Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I Know

We're still alive over here! I have updates to Jonah's weekly photo project, but that will require a bit more time so it'll have to wait a bit longer. Jonah is currently taking a nap in his car seat just inside the front door, so I thought I'd jot down some notes about my thoughts lately.

Wait, why is Jonah taking a nap in his carseat you ask? Well, you see, my child is apparently one of those very few who don't need naps. Scratch that. He definitely NEEDS naps, but he refuses to take one at a time other than while he's nursing. About once a week or so he'll actually stay asleep when I put him down, but other than that we're out of luck. Also, he screams approximately 97% of the time that he's in his carseat, so the fact that he decided to take a nap in his carseat and stay asleep when I brought him in from the car is quite the miracle.

Anyway, we're chugging along here. Jonah is 16 weeks old (17 tomorrow), and there is so much going on in my head and in my heart. I go back to work the first full week in November, and while I'm cherishing every single second I have here with my little man, I'm really starting to feel quite a bit of anxiety about returning to work. I like my job. I know that my job has purpose and meaning and that hopefully I have some kind of small impact on students' futures. But I want to be with my baby. I want to be with him every day so I can watch all the small details about him unfold as he grows.
Annnnnd I'm back, three days later to finish the post.

So anyway, the point of this post is that being a mom is the best but hardest job in the world. I'm sure those veteran mommies are like, "you think you know that now, but just wait. You really don't have a clue yet."

I am a researcher. I'm pretty sure I drive my family nuts when I bust out another, "Well, according to....." but I can't help it. I like all kinds of research, too. The peer-reviewed articles in published journals, news articles (when the journalists are flaming idiots, which unfortunately seems to be the case more often these days), books, and anecdotal "research" by other moms. But I'm here to tell you that no matter how much preparation you do, there are just some things you can't fully be ready for when you bring your tiny human home from the hospital.

Unfortunately, a few of these things made me feel like I wasn't doing something right, or that maybe there was something "wrong" with my baby. But what I've learned in the past seventeen weeks is that we all create our own normal. Every mom and baby are different, so the old saying of trust your gut is probably one of the best things we can do as moms.

Without further ado, here are some things that I was unprepared for, even with all my research:

