Everyone says to enjoy every minute of your newborn because it goes by so fast. I can definitely second that sentiment – the first couple weeks were a blur and the first couple of months went by incredibly quick. Connor is almost two months old and I can’t believe how fast he’s growing. And I don’t mean just physically, because he has certainly gotten bigger in both his weight and height, but his mental development is skyrocketing.
For me, I felt like the first month of Connor’s life was devoted to survival. Learning how to take care of a tiny human being who depends on absolutely everything from you (food, diaper changes, burping, etc.) takes some getting used to! We had to learn how to nurse as a team and I began learning what his different cries meant – from happy squeals to hunger cries. The second month has been more enjoyable and I feel like I’ve been able to reflect more on this time with Connor.
During the second month (from about 5 weeks to 8 weeks) Connor shifted from only sleeping and eating all day to being more awake and aware of his surroundings between feedings. It is an amazing time to see how he reacts to his environment.
We still aren’t on a true schedule as much as my project management brain wants us to be. And that seems to work for us. That being said, we have a general schedule where we wake up around 6 to 7am to eat, play, then nap even if it’s only for a short while. This nap is an incredibly important one I’ve found. If he doesn’t get a good nap in the morning our whole day is thrown off and my usually happy-go-lucky baby is cranky the whole day. Then, he goes 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings throughout the day (sleep, feed, play) with a longish nap midday and another one in the afternoon. Then around 6 or 7pm he will eat and play for a short while then hopefully go down for a longer nap (like 4 or 5 hours!) where I’ll theoretically go to sleep from about 9pm to 12am. Then, we feed again and he goes until about 3 or 4am. And we start the day over again at 6/7am! If I have help or Nate is off for a few days someone can feed Connor a bottle around 12 or 1am and I can sleep for almost 6 hours if I time everything right and Connor cooperates. He still isn’t great at falling asleep without a lot of coaxing on our part – he falls asleep on one of our chests and we transfer him to the napper. That’s one of the more frustrating parts, at least for me when I’m sleep deprived, and just want to get a good three hour nap in. But, I know he won’t be this little for much longer and he likely will not want to snuggle either so I try to keep that in mind when I’m just desperate for sleep.
This “schedule” seemed to start around 6 weeks and I noticed it more so when we were in Spartanburg to celebrate Christmas with the Byrds. If you have the opportunity to have extra sets of hands to help out take advantage of that! Grandma (Nate’s mom) was amazing and would give Connor a bottle around 12/1am and I got a few nights of extra sleep from about 10pm to 4am. I always pumped about 20-30 min after my last nursing session to remind my body it still needed to produce even though I was “skipping” a feeding. The only downside – and I really shouldn’t complain because sleep is SO nice – was that my boobs would be uncomfortably full and it’s harder for Connor to latch when that’s the case. I have learned how to hand express for that exact reason.
The mental development of babies is incredible. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for a newborn to comprehend his surroundings. Now, with Connor having more awake time during the day, there is a lot more mental stimulation going on. His eyes track contrasts and lights and the distance he can see seems to have extended past the original 8 inches to a couple feet. Connor loves to stare at lights in particular and on one occasion Nate came home to find us staring at the Christmas tree lights. I think he thought I was going crazy when in reality that was the only thing that was keeping Connor from fussing.
Nate gets home around 5:30pm most evenings and I’m always relieved to have an extra set of hands. I try not to hand Connor off right away, but it’s hard when I’ve been home all day with little to no adult interaction. He’s a full time job. I spend at least 35 hours literally just feeding him, which doesn’t include the time I spend changing, burping, and playing or consoling Connor. There are no true breaks and I’m always on duty. I think one of the worst questions you can ask a mom who stays at home (when they are so young) is what did you do all day? Sigh..I kept our child alive. What did you do? Maybe instead ask how the baby’s development is going or if you think he’s learned something new. When Dad is off work for a few days that’s when he realizes just how much work it is to be a stay at home parent. The laundry or dishes may not be done, but we survived another day. And the amazing thing is that he is growing and learning so much!
