Life with a 6 week old — What do I do all day?

Hello, old friend!

I miss blogging, I really do. It’s pretty challenging to find the time (and the free hands) to sit at my laptop these days. And blogging on my iphone is frustrating to say the least. But here I am today, with two free hands and probably another 20 free minutes to spare to fill you in on what life is like for us these days. I’ll preface this schedule with: some things get easier, but other things get harder. And those things will probably continue to change every week! Also, this is a typical day where we don’t have a morning or afternoon “outing”— which we typically partake in 3x during the work week.

Wake up: 5:45-6am
Just like mommy, Max is an early bird. He literally starts chirping at me right before Melbs’ alarm goes off which gives us a nice few minutes of peace together, where we nurse silently and greet the day by (dare I say) gazing into each other’s eyes.

good morning!

good morning!

For the first 5 weeks we exclusively co-slept with the baby in our bed. But this week we are transitioning Max back into his Rock N’ Play which is situated near our bed. So far, it’s been working for his first and second waking… but typically not the third. He can’t fall deep enough asleep during his last sleep cycle to be deposited outside of my arms. I don’t mind. :)

6-9am
Coffee in bed with Daddy (Melbs) while we play with Max. He coos and smiles at us for 60-90 minutes. Its really his best effort of the day and I’m so glad Melbs gets to enjoy this time with him. He typically doesn’t start pooping until he’s been awake for a while, so sometime during this fun time, Dad gets to change a solid diaper. Max nurses again around 8-9 and usually falls back asleep for an hour. I check email and social media on my phone, and Melbs leaves for work.

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If I’m lucky, I’ll sneak in a shower while Max wraps up his morning nap. If I’m not, I’ll rush around the house and pick-up the mess from the day before. I never know if I’m going to get another chance to tidy… and if I’m going to be home all day, things MUST BE NEAT. Yep, I’m like that.

Max will wake up and I’ll change his diaper and put him in his crib for about 15 minutes while he “wakes up”. He LOVES staring at his mobile. And lately I’ve been putting a soft rattle near his arms or legs. He smiles and talks away while I finish up my chores and make myself lunch. Again, I don’t know if I’ll have another opportunity to feed myself, so I whip up a protein salad or something easy ahead of time so that it’s ready to go when the time comes.

Every other day during this time, Max gets a bath, which he absolutely LOVES. He has a little mesh seat that sits upright in our tub and after he’s all scrubbed clean, I scoop him into my arms on his back and let him float-free in the water (while I’m still holding his head and shoulders up). He goes into a trance! The only downside to the bath is taking him out of it. :( He screams the most ear-piercing cry you’ve ever heard (and his normal cry is pretty low/husky, so this is jarring). I thought it was the temperature change at first, but now I think it’s ripping him out of that  trance-enducing swim. We’ll work on it.

After he’s all clean and dry, we pick out an outfit for the day…then feed him his “lunch”.

1-4pm
Baby-wearing time. This kid needs constantly stimulation and movement. Aside from the couple times a day I can lay him in his crib to stare at the mobile, tummy-time, and active playing… if Max is awake, HE NEEDS TO BE MOVING. You can not put him down. So, I have a Moby wrap, a Sakura Bloom ring-sling, and a sturdy Baby Bjorn at the ready. Depending on our activity level for the afternoon, I’ll put one of these on and wear Max while I go about my business. He will stay awake for almost 45 minutes then fall asleep for an hour or two. While he is awake, we go for walks.

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After he falls asleep I cannot remove him from my body or he’ll wake up VERY UPSET. So what do we do? If I’m pooped from the walk, I’ll watch TV. If I’m not, I work out! I lift weights, I do squats, pelvic tilts, etc. The extra 10lb of baby is pretty useful and I take full advantage. I also use this time to do laundry, dishes, take out the trash, prep dinner… typical housewife fluff. Gotta keep busy. If anyone tells me I should be napping with the baby, I’m sorry but it’s in one ear and out the other. This girl does not nap.