  • Apparently not all babies nap. Now, this one is still up in the air as to whether or not it's a healthy anomoly. Babies are supposed to sleep, like, a LOT, especially when they're tiny. When Jonah was in the NICU he was awesome at sleeping, waking to eat, having a tiny bit of awake time, and then conking out for a few hours. When we brought him home, he did take a few naps in the first few days, but after a few days at home it was like a switch flipped and since that time, we've been lucky to get two solid naps out of the kid per week. The exceptions are that he used to nap when I held him. Which was lovely and so sweet and moments I wouldn't trade for the world, but after a certain point you can only take your house being so filthy before you start to wish you could put down your beautiful babe for just one of those naps so you could put clean sheets on the bed. The past ten weeks or so, though, have been really been napless except for while Jonah's eating. Did you know babies can eat and sleep at the same time? They can. It's great for efficiency but exhausting for you as mom because WHEN ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO NAP? One of the things new moms hear over and over again is to sleep when the baby sleeps. I would have. I would have LOVED to take a nap to help recover from childbirth. I would still love to take a nap because we're still getting up several times a night to nurse and I still feel like I have a hangover when I wake up in the mornings due to sleep deprivation, but I can't because Jonah likes to nap while he's eating and on a rare occasion, while he's in the car (that's if he's not screaming like a wild banshee) or while I'm wearing him at the store or at church. I should note that we have been making slight progress on this front, though. I've noticed that if he is going to take a nap, 2 pm is the most likely time and 11 am is the second most likely time. We've been working really hard on laying in his crib for those nap times, but I think he's only actually stayed asleep once I've layed him down in the crib twice. The other times he wakes up as soon as I start lowering him in it, but I usually try to leave him in there until he starts fussing, which can be any where from two minutes to twenty minutes. 
  • While we're on the topic of sleep, let's talk about night time. While I was pregnant, Will and I set up the pack n' play in our bedroom and planned for Jonah to sleep there "for a few weeks" and then he would transition to his crib in the nursery. ha. ha. HA. I think it was his first night at home, after getting out of bed for the twentieth time because he would not stay asleep, that I finally told Will I was going to put him in bed with us. The next night, he started off in bed with us and we broke down the pack n' play. We put the little guy in the middle of the bed between us on top of a towel because he was spitting up pretty bad in his sleep and we didn't want to have to change our sheets every day. Jonah wore his footie pj's and a swaddle blanket (but with his hands sticking out because he HATED them being stuck in the swaddle, which actually made my life a lot harder because his startle reflex was so strong for a long time and he would wake himself on a regular basis by jerking his hands). We put him towards the top of the bed and Will and I scrunched our pillows down further towards his feet so there wouldn't be any risk of him suffocating on our pillows. This made nursing at night so much easier. After a few nights I discovered that if I could leave him on the side of the bed where he had finished eating he had a higher chance of staying asleep than if I flipped him over back to the middle of the bed, which eventually morphed into us changing Jonah's little pallet onto my left side instead of the middle of the bed. It was a lot more comfortable for me to lay on my left side at night, but I dearly miss my Bump Nest from pregnancy days! The rest of our set up includes the salt rock lamp I ordered from Amazon. We actually keep it on all night on the dimmest setting (the soft amber light is the only light I've found I can sleep with it on), but the dimmer turns up enough that I could turn it up while feeding Jonah to see everything. And finally, I keep an extra pillow and my feeding pillow under Jonah's feet on the bed at night so that when it's time to feed him, I can stack the extra pillow with mine under my arm for extra support. Jonah's s night time sleep schedule for the first several months included the two of us camping out on the couch at night until any where from 11:30 pm to 1:30 am. If I tried to get in bed sooner than that he would immediately wake up and start crying (and if he didn't, he would wait fifteen minutes until I was almost asleep to do it). To me, that was more exhausting than just staying awake until I knew he would actually sleep for an hour or so, so we stayed on the couch and watched a ridiculous amount of Netflix. In addition, Jonah was cluster feeding from around 6 pm to midnight every night any way. Around eight weeks old we started trying to get into the routine of getting a bath every night, and now finally we are able to get in bed before 10 pm. Our routine is to eat somewhere between 7 and 8, take a bath pretty soon after that, then get in bed together for  his last feeding before he goes to sleep. The past few nights he's slept from about 9:30 pm to 1 or 2 am, which has been AMAZING. But he's had good sleep for a few nights and then regressed back to waking every two hours before, so I'm not quite ready to say he's sleeping well yet. Which brings us to the next question: how long are we going to bed share? I never planned to bed share before Jonah got here, I honestly do not know how breastfeeding moms survive without doing it. Unless, I guess, you happen to be one of the lucky ones whose baby sleeps through the night. I think the answer to that question is "as long as he needs it and it's working for all of us." I think if and when Jonah drops down to waking only once in the night I could manage to get out of bed, go into the nursery, feed him in there, and then come back to bed. Will is totally supportive of Jonah staying with us right now because he sees how exhausted I still am (and I haven't even gone back to work yet!) I anticipate Jonah needing to nurse a little more at night when I go back to work and I'm nervous about my milk supply when I go back to work, so I think we'll continue bed sharing at least another month or so after I go back the first week in November. All that said, it goes back to as long as Jonah needs it and it's working for our family. Right now he's still not rolling over and is a pretty peaceful sleeper. I anticipate him beginning to roll over in the next six weeks or so, which might change how much sleep we get and we'll have to reevaluate. 
Alright, so this is my third day trying to get this post written, and it's getting a little ridiculous. So basically, my point is this: all mommies and babies are different. Just because all the lactation consultants told me Jonah should eat every 3-4 hours, doesn't mean that's what his little body needs. My child eats every two hours. He cluster fed for six hours in the evening for the first few months of his life. Babies are wonderful at telling you what they need. So even though it's exhausting to feed a human for forty minutes and then repeat in about an hour around the clock, it's what my baby needed (and still does, although it doesn't take forty minutes for him to eat now).
Ha. I never published this when I originally wrote it. So I'm publishing now, a month or so later.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to Work

Well, only for a week (and thank goodness it's only that!) this week was professional development for teachers and students return next week. I can't believe summer is already over; I mean, I just had this baby last week!

