Motherhood is definitely an adventure. While labor may have been the most athletic thing I have ever done, motherhood is quickly becoming the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. I have little control and just when I think I have figured it out, a new twist comes into play. I knew this going into it, but I could never anticipate the severity of it. Our good neighbor Dave, told us countless times that "nothing is apparent, until you become a parent" and he could not be more right. Becoming a parent makes you appreciate your parents in whole new light, makes you hate people who harm children in any way more than you ever could imagine, makes you question everything around you, and makes me weepy for kids whose parents don't love and care for them like we do for our dear Marilyn. That last one physically hurts to think about. I am only 7 weeks in and I feel this, what is it going to be like at 7 years, 17 years, or 70 years (I hope I make it that long!)??
So you are probably wondering how she and we are doing, as that is the question we always get. I love it when our friends tell us that we look good for "new parents" or the lady in the bookstore who told me I look great for having such a new baby. It makes me chuckle. Is that a compliment? What did we look like before we had her? I think we are doing great. We have rough days, but really who doesn't, even without an infant? We are adjusting just fine and will continue to, there have been a few shocking things, breastfeeding, errands, and poop to name a few, but nothing we can't handle.
Marilyn is doing wonderful. She is tall (in the 98 percentile according to her Dr.), gaining weight as she should, and lately giving us some of the very best smiles. Her days consist of the basics sleep, eat, play, and potty. What a life!!
Here is a breakdown of each category to date:
Sleep - The most common complaint that you hear from new parents is how tired they are. We are tired too, but have realized that we are not necessarily getting less sleep, we are just not getting these hours together. I have been reading my sleep book over and over and over. I kid you not I have been reading the same three chapters for the entire 7 weeks. Trying to navigate the "schedule" the "signs" and the proper "soothe". For now I am refusing to let her cry it out and hope to never have to cross that bridge. The thing about parenting advice and parenting materials is there is SO much out there and everyone has their own opinion as to what the correct method is. Dr. Weissbluth recommends letting her cry it out, that she won't think I have abandoned her, but Dr. Brazelton says that a baby should NEVER cry it out. Everyone hears what they want to hear, which is why so much research is difficult to navigate but what it comes down to for me is the source. Both authors are well known doctors, both books are very well written, but one came as a recommendation from a friend (with a wonderfully well-behaved child) and the other comes from a recommendation from my college professor (I minored in child development). For this one I am trusting my college professor. How can she not think I have abandoned her if I have been so responsive to her cries and then all of sudden I stop. Granted I am 7 weeks in, but that is my stance for now.
Overall Marilyn has been very good to us in the sleep department. Early on she adopted a 5 hour nighttime stretch up for a change and feed and then down for another 3. She was taking 3 hour naps, but in the last few days they have shorten to 1-3 hours, 3-4 times a day. On her 6 week birthday she slept through the night! Of course I didn't take advantage of this because I woke up at 3:45 to Robert's snoring, then my body told me she needed to eat, and later I began to fret that she wasn't breathing in her crib. At 5:45 when she finally awoke I sprang up with relief as I had been lying there worrying she was not okay, but to afraid to check. She hasn't done it since, but we keep hoping. The last few days she was up almost every two hours, but everyone assures me that she must be having a growth spurt, apparently it throws off their sleep. Lets hope that is the case :)
Eat - Everyone lies about breastfeeding, or better yet they withhold the truth from you, and I am here to break that trend. I read countless articles, a book that is supposed to be the breastfeeding bible, and Robert and I even took a class on the subject but no one, NO ONE, tells you how hard it can be. All I heard was its natural, its an amazing bonding experience, its all your baby needs to survive and thrive. No one tells you that it hurts, that you may become sore, you may bleed, you may cry and even scream your way through it. This is exactly what happened to me, which sent us to two lactation consultants as every thing I read told me that if it hurts your baby has a bad latch or has a physical issue. Well Marilyn has a perfect latch and no physical issues and I had a horrible start with breastfeeding. I believe is was 2 am on our first night home, when Robert asked me if Safeway (which is the only place open at that time) carried formula as he watched me cry through a feeding. I refused and when they began to bleed I still refused. There was no way I was going to give my little organic baby, something that the first ingredient is corn syrup, at least not until I gave it the old college try. I have sensitive skin and found this out the hard way. Like labor I fought my way through it, but unlike labor the pain did not go away it lingered. It took about three weeks for me to feed her without screaming part way through it. What helped? A Dr.'s recipe for homemade nipple cream, time, and organic lollipops :) Robert was my biggest cheerleader, it helped that he kept telling me I was already a good mom. The easy thing to do would have been to give her formula, but I couldn't bring myself to do it and I am so glad, because now it only hurts when she first latches on, oh and of course when she decides to do the occasional bite down, yikes! Once we get going all those things that I heard about breastfeeding became true, it seems just like moms forget the pain of labor until they find themselves there again, they seem to forget the pain of breastfeeding too.