I’m not going to lie, there are days that I am jealous of Nate going to work. The lack of mental stimulation and adult intervention certainly takes its toll on me. I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom and am very impressed by those who are. While I am looking forward to going back to work, I know the transition will be hard for me especially since I will have been with him every day for 12 weeks. I wish I wasn’t such a light sleeper too…there are times that I’m lying in bed and we have Nate snoring away on one side (I have to push him to get him to sleep on his side a lot) and Connor grunting and moving around on the other side. I know that Connor would cry if he really needed me (i.e for nursing) but I’m usually on alert and have a hard time sleeping through his noises. I’m sure that will get better once he’s in his own room, but for now I need him in the same room as us especially since he is eating at least every three hours.
Outings are difficult for us. For example, I had to take Connor to the UNC hospital for a hip ultrasound when he was six weeks old to look for hip dysplasia. It was a terrible experience – not the ultrasound itself, but parking and physically getting to the hospital was awful. First off, if you don’t know me I need to tell you that I’m terrible at finding parking at new places. If I don’t know where I’m going I expect someone to give me detailed directions not only to the place but also regarding parking if it’s not super obvious. I called the ultrasound department on three separate occasions prior to his appointment for directions and never received a call back. THREE times I called. Ugh. On this particular day I got to the hospital and was driving around in a circle looking for the women’s health center, which I found relatively quickly. But there’s no parking immediately obvious to me. So, I think I’ve found parking and it turns out to be a lot for handicapped people. Great. Luckily, a very nice man said he was driving past the parking for the hospital and I could follow him. Thank goodness for nice people. I had to park across the street in a parking deck on the fourth floor and cross a sky bridge to get to the hospital. I didn’t know this so I only had Connor’s car seat. No stroller and no Boba wrap. I had to lug the car seat around. Thank goodness he’s still really small, but it was terrible and my mood kept getting worse. My arms were dying by the time I got to the lobby. So, I get to the lobby and can’t figure our where to register. There are patients everywhere and not much staff that I can see. And the information center, where I ended up asking for help, doesn’t actually know where you can register. Helpful. I finally found where we needed to go and we had to take the elevator to the ground floor and walk through the adult ultrasound suite past very sick people (masks on, etc) and the whole time I’m cringing on the inside because I’m carrying a newborn around in this hallway that to me was very dingy and dirty for a hospital. Thankfully, the technician was on time and the appointment was only 20 or 25 minutes where she took a bunch of pictures of his hips. Getting out was relatively easier than coming in since I had an idea of where we were going. We then had to wait for our pediatrician to call with the results. I thought we were in the clear when we hadn’t heard from him in a few days, but we got a call on Wednesday saying Connor has slight hip dysplasia at 58 degrees. Hips need to be at 60 degrees or above. So now we have to go to a pediatric orthopedic specialist at two months of age. And of course now I’m paranoid that he has hip dysplasia and will need to wear a harness. This is because he was breech. I’ll write an update on this in my next post since it’ll be after his two month check up.
Other excursions haven’t been nearly as painful – I try to feed him before we go anywhere and wear the Boba wrap as an easier way to carry Connor around. He likes car rides and if we are lucky he will take a nap. I usually have a couple of hours to run errands and am hoping to do more of that now that I’m more comfortable taking care of Connor on my own. It will feel like taking back some control of my life being able to be out in the real world. Nate and I had two successful outings going out to dinner at Chili’s and Red Lobster where Connor slept for most of the meal and when he woke up was content to look around the restaurant until we finished eating. It’s very liberating to know we can go out to dinner. The worst that can happen is that we have a meltdown and need to get our food to go or eat separately while we take turns walking him. We will have to take advantage of this time because I’m sure when he gets older it won’t be nearly as easy.
All in all, I am so thankful to have a healthy and happy baby. It’s a lot of work but very rewarding. Development of babies is crazy fast and it seems like if you blink you will miss it. My advice would be to write things down so you can look back and remember the newborn days. Snuggle as much as possible and realize that this phase is very short lived.