The Newborn Chronicles

Can I still call him a newborn? I mean, he’s five weeks old today. Meh, I’m still gonna call him a newborn.

Last week was fun (ish? esque?). Little Dumpling went through a cognitive leap and was extra cranky and clingy and fussy which was perfect timing because my mom and Luffy were around to help keep me sane. My mom went home Saturday, but Luffy helped a ton over the weekend as well (Luffy can wrap him up in our Moby wrap and get a three or four hour nap out of him!). I think we’re starting to come out of the Wonder Week, although he still seems to be rather tired (and a touch cranky today). But he’s been good.

I, on the other hand, had a bit of a meltdown last night. For some reason, the monotony and responsibility of being the one to help the dumpling get to sleep each. and. every. time. he goes to sleep got to me. I was nursing him before bed, which is when he usually conks out. However, the past two nights, nursing alone hadn’t worked. I desperately wanted some time with Luffy and here was this wide-awake infant who was supposed to be going to sleep. I got frustrated. I passed him off to Luffy who (wonderfully! graciously!) accepted the challenge of getting him to sleep and told me to go to bed. Which wasn’t really what I wanted, but I took him up on the offer. What I really wanted was a day to myself again, where I’m not solely responsible for this tiny human. Where I’m not needed to nurse or change a diaper or get him to sleep (this is the biggest, most challenging and frustrating aspect). What I really wanted was a day with just Luffy and me again, to do as we please. My days are not my own right now and it’s getting to me.

By 9PM, I went to check on Luffy and the dumpling – both were still awake. I pumped, giving Luffy enough milk to make the dumpling a bottle and went back to bed. Luffy brought the dumpling into our room (where his bassinet is) and tried to lull him to sleep with a pacifier. It didn’t work, but by that time I had collected myself enough to go help. The dumpling wanted to nurse, so we did, as Luffy sat beside me, listening to me describe what I was feeling. The dumpling did manage to go to sleep after nursing but woke up soon after we transferred him to his bassinet (he had a dirty diaper). By this point in the night, it was late, so I sent Luffy to our bed and the dumpling and I cuddled* up in the guest bed. He slept an astounding four and a half hour stretch before waking to nurse again. Then we dozed and nursed until 7am.

Luffy and I talked more this morning. I miss our old life, when it was just the two of us. When we could relax in the evenings, without the question mark that is getting an infant down to sleep. When I could focus on taking care of Luffy (or myself for that matter!). I miss work and I miss my exercise classes. I laughed at myself because, in all that time we spent trying to get pregnant and in the nine months that I was actually pregnant, I never really thought about the newborn phase. I never once thought about how hard it would be to take care of an infant. When I thought about our hypothetical child, it was always the older infant (maybe 9 months?) or the adorable toddler. It’s probably a defense mechanism of sorts. Too late now!

To be brutally honest (and why not – it should be talked about), there are times when I look down at the dumpling and I wonder if he’s worth it. I wonder if we didn’t make a huge mistake. I resent the intrusion he is in our (Luffy’s and mine) wonderful life. I mean, I know he will be worth it and I know we didn’t make a mistake, it just feels like it sometimes (also known as when the dumpling is howling bloody murder for no apparent reason or is suddenly wide awake when he’s supposed to be sleeping). Now don’t call CPS on me – we’re all good. I feel like it’s probably a thought a lot of mothers have (especially those that aren’t really into the baby phase – some women are, more power to you).

I know that these days will go by, whether he cries for hours or sleeps like a champ or goes on a nursing strike. These days will roll by and suddenly, Luffy and I will look down at our dumpling and he will no longer be a newborn. He’ll be an infant and then a toddler and then a child and we’ll wonder why we ever questioned ourselves. I know that day will come, so I’ll just try to get through these days as best I can.