I have had a few interesting nursing experiences but I'll save those for another post.
Play - Her playtime is what we call face time. She is usually lying flat or in her leaf chair where she has been giving us these amazing smiles (check out one of the photos below) that really melt our hearts. We do "tummy time" and it has been amazing to see the strength developing in her neck. We are also reading all her wonderful books to her. She seems to enjoy the brightly colored pages and when we went through the spring bulb catalog together (yes I am starting her early) she focused on the yellow flowers. She even cooed for the daffodils with white centers. Do you remember Mike who I practiced my swaddles on? Well Mike catches her attention all the time. He lives on the bookshelf behind the rocking chair and when she is supposed to be burping I catch her stretching her neck to catch a glimpse of him. When he comes down for "play time" she stares at him very deeply, I think we found her first love.
Potty - Someday she will dislike us for sharing the details to follow but we just can't help it. Robert and I joke that we are going to share these stories when she brings her first date home. We have named her the "projectile pooper". For the first 4 weeks or so she refused to poop in her diaper, probably because she is such a lady :) Instead she waits until Daddy has got her on the changing table and diaper is open to let it out. We are not talking about a delicate lady like release, Robert describes it as a "skunk spray". It shoots out with force often splattering all over him. It has been projected onto the wall, the closet door, Robert, me, and the adorable organic rug. It has gotten to a point now where Robert can predict it before it happens so the mess has become less, but every now and again she surprises him. When it actually happens in a diaper it is so loud, noises you would expect from a sailor, not our delicate little flower. We have nicknamed it her "skooshies", where did we get that from? I have a tendency to nickname all sorts of funny things, Robert thinks it's a weird Aptos thing, but he is been known to do it too. We are having great success with our reusable diapers and wipes. Daddy is the laundry king and he loves the fact that we don't have to spend money on diapers. On the go we may opt for a disposable, but when did a weekend with my parents she quickly broke out with a diaper rash from the diapers and wipes. When we got home and back to our old routine it cleared up quickly. The environmentalist in me feels great that we aren't filling up the landfill and Robert thinks they are super easy too, which is great!
So the hubby left for work this evening as I was feeding Marilyn before her bedtime. After he left and I had successfully gotten her to sleep I wandered around the house and couldn't help but find myself in a unique place. 7 weeks have literally whizzed by, I can't believe it. We are turning over a new leaf, Robert with his new schedule will have to adjust to seeing Marilyn less and trying to sleep through the days, ignoring her refusals to nap. I will have to adjust to the day and night shift. If only he could get paid to stay home and we could savor all these life changing moments together everyday. If only...Well until we win the lotto I am afraid that will not happen. I will miss him late at night when he would so graciously pluck her from her crib and bring her to me to feed and then later change her and bring her back, I have been so lucky. I will also miss chatting with him as we try mercifully to get her to go to sleep and the ability to hand her off when I just need a break. He is not going to war, he will still come home everyday, but with his very unique schedule, mandatory overtime, and extra training he will not be able to give us the attention that I know he wants to. This new chapter will be hard, but together we will make it work. Hopefully I can master the errand running alone so our days "together" will not be spent running around but rather enjoying our family time.
|Two days ago all smiles after our first outing just the two of us to the bookstore. This is my favorite picture so far!|
|Marilyn (1 month) and Helen (99 years)|
|With Auntie Erica and Ralphie|
|At her Baptism|
|First trip to the beach|
|Cruising with Auntie Mandi and Cousin Cameron|
|First doctor's appt.|
|In her chair early on.|
|In her chair recently, look how she has grown!!|
|With her Cousin Cameron, isn't he adorable!|
|Another playtime with Cameron, they're almost exactly one month apart.|
|First shopping trip.|
|With Uncle Cliff.|
|With her Great Grandma, what a great picture!!|
|Everyone kept commenting on how big her feet were, so here is a close up.|
|A few days old :)|
|Catching a nap with Daddy.|
|Celebrating Robert's 30th we took her to her first Giants game, she was perfect!|
"You fall in love with your children in a way that you have never fallen in love before. It is deep, protective, fierce, unconditional love that grows and changes. It is a powerful shift in your life when you become a parent and realize that the world is officially not about you, that you have an obligation to the community around you, to the future, to your children, and to other people's children. Welcome to parenthood-its big, you are not trained for it, it is unpaid weary labor, and yet it is one of the most powerful, transformative journeys of your life." - Big Book of Birth
So well said.