 But somehow here we are, in the dog days of summer and all the stores are full of shiny new supplies. It was a hard week to work since the little guy is still waking in two-hour cycles at night, but it really didn't want to "waste" a week of maternity leave on PD, since these are arguably the easiest weeks of the year. 

We are incredibly blessed that Will's job is flexible enough that he can work from home if he needs, so he was able to stay home or watch Munchkin. We did hire a babysitter for this afternoon to make sure Will could get in all his hours, but it was a pretty good week for everyone overall. 

On Monday, Will brought Jonah up to my school to bring me lunch and so that I could feed him, and Will was all dressed up and gloated that Jonah had slept practically all morning. When I got home it was more of the same- Jonah had slept and been so easy and blah blah blah. I was a bit upset since that is definitely not how the majority of our days go. I mean, I usually only count on one or two actual legitimate naps per week and here we are with the baby sleeping all day.

I think Will had a reality call, though, because on Tuesday when I got home and I asked how everything went, the response was something along the lines of, "He. Wouldn't. Let. Me. Put. Him. Down. All. Day."  Hahaha

It was really hard to leave Jonah for so long, and I am so incredibly thankful that I still get to stay at home another ten weeks. However, I think it was really good for me to be forced to leave him for such extended periods of time and see that we can, in fact, do it! He did well with his bottles, even though he would initially get pretty upset when he realized how fast he had finished it. I was able to pump in my classroom when I needed, and overall I was able to get just about as much milk as I needed. We're actually freezing the fresh milk and giving Wee Man frozen milk since it will expire next month. I plan to try and continue to put back at least three ounces a day for "just in case." I think the majority of moms worry about not pumping enough once they go back to work and I don't want to be on a day-to-day basis. Being a pumping high school teacher will definitely be a unique challenge because I won't be able to take a break whenever I need, but rather only during my conference and lunch. I also plan to pump just before and after the bell rings so that I get four sessions in during the day, even though they won't be evenly spaced. 

I am excited for the weekend and the opportunity to spend more time with my boys. We are meeting my dad and stepmom for dinner tonight and tomorrow Jonah and I are heading back up to my classroom to finish getting it ready and the. We'll help my sister-in-law finish moving into her apartment. Sunday we have church and a community prayer event. I will work on Monday for the first day of school to meet the kiddos, and then I am officially off until the first week in November. 

Monday, August 11, 2014


A love letter to my first-born, composed last week.


The sun has set
The lights are out
Your diapers whirl in the washer 
I'm not sure how I'll manage to get them hung out when they've run their course.
The rest of the house sleeps except for you, me, and the TV.
Your little body curls in close 
Your tiny hand, so purely soft, gently tickles my side. 
Your tired head is beginning to nod into me as your hungry suckles slow. 
I am tired. Weary, even. 
This parenthood thing is harder than I ever dreamed. You have changed me in ways I never thought possible. My mother-love is fierce. My mother-love caught me by surprise. My mother-love has even crippled me in the eight short weeks it's existed, worrying about you. Why aren't you sleeping more? Are you eating enough? Are my choices going to screw you up for life? God, please don't let me screw him up.

We're on our tenth episode of the fourth TV series we started since you came home. It turns out my baby likes to eat every two hours. And he likes to take forty minutes to do it. It wasn't but three or four weeks ago that you needed to eat for hours, almost nonstop, in the evenings, leaving me raw and begging for mercy and sleep. Now you're not eating nonstop, but we still don't climb into bed until the clock rings in the new day, because when I try to sneak us in before that your protests only lead to tears and frustration from your momma. 

I look back on these past eight weeks and I cannot believe we are here. We have come through so much. 

You were taken from my womb for your birth, and then you were taken from my room a few hours later. I felt you would never come home. I wept for you. For the time I felt was stolen from us. I wept when I had to leave you, alone with no momma to hold you in your hospital cradle, every night. 

