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.

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