Monday was my first day back at work. It made me reflect on the past six weeks and how much has changed since the last time I was in the store. Six weeks ago, I wasn’t a mom. Sure I was pregnant but you’re not really a mom until that baby is born and you can hold him in your arms.
You don’t understand what it means to be a parent until you are a parent. Those of you who have children understand. It’s something difficult to describe and hard to grasp until you live it. You can read all the books you want about child care, scheduling, and breastfeeding but when you’re awake with a hungry one week old baby at 3am, that’s when it gets real.
At one week old, Jake, along with my raging hormones, were giving my emotions a workout. I didn’t know if I was happy or sad, hungry or thirsty, awake or asleep. In fact, the only things I remember about that first week was being awake pretty much the whole time, losing my appetite, dealing with depression, learning about breastfeeding, and trying not to accidentally maim my son. The first week of parenthood was torturous for me.
The second week wasn’t a whole lot better, though I feel like I got a handle on the depression. After opting to forego the medication my doctors office offered, I focused on seeing the positive in the situation and learning my baby’s preferences of various things. We learned this week that he needed to be in his own room instead of ours. We weren’t getting much sleep and neither was he. In fact, if I were to do it again, I’d probably start him in his nursery from day one. I can’t say for certain, however, since I was extremely nervous back then.
Week three was very similar to week two. Still working on breastfeeding (trying to figure out how often to feed him, when to supplement with formula, how often to pump, etc…more on that later) and finding our ideal schedule for nighttime changes and feedings.
For the first two weeks, Jeff and I both got up for each feeding. Jeff would change Jacob while I got ready to feed him. It would take about 30 minutes to feed him, then I would burp him and rock him for about five minutes. I would then put him in his bassinet. A few minutes later, he would wake up fussing and I would have to soothe him again. More than once Jeff and I just laid with him in the recliner and let him sleep on our chest for a few hours, just so we could get some rest.
Week three, after we moved Jacob to the nursery, I started getting up during the night by myself. Jeff would give me a break sometimes and feed the baby a bottle, but usually it was just me and baby Jake. Getting up in the middle of the night was still taking its toll on me, but with Jeff sleeping more at night he was more well rested to care for the baby during the day. This was the week of Christmas, so he was able to get some things done around the house I had no energy to do. This week is a blur as well.
Week four arrived and do did my mom. She was in town for 2.5 weeks! If you are pregnant and your mom offers to come stay with you for a while, take her up on it! Best thing that happened during my time off. She was able to come in, get a broader picture of the situation, and make suggestions about various things we were or weren’t trying. She helped us get Jake on a nighttime feeding schedule the first week! She would stay up until 11p or midnight and do the first night feeding. Then she would doze on the couch or her bed and wake me up for the 3a feeding when Jake started to cry. Then I would take over and she would go to bed. It was nice because Jeff could sleep (he had started back to work at this point) and I could get a little break at night too. Let’s face it…before this I was the living dead.
Week four also brought around the possibility of sleeping in the crib. I had tried a few unsuccessful attempts at introducing the crib but Jacob wouldn’t have any of it. One night I woke up for my 3am feeding and got “the report” (a rundown of how Jake had been thus far) from my mom. She said, “Jacob has been sleeping in his bed since midnight.” I asked for clarification, “his bassinet or his crib?” When she said his crib I did a little happy dance. My boy was growing up! Apparently his head kept getting wedged in one part of the bassinet and he didn’t like that very much. When she tried the crib he seemed much happier, so she left him. Hey, whatever works!
Something else I had to work on during week four was increasing my milk supply. Jake had this habit of nursing for 20-30 minutes, falling asleep, and then crying for more half an hour later. At first I thought it was just a growth spurt but he did it all the time! When we fed him milk (breast or formula) from a bottle, he was fine. This led me to believe it was either a bad latch or I wasn’t producing enough milk. I didn’t think his latch was bad, so I worked on getting my milk supply up. I ate more, drank more water, and tried to get as much sleep as possible.