*Hardcore bedsharers always talk about cuddling their newborn, but I’d like to call BS on this, at least with my particular newborn. Bedsharing with him is like sharing a bed with someone who thinks he’s sleeping alone. I’m cradled around him to keep him safe and clear of pillows or blankets. I’m hyper aware of his little body, trying to lay as still as possible. Meanwhile, he grunts and kicks and coos in his sleep as I just try to stay out of the way. Plus, the word “cuddling” sort of implies a little give and take, maybe some snuggling, some happy baby chirping or a smile. Nope. Nopity nope nope. My little guy wakes up and is just like, where ma boob be at??? And would it kill you to change my diaper?

Moments to be thankful for

I’m currently swaying back and forth in my kitchen. Little Dumpling is wrapped up tight to my chest and he’s sleeping soundly. He was fussing, but I wrapped him up and turned some music on. He quieted down. Then Luffy and I got to sing him a song that means so much to me. And he just looked up at us, wide eyed. 

I’ve loved this song since the first time I heard it. I always said I would sing it to my child instead of lullabies. And now I have. And he enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy it too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

What a week!

Man, it has been a busy and boring week.

That’s kind of the funny part about taking care of a newborn that they don’t really tell you. It’s a tad boring. He eats, he poops, he needs a diaper change, he fights sleep tooth and nail, but then he does sleep. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Roughly every three hours. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Variances to the routine are usually not pleasant (see gas pains or overtired, cranky baby). We get about half an hour right now of happy alert time, which is fun! I walk him around the house and show him the birds outside. We pet the cat. We get kisses from daddy. Then we go back down for a nap.

My entire day hinges upon how well he naps. You see, when he doesn’t get more than about 14 hours of sleep a day, he is not pleasant. He is cranky and inconsolable and rather screechy, to be honest. It wouldn’t be a problem if he just went to sleep like a reasonable human being. But no. He fights sleep like he’s gonna miss out on something awesome. The dumpling has serious FOMO. Tricks I’ve found so far to put him out (without nursing cause that’s our nighttime secret weapon):

  • White noise – specifically the “in utero” setting of our baby sleep app
  • Vacuuming while wearing him
  • Wearing him in general, although not always cause he again fights me and he’s rather strong for being such a peanut
  • Rocking him at speeds that I think might possibly border on abuse (I mean, the guy really likes it so I don’t know, maybe I’m raising a daredevil)
  • Walks outside, but only on Tuesdays
  • and my ultimate trump card: car rides

I’m very fortunate in that car rides put him to sleep. Thus, when he’s been screaming and fighting his nap for hours and I need a break – into the car we go! Momma gets to drive around in peace (and usually I get to actually drink some water or have a small snack – it’s blissful) and dumpling gets his much needed nap.

We’re slowly figuring him out though, getting a little better at soothing, a little more confident. He’ll be four weeks old tomorrow and officially a month old on Friday. Thanksgiving is going to be pretty low key. My parents are coming in to town. My mom’s actually driving in today because she wants extra newborn snuggles. My dad’s coming in Wednesday. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, although it will be a little less exciting this year. (My mom and I always bake, for instance, but we probably won’t get to do much of that with the little dumpling hanging around. We also believe in the open-the-wine-at-noon rule for the day, but since I’m nursing around the clock, I should probably not do that.)

Still though. It’s going to be fun. I had a surreal moment yesterday evening. Luffy happened to ask if we needed extra chairs for the day. We both paused and then said no, there were only going to be six of us. And than I stopped and realized that no, there were seven of us. It’s no longer just Luffy and me, party of two – we’ve been upgraded to party of three!

And a zig

In what is probably the biggest lesson from motherhood: sometimes things are going wonderfully and you will want to take full credit for your awesomeness and other times things go terribly and you will feel like a miserable failure (even though it’s probably not your fault).

We had a two week weight check for Little Dumpling this past week. Our pediatrician recommended a feeding schedule for the evening to try to shift Little Dumpling’s night and day (hoping to push his 3am party time to daylight hours). The feeding schedule had been going pretty well. Little Dumpling was sleeping good stretches. Luffy and I got confident enough to stop our night shift work and sleep together* with me just waking to nurse on demand. We were both well rested – a damn near miracle with a two week old in the house.