And then you came home and the tears kept flowing, but this time it was my new-momma hormones. It took almost five weeks before a day passed without my tears falling. They were mostly happy tears; falling  in love with your baby is quite an emotional thing. But I was also panicking. Everyone says "they grow up so fast," and they couldn't be more true. I have begged time to slow, for your tiny wrinkled hands to stay newborn size forever. But time is our thief, and he is cruel indeed. You have kept growing; you weighed in at eleven lbs today. The days have passed and we have gone through highs and lows. 

Tonight you lay in my arms as you always do. Your sleep breaths are a little snaggled, but you are content. One hand has gone limp, but the other you placed on my chest, just over my heart. 
I will hold you here, even though my tummy rumbles and your diapers need to be hung. I could lay you down and try to sleep a few hours until you're ready for your next meal. But time is a cruel, cruel thief. And beg though I do, you are growing and changing before my eyes. I know in the blink of an eye that you will suddenly be crawling, then walking and running. Kindergarten is just around the corner, and then you'll be walking across a big stage to Pomp and Circumstance and telling family where you have chosen to go to college. 

So sleep tightly here with me my precious first born. You made me a mommy. You have changed my body, my mind, and my soul. I love you with a love I never thought possible. There will be sleep for me in many years. But right now, I will cherish your sweet milky breath and nuzzling mouth. I will study your thickening eyelashes. I will feel the warmth of your tiny body against mine, knowing it won't be long before you'll be bigger than I.
The TV plays in the background. The clocks tick as the thief continues to steal from us. Daddy and the pups try to catch a little sleep. But you and I, we will sit here on the couch and soak these fleeting moments into the very fibers of our being. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

6 Weeks Old

Someday I'll have enough time to post about things other than Jonah, but for now he's pretty much consuming my life :) Also, no editing on these photos because, who cares? Here he is at six weeks:

Y'all. This is monumental. This is the first week we were able to put him in his swing and he actually stayed there, happily. Before this, someone pretty much had to be holding him 24/7. I can go to the restroom without him screaming! I can change out the laundry! I can fix and eat lunch! Game. Changer.

Photobombed by Scarlett. She's pretty interested in him and doesn't like it when he cries.

His arms are always going.

We've been working on tummy time to help us with our neck muscles (which are pretty great, btw), but he really doesn't care for it too much. He gets easily frustrated.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

5 Weeks Old

 After a hard week last week, I decided we needed some sleep training for naps. A few people have told me that he should sleep better at night since Jonah's not taking proper naps, but all parents know that sleep begets sleep, and a baby who doesn't nap during the day likely won't sleep well at night. Since we're bed sharing at night, I started laying down with him for his naps during the day. Doing this, we were able to get about one good nap most days of the week. Luckily, this did seem to have a positive effect on our night sleeping.

I left Jonah for the first time this week also. Will came home from work a little early on Thursday since it was our anniversary (4 years!), and I needed to run to Target to get his mom a birthday gift. It was much easier to run to the store by myself rather than load the little guy up in the car and take him, so Will stayed home with him. I worried the whole time and rushed home, but when I got there this is what I saw.

On Saturday we went to the Museum of Natural Science for a late Father's Day celebration. This was Jonah's first big day full of outings, and he did a great job! Will wore him in the K'Tan at the museum. I fed him at both the museum and the restaurant without too much ado.

I took this picture one night of him sleeping. He loved being swaddled while in the NICU. We bought one of those swaddle blankets with velcro for him, but he does not like his arms inside of it. I usually compromise and leave them half-out, but he always works out of it in a few minutes. I loved his pose here, though. He almost always sleeps with his hands up by his face.

 We had an evening with slightly cooler weather, so we took advantage of it and went on a walk with Will's mom and her dog.
 I've been bitten by mosquitoes in our neighborhood in the past few weeks, so I went to Academy and bought a mosquito net for $10 and cut it up to fit around the stroller. Problem solved!

 Anniversary pictures

And Jonah's 5 Week Pictures:

He was looking at something

We've been working on weaning off the nipple shield the lactation consultant gave us, and he's definitely getting more milk without it. As a result (I think), he's also started spitting up quite a bit. He's never spit up much; in fact, he did in the NICU when they were forcing 90 mL of formula down him and he did once or twice right when he got home when we over-fed him, but this week was the first time since then.

