I cannot believe my little boy is going to be starting daycare! Yes…that mean it has been almost 12 weeks since I gave birth to Connor. I cannot emphasize this enough, but the newborn baby stage goes by SO fast. This blog post will be about some thoughts around the third month of being a new mom. I’m considering this month to be from 9 to 12 weeks old.
At a little over nine weeks (it’s so funny how we measure time…because Connor was two months old Jan. 2nd, but was almost 9 weeks old at the time) I took Connor for his two month appointment at the pediatrician’s office. Everything checked out fine – he’s still small for his age, 4th percentile in weight (up from the 2nd!) and 2nd percentile in height. But the kicker is that he is in the 59th percentile for head circumference. I like to think that he has a lot of brains! Percentiles are a funny thing, but I’ve learned that as long as they are on their own trajectory (i.e. staying around the 2nd percentile) then they are developing just fine. Honestly, I’m happy just knowing that he was almost 10 pounds! That means by two months he had almost doubled his weight – by four days old he had dropped down to 5lb 8oz, which is the baseline from which the doctor determines if the baby is growing well at subsequent visits. The shots were no fun…I think they were more painful for me to watch than they were for him to receive them. I made sure that he would be hungry so that I was able to nurse him immediately after the shots. He was quite cranky and fussy for the next few days and did not sleep well during the day. Next time, I think I will give him infant Tylenol beforehand to help mediate the pain management ahead of the vaccinations. I’ve heard that you can spread out the shots over several days, but I think I’d much rather get them all over with at once. Poor guy – getting jabbed three times in the thighs could not have been easy, but he was a champ and calmed down when I was able to nurse him.
The next day, we went to the pediatric orthopedic doctor at UNC for a follow-up on Connor’s hips. During this appointment, the specialist checked his hip and leg movement and did not find anything concerning. In a couple weeks (the Friday after I begin work) we go back for what will (hopefully) be his last check-up for hip dysplasia. During this appointment we have to go back to the UNC hospital, but at least I know where I’m going now, right?, for an ultrasound and then directly over to the specialist who will read the results and determine if anything needs to be done. During the appointment I learned that many babies likely have hip sockets that are less than 60 degrees, but not every baby is checked by ultrasound for hip dysplasia. Connor was checked because he was breech my whole pregnancy and there is a higher risk for hip dysplasia to occur. Based on what the specialist told me, because his hip sockets were 58 degrees, they have to follow-up simply because 60 is the “arbitrary” cutoff point. In all likelihood, his hip sockets (like most babies) are just immature and he will grow out of it. We’ll know more at the end of January, but I am feeling a lot more secure in knowing that his chances are low that he has hip dysplasia. If he ends up having hip dysplasia, the specialist said that a harness will need to be worn for about 12 hours a day and to do that at night.
Again, like the second month, so much changes with a newborn. He focuses a lot more on various objects, people, etc. and is a lot more vocal. He makes cooing noises that if you copy, he will continue doing like we are having a conversation. He repeats himself a lot and I think he is learning how to make the same noise over and over again like we do in conversation. Connor loves music and “dancing” (i.e. kicking his legs out and back and moving his arms). His movements are still quite jerky. When he follows something or wants to look left and right, you can tell he is still learning how to make it a smooth movement. He’s also noticed his feet and hands. Especially that he can put his hands in his mouth and suck. It’s nice because he can sort of self soothe with that, but not all the time. When he is on his playmat he will kick the rattles that hang with his feet, but I’m not sure it’s a conscious effort as much as random kicking will sometimes lead to rattling noises. Connor is a very happy baby and loves to smile at Nate and I and sometimes at new visitors if he’s in a good mood! Mornings are his jam and he always wake up in a very good mood. He is also getting better at tummy time and has even figured out how to roll from his front to his back!
Connor has gotten a lot better at sleeping at night and for that I am incredibly grateful. Towards the beginning of January he started doing a long stretch of sleep (anywhere from 5 to 7 hours!) starting from his last feeding. That used to be around 6pm but we’ve sort of moved it to at least 7:30pm. Then he has been waking up once around 2 or 3am to eat, immediately falls asleep, and wakes up for the day around 6 or 7am. There are some nights where he needs a little more coaxing to fall back asleep, but I enjoy the extra snuggles especially since I’ll be starting work very soon.