And then…. last night around 7pm the gas pains hit. The dumpling was inconsolable. We tried bicycle kicks and tummy massages, different holds and butt pats. He finally managed to work through most of it and we calmed him down by giving him his first real bath (which he loved!**). I nursed and let him sleep on my chest for his next nap to ensure that he’d get some good sleep (I do happen to know that sleep begets sleep when they’re so young). At 11pm I woke him to nurse before official bedtime. And it just went downhill from there.

I’m pretty sure it was just gas pains, but it is still so hard to listen to your little one scream bloody murder in the middle of the night. For the first few minutes (or more if you’re super patient and/or well rested), your heart breaks over the fact that he’s so uncomfortable and you can’t do anything to make it better immediately. Then, as you get weary and/or your ears go numb from the screaming, you start trying to reason with him. What do you need? What can I get you? You are willing to try anything and everything to make the screaming stop. For me, I tried laying him down on a vibrating pad. I tried gripe water. I tried laying down with him beside me, cuddling him to my chest. I tried skin-to-skin. I tried butt pats and the 5 S’s and bounces and back strokes as the minutes ticked by. We nursed. We walked. He cried and I lost my patience and confidence bit by bit.

He finally went to sleep around 2am, after being up for nearly three hours alternately screaming, grunting, crying, and taking two minute cat naps. I got to bed at 2:30, which felt like an eternity considering I had been exhausted when I originally tried to put him down at 11.

This is par the course for new parents though – the unpredictability with sleep and the seemingly inconsolable crying. Even if you have a relatively good sleeper, there’s always the chance that something – an illness, gas pains, just a bad night – will take away the precious few hours you were counting on. What I wasn’t prepared for was the helplessness you will feel as you watch your little cry and nothing you’re doing is helping. You want to make it better instantly, but you feel like a stranger as he works himself up. I look forward to the day when he knows who I am, when just my touch will be soothing enough to ease the hurt from boo-boos or tummy aches.

Anyway, it was a bit of a rough night over here. We made it through though and I’m only partially sleep deprived. I have hope that tonight will go smoother and I’ll be right back to being blissfully happy.

*Sleeping side by side has always been a huge thing for Luffy and I. We’ve been missing the closeness for several months (a 7+ month pregnant belly makes snuggling a bit challenging!). The huge downside of the night shift work is that we’re not sleeping at the same time, which means that we miss each other. Funny how just sleeping beside someone is so intimate.

**His first bath! I was worried about giving it to him since I know some babies hate bath time and I was worried about him getting himself further worked up, but he seemed to love it. We have an infant tub, of course, and the newborn setting is a sling. We filled the little tub with enough warm water so that his booty was in water. I covered his belly with a wash cloth dipped in warm water to keep his belly warm. Our tub came with a little cup thing that allows us to “shower” him with fresh water – he enjoyed that a lot too.

***Also, because I can’t let the milestone go un-noted, Luffy and I went out to brunch yesterday. We took the dumpling and he actually did not sleep through the outing. That meant we had our first public diaper change! When I carried him through the restaurant on my chest, all of the female employees just squealed over how tiny he is and wanted me to leave him there for cuddles. Then, I got super brave and nursed in public! Look at us go! I was proud of both of us. Luffy and I enjoyed our cinnamon rolls and mimosas and eggs; the dumpling finally conked out on the way home.

Blissfully Happy

I’m sitting on my couch right now, with Friends on as background noise for Little Dumpling. Luffy is napping beside me; he came home early from work. Little Dumpling is in his pack ‘n play in front of me, napping like a champ. Jas is soaking up the last of the afternoon rays in the office, worn out from our play session earlier.

I am blissfully happy at this moment. Wonderfully, completely, absolutely happy.

Everyone and their mother has told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but I just can’t do it right now because it would be such a waste of this perfect moment.

Two Weeks and Change!

Little Dumpling is two weeks, two days old!

We’re slowly getting the hang of this parenting business, settling into a new routine of round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes. We’re still working the nights in shifts right now and I expect that to continue for a while. My hope is that by about four or six weeks, Luffy and I can go back to sleeping in the same bed, with me just waking as Little Dumpling does to nurse. But we’ll see. Right now, Little Dumpling seems to like having a mini party around 3am with Luffy and takes a couple of hours to settle back down into sleep. We know he’s tired, he just won’t go to sleep. Newborns! They don’t make any sense sometimes!