You also had your first real bath this week since the last part of your cord fell off. The first bath went really well until we tried to wash your hair. The second bath wasn't such a hit. I hope you learn to like them!

Friday, July 11, 2014

4 Weeks Old

One more to get caught up...

Week four was a bit of a doozy. You were still cluster feeding ALL evening long and then weren't sleeping worth anything during the night. In fact, two nights in a row you only slept three hours total. And naps. You had a good one on Monday morning, but other than that, forget about them.

 Yeah, you're totally wearing the same outfit as he was for last week's photos. Oops.

But then one night you slept for five and a half hours, so there's that.

You've started grasping my finger when I put it in your hand.

We've started taking walks in the K'tan (the only place I can get you to sleep these days), but we can't do it very consistently because it is SO hot here. And the mosquitos are about to be out in full force, so we'll have to figure out something else for our walks.

We took you to small group on Monday. That's the first time Mom and Dad have been on six weeks or so, so it was nice to see everyone again. Everyone is totally smitten with you.

We also heard your first hint of a baby coo. I can't wait until you can start communicating with me in a way other than crying.

On Monday we went to the birth center for your newborn hearing screening. It was great to see all the midwives again; they were quite impressed with your hair. Unfortunately, we have to go back in two weeks to redo your hearing test because they couldn't get an accurate reading. You are sometimes quite the noisy eater and you chose today to show everyone your skills! Hopefully you'll be quieter next time so we don't have to do the alternative test.

On Tuesday during our new moms' group, one of the lactation consultants told me it was time for you to start having tummy time to work on your head control. I couldn't believe that you are old enough for that, it seems like you just came home from the hospital! But we started working on it and you have already made huge progress on holding up your head.

 You assume a very serious position while eating. We call this your "do not disturb" pose. You LOVE having your hands up by your face. If we try to swaddle you with your hands down or across your chest you scream until we let them loose.

Thursday was the Fourth of July. You are the only one who ended up in something red, white, or blue. Mom and Dad were tired. Some friends came over and we grilled for dinner.

I was not prepared for how awake you'd be. I thought newborns ate, slept, and pooped. But you are awake so much!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

3 Weeks Old

Time is a funny thing with a newborn. The nights seem to stretch on forever between feedings and diapers and lullabies to try and go back to sleep, only to wake up an hour and a half later to do it all over again. But the days are flying by at an alarming rate. Even though we're definitely experiencing some normal newborn woes (nap strikes! nursing difficulties! cluster feeding for 12 hours at a time!), I'm caught between wishing Jonah would stay my newborn forever and looking forward to all the learning and growing he has yet to do.

I think most people fall into one of two categories: baby lovers or kid lovers. That's not to say that kid lovers don't like babies or visa versa, but in general, I think people either look forward to the baby stage more or the kid stage more. While I can't wait for Jonah to be my little sidekick, I also panic a little every Saturday when he turns another week old. I LOVE having a teeny tiny baby.

I love his little grunts and squeaks.

I love his expressions.

I love when he explores his body. During week three he was really into making bubbles and sticking out his tongue.

I love his soft little feet and tiny little toes. I love watching him flex his toes. I love that he's starting to rub his feet over my arms while he nurses.

I love that he already loves me. I love that he's not a fussy baby and only cries when he's hungry (which is all the time).

I love that he seems to remember doing Crossfit in Mommy's belly. Some babies are swayers or rockers, but Jonah's a bouncer. Sometimes the only way to make him happy is to sit on my yoga ball and bounce, shush, and pat his back. I joke that it reminds him of doing double unders.

I love that he still curls his legs up like a little frog. When I was pregnant with him we called Jonah our little tadpole because we didn't want to call him an "it" before we knew his gender. The fact that he curls his legs up like this makes me smile, like our name somehow predicted how he would act.

Other notes from week 3:

  • He's started grunting and moaning in satisfaction or frustration while nursing
  • We had a few days of difficult nursing this week. Jonah would latch for a few minutes and then pull out and scream, and then go back on. 
  • Started cluster feeding for about six hours straight in the evenings. This makes for one tired momma. 
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