AND TOMORROW SHE’LL BE APPLYING TO COLLEGE.
I mean, really. How is time flying so fast? Days (and REALLY nights) sometimes feel so long, but weeks are scampering by and this girl is big and growing and changing and just UGH. Stop, time, please. kthanksbye.
We are settling into a little routine as a family of 3, and by routine I mean that there is no routine and so the “plan” is to never know what’s going to happen ever but to try really hard to brush our teeth every day. Bonus if we do it twice. Ew, I know.
Because of Beck’s excellently timed birthday, we got to have Jay home with us for two and a half weeks, and he went back to work yesterday. He worked from home for one of those weeks, but it was still so nice just to have him HERE to witness all the snuggles and the craziness that babies impart on an otherwise orderly life. Maybe formerly orderly is more like it.
The first few days with Beck at home were a blur and yet I feel like I remember every second, which I fully realize makes no sense. We mostly had lots of visitors and food and baby snuggles, and Beck slept though almost all of it except for some screaming when her diaper was changed or when she was naked at the doctor’s office. THE INDIGNITY. Jay and I took turns sleeping with her on the couch because she wouldn’t sleep alone in her Pack and Play but we were scared to bring her in the bed because we thought we’d roll over on her – more on that in a minute. The first two nights I got a 5 hour stretch of sleep which was weird but also normal because new babies are SO tired and not really hungry and there’s no milk in the boobs yet, so we just went with it and I fed her a little bit more before and after those stretches. Of course, I was super duper hopeful that I’d have a 5-hour sleeping baby fo eva and eva, but let’s be honest. Not happening.
Jay, for his part, was a weepy mess in those first few days, which I find incredibly endearing and wonderful. You see, I knew that we would like our child. This wasn’t a surprise to me, but Jay was REALLY surprised that the instant Beck came out squalling he was a puddle and willing to do anything in the world that she needed – any trace of selfishness is completely gone from him, not that he was terribly selfish to begin with. On our first night home, just 12 hours after she was born, Beck had her first poop. The first poop post-birth is called meconium, and it’s this black tar-like substance that is super sticky and has been building up in your baby for 40 weeks. It is ridiculously gross unless it’s your baby, in which case you’re like YAY BOWELS ARE WORKING HIGH FIVES. Jay immediately leaped to change her diaper, which surprised me because he told me when I was pregnant that poop was terrible but puke was ok, so we agreed that I’d handle poop and he’d handle puke. See above about not realizing that he’d like his kid. Anyway, he changed her diaper, then got all teary-eyed. I asked what was going on and he said that he wanted to do everything for her in the world, even change meconium diapers, and then just sat in our glider and stared at her for a solid 15 minutes. It was so lovely and the following days were like that – lots of firsts, but lots of quiet, very natural-feeling times with just the 3 of us and the dogs.
Beck came to us on 12/9 at 6 lbs 10 oz and 18 inches, and by her two week appointment she was longer than 19 inches and 6 lbs 14 ounces – 4 ounces over her birthweight, largely due to the fact that once my milk came in she decided to breastfeed around the damn clock, sometimes cluster feeding for 3 hours at a time.
My nipples, guys. Yowza. Our pediatrician’s office is connected to the breastfeeding center, AND every pediatrician on staff is a lactation consultant as well, so every time Beck has an appointment I get to ask any boob questions I have, which is hugely beneficial. The first few days with Beck were a little trying on the old girls, because nipple skin is THIN, guys, and there was no milk (it comes in 2-5 days after birth, mine came in at 2.5 days like clockwork thank goodness), so we have this super sleepy baby just gnawing and gnawing at my boobs, and it hurt. There was blood, there were scabs, and now…it’s not that bad anymore. There were a few days after THAT where Beck was startled by the milk because she was working REALLY hard and then didn’t need to anymore, which was kind of funny but also sad because it made her cry, but now we’ve got a pretty good little routine of feeding whenever she makes hunger cues, and sleeping and trying to be moderately productive in between. I’m not attempting any kind of schedule so far, just feeding her when she needs or wants to be fed and trying to sleep and work other times.
Christmas was wonderful but A LOT, because of course our family all wants to hold Beck all the time, so she was a little bit overwhelmed by the end of it all. At the end of each of 3 family gatherings we had, she pretty much fussed without stopping until she got to nurse again, which at that point was more for comfort than hunger, but it calmed her down so I’m cool with it. Jay and I are both able to calm Beck very reliably, and it’s a very nice feeling to have the “shhh, you’re not alone, I’m here,” power and have it actually work – like she believes us. I know it won’t always be that way and we’re fully prepared for nights of terror where nothing works, but being the ones to calm our baby is wonderful right now.