During this nap, I will also pump. Yes, while he is strapped to my body! I have to build up a reserve of breast milk for babysitters and for bottle feedings, and I’m trying to train my body to produce a full feeding at this time (rather than just pumping the residual milk after each feeding).

4-6pm
When Max wakes up, I feed him. We repeat out play cycle. We usually watch the mobile together for 10-15 minutes, then come back out the living room and do tummy time on the play mat. He LOVES to stand, so I just hold his hands and let him stand for as long as he wants (sometimes 20 minutes). All the while, I am talking to him or reading aloud.

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Melbs comes home while we’re actively playing— usually bouncing on an exercise ball by this point. When he becomes bored of playing and is starting to get tired, the ball is the only thing that will pacify him. He won’t stand for being rocked or walked around… just the ball! And he wants to be up-right all the time so that he can see what’s going on. I’ll typically feed him again to get him to go to sleep since this is his “witching hour”… sometimes he will fall asleep. Sometimes not. If not, then more bouncing on the ball while Melbs and I eat dinner and catch up.

8-10
If Max fell asleep, it won’t be for long. We’ll change his diaper, make him happy with silly voices and the mobile again, and then typically head to bed with him. I will, that is. Melbs stays up to watch Sons of Anarchy. He tucks us both in which is pretty cute. I’ll nurse Max and then put him in his Rock N Play once he is asleep, around 10.

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I lay in bed and read blogs, social media, etc until I am sure Max isn’t going to startle himself awake. And then I fall asleep too.

1am & 3am
Typically he wakes up 2-3 times, every 2-3 hours. Luckily, all he needs is to be nursed and he will fall right back to sleep. Like I said, he doesn’t start poopin’ until morning time so I rarely have to get up and change a diaper. I can typically hear him start to rustle around each time he wakes and can lift him into bed before he starts crying. Which means that Melbs (who comes to bed around 11) doesn’t hear a peep! What a lucky fella, huh? ;)

So that’s about it. The glamorous, always-on life of a new mama and a 6 week old. My back is still feeling much better and my body is getting stronger by the day. It helps that my little guy is more than 10lbs now! We’re looking forward to our 2-month check up. For 10lb he is awfully small looking and I want to see if he is super-dense and muscular… orrrr filled with rocks.

In other baby-related news: I’ve joined a couple of mom-groups and am going to attempt “baby and me” yoga this Friday. I’ll try to post an update on how that goes. I’m just grateful to get out of the house and to be slowly accumulating more stay-at-home type pals.

Best thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom so far: You cannot spoil an infant. My only job for the first few months is to love my baby and keep him comfortable.

Until next time,

Rachel + Maximus

My son smiles at me!

In stark contrast to my last post, I’m having the best day/s ever. My back is about 90% back to normal-feeling after taking it super-easy for 4 days and I’m slowly digging out some pre-pregnancy outfits from the depths of my basement (woo!). But what really has me jazzed is being a mom who can make her little boy SMILE!

Max started social smiling about a week ago but each day since then his grins get bigger and more obviously related to something I’ve done. He smiles at sunrise when he can see my face for the first time. He smiles when I make funny sounds at him and when I talk to him while changing his diaper. Sometimes he even smiles while nursing! It really makes all of the little things I do “for him” feel so appreciated! And daddy has been getting smiles too. Of course, his are mostly game-related. The flying-baby game gets a smile as does the helicopter-nose-bopping game.

The sounds that accompany his smile are sooo close to a laugh sometimes I can’t stand it. If my body survives my own wrong doing this month, I may end up dead of happiness anyhow.

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And then my body fell apart

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Tomorrow will be five weeks since Max was born. So many wonderful, beautiful things have occurred since then (hello, smiley baby!!) that I’m almost regretful that this post will be focusing on something so unpleasant! But, as it just so happens… This unfortunate event is what has facilitated my ability to write this post. I’m laid up in bed yet again with nothing but time.

