This has been the longest, shortest month of my life. I can't believe that four weeks ago, we were still waiting to meet the little guy who had been kicking me from inside for months.
While some days this month have felt like we're just surviving, all in all I'd say we're thriving. Silas is learning how to live in the world. I am learning how to be a mother. And, we are just learning to savor each moment!
What Silas is up to...
Silas has met both of his grandmothers and FaceTimed with his Aunt Callie and cousin Luke. Dad was able to take off a good three weeks from work, but it has been the "Mama and Silas Show" for the last week or so. The mornings seem to go smoothly, the afternoons seem to be willy-nilly, and many of the last few evenings have been downright challenging (Silas' witching hour is between 9:00 and 10:00 pm). Because of wintry weather conditions and the fear of germs, we've only taken him out of the house on a few outings, including the pediatrician's office, a weekly moms' breastfeeding meetup, a trip to Target, and a quick trip to mail a package.
Although he lost a bit of weight in his first couple of days, he's been nursing like a champ since my milk came in. I've been pumping a little bit to start a stash in the freezer, and just this week Rob has started giving him a few ounces of pumped milk in a bottle during his nighttime cluster feeds. He's just about to outgrow newborn sizes. Just this morning I set aside a box to store the clothes he's grown too big for. When we found ourselves at the end of our stockpile of newborn diapers, we took a chance on the size 1's, and they seem to fit his growing bum just fine. Daddy has been changing most of the diapers when he's home... he "charges" Silas two kisses for every change.
Since just a few days old, Silas has been able to lift and turn his head while lying on his stomach. And, each day during tummy time, he kicks and kicks, getting so frustrated that he's not going anywhere. We love to watch him make faces and to mimic the noises he makes, even when he bleats like a goat. Sometimes he gets so tired that he can't fall asleep, and those inconsolable cries are heartbreaking for Mama to listen to. As he starts to get worked up, he coughs a few times before actually crying... although sometimes he calms down before the tears actually come. Daddy says the trick to calming him down is to walk him around and around the kitchen table, ssssshing as loud as possible.
Silas had official newborn photos taken midway through the month (post coming soon!), as well as plenty of impromptu photoshoots. Mama and Daddy's iPhone photostream has been completely overrun by baby photos. We're celebrating all of his milestones, big and small: first snow day, first 5K ride in the stroller, first bottle, first school fundraiser (daycare night at Chipotle), etc.
From Mama's perspective...
Before Silas was born, I was most afraid of how a baby would disrupt my sleep routine (this girl needs her sleep!). But, knock on something, he has been sleeping in 3-4 hour cycles at night, which is enough to feel pretty rested in the morning. Although I would say that I'm more tired than I'm used to, I have only hit the exhaustion wall a couple of times over the last couple of weeks.
Even though I had been warned, I've been frustrated with my level of productivity during my day. I love the morning routine we have established, but it means that the day rarely officially begins before 10:30 am. Even on maternity leave from full-time work, I'm trying to keep up with my freelance responsibilities. It seems like nursing every 2-3 hours would give you a decent chunk of time, until you realize that within that cycle you spend 30 minutes nursing, 15-25 minutes playing with baby while he's awake, and at least 10 minutes laying him down for a nap, not to mention transition times. There have been several days that I worked what felt like all day long, only to clock two hours of billable time.
I'm trying to remember to set realistic expectations similar to Elise Cripe's "three things concept" from her days of early motherhood: even if I can accomplish only three things in a day, I call that a success. Most importantly I don't want to wake up on April 13th (when I head back to the office) and realize that I've wasted these precious moments away.
A few of Silas' favorites...
Although we've been gifted with so much wonderful baby gear from our friends and family, a few items stick out as particularly life-saving during this first month.
- Elephant Baby Mat : A coworker of mine gave us this floor mat as a baby gift... I had never seen one before. Although we joked about it looking like a dog bed, Silas loves it. He often naps on it when we're downstairs in the living room. It's so sweet to watch him rest his hand under the elephant's trunk while he sleeps.
- Graco Pack 'N Play with Napper and Changer : Although I try to have him nap several times a day in his crib in his nursery, Silas sleeps in the Pack 'N Play bassinet in our bedroom at night. For the first couple of nights at home, the foot of our bed never seemed so far away (in fact, the first night, Rob slept upside down so that his head would be nearest to him). But right now we're in a pretty good routine... when Silas wakes in the middle of the night, Rob gets up and brings him to me. I nurse one side, and then Rob changes his diaper on the Pack 'N Play changer. I nurse the other side, and then I swaddle him back up and lay him back down in the bassinet.
- myBaby SoundSpa Portable : It took us a few nights to learn the magic of this one (we thought the box fan in our room would be sufficient). But after seeing how effective it was during his naps in the nursery, we are now toting it back and forth between our room and his room throughout the day. It has several different noise settings (I personally think the "white noise" setting is least irritating), as well as 15-, 30-, and 45-minute time settings (we use the AC adapter instead of batteries, so we just let it play all night or nap long).
- Just One You Made by Carter's Swaddle Blanket Set : Another bit of magic!! Although these look discontinued now, they were an impulse buy at Target in the weeks before Silas was born. They have just the right amount of stretch to swaddle him tightly at night. At 2:00 in the morning, we don't need his hands escaping and hitting himself in the face.
- aden + anais Burpy Bib : We've got a spitter on our hands. Silas seems to spit up a little bit after every meal and during every nap, so we've got burp cloths stashed all over the house (although that doesn't seem to prevent me from having to change my shirt at least once a day). We have received two of these aden + adais bibs as gifts which I love, and my mom even copied the shape to make us a few more.
- Carter's Sleeper Gowns : Silas has been sleeping in these little gowns from his first night at home. They're perfect for middle of the night diaper changes, and the fold-over mittens have saved his face from many a scratch when his hands do manage to escape the swaddle.
- Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker : A friend gifted us with a hand-me-down rocker chair similar to this (our exact model has been discontinued), and it has become the best babysitter. It is the perfect place to sit Silas down when I don't want to lay him on the floor. We move it around downstairs, so that he can watch us cook and eat dinner, etc. The vibration seems to calm him down, and if all else fails, we fold in the front stand and rock him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
- Baby K'Tan Baby Carrier : Before Silas was born, I most looked forward to carrying him around in a carrier like the Baby K'Tan. Although it has taken a few tries to get the hang of it, wearing him around in the morning while I eat breakfast is one of my favorite parts of the day. It's also been our favorite mode of transportation as we've started venturing out of the house on errands (much easier than pulling out the stroller every time!).