I’ve gotten out of the house several times this week, to run short errands. It’s so refreshing to get out and drive and perform little tasks like that. Of course, having a newborn in tow makes everything take that much longer. It takes me at least half an hour to get out of the house. And then of course, once we’re there, there’s the loading and unloading of the car seat. I’ve come to find that I adore my choice of stroller system right now (light weight, folds well, perfect for zipping around Target). I also have a Moby wrap, which I can’t wait to try out of the house, but we haven’t really gone anywhere to warrant the effort yet. (It’s just so easy to plop his car seat down into the stroller frame!)

Our life is also slowly resuming as well! Our birthdays were this week (Luffy and I have birthdays just two days apart, if I haven’t mentioned). My brother and his fiance are coming by this weekend to celebrate. Then we have plans next Friday for a Friendsgiving of sorts. We fully plan to go, with the little in our Moby wrap, as long as everyone attending is healthy. That will be the challenge, ensuring that everyone there is perfectly healthy. However, if we do get to go, I’m hoping to finally have some champagne again! Woo!

Speaking of champagne, I always thought I’d want some immediately after giving birth. Like, push out the little dumpling and someone hand me a flute! Cheers! Oddly enough though, I haven’t had much interest. My mom and I picked up a mini bottle (one of those little 1/4 bottles), intending to share it on her last night. We didn’t get the chance, but I also wasn’t too excited to break into it. Part of it is the uncertainty of nursing (I never know right now, especially in the evenings, if he’ll want to nurse again in an hour or two – honestly it would be easier to enjoy the champagne if I had it during the morning since that’s a much more predictable time!). The other half is that I, very wisely for once, recognized that alcohol is a depressant and that as much anxiety as I was having, it wouldn’t be good for me to indulge. So good for me, for putting my mental health above all else.

So yeah – that’s life right now! Shift work in the evenings. Trying to make sure a certain tiny human sleeps when he’s supposed to. Trying to find our new normal.

Newborn Survival Mode

My apologies in advance for the rambling post here. We’re in newborn survival mode over here. I’m still getting the hang of this mom business. I was lamenting to my own mother the other day that I really wish human bodies were capable of carrying the pregnancy another three months so. I know it would not be fun to be pregnant for a full year, but at least they wouldn’t come out needing two hour feedings.

We’re doing well at home though. My mom stayed with us the first week and I honestly don’t know how I would have done it without her. I wasn’t prepared for the absolute dive my hormones would take. I’m an optimistic, cheery person by nature, but for the first several days home I was a wreck of anxiety and feeling depressed.

It really took me by surprise, how strongly I felt that I would never be able to do this. That we had made a huge mistake. I love my son, but I was so anxious over the situation that I couldn’t sleep well – even though my mom was basically pulling all nighters to care for the little. My chest would tighten and my arms would tingle and I would just panic in my bed. I didn’t start to feel like my normal self until Sunday and even then it was hard to keep the optimism.

My mom’s presence was amazing. I truly can’t thank her enough for all her help and support. Luffy and I have a huge leg up right now because of all she did. I’m not a zombie (yet) because of her and I know that I’m healing quicker because of her help. I would have bribed her to stay my entire maternity leave if I didn’t know, deep down, that I need to do this myself.

Luffy has been wonderful too. It’s been hard on him. He loves our little guy too, but the disruption in our regular life is taking a toll on him. The crying at odd (and early) hours, the constant need, the never-ending cycle of eat-change-sleep-repeat. I know he’ll get there. We both will. Right now, we’re so worried about each other and trying to make each other lives’ easier (which is what gives me faith that we’ll get there).

In other news, I’ve already become very familiar with the daytime television schedule. And literally every time I see someone with a child – be it on television or social media, a toddler or a teenager – I tell myself that if they can make it through the newborn phase, so can we.

That’s my new mantra for the next three months. If they can do it, so can I.