4 weeks: a semi-coherent review

Wow. My sweet baby is 4 weeks old today.

What. A. Blur.

The past month has been packed with more joy — and, surprisingly, more heart-achiness — than I possibly could have anticipated. No one tells you quite how difficult the first days with a newborn are (likely because people are far too sleep-deprived to remember much about this season).

I wouldn’t go back. I’m so in love with my son — my heart is so stuffed full — that it hurts. I’m trying to pay attention. I know this season will pass so quickly and that he’ll only be brand-new this one time (he’s already outgrown some clothes and is out of newborn diapers!).

I love that this is my view a good portion of my day:

Then again, some moments I’m also so frustrated and helpless that I cry right along with the baby, thinking, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

On all counts, I am seriously in over my head.

I thought about waiting until I was through the tunnel, so to speak, before writing about this. But, while I’d certainly have a better perspective (and perhaps a much more impressive one), I think I’d also lose a lot of the details in the fog of new parenthood. So, here goes — an honest account right in the thick of it. I don’t expect this to be interesting to everyone, but that’s okay. It’s helpful to write about my world — and my world is one of diapers and spit-up and boobies right now.

After a day full of sweet visitors on A’s birthday (Saturday 1-1), we came home from the hospital Sunday around noon. My mom was here at our condo waiting for us with a huge lunch, bless her.

I remember saying before A arrived that if I didn’t have a particularly difficult labor, maybe my mom wouldn’t need to go to the trouble of staying with us (she still works). Boy, was that stupid. She ended up staying five days! I don’t know what we’d have done without her — she cared for us so we could care for the baby (and got lots of Grandma time in with the baby as well).

Overlake has new moms and their babies come into their Women & Infant Center for a mother-baby appointment 48 hours after going home from the hospital, and I’m so glad. I was having tremendous difficulty feeding A (my milk wasn’t in yet, and anyway, the kid couldn’t latch — he just bobbed on and off the breast, stiffened, and cried bloody murder) and he was a GROUCHY newborn, but I didn’t know enough to know things weren’t going right. When we took him in, he’d gone from 8 lbs. 12 oz. at birth to 7 lbs. 9 oz. Anytime there’s more than a 10% weight loss, they’re concerned, and we were closer to 15%.

The lactation nurse told us we needed to supplement A with formula to get his weight back up. I was disappointed, feeling badly that I hadn’t known that my baby wasn’t getting enough and worried that maybe this would screw up my hopes of breastfeeding, but frankly, at that point I’d have stood on my head if it meant my baby wasn’t so miserable.

I was given a breastfeeding pillow (a real one from My Brest Friend (clever name, eh?), not that dratted Boppy, which is useless), a nipple shield, plastic syringes to “prime” the nipple shield with formula, and lots of instructions. I was so relieved the tears flowed right there in the exam room — I was simultaneously so exhausted and so relieved to have some help. She was kind and gracious and above all, patient.

I then walked to the room next door to pick up a few more nursing bras, and promptly cried on the sweet lady there as well.

Justin and Mom and I went to Babies R’Us to pick up formula and some other necessities, and THEY WERE OUT OF NEWBORN FORMULA. How does that happen at a baby store? So, I cried on a clerk in the middle of Babies R’Us, too.

Tears on three strangers in one day. Humbling, humbling (So many kind souls have reminded me this is normal, especially in the early weeks).

I went home and promptly began my new routine: feed, pump, supplement with a bottle of formula, wash pump parts. Feed, pump, supplement with a bottle of formula, wash pump parts. It was a lot of work, but with the help of Justin and my mom, it was doable (things were decidedly more difficult once mom left and J returned to work). We had another appointment 2 days later, and Ash was gaining weight really well. A week after the initial appointment, he’d gained a pound back. Victory! We were told we no longer needed to supplement or pump.

During this time, A wasn’t sleeping much at all. Every time he’d fall asleep and we’d put him down on his back, he’d gasp and cough and wheeze and be awake within 5 minutes or less. Not sure what else to do, we had A sleep on one of our chests each night. Justin and I dozed a bit, but neither one of us got much sleep that first 2 weeks. I’d heard newborns were very noisy, but this was ridiculous — putting him on his back terrified me. It sounded like he was struggling to breathe. Here’s an example of what he sounds like:

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So, after finally breaking down in sobs worrying about my son (again, with the crying — it’s a general theme these days but I’m trying to just accept it), back to the pediatrician’s office I went. Turns out A has some mild laryngomalacia (floppy, underdeveloped larynx — click on the link if you’re curious — I’d never heard of it before). He’ll grow out of it with time, and though it can make him more prone to ear infections and he’s a bit reflux-y, the condition is pretty benign and he’ll grow out of it gradually over the next 1-2 years (heh). Still, the kid couldn’t sleep (and neither could we).

After another sleepless few nights, I decided to try putting A on his stomach to sleep during the day (when I could watch him closely), having read that it can help kids with LM. He slept 2 hours the very first try. We’ve been putting him on his tummy ever since and for a newborn, the kid has slept much more peacefully. Because it’s a bit more risky to put a kid on their stomach, we installed a motion/breathing monitor today. Hopefully this means even more sleep for me, as I’ve been repeatedly getting up to feel Ash’s back to make sure he’s still breathing now that he’s so quiet. 🙂

What a difference. I still have to be careful to keep him from crying too much — crying makes the stridor (wheezing on intake of breath) much worse. But Ash is getting more sleep now and so are we! Granted, this doesn’t mean we’re getting loads of sleep (who does with a newborn? With feedings every 3-ish hours, we’re still thoroughly exhausted) but at least it’s more in the typical range of exhaustion.

Our second big challenge has been with breastfeeding, but that’s a doozy and will have to wait til another post. My little turkey is hungry. Again. 🙂

6 thoughts on “4 weeks: a semi-coherent review”

  1. Stacey!

    What a wonderful blog! I can’t believe I am just now visiting it. I know you will be getting a TON of unsolicited advice….but here are my words of encouragement, hopefully not seen as advice 🙂

    As risky as everyone (media, ect) may say a child sleeping on their tummy is, there are exceptions to everything! If putting your sweet boy on his tummy to sleep is helping him (and you and J) so be it! You guys have taken every precaution and are great parents!

    Many blessings to you all and if you ever want to chat momminess, email! Also, we could meet half-way as we are now in Tacoma for lunch in the coming months if you’d like!

    Much love,
    Jana

  2. Oh my goodness. That sounds so scary. Even though it’s hard to write about it, I think you’ll be thankful down the road that you recorded all the happenings of A’s first month. It sounds like you guys are figuring things out. You two are amazing parents.

    And you are just like every other mom, we all didn’t have any idea of what we were doing. Actually, I still feel like I don’t, but don’t tell anyone.

  3. Oh man, those first weeks are so hard. So hard. I remember when Nolie was five weeks old I called Charlie at work and just sobbed and sobbed to him that she hadn’t stopped crying for hours (she was pretty morose for the first couple of months, nothing wrong- just hated being a baby) and that we had made a huge mistake. It was a low point, for sure.

    You are doing great and will make it out and be a huge help to other Mamas out there.

    Also, Nolie slept on her stomach from four weeks on 🙂

  4. I forgot to mention this to you- if all else fails- wear mascara and lipgloss. It makes you feel quite a lot better about yourself, particularly if you have breastmilk or formula dripping down your cleavage. How’s that for advice?!?

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