The 2nd Month with a Newborn: Life Review

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The theme of the second month with Max was: SLEEP

Max started growing really fast – and everything completely changed from the first month to the second when it came to caring for him. He stopped just automatically falling asleep in our arms while we were doing our normal routine around the house, and instead was fully awake for many hours at a time. It was such a quick transition, and I was still a bit caught up in the newness of it all, that when he started getting extremely irritated and was crying for hours in the evening – I started to worry that he had colic or reflux.

But he was eating well, which ruled out the likelihood of reflux – and the more I read about colic, the more I realized how vague of a diagnosis it was, and I was determined to do whatever it took to make Max feel more comfortable if that was possible.

It took me a little while, but I finally figured out what was going on. There were so many interesting things going on in his world, and taking in all of these things became a priority for his body – sleep was forgotten until his tiredness accumulated and became “overtiredness” which expressed itself as crying for hours until he finally wore himself out. This tiredness didn’t reset after he slept for a long(er) period – the hours of missed sleep carried over from day to day – so his bouts of crying in the evening became more intense and lasted longer.

It is really easy, as a new parent, to start feeling guilty for not seeing the problem sooner. But feeling guilty about missing the cues that he was overtired did not accomplish anything other than as a point of self-punishment – so I had to forgive myself and let this guilt go if I wanted to find the solution and make a change to help him get the sleep he needed.

I started to become more aware of the “cycles” that he would go through during the day. He was usually awake for about 45mins – 1hr before he would start to get sleepy again, and then there was about 20 minutes where if the conditions were right, he could fall asleep and stay asleep for a long nap (about 1-3 hours). His cues for sleepiness were yawning multiple times and also a switch from being smiley and content to cranky and fidgety. If I caught the switcimg_2856h from awake to sleepy quickly enough, I could take him up to the bedroom and start rocking/dancing him to sleep.

This didn’t always work. Sometimes he woke up suddenly either just as we were laying down or at the beginning of his nap, so we would have to repeat the cycle and catch the next “sleepy time”. The more we practiced this, the more I became “in tune” with his cycle, and eventually his evening crankiness started to get shorter and shorter, until we finally started experiencing little to no crying during the so called “witching hour”.

I decided not to try to artificially schedule his nap times –

my focus was more on trying to get between 14-16 hours of sleep at a minimum per day. Some days we did it, some days we didn’t – but Max’s expression began to change tremendously – he was much happier and seemed to be enjoying himself and his surroundings much more.

Also – this month I discovered the awesomeness of nursing while laying down… sounds silly I know, but it’s a skill that takes time to do well, and boy does it help with the getting to sleep and staying asleep process. At the moment, Max is sleeping in his Dockatot at night, next to me, and when he wakes up at night to eat, all I have to do is roll over and feed him for 15 minutes, then he falls right back asleep – it is literally the best experience – I am losing very little sleep because of this (wish I had tried it sooner).

We also started going out more on walks each day – he doesn’t really like the stroller, but seems content in the Ergo baby carrier for about 30 minutes or so before he starts to get antsy to go home.

This month was really challenging for me – but I also became more connected with Max, and it does feel really amazing to have figured out how to meet his needs. Once we figured out how important Sleep really was, it changed our relationship a lot – this may be because he can trust me to help him get the sleep he needs (or maybe because I can trust myself to figure out a solution when I see a problem come up for him).

By the end of his 2nd month, he weighs 14lbs and 4 oz, and is 25 in. long.

The 1st Month with a Newborn: Life Review

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For me this past month with baby Max has been harder than any point during my pregnancy…. Giving birth was nothing compared to the first two weeks of having him out in the world – it was the transition from pregnant to parent – from ME to US.

And it was deceivingly blissful the first day or so.  The afternoon we brought Max home, I was pretty “high” on the baby hormones – which allowed me to stay awake and breastfeed him regularly with seeming success.  But by the next morning, I could feel the beginning of my body’s process of recovery from the birth – I was extremely sore in my arms, shoulders, legs, and the back of my head from gripping and pushing myself against the sides of the birth tub. My nether region was pretty sore too – I never in my life expected to be grateful that adult diapers exist – although I suppose there will be a time for that in later days again.  I took a small amount of ibuprofen for the first couple of days, mostly to ease myself into the moderate pain of recovery.

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I wasn’t expecting Max to be so sleepy – he slept a ton those first few days!  It was challenging to wake him up for feeding every 2 hours, but I set my alarm to make sure he was getting plenty of that early colostrum.  On the other hand, I was getting very little sleep – this being my first child, I was consistently awoken in the night by the inherent need to reach over and check if he was still breathing (a newborn’s breathing is sooo shallow when they sleep).  At this point, Max was sleeping in the Dockatot, in the middle of Cam and I (apparently Cam was up all night checking on him too).

My milk came in by day 3, and boy did it come in.  My breasts were so swollen and were starting to get hard lumps that freaked me out a little bit (I’d read about the likeliness of getting mastitis, so I was on the lookout).  My insurance company hadn’t sent my breast pump yet, which was actually cool, because I was reluctant to use anything that may cause my body confusion when it came to milk production.  So I started hand expressing into breast milk bags, which worked great and really wasn’t that hard to do (although it should be noted that hand expression does NOT reduce the pressure right away, it takes a little while after you’ve finished before the breast softens). **I have to admit, the idea of breastfeeding and having to hand express my milk was one of the things that sort of grossed me out mentally when I was pregnant – but it really was much easier to do than I had expected – which says something about expectations**  Also leaking became a regular experience throughout the day (that gets better too ladies, by the end of the first month it rarely happens).

