

7 Weeks

There seems to be a marked increase in what Josie can see this week. She has been able to focus on her toys when she's in her swing or bouncy seat, which has made them much more entertaining to her now. She's also still drawn to lights and shadows - which is funny when she's intently staring at the ceiling fan, but not so funny when she's so distracted during nursing that she pulls off a million times and then almost immediately starts crying about it.

There have also been some more rough nights this past week - I'm not sure if it's still part of the growth spurt, if it was related to feeling under the weather (we both came down with something this week), or just part of her being a baby, but there were a couple of nights where "putting her down for the night" stretched out for hours and wasn't accomplished until 2 or 3 in the morning. We had only been using the pacifier for car rides and when it would be especially inconvenient to nurse, but we ended up having to pull that out for the rough nights so I could get a couple of hours of sleep in between multi-hour nursing sessions. She has also been more fussy in her sleep this week, with hours of grunting and squirming, although I find it very interesting that the night she didn't go down until 3am, she finally did after I kept her in bed with me after nursing, and she didn't move a muscle for 5 hours. I'm just not sure if that was just because she was so exhausted by that point, or if she was sleeping better because she was right next to me. While I've taken shorter naps with her in bed with me, I was still very nervous about sleeping during the night with her next to me since I sleep so heavily (although I didn't move either, except for the several times I woke up to make sure I hadn't moved and to check that she could breathe/was still breathing), so this probably still won't be a habit but it at least helped get us some much-needed sleep that night.

We're also noticing a pattern that Josie's rough nights are usually more towards the beginning of the week, and since I'm assuming babies don't get a case of "the Mondays" quite the same way adults do, I suspect it may have something to do with my dietary changes on the weekend. I try to stay away from some of the foods that can cause gassiness in babies, but since I eat almost the same thing each day during the week and then eat out nearly every meal on the weekends, I wonder if that's causing some of the fussiness too.

In addition to her first sickness, this week also marked a couple more firsts - her first (and likely last) earthquake, and we began introducing bottles. I had felt like I was coming down with something for a day or two (sore throat, headaches), and then we noticed that Josie's nose was stuffed up on Tuesday and her temperature was a bit elevated. That was one of the rough nights, since she just wanted to be comforted, with meant 4 hours of nursing (with the occasional 10-minute catnap), and then 1.5 hours of her furiously sucking on a pacifier before she finally fell asleep around 2am. Her temperature was back down by that point, though, and she then slept until almost 9am, and seemed to be trying to catch up on her sleep throughout the next day and has seemed fine since then.

For the earthquake, she was contently hanging out in her swing, so she probably didn't notice anything anyway :) I thought it was an airplane passing by overhead, but then realized that the entire house was shaking and the roar was just getting louder. Ryan and I were like, "Is that an... earthquake?!" and I immediately darted to a doorway... but then decided that one wasn't sturdy enough, so I then started towards another doorway, and then was going to go grab Josie, who was a couple of rooms away with Ryan. The earthquake had ended by that point, with the only "damage" to our house being some off-center pictures in the nursery, and my conclusion is that I pretty much failed at effectively reacting to the earthquake.

I also started to work on my freezer stash of breastmilk this week, since some will need to go with Josie to daycare in 5 weeks and the rest will stay here for all those times we need to give her a bottle... which so far, seems like that will not be a common occurrence. We gave her a bottle last week that she took to just fine (yet another instance where her being a "barracuda", as the hospital lactation consultant called her, is perhaps coming in handy since she's not very picky about what she latches onto); however, I of course reacted to this development by getting all weepy. I thought I was maybe a bit ambivalent about breastfeeding - it was something very important to Ryan and me that I do, but I had thought of it more as a functional activity. It turns out that I do really like the connection and time with Josie that comes along with breastfeeding though, since I was a bit sad to see that exclusive relationship end and to see her getting her nutrition and comfort from a bottle instead of directly from me. Then I realized that I get weepy about pretty much every change and the start (or end) of each new phase for her (I still even tear up when she smiles at me), and so I either have to get a grip or it's going to be a very long, tear-filled lifetime for her, and she may end up in therapy to figure out why her mother cries so much when looking at her, even if they are mostly tears from happiness or sentimentality ;)

This week was also the 9th anniversary of Ryan's and my first date. We normally celebrate our dating anniversary with a Sudden Death Mini-Golf Tournament, but thought that might be too difficult this year with a 7-week-old in tow. So instead we took Josie to Potbelly (where she was a perfect little baby, sleeping for the first part of the meal, then awake, alert, and smiling at me while I "danced" to the music for her for the rest of the meal) and then to Wegmans so we could buy yet more bananas (where she decided she was done with being awake, and commenced the pitiful little cry she sometimes does - which is far preferable to a full-blown crying fit, but not as cute as her cry where she says "la" - either way, the rain application on Ryan's phone worked to calm her down).

