December 12, 2013

One month of life

My daughter is 5 weeks old.
What a dreamy fog these last weeks have been. Going from an intense 4 days of labor, to sleep deprivation, to constant diapers and figuring out breastfeeding, it is a lot for new parents. No one can really prepare you to step into parenthood, you just figure it out. We are getting to know a new person. We are discovering what she likes and doesn't like, we are learning the distinct meanings of her different cries, and we are realigning all of our priorities to meet those of our little one. Every day gets a little easier but also comes with a new set of challenges. I am grateful for people in my life that let me know that everything we are going through is normal. We are not alone in this journey. I hope by sharing our process, it will encourage others going through it as well.
We are almost to the magical 6 weeks/40 days of recovery and we have learned a lot from month one:
-The biggest lesson I am learning is to trust my intuition. My Myers Briggs is ESFJ. The “s” is for sensing rather than “n” for intuitive. I get my information from the world around me. I am not very good at processing emotions and thoughts without an external sounding board. Well as issues arise in parenting it can be very difficult to not get lost in all the google noise. Everyone has opinions. For the person that said one thing worked, there are 4 people that said it didn't work. Don’t do this, do that, never do this… it’s confusing and overwhelming. Especially if it involves a crying baby that you want so much to comfort. Do I call the doctor? Is this normal? Whose opinion do I go with? I finally had to shut out the noise and take a moment to really trust my intuition and go with it. Making decisions on behalf of your little one feels daunting but I truly believe that if you allow yourself a moment to process it all, you will know what to do. Now I know why the second baby is easier in this department: you have a better sense of what is normal. Oh the joys of being a first time mom. 
-One thing I didn’t expect was the process of falling in love with your child. Don’t get me wrong, the second she was put into my arms I felt so much love for her. But those first few weeks are so full of feeding, diapers, and soothing the cries, your main focus is keeping this new baby alive and happy. I love Genevieve and I would do anything for her but I was consumed with the obligation of caring for her. Some days I feel like a feeding machine and I miss the days where my life didn’t revolve around a 2-hour cycle. And then I feel guilty that I even feel this way. But I am so grateful for other new moms that help normalize all these feelings and emotions. It is all part of the journey. In a matter of days or weeks Genevieve will start smiling at me and I am so excited for when she can look me in the eye and smile. I can’t wait for her to acknowledge me as her mother.
Snuggle time is our favorite. 

-I do believe that these first 6 weeks are all about survival. My body still has a little bit of recovery, sleep is irregular and there is no pattern in my baby’s sleep/eat/wake cycle. It’s a season of cuddles and very short to-do lists. I am so grateful that everyone prepped me for those first weeks. I let go of expectations and gave myself some grace. My body is still going through a lot – milk leaking, what feels like a menstrual period for over a month, and healing from stitches. Rest is so important. I can’t say that I have been good about napping when baby naps. I am just not a napper. I took maybe 2 naps when I was pregnant. But I have taken my productivity level down a notch. I have really enjoyed my quiet days with Genevieve. Netflix and Hulu have become a staple, along with nonstop picture taking. When she is sleeping soundly I get a few chores done. I have been able to increase my to-do list each week as my body heals and I adjust to my new energy level.
-After 5 weeks of placenta pills, I now really believe they make a difference. Around 2 pm each day I can feel anxiety coming on. On days when I don’t take any pills, I am on the verge of an emotional mess; on days when I take them, I feel like those emotions are manageable. Just a few days ago I was so overwhelmed trying to decide what to do about Genevieve’s reflux/gas issues. Do I call the pediatrician, lactation consultant, chiropractor, or family? She started crying and I found myself unable to leave my bed. The idea of getting up to get dressed seemed impossible. Anxiety took over. It was then that I realized I hadn’t taken my placenta pills. With the help of my sister, I took my pills and got ready for the day. By that evening I was a whole new person. Was it the pills? I can’t say for sure, but personally, I have seen incredible results. Overall, I have been surprised at how manageable everything has been. I believe it is because of the pills and all the support I have.