This past week has been phenomenal. Melbs has gone back to work and we have figured out new morning routine that works for all three of us. Max typically wakes up around five, I nurse him and then he goes back to sleep. Around 6 AM I get up, throw on my running gear, grab the dog (who sorely needs this too!) and we head out the door for a morning jog while dad and baby continue sleeping soundly.

Jog, you say? Oh yes! I got the okay from my OB/GYN to start running again and I am determined to do just that. I’ve signed up for a couple of races in the spring and the motivation to complete them has been consuming me lately. Not only that, but the motivation to spend a solid hour outside of the house, without a baby attached to me is pretty great motivation as well. :) it’s been slow going. I’m running a minute and a half slower than I was pre-pregnancy and so far can only complete 2 miles without stopping… But it feels so good and I know I’ll get better!

For proper cross-training, I’ve also incorporated some post-natal specific yoga into my routine. I know how important it is to regain core strength especially while running and have been focusing on that during the baby’s midmorning nap. This has been working out just beautifully and until yesterday I couldn’t have been more proud of my progress.

But somewhere between running without that abdominal core strength, laying on the floor to do yoga, and bouncing a baby for what seems like 20 hours a day… I threw my back out. Whatever that means. Maybe I herniated a disk. Maybe I overstrained a muscle. I reay don’t know. It didn’t happen while I was exercising, but rather when I least expected it: while carrying the car seat back to the car after a coffee date with a friend. It felt like somebody had just shot me with a blow dart in the lower back, crippling me all at once.

I was out of town and still had two families to visit that afternoon. I should have called it quits right then and there but you know how I hate to cancel plans and disappoint people. So I sucked it up, crawled back into the drivers seat and continued on our tour de familia. Getting in and out of the car was beyond excruciating– it almost wasn’t possible. By the time we finally made it to grandma’s house, she arrived in her driveway to find me crying in the backseat of my car upset because I couldn’t even get the baby out of his car seat.

As any good mother would, mine helped me into her house and propped me up with a heating pad, some pain killers and made me dinner. When I left I felt okay. Not good but okay. But then after the hour long ride back home I was stuck again– literally unable to get out of the car. Thankfully my husband was home to help and after getting the baby inside he watched in horror as I crawled on my hands and knees into the house.

What the ever-loving hell?!! I was crying mostly because I was upset that this had happened to me. The pain was secondary to my frustration. Why can’t I just be back to normal?! I argued with my body all night long. Why wasn’t it stronger? Why was it failing me? Hadn’t I been exceptionally good at trying to help it back into its former, stronger state?!

But in my more rational moments I heard a small voice (or maybe it was my husband’s!) saying, slow down. You’re doing too much too soon.

Being physically unable to sit up and rock my baby to sleep, or to get into nursing position has hit me with the reality stick. Far more than the mastitis, which only affected me– I feel the error of my impatience. I see the error in my baby’s face now that he wants me to pick him up.

I’m not sure what’s been driving my need for speed (in terms of recovery). I guess that I feel as though my entire life has changed in the last five weeks, but that my body and my physical ability is the only thing I can normalize again. And I crave some semblance of normalcy. Who wouldn’t?

But for now, I’m tapping into my GOOD MOTHER brain (rather than my impatient, selfish teenage brain) and am taking the day off to do what I should have been doing all week. Laying around and enjoying my sweet baby’s new smiles. :) Instead of wallowing in defeat, I’ll celebrate my victories. My sweet, 10lb, 23 inch victories.

Published via iPhone. Excuse typos.

Week 3: OMG how is he only 3 weeks old?!!

It’s been three weeks since our little pumpkin arrived. I know I said this last time, but holy smokes does time fly! Mama and baby are still doing well! Some quick highlights and challenges for those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting with this week.