During week five we had to change up our nighttime routine. Now, instead of mom doing the midnight feeding and me taking over at the 3 am feeding, she would wake me up at 3 am to pump and she would feed Jacob. After a week of this I noticed my supply had increased. Now I get between 2-4 oz during most pumpings and a whopping 7 oz during the 3 am pumping!
During week five we were still working with him to self soothe and entertain himself for short periods during the day. It didn’t really work out too well since he wanted to be held and entertained all the time. I mean who wouldn’t? We did our best to keep him on a three hour routine, but since he was still so young, we fed him on demand and let him sleep wherever he was comfortable. I tried to put him in his crib as much as possible during the day but he really liked being around us. We found he liked sleeping in his swing (a device we were convinced he hated as we had tried him in it several times before). I think when we tried it the first few weeks, he was just too teeny to enjoy it.
We discovered Jacob likes the sound of the vacuum. One day my mom asked me what I would like her to get done around the house and I mentioned the vacuuming. Within a few minutes of turning it on, Jake was out. He slept in his Boppy Lounger (a must have for little ones) for at least an hour that day!
Week six was the week of BIG changes. My little boy started daycare during week six. The first day we dropped him off, Charlotte (the main caretaker in the infant room) told me he would come home from daycare and be super tired. Boy, was he! By the time we drove the two miles home from daycare, Jake was out cold. He slept from 4p until 9p that night! Of course, he woke up with a vengeance and was starving, but still!
A few days later, when I went to pick him up, he was napping in his crib. I looked over the side and there he was, swaddled. I immediately turned and asked the ladies if he liked being swaddled. I had tried and tried in the past and he did not like it one bit! They told me he did. Apparently, when they swaddle him and give him a pacifier, he goes straight to sleep in his crib. How about that! I tried it that night and, sure enough, he was out like a light! He even slept in his pack n play that night for a while.
Since Jacob started daycare, we have noticed major changes especially in how he sleeps at night. We have adapted our nighttime routine as well since I have gone back to work. Here’s how our night typically breaks down. When Jake gets home from daycare, we play with him, hold him, and cuddle him until he starts getting fussy for his bottle, which is around 6p. One of us feed him and try to keep him awake, which is normally unsuccessful. He sleeps in his swing, chair, or Boppy usually. Sometimes, if we are feeling particularly tired that day, we will move him to his crib and go to bed ourselves. If not, I usually stay up to feed him his 9p feeding. After this feeding, I swaddle him and put him in his crib for the night.
Around midnight, he starts getting hungry again. Jeff takes this feeding, rocking and swaddling him after before returning him to his crib. Around 3a, the process is repeated by me. Jeff wakes up at 5:30a each day to eat breakfast, watch TV, and have some time to wake up before getting ready for work. If Jake wakes up now, Jeff will take care of him until around 6:30a, when he wakes me up to take over so he can shower and get ready. This is, of course, if I don’t have to be at work at 7:30a. That’s a different, but still similar process. Instead, I wake up at 5a and get ready before he needs to at 6:30a.
Swaddling Jacob has helped him sleep better and sometimes longer. I’m ready for the day that he sleeps a consistent five hours at a time. I’m not sure when that will be, but hopefully within the next month or two. I will say my body had become more adjusted to getting broken sleep. I guess that’s just what happens when you have kids!
Tons of other little things have happened within the last six weeks, but honestly it all runs together. I tried to remember it all, but I was not good about writing things down and now I’m doing OK if I remember what happened yesterday! I have tons of pictures and videos, so I’m hoping that’s good enough. I’m going to try to do better about documenting things, but really who has the time??
Today, Jacob is 7 weeks old. SEVEN! How crazy is that? To celebrate, we are going to get his newborn pictures taken at our photographer. I can’t wait!
Side note: I started this blog post on Monday. It is now Thursday. I wonder if it will always take me four days to complete a post!
Photos courtesy of Bella Baby Photography…the people who took Jacob’s pictures in the hospital.