-Breastfeeding is a full time job. I am beyond blessed to have a husband that understands this and does not expect me to be busy during the day. I now understand why many women start supplementing and switching to formula after a few months. It is a lot of work. Genevieve is eating every 2 hours. With her feeding, burping and diaper change, I have about 1.5 hours between nursing. And some of that time is spent with her alert and wanting to be held. There is not that much time to get anything done. Once I accepted this I have absolutely loved those moments to slow down and bond with my daughter. I know I will look back and treasure this time. 
Feeding my little one while Michael decorates the tree.
-Genevieve loves sleeping on her tummy. We compromise at night and she sleeps on her side. Because she loves her tummy, we already do a lot of “tummy time” and her neck is getting so strong! The first 4 weeks she HATED being on her back. She would cry and scream. I just thought it would be something she would grow out of until I heard about chiropractic care for infants. Wow, I would recommend this to anyone! A baby’s journey into this world, especially a vaginal birth, can cause misalignment in the baby’s neck and spine. When the spine is misaligned, it pinches the nerves that travel from the brain to the organs. The most common misalignment is the atlas, at the base of the neck. This affects the stomach – hence most babies have some sort of reflux. With 3 adjustments (it’s just light pressure on the neck), she is a new person. She no longer cries when she is on her back and her reflux has significantly improved. Now I am going off dairy and taking probiotics to help with some other issues we are having and I feel really good about this treatment plan. I am all about holistic healing. The last thing I want to do is put my little girl on acid reflux medication! 
*If you are considering chiropractic care, please do your research and find a chiropractor that has a lot of experience with babies. Our chiropractor has adjusted over 300 babies. He even goes to hospitals to adjust babies right after delivery. You want to go to an expert!
Getting her first adjustment!

-We made the switch from the Moses basket to a co-sleeper. She moves so much at night (no surprise there, she wiggled and squirmed every day in the womb). The co-sleeper gives her a little more space and helps me sleep better. There is no way I am ready for her to be in the nursery. I love that we can cuddle so easily with her right next to me. We are still developing our attachment and bond and having her close has really worked for us. After 3 weeks, she has her nights and days finally sorted out! As of 4 weeks she sleeps 4 - 4.5 hour stretches at a time. Hallelujah!
She starts off in the co-sleeper and then ends up next to me. 

-She loves to be worn and we love to wear her. I can’t imagine carrying her car seat around. It is so dang heavy! I have loved having a wrap for going out. Once you learn how to put it on, it really is super simple. Michael prefers the ring sling. He can get her in there in a snap! She sleeps so soundly and is very content when worn. It also helps keep strangers away from her during the cold and flu season. People are way less likely to get in her face when she is right up against us. I will also put her in the wrap if I need to get a few things done around the house and she wants to be held. It’s a win-win. It is also getting easier as her neck gets stronger. I am excited to use the ergo carrier as well once she gets a teeny bit bigger. We love our carriers and highly recommend baby-wearing!
Sweet Genevieve, 
As I write this, you are making the sweetest newborn noises cuddled next to me. Every day I get so excited for the first daylight feeding so I can look at your face. I still can’t believe how cute you are. :) Every day I become more in awe of you as my daughter. Some days I feel like I am not the greatest mother, especially when I can’t figure out what your cries mean. We cry together. But you are so patient with me and you know the perfect time to fall asleep in my arms. We are figuring this out together, aren’t we? In the last month we have seen you gain 3 pounds, outgrow newborn clothes, hold your head for a few seconds and sleep 4 hours at night. This is a growing process for the both of us. We celebrate every bit of growth and change in your life. Your dad and I get excited about all your facial expressions and movements. I can’t imagine how we will react with the smiles, giggles and first words. Thank you for being the sweetest little girl and for bringing so much joy into our lives.
First Thanksgiving with cousins Ellis and Liam. 
Our first outing - getting crafts at JoAnns
Genevieve's first snow
Baby's first bottle

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