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Home remedy for jaundice – breastfeeding in indirect sunlight

Max was eating well.  By our day 3 pediatric appointment, he had only lost 4 oz of weight, and when we came in at the end of that week, he had gained back another 4 oz over his birth weight.  He did start to develop a little bit of jaundice, which left him with a yellow tint, but his bilirubin levels weren’t high enough to warrant any treatment other than spending a little time in some indirect sunlight (we breastfed outside and napped in a brightly lit room).  The jaundice had decreased a lot by a week and a half, and was completely gone by the end of 3 weeks.

I had read so much about breastfeeding – and the one thing that I had absorbed that ended up causing the most anxiety was this idea that “if breastfeeding hurts, you’re doing it wrong”.  This idea requires some clarification, from my perspective… “If this is your first baby, breastfeeding will hurt a bit for the first couple weeks or so while your nipples adapt – it may hurt quite a lot when the baby latches on- don’t let that freak you out, it will pass – in the meantime, put breast milk on any cracks or scabs, use coconut oil also – it helps a lot.  If the pain continues, get a lactation consultant to help – otherwise, if baby is gaining weight properly and the pain is decreasing over time, don’t worry so much about whether or not you have the perfect latch – you’ll get better and better at it, and soon it will not hurt at all”.

After the first few days – Max started to wake up a bit to the world around him, and for him (and me) it was a tough transition.  He had bouts of crying that made a moment feel like an eternity – and for seemingly no reason, as he’d fed to his heart’s content, had a clean diaper, and didn’t have a fever or any other obvious discomfort.  We thought maybe he was having some problems with gas, but we would burp him and

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A happy moment, the smiles that come from gas relief.

not get any results – we even tried Gripe water a few times, which had minimal results.  Just when we were about to declare the dreaded word “colic” – Cam and I stumbled across a video from a pediatric chiropractor that showed different ways to burp a baby… explaining the cycle of discomfort/feed/discomfort/feed that occurs if you don’t burp a baby properly within 20 minutes of them eating.  Max responded really well to rotating through different burping methods until we definitely got a burp each time he fed – which made us both feel pretty good that we could give him some relief.

Over and over, the midwives told me to “sleep when the baby sleeps” – but after the first week, I started trying to get some work done while he was sleeping.  At this point, it would take about an hour or so of rocking and dancing (he friggin’ loves Yacht Rock music and 80’s UK pop – and yes I have tried other music) to get him to go to sleep.  Then he would sleep a couple of hours or so and wake up, feed, repeat.   I found out quickly that I was trying to do too much too soon, my bleeding returned and I resolved myself to keep the physical work to a minimum until I got to my three week checkup.

Throughout this time, Max really didn’t like any of the “baby things” we’d got for him – not the swing, or the bouncy chair, or the Ergo baby wrap (or the 2 other baby wraps I got him) – the only thing he would not scream in was the Dockatot – which was a lifesaver – we were co-sleeping and this thing made it so easy to adjust his position without waking him up.  He mostly just wanted to be in our arms whenever he was awake.

I had moments during this month where I needed to cry, mostly in the early days when I was so sleep deprived and holding a baby that was just wailing and wailing.  Cam and I both had moments where we were short-tempered with each other – but we discovered together that this mostly had to do with us not communicating our expectations and frustrations with each other (we’ve learned that communication is always at the root of the problem).

By the end of the month, I’ve found my groove/flow within and as a parent – I keep reminding myself “His needs come before my preferences” – which helps me realize/remind myself of the commitment I made when I decided to have Max – and that I would do whatever it takes so that he’s happy and healthy (because that makes me happy)

Introducing Practical Pregnancy & Parenting

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My husband Cam and I have been educators for the past 11 years – and we’ve had so many opportunities to support children and watch their processes of growth and self-development – and we’ve grown passionate about uncovering and watching the natural ability of children to learn and develop into confident and successful human beings. We’ve also had many opportunities to observe and support parents with their children.

We’ve watched as many of the “theories” of parenting are put into practice, seen what works and what doesn’t from a third party perspective. Now – Cam and I are pregnant with our first child!!  We now have a cool opportunity to stand directly with the growth and development of a child, to see everything firsthand, and to apply the practical skills we’ve learned on a much deeper level.

We both have been walking a very specific journey over the past 8 years to support ourselves with many tools of self-development…. so when I first found out I was pregnant, I was looking forward to facing all of my ideas/beliefs/fears about giving birth and becoming a parent.

That may sound strange – that I was eager to face all of this – but I’ve learned over time that I grow and develop the most when I walk through experiences in my life that challenge me to face myself.So far, in this pregnancy, I have faced SOOO much!! It’s amazing to look back, realizing it’s only been 5 months so far, and to see how many points I’ve faced and supported myself with so quickly. I’ll be sharing more of my practical application within the “pregnancy journey” as I continue with this blog – all of the points related to miscarriage, nutrition, genetic disorders, body changes, hormonal changes, medical care, natural vs. hospital birth, etc…  Also – continuing to observe and prepare myself for the reality of parenting.

Each of these points, I not only faced my own ideas/thoughts/beliefs about, but I took the time to investigate what the common perspectives and fears were for other pregnant women – to give myself a wider perspective as to the entire experience that is built around being pregnant – and how to support myself to cut through the “fantastical” ideas of pregnancy/parenting and to face the reality of it.

I see it as – finding the practicality in pregnancy, birth, and preparing myself for practical parenting.

More to come 🙂