Surviving the First Few Weeks Pt 2

It took me several days to write part 1 of this post and never intended to miss things but there are four very important things I used to survive the first few weeks after Ben’s birth that deserve recognition.

1. Monster strength Motrin: Between your uterus shrinking down to size, possible stitches from tears or an episiotomy, breastfeeding woes, and, like me, horrible headaches due to fluctuation in hormone levels, some sort of pain reliever is a must. My OB wrote me a prescription for 600 mg Motrin that I never filled since right before getting pregnant, I had filled my normal one of 800 mg Motrin that I use for headaches. Something strong like that was the only reason I was able to handle the pain of moving from sitting to standing for the first week.

2. My iPhone: I’m not going to enter into the Droid vs iPhone debate but having my phone with me has saved my sanity during nighttime feedings. Between checking emails, blogs, twitter, Pinterest, playing games, texting other new moms, or reading a novel or my daily Bible chapters, I’ve been able to stay awake and alert when I’m feeding Ben. Without my phone, I’d have to have a huge stack of books and other things sitting next to my nursing chair in his room to amuse me. Babies enjoy night feedings but I’m not entirely sure moms do. Having something to keep my attention helps tremendously.

3. Always Infinity Pads: Truthfully, before getting pregnant, I had never thought about the fact that my uterus would not be shedding its lining for 10 months and somehow, that would be resolved post-birth. There is bleeding and lots of it. I LOVE the Always Infinity pads because they are thinner and lighter than regular ones and somehow the material they are made of locks away most of the liquids so it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a puddle for weeks on end.

4. Work Email Addresses and Paperwork: One thing I was thankful for was my stash of work email addresses to send the birth announcement, resolve problems or answer questions remotely (yup, still helping out even though I’ve been off work for over 3 weeks already) and to communicate with my HR department to activate my short-term disability and add Ben to our health insurance plan. I can’t imagine wanting to spend that much time on the phone trying to sort things out. With emails, I could shoot back answers whenever I thought of things, be it 2 AM or 2 PM. I also had the paperwork to add Ben to our insurance and start the disability process partially filled out so all I had to do was put in his name, birth date and send them to the office. Efficiency for the win!


Lessons From a New Mom

B and I have learned a few interesting lessons over the past two weeks of being parents.

Your child can and will poop immediately after being changed, reswaddled and put back in bed: I feel like Ben does this at least once a night. There is little more frustrating than having to redo what your baby just undid in a matter of seconds, especially at 3 am.

You will get pooped or peed on soon after bringing the baby home: B was first, I was second. It’s usually when I’ve taken Ben’s diaper off, thrown a washcloth over his privates and then he explodes all over the changing table. All I can do is laugh at that point. What else is there to do?

You will have more time for movies: The baby is awake anyway so you might as well enjoy a movie or two.

Night and day don’t matter at the beginning: Baby doesn’t know what days and nights mean so you won’t either. Naps are wonderful things.

Zipper clothes are better than snaps: Zippers are quick, snaps are almost impossible. I don’t know if I’ve successfully snapped up an outfit on the first try yet.

Socks suck: Baby socks do not stay on their feet. The only socks we have that do stay on are super high that go up higher than his knees. Embrace the child’s inner nerd and rock the thigh highs.

Nighttime feedings always seem to take an hour: Our nighttime feedings usually go: Unswaddle, diaper change, eat, burp, eat, reswaddle, snuggle, Ben to bed, bathroom break for me, chug a glass of water, bed for me. No matter how quickly Ben eats or how many (or few) times I have to change his diaper, it seems like feedings always are an hour long. I’ve learned to accept that and am thrilled if it takes less time than that.

You will eventually figure out a routine: The first few days when we got home, it felt like we were floating around without any sort of solid footing. We had never parented before and I had never cared for a newborn overnight by myself. It took about a week but a routine started to emerge. Ben eats every 2-3 hours during the day and almost exactly 3 hours on the dot at night. I’ve learned to trust that Ben will wake me up when he’s ready to eat so I can fall deeply asleep between feedings instead of jumping at every little noise Ben makes (there are many).

He eats between 12 and 1 AM, 3 and 4 AM, and around 6 AM. After the 6 AM snack, he may or may not fall back asleep. If he doesn’t sleep, I wake up B and he takes Ben out of the room to snuggle elsewhere while B starts work. I usually sleep until 9, feed Ben immediately again and get on with whatever our day holds. He naps pretty solidly between feedings so I can get housework done. B quits working around 6 and gets to spend time with Ben while I make dinner. Ben sleeps through dinner, usually in his swing and B and I hang out, watching movies or reading. A bath, a last feeding, and B snuggles Ben to sleep while I wash up and fall sleep myself. I get about an hour of sleep before the 12 AM feeding. Rinse and repeat!

This was the hardest part about becoming parents. The diapers, bottles, laundry, rocking are all easier than feeling completely ungrounded and unsure how to make it through the day. The best advice I can give is to give yourself time, be patient, get out of the house if needed, talk to women who have raised children, and find a way to relax when you have time. The internet is a wonderful thing and gives us a great outlet and way to connect with other women going through the same thing. Use that resource!


Surviving the First Few Weeks

I never gave much thought to how to actually care for Ben once he arrived. I always thought we’d figure it out as we went. Because that was how I prepared (or not), there was a flurry of Amazon purchases in the first few days after coming home from the hospital. I wanted to share the things we’ve been using in the past few weeks that have made living a somewhat normal life possible. I’ve divided the list into things for me and things for Ben.