I also had my 6-week post-partum appointment with the midwives this week. Everything looked great, and so I can resume normal activities now. I had started walking again within a week or two after delivery, but the midwives had asked me to hold off on carrying Josie for the walks, and to wait on returning to yoga (I had gone back once 3 weeks ago, but it turns out that was a bit too soon). So that will be good to have those restrictions lifted, and who knows, maybe we'll be able to get back to the pools before they close for the season to see how much my buoyancy has changed now that I'm not massively pregnant ;)


Friday, August 19, 2011

6 Weeks

6 weeks in, and I think the haze is starting to lift a bit. Just in the last week, I've felt like we have a bit more of a handle on things and I'm starting to enjoy this whole motherhood thing a lot more (and that's conveniently ignoring the really rough day we had on Monday, when I dared mention to Ryan that the crying seemed to have lessened and then Josie cried for most of the evening despite employing our nuclear weapons of nursing and walking). Josie has started to have much more awake time that doesn't involve nursing and/or crying, and also started to track objects much more. Now that she's smiling a lot more too, the whole relationship with her is starting to feel more interactive :)

Despite our intentions to not take her out of the house until she was anywhere from 2 months to 6 years old (depending on the destination), we've actually been on quite a few public excursions. She has now visited both of our offices, and luckily she was a good baby and slept most of the time at my work rather than repeating the poo blowout she had at Ryan's work. We've also taken her out to a few restaurants now, and while she's only made it through one meal so far without crying (which was lovely - I had barbecue with a friend, and we actually were able to have a leisurely lunch and then talk for a while afterwards, while Josie was peacefully sleeping in her wrap), we're getting a lot better at reacting more efficiently to her - so less "what should we do?!" and more "I'm going to nurse her for a bit, then you can take her outside for a while if she's still crying."

I've also been surprised at how much I've been craving social interaction - specifically, social interactions with people I can talk to about baby stuff. So since I'm on leave for another 6 weeks, I figured I might as well go to every La Leche League meeting in the area (which is four a month), as well as a weekly Mom & Baby group at the hospital, and I'm also trying to find some other groups in the area to join for meetups. So far, I like the LLL meetings the most, although the topic is more narrow (breastfeeding) than the general moms group. But there are a few regulars who I really like (including a couple from our childbirth classes), and the meetings I've been attending don't seem as militant as I've heard some LLL groups can be. I think it's also good for me to just get out of the house with Josie, since each outing that we make it through, I feel a little more confident in my abilities to be able to handle her on my own without it being a complete disaster.

We think Josie is likely in the midst of her 6-week growth spurt too. We had weighed her last week on our scale, and it showed that she was up to 12lbs now, and she was measuring about 22" long (up from 10lbs 3oz at her 2-week appointment and 20.1" at birth). So after the aforementioned rough day on Monday, she then proceeded to sleep pretty much all day on Tuesday and Wednesday - sleeping from midnight to 10:15am on Tuesday (waking up twice to nurse), and from 1:00 to 11:30am on Wednesday (waking once to nurse), and then still taking little catnaps after each feeding and 4 hour+ naps in the afternoons. Last night she slept from midnight to 11:00am (waking up once to nurse), although she hasn't been quite as sleepy and she's been nursing more during the day, so I expect she'll stop sleeping through the night again pretty soon. It was nice while it lasted, though!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

5 Weeks

Josie is now 5 weeks old, and what I've learned in that time is that parenting is a very humbling experience with quite a bit of emotional highs and lows. We knew that our lives would be turned upside down and that we'd be exhausted, elated, frustrated, overcome with love, etc., but knowing that beforehand and actually living through it has turned out to be two different things. After being very steady emotionally throughout pregnancy, I've been a crying mess for the last 5 weeks - mostly tears of joy, but a few days where it was from frustration, mainly from not knowing how to comfort Josie or from lack of sleep. The first week or two, I just had to look at her and I was overcome with just how precious she is to me, and how lucky and happy we are to finally know who the little person is that we were waiting for all these months. I'm starting to settle down emotionally now, and today I mentioned to Ryan that I actually felt more back to normal - not quite as bewildered and harried, as we were actually able to enjoy a meal (together!) with Josie peacefully sleeping in her wrap.

