Two things I said I’d never do: give a pacifier before breastfeeding was well-established, and bring the baby into our bed at night. Guess what we did within the first week? We gave a pacifier on night two and brought Theo into our bed to sleep on night four. I think the rule of thumb when it comes to being a new parent is to never say never, and even though I could have punched every person who gave me some variation of that advice, the truth is, they were totally right.
Another thing I didn’t anticipate? That it would take me two weeks to find time to write another update since my last post! Theo is now three weeks old. Time flies. I have tried to update this blog multiple times over the past couple weeks, but caring for a newborn is more time consuming than I had ever imagined. Not only that, but between feeding and diapering round the clock, and not going to work or having any sort of set schedule, I’ve lost all concept of time.
Picking up where I left off last time, Theo gave us quite a hard time his first two nights. Actually, nights are still a bit of a challenge, but those first two nights were exceptionally rough. By the time we got transferred to our postpartum room that first night, it was about 2 a.m. and we had been up for almost 22 hours straight. We were beyond exhausted. Unfortunately, newborns tend to be VERY awake immediately after birth, and Theo was no exception. The first dilemma we were faced with was a poopy diaper. After some “wait, how do you do this?” conversation, we figured out the diaper, but then we couldn’t figure out how to swaddle him back up. Funny, we had learned how to both diaper and swaddle in our newborn care class, but suddenly neither of us could remember how to do either of those things in the moment. Theo broke out of our half-ass swaddle in a matter of minutes, and, as it turns out, having free arms is an alarmingly frightening thing to a newborn. He was sure to let us know just how displeased he was. The next morning the nurse came in and remarked about all the crying she heard coming from our room last night. Gee, would have been nice for her to offer some help! But I suppose the nurses tend to err on the side of letting parents figure things out for themselves unless asked. Duly noted.
Since D’s dad and step-mom were coming to visit at 10 a.m., I figured I should get showered in an effort to feel human again. The hot shower was glorious, but the showering experience was a bit frightening, upon realizing just how torn up my poor lady bits were. But still, after a hot shower and a touch of makeup, I almost looked like my old self again, even if I didn’t feel it. After D’s dad and step mom, our friends Deanne, Brandon, Daren and Erin came by around noon, followed by my brother and sister-in-law around 3 (they brought me my first beer, which was glorious!), our friend Matt, and then my friends from college, Rachel, Kelly and Margaret around 4. D’s mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece came by around 7. It was a long day, but the steady flow of visitors made the day go by faster, as we were beginning to feel like prisoners in our hospital room. Theo was a perfect angel all day, but we soon learned we were in for another long night of crying. Turns out he had his days and nights flipped, which is common for newborns. (Side note: this is also what caused us to bring him into our bed to sleep a few days later, as someone had suggested this to help him regulate his days and nights. It definitely helped, and a week later we started the process of transitioning him back to his bassinet. I’m hoping to not set a precedent of him sleeping in our bed that will only be harder to break later!)
Unfortunately, that second night, I came to the painful realization that Theo had a very shallow latch when it came to breastfeeding, and my poor nips were already starting to blister from the constant (incorrect) nursing. After being unable to console him for the second night in a row (thankfully we figured out the swaddle, at least), we called in a nurse for help. She helped me some with my latch, but the damage was already done by that point. We tried nipple shields, which he didn’t like at all, and since he was mostly nursing for comfort at this point, we reluctantly introduced a pacifier. As I mentioned earlier, I really had wanted to hold off on that, but after only about 2 hours of sleep in 48 hours, we were desperate. The pacifier calmed him some, but it would fall out when he fell asleep, and that would wake him up and make him start crying again. So I spent most of the night popping the pacifier back in every time he would spit it out. I didn’t get much sleep, but at least my poor boobs got a bit of a break, and by the next morning, I was at least able to nurse again without crying from the pain.
After being checked out by the hospital’s pediatrician, we were finally given the green light to go home that day. We had a few other things to take care of first, including a newborn photo shoot, hearing test and visit from a lactation nurse, but by 1 p.m. we were finally on our way home!
I sat with Theo in the back seat of the car and remember being so terrified of every other car on the road. I think it’s going to be a while before I feel comfortable with him in the car. When we got home, my brother and sister-in-law had decorated the entryway with balloons and welcome home signs.
I can’t even describe how good it felt to be home. We introduced Theo to the dogs, which went beautifully. They were mildly curious, but ignored him for the most part. An ideal situation, really. They have plenty of time to become friends.
Since we’ve been home, we’ve had plenty of visitors, which is great since it’s given us something to look forward to (and a reason to shower!) each day. We’ve also hardly cooked anything since bringing Theo home since everyone keeps bringing us food. My parents flew in on the following Saturday, and while my dad could only stay for a few days, my mom is staying for three weeks and has been spending most of her time with us. It’s been nice having the extra help since D went back to work and Theo has gotten plenty of grandma time.
As I mentioned earlier, we had a bit of a rough start with breastfeeding. Once we got the latch issues corrected, the next dilemma we faced was a narcoleptic nurser. Every time I would put him to the breast he would take about 2-3 sucks and be out like a light. I would spend the remainder of our nursing session trying to wake him/keep him awake. I mistakenly assumed he was still getting enough milk, until he was weighed at his first pediatrician visit the day after we were released. While it’s normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days, Theo lost almost a full pound, which was concerning to our pediatrician. Actually, our first clue that something may be wrong was the night before when we saw what looked like blood in his diaper. We were pretty worried and called the pediatrician on call and were told they were uric acid crystals, a symptom of dehydration.
So our pediatrician told us feed every 2-3 hours round the clock, even if it meant waking him, and to do everything possible to keep him awake while eating. We had another weight check two days later, followed by a third check two days after that, and a final check a week after that, and I’m happy to report he is gaining weight like a champ. It’s still a bit of a challenge to keep him awake at the breast, but he’s getting better. He’s now back to his birth weight and we were given the green light to feed on demand now. He still usually wakes on his own every 2-3 hours, but we’ve gotten an occasional 4 hour stretch at night, which feels like heaven… that is, until I wake up and my boobs feel like they’re going to burst if I don’t feed him immediately!
Other milestones these three weeks have included his first grocery store trip, his first shopping trip to Nordstrom (mama needed some new bras!), and our first dinner out (I had been dying to eat sushi again, but we tried somewhere new and it was a bit disappointing). He’s been to Target, the vehicle emissions station, and we even took him on a 2-hour drive to our friends’ cabin in Cle Elum for the day. He does great in the car and hardly fusses when we’re out, with the exception of a minor meltdown once in the Target parking lot. Turns out he was just hungry, so I hopped into the backseat, whipped out the nursing cover and took care of that problem. Overall he’s a very happy baby, with the exception of his “witching hour” (he tends to get fussy in the evenings). At first it was between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., and it’s gradually been shifting earlier and earlier. Now he usually starts fussing around 7 or 8 and calms down around 11 p.m. or midnight. It’s frustrating to try to get him to calm down when we are dead tired and ready for bed around 10, but it means he usually sleeps pretty well after midnight and we can get some sleep too. He still wakes to eat, but will go right back to sleep afterward with little to no fussing. The great news is that he really likes to sleep in, so what I lose at the beginning of the night, I can usually make up in the mornings, and we’ve been sleeping in until 9 or 10 most mornings. Since D is back at work and I have the boobs, I end up with the night shift. Once I go back to work and we’ve introduced a bottle we may start sharing night duties.
Okay, this is turning into another marathon post, so I’ll cut it off here. I will try to write more often so I can keep these posts shorter! I’ll leave you with some more photos from the past three weeks.