Highlights

  • Max is becoming more alert every day. His big, wide eyes track my face, light in the room, and dart towards moving objects.
  • He is definitely (knock on wood!) getting the hang of night v. daytime. This week he’s sleeping less during the day and a lot more at night time.
  • I’ve breastfed in my Mobywrap baby carrier, in a public park, in front of friends (covered up of course!), and laying down in bed— meaning no crying baby for several nights this week!
  • I’ve done light work-outs 4 days this week, had a baby-dance party, and went on 2 long walks. Body is still trending towards normal!
  • I swear our baby is smiling at us. I KNOW they aren’t supposed to social-smile for a while now… but please let me believe that his morning smiles are all for me!
  • At the pediatrician, we confirmed his growth spurt. Little buddy is now 9+ pounds and 21.25 inches long (a full pound over his birth weight).

Challenges

  • Max is definitely starting to cry/fuss a lot more this week. Last week all he wanted was to nurse non-stop. This week, he just wants to be held. Specifically, by me. Melbs is worried that he is already turning into a “mama’s boy” which really means that he is feeling a bit left out of the equation. I know that this is just a normal phase and it will pass.
  • Cloth diapering is not going as planned (shocker, I know!). Our newborn sized g-diapers are either a tad too small, or the liners are just not a perfect fit. Every time we use them, we get poop all inside the liner and end up having to wash each and every one, which completely defeats the purpose. I’m hoping that once we move up to the next diaper size, the liners are a better fit. For now, we’re using compostable/disposable which are working just fine.
  • Breastfeeding!! Saving the best for last ;)  From day one, I thought to myself oh, this is easy! And it is! It’s one of the most miraculously natural things about the human body. But even when it’s “easy” it’s proving to be difficult! Aside from being really time consuming (Max still cluster feeds… every 1-2 hours while he is awake), I’m still experiencing some rookie-mom frustrations like plugged ducts. I know what causes plugged ducts (believe me, I’ve read just about every article in existence and talked to more than one expert on the subject), but I just can’t figure out how another one crept up on me! It could be my tight-fitting nursing bras, pushing the top of my breast down to allow the baby to breathe better (which I now know is not necessary), or just plain going too long between lightly feedings— downside of getting plenty of sleep! Either way, I spent another 2 days this week frantically heating, massaging, feeding, pumping and repeating to thwart this. Arg! Thankfully I am not experiencing pain along with this, but jeez louise. Let a mama catch a break eh?!

This week, we’re looking forward to another visit from grandma, and checking out a local “new parents” group. Melbs goes back to work tomorrow which is sad! It’s been so wonderful spending 24/7 together for 3 weeks In fact… it may be the most time we’ve ever spent together consecutively! We managed to complete my list of “trial runs” together so I know I’m fully capable of taking the baby to all the places I’d like to frequent on my own… but I’ll just miss his company! I see many lunch dates with Daddy in our future! :)

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Week 2 – Same, same, but different

Today Max has been with us for two weeks and two days. I can’t imagine my life without him. How has it only been two weeks? Things are still going well. He is still a perfect little sweet potato who grows more handsome by the day; one who affords me those precious 6-7 cumulative hours of sleep during the night, and one who continues to fill my days and my heart with purpose I never knew was possible.

But not everything has been easy. In fact, this second week has presented us with many new challenges that I’m just now able to rationalize. I won’t bore you with details because I really don’t want this to turn into a pregnancy-turned-mommy-turned-everything-about-raising-my-son-blog, and I am certainly not qualified enough to offer any sort of sound advice to others who stumble upon a few choice keywords, so I’ll leave you with these snippets:

