Wednesday, April 2, 2014

4 Weeks

Audra is now 4 weeks old, and it seems like she's been here forever already... and then I'm always surprised to realize it's only been a month since we became a family of four :) Things are pretty straightforward with Audra - the answer to almost any question is nursing, and she likes to stay in close contact with us. Keeping those two things in mind has served us all well, I think, since she's generally a pretty unfussy baby. I read an article recently that was pretty much in line with this, which has also helped bolster our resolve to do what Audra is indicating she needs, even if it's not all that convenient for us, which I really struggled with the first few weeks... especially her need to stay in close contact with us. Here comes a tangent on my mental state, but there are cute pictures below, at least :)

Before Audra was born, I had vowed to just take care of the baby, sleeping when she did, etc., rather than worrying about housework, and we had also said that we were fine with bedsharing. As it turns out, she called my bluff. I am sleeping as often as I can with her, but with her sometimes waking every half an hour to nurse, a lot of the times I end up just laying there contemplating life or reading. And she has made her preferences quite clear regarding sleep. Our first night in the hospital, she had a couple of hours of what seemed like poor sleep in the bassinet and then woke up inconsolable and screamed herself hoarse until 3am, when our very sweet nurse took her for an hour so we could sleep (since Audra wasn't admitted to the hospital, she couldn't go to the nursery). Then she finally slept well with us, but only after I just kept her in bed with me, while I was barely dozing so that I could pop up and pretend that I had just been nursing each time the nurse came in (since I was explicitly told bedsharing wasn't permitted in the hospital - understandable, given that hospital beds aren't really conducive to it). 

The next night was very similar, and the next night after that we were home again, where she again slept very noisily (with lots of grunting and kicking) for only a couple of hours in her crib before I left her in bed with us, where she curled right up against my side and slept quietly and contentedly. And except for a couple of experiments since then, that's where she's been every night since, waking up just to nurse and quickly falling back asleep after (for the most part so far). Just in the past week, I've come to peace with this more. While I love having her in bed, I had quite a bit of anxiety about her never sleeping alone, me not being able to get up to do other stuff, get ready for bed, etc., despite this not being all that different from the sleeping situation with Josie (she did start each night in her crib, but the rest of the night and most of her naps were in bed with us for most of her first year - and she now sleeps wonderfully on her own). But Audra has managed to stay sleeping on her own for over an hour for several naps now (which is awesome!!), and we'll probably start trying to have her at least begin the night in her crib in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of my anxiety, I am doing so much better this time around. I'm still struggling a bit, and pretty emotional, but I feel like it's not quite as intense this time. I do worry about balancing "doing right" by Audra while trying to spend time with Josie too (especially difficult in these early days as Audra's nap time spans most of the day, but she can't sleep as easily when I hang out with Ryan and Josie rather than sequestering us in the bedroom), and I have gotten frustrated when I'm trying so desperately to sleep but Audra wakes up each time I'm about to fall asleep, but all in all, I've been able to keep it in perspective better now. I've been telling myself that everything will be ok, Audra's just a little baby and this time of our lives is so fleeting that I should just go with the flow and do whatever's needed to keep her content (and us sane, which is often the same thing), and I'm finally starting to believe these words. Things are actually going surprisingly well, with no jealousy from Josie, a decent amount of sleep each night, all things considering (usually from 10ish - 7:30am, with two usually short wakeups sometime between 2-4am and 5-6am for diaper/nursing), and a pretty darn calm baby, so hopefully I'll continue to surrender to the force that is a newborn baby and will be able to enjoy this even more soon. Ryan is just super thrilled that Audra doesn't cry through every diaper change, and indeed she doesn't - I actually found myself changing her diaper the other day just since I thought it would help calm her down, as it did, since she loves to stare at the wall there ;)
[One of the times Audra was able to sleep amidst all the chaos]

Ryan's work also provides 10 free counseling sessions after the birth of a baby, so we've been taking advantage of that. I've been getting a couple of tidbits from each session that seem to be helping me too - not worrying about things too far in advance (since worrying about Audra's entire first year of life at once can be a bit overwhelming), and when I feel myself getting anxious, just pushing the thought off and saying that we'll deal with it tomorrow, or the next week. This has helped me stay in the moment a lot better, which is good, since we're able to get through the day just fine minute by minute, it's just when I start overthinking things and worrying about things months away that may not even happen with Audra (usually sleep related) that I struggle more. We'll get there, and I already feel like the newborn bewilderment (that I felt the first several months with Josie) is dissipating. 

Anyway, onto the more fun stuff - the firsts of Audra's firsts ;)

  • Umbilical cord stump fell off (at 8 days old)
  • First shower (at 12 days old; she appeared to love it)
  • First time rolling from her back to her side (at 12 days old)
  • First time sleeping through the night (at 2 weeks old; slept for 5 hours (a 5-hour stretch is the medical definition of sleeping through the night), nursed, then slept for another 2.5 hours - she's not too consistent with this yet, but we're taking what we can get!)
  • First tear (at 2 weeks after getting her heel pricked at the pediatrician)
  • First shopping trip (to Grand Mart at 2.5 weeks old; she just slept the whole time in the carrier)
  • First social smile (at 3 weeks and a day; she does this ridiculously cute open-mouthed half smile)
  • First time to a restaurant (to Starbucks at 3.5 weeks old; I was just going to nurse her in the car while Ryan grabbed a coffee, but then brought her in to nurse because of a massive poo blowout. Funniest moment? When Ryan held Audra up (much like Simba in The Lion King) to show her to the ladies behind us, who all promptly gasped and started cooing at her)

  • Audra had lost 15oz within the first two days, so she has actually been to the pediatrician a few times now. Audra has also had crazy neck control almost from the start, with very little of the newborn head bouncing or floppiness, no signs of jaundice, and the doctor was quite impressed by her strength. So everything checked out well, and then when we went back three days later, hoping she had gained 1.5-3oz ounces, she had gained 6oz instead :) And then at her 2-week appointment, she had gained over another pound, measuring in at 10lbs 10oz, 22" long, with a head circumference of 14.5". So now we're done with the pediatrician until her 2-month appointment, although the midwives also checked her at my 3-week post-partum visit, and will check her again at my 7-week visit. 

    Beyond that, we're just getting to know our new daughter. I thought for sure she had brown eyes and brown hair, but now her eyes look blue-ish in some light, and her hair is seemingly lightening up too. I'm learning to observe her more and try to balance the final fight she puts up when I'm nursing her to sleep (when she likes to pummel me while nursing before abruptly pulling off and falling asleep) and when she's actually upset (usually from gas, poor thing). We aren't swaddling her when she's in bed with us, so we'll see if she takes to that once we try having her sleep in her crib more. She doesn't seem to have a "witching hour" in the evenings (yet), and can go for about 10-minute stretches in her swing, bouncy seat, or playmat now (and seems to at least not hate tummy time), and of course loves being in her carrier. Between all of these options, we've actually been able to eat dinner together (all at once!) almost every night, which is so nice. Her favorite things at the moment (besides nursing and being held) appear to be us singing to her, the shower, and the wall next to her change table (which I'm pretty sure she's smiled at more than she has at us). Dislikes appear to be the car (oh, how she hates the car), cold hands, and dirty diapers.
    [Tummy time]
    [Eating dinner together]
    [Saying hello to the wall]

    Miscellaneous cuteness:
    [Josie's first time holding Audra]
    [Sleep grins]
    [My usual view]
    [Thinking important baby thoughts]

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