We haven’t had a ton of freak-out moments yet, mainly thanks to the internet, in which we can Google “is it normal if…” a thousand times a day, get some reassurance, and move on with our lives. I was worried before my milk came in that she wasn’t eating enough because she was so sleepy, but that’s picked up in spades – something I’ve found is the theme for most of babying: if you wait it might go away. Jay DID find a bruise on Beck’s arm yesterday and is giving me hell about bruising the baby after ONE DAY alone with her. I honestly have no clue where it came from and it’s kind of pitiful, but I think that’s a thing with kids – they whack about and get bruises. I’m going with it. I also found her sucking on that same spot and think that she might have given herself a hickey, which is entirely possible if you consider the fact that she made my nipples bleed and scab in less than two days. We did have a few hours of terror last week before her umbilical cord fell off – they do not tell you in baby school (aka the internet) that that shit STINKS. Not like a little bit. It smells like your kid is rotting, and that should be in the manual, you know? Anyway, right before Beck’s umbilical cord stump fell of there was a little bit of blood and the smell was really like a barrel of rotting fish, so we were all worried but the nurse assured us that stinky rotting flesh is indeed stinky, and since the skin wasn’t infected we had nothing to worry about. And she was right. The stump fell off, there was a little bit of blood that dried and came out over the next few days, and we have a baby with a normal belly button. After the stump fell off she got her first bath, which was adorable and she hated it even though it lasted about 3 minutes. And then I felt sad that she wasn’t THAT fresh out of the oven anymore and that made me feel silly.
I’m definitely nostalgic for every single second that passes because she’s changing so much, like I miss her the day she was born. Even though she’s here now. I think part of it is probably hormonal because that’s definitely a work in progress, the settling of the hormones, but some of it feels like it might last forever. It makes me think I need to do some more mindfulness work, or more living-in-the-moment work, or something like that, because I think about how big Beck’s getting and how much more alert she’s getting all the time. Now is so much fun, but then was so lovely too and it’s hard to be stuck in the middle all the time.
When I’m not being nostalgic, though, I’m really excited for Beck’s future. We haven’t seen any milestones really yet, but she’s so much more alert and pushes up with her legs and moves her head around a little bit. The head-moving is hilarious because she’ll really lift it up well and look around all shocked, and then it’s like total. muscle. failure. and her head flops into a waiting hand, which is also kind of shocking to her. She makes really ridiculous faces all the time, and it’s so dumb and cliche to say your baby is funny, right? She’s a baby. But she’s funny.
Now that we’re better at nursing and Jay is back to work, we’re working on where and how we all sleep the best. For a few days Beck has had kind of active and fussy mornings, nursing several times between 8 and 1 or so, then takes a 3-4 hour nap in the afternoon, then repeats the same cluster feeding routine in the evening and we get another long nap/sleep stretch in the evening, lasting until about midnight. Usually she sleeps on the couch near us while we’re still awake, then we try to get her to sleep in her Pack and Play by our bed during the night. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When she won’t sleep alone I sleep with her in the bed on my side, which is scary because there are a lot of anti cosleepers who like to write things online about rolling over on your baby, but also I love it so much because she’s super close and sleeps really well when we do that. Bed sharing is a total thing all over the world and has been for centuries, and there’s some great research about temperature and breath regulation for babies when they’re that close to their mothers overnight – research that indicates bed sharing reduces SIDS risks, not increases it. Still, scary stuff online is scary and I think I sleep better when Beck is next to me but in her own bed, so we’ll see how that progresses as she gets older. I’m not fixated on any one method of sleep right now because she’s so little – all 3 of us getting the most quality sleep we can is the name of the game and beyond that I don’t care how it happens.
The worry, we have found, is very real, came on very fast, and is constant. I have normal worries, like Beck stopping breathing in the middle of the night or overheating, and then I have completely ridiculous fears like my dogs eating her. This is a real thing, guys. My dogs have been perfectly normal with Beck – they sniff her head occasionally and other than that are seriously exactly like they have always been: mostly lazy, excited for visitors, walks, and food. That’s it. BUT. When Beck is sleeping and I walk out of the room to do anything – pee, brush teeth, nothing that ever takes very long, I have this image of Beck starting to cry and the dogs being like THIS IS ENOUGH, and just eating her. Not biting her. I have very real moments where I picture myself walking back into the room to a few drops of blood on a blanket and no baby. And then I remember that labradors don’t usually eat babies and she would probably yell a little before totally being gobbled up, and at the worst I’d just end up with a one-armed baby or something. I mean. Come on.
So there we are. We’re tired but not dead, confused but not overwhelmed, and trying to enjoy the sleepy snuggles just as long as we can. There are career challenges that we’re facing and the healing process for me hasn’t been the MOST fun thing in the world, but we’ve found that if we stare at our girl for even a few minutes all of those things kind of melt away into the background, no matter how bad they seem sometimes.
Don’t worry, though, we’ll talk about the graphic healing from childbirth next. And more boob stuff fo sho.