Challenges

  • I thought I had a handle on breastfeeding but apparently we weren’t completely draining Ol’ Righty and got a plugged milk duct which wasn’t painful, yet went undetected long enough to result in the dreaded mastitisThe end result was 24 hours of 103* fever for an already tired mama. Thankfully we were able to nurse the plugged duct away and I’m back to normal, mostly unscathed.
  • Max is going through a growth spurt (to be confirmed at the pediatrician later today). During the day, he wants to nurse every 45-60 minutes. If he is awake, he is either nursing or rooting around like a little snorting piglet looking for a boob. Needless to say, this has been not just exhausting but has made leaving the house pretty impossible.
    • This has also made having guests over challenging. When people go out of their way to come see the baby, I feel guilty for tucking myself away in the nursery with him for long stretches of time. I’m sure I’ll get over this.
  • My hormones seem to be rebalancing this week. Yesterday, after canceling a family visitation I wept. I’ve never heard myself make such a sound, really. I didn’t cry because I necessarily felt bad for “flaking” on someone, although I did— but I wept because I’m probably exhausted…depleted physically and emotionally after two weeks of my life being turned upside down, of turning my self over completely to someone else, of being “on” all the time. I wept when I read the local news, and kept crying when the 49ers lost. And I don’t even care about football.

The Good Stuff!

Of course there are good things, too!

  • We had a beautiful newborn photoshoot this week (pre mastitis). It’s incredible looking at photos of our perfect baby just 5 days ago and already seeing how he’s grown. His hair is even longer today than it was last week, and his face a little rounder. We’ll treasure him at this tiny little size forever.

    photo courtesy: marcielynnphoto.com

    photo courtesy: marcielynnphoto.com

  • My body is recovering very well from childbirth. Meaning… my lady business is back to normal or at least feels that way. I still have 2 weeks until my first OB appointment but it’s really encouraging to feel so “normal” in this regard. Makes me feel like running again is not such a lifetime away!
  • I’ve already lost 27 pounds, magically. I used to scoff when people told me that the baby-weight would just “melt off” because I didn’t believe it. But thanks to breastfeeding, it actually seems plausible that I won’t be wearing my maternity jeans forever. I still have a long way to go to “get my body back-ish” but I feel encouraged by a strong start.

In other news…

I’m starting an email account for MM so that when I get the urge to gush over the tiny thing that he just did, or take a million selfies with him I can just email them directly to the inbox. One day we’ll hopefully be able to open it together and all the stories will be saved, as if in a time capsule for him to enjoy. That said, I probably won’t be blogging as much here. As mentioned above, I never intended for this to turn from a pregnancy journey blog to a mommy-blog. Nothing against mommy-blogs (I live for others’!) but I just want to keep my baby-mama stories for catching up with people in person. We’ve got to have something to talk about, right? ;)

The 4th Trimester is BS

Before giving birth to Max, I was sold on the infamous Dr. Karp’s “5 S” method of calming an infant, and his notion that the first 3 months of my child’s life he would be nothing more than a large fetus stuck in the dreaded “fourth trimester”. Before my baby arrived I resigned myself to caring for an under developed human who would much rather still be in my womb than out here with us.

But then my little MM was born. And I couldn’t disagree with the “large fetus” diagnosis any more. I do believe that all newborns are different and that this is not necessarily how all babies are, and that my next baby may or may not be like this one. But this baby– he was born ready for the world.

In his 12 days of life, I have not once felt that he would rather be in the comfortable womb he came from. I have not yet panicked to create the series of swaddle, shushing, side laying, swaying, and whatever else that 5th S is to create a more womb-like environment for him. He is a baby and seeks baby human comforts: mom and dad’s face and voice and smell.

This baby is so happy and calm when he is with us, and the mornings have been our absolute favorite.

MM and I typically wake up around 6 to nurse and then fall back asleep until 8 or 9 and then Melbs and I enjoy an hour or two snuggled in bed with coffee and a very alert little buddy. We prop him up on our bent knees and let him stare at us intently. He is so inquisitive and expressive already that I can’t imagine the next day’s developments. I feel like we could wake up tomorrow and he could start talking to us.

These mornings have been heaven for all of us. Sometimes I wish we could lay here all day. But as with everything else I just try to appreciate what’s happening right now knowing that tomorrow could be completely different.

I am so in love with this precious baby human and can’t believe that only a few weeks ago I had merely hoped for a giant fetus who would prefer my womb to my face. We are both so much happier to be here together, I can assure you, Dr Karp.

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