Friday, May 17, 2013

The Six Weeks I Almost Forgot

A sweet friend recently had a baby. She is one week old and is perfect.  I've seen other newborns since Caroline was born, but not as often as this little baby and I'm not quite as close to the families as I am to the the Huddlestons.  As I was chatting with Nicole the other day, I couldn't believe what I had nearly forgotten about what I lovingly refer to as the "just keep the baby alive" stage, or the first 4-6 weeks of life.  I blogged a lot about C's birth and her cuteness, but wanted to jot down a few things about those first weeks that I'm afraid I wont remember the next go around (if there is one.)
1. The first two days home, I was the best, most energetic mom that had ever lived.  I did not need rest or an ice pack or pain pills. I needed to go to Target and Sonic and Hobby Lobby and show everyone my new baby.  Day 3 home from the hospital... I felt like I had been hit by a train. I was tired.  I was sore. I was thinking that being a new mom wasn't that fun since my baby seemed to cry for absolutely no reason.  I overdid it those first couple of days and we had to begin turning away visitors so that I could recover.

Lesson learned: I had just given birth.  While pain free during labor and delivery, my body ached until about day 10.  I finally started the prescription pain meds, but I'm not convinced they did all that much to help. In fact they had side effects that were almost worse.  Ibuprofen, ice packs, hot showers, and rest helped me get on the road to healing.

2. I was so thankful that the first week was just Adam and I.  Our parents came up for Caroline's birth, but left for home before we even left the hospital.  We had some really sweet times together just the 3 of us that I will be thankful for. When Adam went back to work the next week my mom came up.  The timing was perfect because we had a bit more knowledge about what we were doing and my emotions had leveled out a bit.

Lesson Learned: Adam and I became so close during that first week. He was beyond awesome at taking care of Caroline and I really think my love for him grew by 100 times.  I never want to forget how we would laugh and cry in the same minute. 

3.  I am so thankful for the 10 weeks I was off of work. I originally requested 6 weeks, but my boss really encouraged me to take 12.  Because of how my maternity leave rolled over to the new year, I took 10.  I can't imagine going back any earlier.  I had a lot of mixed feelings about going back, but we ultimately decided it was best for our family.  At 6 weeks I felt like we were just getting the hang of things, and C was still waking up a lot at night- I can't fathom how I would have worked a full day and traveled for my job. 

Lesson Learned: Depending on what your line of work is, I recommend taking 10-12 weeks of maternity leave.  If you have the option of going back half days, then do so! If you are not in a flexible career now where you feel like you can take off without getting heat from an employer or them being flexible when you go back, then consider looking for another job. I am SO thankful for the employer I had and my new one and their willingness to be flexible during this season of life.

4. The first 6 weeks are hard. They weren't miserable by any means, and I think I enjoyed them more than most, but they are tough.  Its frustrating when baby is crying and you do everything you can think of and they don't stop. Its hard when you just want 30 minutes to lay on the couch and watch HGTV alone or eat a meal uninterrupted but you can't put your baby down because she will cry... oh and by "not put her down" I mean "keep walking around with her or she will cry." PS... WHY ON EARTH DO THEY CARE WHEN YOU SIT DOWN?? How can sitting and bouncing be that different from walking around the house in circles?! I will never forget one night/morning when C woke up every hour it seemed. I can remember walking her around the house at a very fast pace because that is the only thing that would calm her down. I was SO tired. I tried everything in a sitting/laying position to rock/bounce her but all she wanted to do was walk... at 3 am. At the time it was hard. Now looking back, its one of my sweetest memories.

Lesson Learned: It gets easier. Every week got a little easier and I felt like week 6-8 were real turning points. I have other friends that say it was closer to 12 weeks and others sooner or later. But- it gets easier, and most will say more fun. I was a big fan of the newborn cuddles and because I was off work for 10 weeks I really did rest most of the day when she did so I wasn't terribly exhausted. Hang in there and pray a lot.

5. Shooshing, sound machines, and swaddling. I didn't read the whole thing, but I did read excerpts from Happiest Baby on the Block. They talk a lot about swaddling and making loud "shooshing" noises in your babe's ear when they are upset. Its supposed to simulate the womb environment. Adam was great at this and it always seemed to calm her down. We also used a sleep machine at night which really helped. Overall, we were big fans of Babywise which I highly recommend. We started a loose schedule when we got home from the hospital and really started trying to stick to it regularly at 4 weeks old.

Lesson Learned: Babies need schedules just like we do. Do what works for you, but consider waking baby at the same time every day (I suggest 7 am) and feed him/her.  Run the rest of your day from there feeding in 3 hour increments... eat, play, sleep, repeat. Even if baby wakes at 5 am at eats, wake her again at 7 and feed her, even if only a little bit. This will work them into a schedule.  I also want to mention some great advice that another mom gave that helped a lot and that has helped other moms... make sure baby gets a full feeding each time. Those late night feedings are tough because you're SO exhausted and when baby stops nursing to fall asleep, its easy to put them right back to bed.  Instead, make sure they eat for a good 20-30 minutes and wake them up if they fall asleep before. A full feeding will ensure that baby doesn't wake up an hour later hungry.



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