For Mom:

Button front pjs- Any kind will do. I didn’t think about how my normal pj routine of a t-shirt and shorts wouldn’t really work to nurse Ben easily in the middle of the night.

Yoga pants, nursing camis, and comfy sleep bras: If I’m not leaving the house, I will be wearing these. No joke, that’s what I’m wearing as I type this post. The roll top pants are wonderful to cover and support the really floppy belly in the beginning and give you as much coverage as you need. The nursing tanks are soft and easy to breastfeed while wearing. I found mine on Target’s website as a “daily deal” a few months back and bought several of each basic neutral (black, white, gray) for $11 each. I’m also pretty sure I own every color available of the sleep bras. I’ve been wearing these at night since I started leaking colostrum around 20 weeks and wanted a way to keep breast pads in place. They are supportive without being too tight.

Nursing Bra: Specifically, I went with this one, a black, 3/4 cup, bamboo fiber bra from Womama. It is very difficult for me to find bras that fit right now since the narrow rib cage + larger cup size combination is almost nonexistent in stores. I bought this bra sight unseen from Amazon the day I came home from the hospital and like it a lot. It is very soft and the only issue I have with fit is the band fits a little tighter around my ribs than I would like but that also means when I put it on, it doesn’t budge.

Breast Pads: Since I started using breast pads so long ago already, I have tried several different brands. Medela pads work well but are a little papery and scratchy. Lansinoh’s pads are soft but strangely square in shape so they show through clothes at the edge. Avent breast pads are the best all around that I could find. Thanks to some lovely family characteristics, I have been dealing with oversupply issues and can go through TONS of pads a day. I meant to use reusable pads but the one time I tried that, I woke up completely drenched to the skin so I’m back to the disposable variety.

Medela Pump and Save Breastmilk Bags: I received these as gift and didn’t think I’d use them until after my milk came in and just kept coming! There are times that Ben will nurse on both sides and I’m still uncomfortably full so I pump enough to relieve some of the pressure. I store the milk in the fridge until I have 2 ounces collected (1 or 2 breasts worth), dump the milk into one of these bags, label with the amount and date and toss in the freezer. So far, I have 6 oz frozen, almost 2 oz in the fridge and Ben has drank 2 oz. My hope is to have enough stored up for the 12 hour road trip we’re taking later this month. I want to be able to bottle-feed Ben while on the road so we don’t have to make 20-30 minute pit stops every 3 hours.

For Ben:

Miracle blanket: I know they are expensive. I balked even though I was told over and over again that they are the bee’s knees because I couldn’t justify spending $30 on one blanket. I got one as a gift and we started using it the first night home. Ben loves to be swaddled when sleeping, like most newborns, but he is really, really good at extracting his arms from whatever swaddle we used. The Miracle Blanket has little flaps that wrap over his arms and are pinned down by his body weight so he literally cannot get out. He looks like a little burrito! He wet through the blanket on our second night home so I immediately ordered a second one with 1 day shipping (yay Amazon Prime!) at 5:00 am. They are that amazing and my sleep is worth $30.

Newborn Clothes: Everyone says not to spend too much on newborn clothes since many newborns fit into 0-3 month clothing. Ben is on his second week of newborn attire and will probably make it through 1-2 more. I had about 6 outfits and 3 onesies which isn’t enough when your loving spouse is still learning how to use diapers and the baby continuously pees through several outfits a day for several days in a row. I had to run out and buy more newborn onesies and did lots of laundry to keep Ben clothed.

Aden + Anais Blankets: These blankets are super popular and super worth either registering for or buying yourself. They are HUGE, slightly stretchy because of the fabric’s weave, thin, and very soft. After learning some tips on swaddling by using the Miracle Blanket, both B and I have gotten quite skilled at wrapping Ben up in one of these for naps during the day.

Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Mini: I wanted a bed for Ben to sleep by me in our room at night without actually being IN bed with me and learned about this one through Pinterest, of all places. I bought mine used on Craigslist (I know, bad mom move) to save money. I wasn’t worried about it being used after I checked it out. It’s in great shape and I also scored 3 sheets and 2 mattress pads for $50! Ben is only an arms length away from me so rolling over to pop his pacifier in his mouth or grab him to nurse is really simple. We never planned on B doing any night diaper changes or anything since he sleeps so deeply he never wakes up so it’s extra nice to have Ben so close.

Original ErgoBaby carrier with infant insert: Ben loves to be carried and snuggled and sometimes when at home and while out and about, it isn’t possible to carry him or push him in the stroller. I did a lot of research on what carrier to buy and we’re really pleased with this one. The Ergo will fit children up to 45 lbs and is adjustable for people of different sizes, unlike most slings that are sized based on chest measurements. I didn’t want to buy different carriers for B and me and (more likely than not), grab the wrong one on the way out the door. The Ergo distributes the baby’s weight on your hips instead of your back so I can carry Ben around for hours without feeling any discomfort. The real test will be next month when I go to Philly for a conference with B for 5 days. Ben, my mom, and I are going to explore the city and I’m planning on carrying him most of the time.

Pacifier: Ben likes either the Soothie or GumDrop pacifier. They both have the same shaped nipple part. Ben loves to suck on everything. If I let him, he’d nurse for hours just because he likes to suck. We gave him the orange GumDrop on our way home from the hospital and it hasn’t been far from him since.

I know my list of essentials will change as time goes on but these are the items that have helped make the transition into a family of 3 much easier. Questions? Comments?