I have to say that I am impressed that he is able to sleep so long and I hope this continues even when he starts daycare. I try to be as consistent as possible (as much as you can when you have errands to run, neighbors visiting, etc.) with his sleep. When it seems like he is getting sleepy (i.e. yawning, rubbing his eyes, or his eyes start to look red) I know it’s time to wind him down and get him ready for a nap. In the morning, this happens about 1.5 to 2 hours after waking up. This seems like a long time for an 11 week old, but he also seems to be more active and playing at this time. If you try to get him to nap too early then it’s a fight and not worth it! Lately, the morning nap has been a lot longer and he will sleep anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. During that time I usually eat a second breakfast (nursing makes you hungry ALL the time!), shower, and do a load of laundry or some cleaning around the house. If I have extra time, I’ll even try to squeeze in a short nap. The rest of the day is a little bit more difficult in terms of getting good naps in, but he usually gets at least 30-45 minutes around 1 pm and again around 4 or 5 pm. The last nap is where it gets tricky. It’s hard for newborns to stay up for long periods of time, so if he wakes up around 5pm, it will be more difficult (i.e. he gets very cranky) to keep him up until 7:30pm. I usually end up walking him around or trying to distract him with toys. If it gets to be too much or I think he’s too upset, I’ll go ahead and nurse him and put him down to sleep. Nate and I usually go for a walk when he gets home from work and that always leads to a nice catnap for Connor closer to 5:30/6pm.
With daycare starting I worry about his sleep, but also know that he is in good hands with the caretakers. I tell myself that if he can continue to do his long stretches at night, I can handle most things during the day. I used to really need to nap during his naptimes (and I still do sometimes), but I know that I could theoretically get enough sleep at night now. Of course, that being said, I am a mom and I swear I hear phantom cries through the baby monitor in the middle of the night and come to find out it’s all in my head. I should also say that we ended up moving Connor to his room right around eight weeks because his grunting and groaning would keep me up all the time. Nate can sleep right through it, but I am such a light sleeper that any movement would wake me up or keep me up. I know this is not ideal for every new parent, but for us it works. I have a baby monitor set up so that when he cries, I hear it immediately and can go get him. Now, that being said, Connor has also been known to cry once and fall back asleep. Usually, he wakes up and coos a little bit then starts to cry if he’s hungry so I can go in and nurse him then go back to sleep.
Connor has to be able to nap in a crib at daycare and we have been using the Rock ‘n Play (RnP) for sleeping. While it’s not approved for sleeping by the American Academy of Pediatrics it is what saved us from many sleepless nights in the beginning. That being said, it’s a risk for SIDS and he has to be able to sleep in the crib for daytime naps at daycare. We (mainly me if we are being perfectly honest) decided to have Connor sleep in his crib before he started daycare. About a week and a half before starting I began putting him in his Halo sleepsack (to help reduce his startle reflex) and having him take naps in the crib. The first day was rough. There were a lot of tears on both sides and I admit that by the end of the day I resorted back to the RnP so he could at least get some sleep. However, for his first nap he made it 2 hours (waking up about 3 times) and his second nap was 1.5 hours (waking up about 5 times). The second day, I had Nate as a backup partner for nap time and we were able to get him down for almost 3 hours for his first nap (again waking up 3 times, but longer stretches in between). His second nap was in the car seat because we were out at lunch and running a few errands. His last nap was almost an hour and he only woke up once! They say it takes about 7 days to break a bad habit and I’m hoping that we can beat those odds.
I am thankful that I have been able to pump extra breastmilk every day to build a stash in our freezer. I added a pumping session after his morning feeding (usually around 8am) and have been getting at least enough for a bottle (4+ oz) every day. It didn’t start out that way though. You are basically telling your body that every day around 8am it needs to be making more milk. I froze milk in 4oz partitions and have enough for two weeks of daycare if something horrible happens at work and I’m unable to pump enough for bottles. I am assuming that he will need four 4oz bottles, but honestly have no idea how much he will eat. Connor typically eats three times during the work day (I’ll nurse him before work/daycare) then he eats around 10/11am, 1/2pm, and 3/4pm. I’ve read that breastfed babies do not need more than 4oz per feeding, but I plan to split the last 4oz bottle into two 2oz just in case he needs a top off.
Nate’s mom, Cissy, has offered to watch Connor the first week that I am at work and I could not be happier about that! I am working from home the first week back to get my bearings and caught up with my clients and training. This makes me feel a lot more secure knowing that I’ll have a better idea of how much he needs during the day when he isn’t nursing. The current plan is to use part of the freezer stash (four bags) for Monday’s bottles and then pump three times at work for the next day’s bottles. I know many moms who have made this work and am grateful for their advice and wisdom!
This may be my last post for a few months depending on how much time I have (haha) after beginning work. But, I would like to write a few more to describe my transition as a working mom goes in the hopes that it will be helpful to other new moms who wish to return to work.