The fun thing with a baby is that we're seeing the first time she's experienced just about everything (first time outside! first time she touched a plant! etc). We've been documenting as much of these as we can, since there's already some things that she's apparently grown out of that I'm sad we didn't capture on video or in pictures (like the scrunched-up Popeye face she used to make when she'd first start nursing - adorable!). We still have to try to get a few of her sounds on video too - she does a mean impersonation of an elephant and cappuccino machine, and also does a kind of reverse hiccup that cracks us up almost every time she does it. Here's a few of the more notable milestones:

  • First bath at home (at 5 days old; she cried through it then, but seems to enjoy it much more now - which is good, since her hair gets greasy so fast with how much I play with it)
  • First time doing tummy time and using her bouncer (8 days old; she hated them both, but is doing much better with tummy time now that she can pick her head up better, and she tolerates the bouncer for about 10 minutes now)
  • First shopping trip (to Babies R Us at 2 weeks old; she didn't care for that experience either)
  • First time to a restaurant (to Sweetwater Tavern at 2 weeks old for my birthday; she slept through the main course, and then I got greedy and had dessert too, which is when she decided she had had enough)
  • Umbilical cord stump fell off (at 2 weeks old)
  • First time sleeping through the night (at 3 weeks old; slept for 6 hours, fed, then slept for another 2.5 hours - this was not to be repeated again for a while)
  • First vacation (at 3 weeks; lesson learned that 3 weeks is perhaps too early to attempt a vacation - she cried most of the 4-hour drive to the lake, which led to her first time using a pacifier for the drive back, and her sleep routine was completely shot so that she went from two 2-3 hour naps a day to maybe a few 30-minute catnaps (if that) until we just stayed in and had her sleep on us most of the day, which really helped)
  • First smile at me (at 4 weeks; it was a full-on wide-mouthed grin)
  • First tear (at 4 weeks during the drive back from the lake)
  • First extended outing (at 4 weeks to a La Leche League meeting; she was quiet and alert in Ryan's arms for maybe the first hour, and then nursed and slept in my arms for the second hour+)

Sleeping has probably been our biggest struggle with her so far (I think nursing is usually another common issue, but we've been very lucky in that we've had no issues with that after the first week). She had been sleeping really well the first couple of weeks, but then has had days where she was up screaming at 4am, or hasn't slept most of the day despite looking and acting exhausted, which then makes it even harder to get her to sleep when she's overtired and overstimulated. Based on seeing the phrase "you can't spoil a newborn" pop up repeatedly in books and forums, and our own comfort level, we've been doing a lot of extended nursing sessions so that she'll drop off to sleep afterwards, or having her sleep on the boppy or in our arms - probably not good long-term solutions, but it seems most important to us that she gets enough sleep and that we're comforting her while she makes what I'm sure is a bewildering transition into the outside world. We also started having her sleep in our bed for naps and occasionally the last segment of sleep during the night. That was an unexpected development, since we had really only planned on her sleeping in a crib next to the bed, not actually in it, but we are all much happier for it. She's been sleeping much better (and is currently on the third hour of her afternoon nap), and having her in bed with us just makes sense to us (and makes cuddling with her easier!). So while this will probably change tomorrow, at least for the last couple of days, we've had a few extended nursing sessions in bed (1 hour+), then she drops off to sleep, Ryan and/or I get a nap in, and then she stays asleep contentedly - without being swaddled - as long as she's close enough to touch someone next to her.

We've also been incredibly fortunate that Ryan has 7 weeks of paternity leave. I have no idea how I would have managed the last month without having him here with me, and we're both so happy that he's had the opportunity to stay home with us during this special time for our family and bond with his daughter. I have a thank you note to his employer on my to do list :) He's been doing all of the cooking and a good portion of the laundry, cleaning, and gardening, and is usually on "meltdown" duty (for either me or Josie), going for walks for hours with her or otherwise soothing her during the middle of the night. Of course, now I'm starting to get a bit nervous since his leave ends in two weeks, and then I'll have another five weeks on my own before I go back to work as well. So I've got a couple of weeks to try to improve my diapering, clothes changing, and baby maneuvering skills :) We also just got a wrap, so between that and the carrier, I'm hoping that Josie and I will be fairly mobile still, and I'll maybe even be able to type more (I've had plenty of reading time lately, but I've found it difficult to type with a baby on my lap or in my arms), if I believe what I've read about how great wraps are for babies to nurse and sleep in. We'll see!

My selection of pictures is sort of scant since Ryan has been taking most of the pictures (and most of mine are of her sleeping on me), but since I feel like I'm pushing my luck already with being able to publish this before Josie wakes up, I'm just linking to ones I have rather than figuring out how to link to his.

And here's Josie sleeping on me. I have many more pictures just like this, but it's hard to get over her peaceful little face.

Josie enjoying her first bath at home:

Look! She has ducks on her feet!

This is what happens when we're left with a dirty, sweaty baby with too much hair on her head:

And this picture is one of my favorites so far - it makes my heart swell with love for our own little family.