Siena has spent two weeks as her own person as of Saturday. One of the relaxation YouTube videos I would listen to leading up to her birth said something along the lines of, “Soon your baby will be outside of you, her own person” and it always made me a little emotional to think about the bond that we had created in the womb being broken. But now that she’s on the outside, that bond is even stronger.
Life, however, is harder! My pregnancy was pretty easy and my discomfort level was low, even at the end. Life with a newborn is a whole different level of challenging, but I am so thankful to have a healthy, vibrant little girl to share my days with.
We came home from the hospital last Monday morning and it was way less scary than I thought it’d be. Life in the hospital with Siena was pretty easy – she never had any long crying spells and only had a few needs that we easily could meet with trial and error. However, a few days later when my milk came in and the reality that her cozy womb was a distant memory set in, life with Siena got a little harder. Although I still wouldn’t consider her a colicky baby, she definitely has her moments (which we have learned is often due to trapped gas so I have been much more diligent about burping her and my doctor suggested I take a probiotic), including her nightly “witching hour” which has brought me to tears, caused Mike to wonder if his daughter loves him (yes she does!) and left both of us more hesitant to invite guests over in the evening.
I’m not sure who invented the term “sleep like a baby,” but it wasn’t about Siena. She sleeps less than I would have imagined a newborn would – instead she’s always eating (and sometimes I suppose snoozing on my boob). We joke that she doesn’t even love me, just loves my boobs. Newborns are notorious for long nursing sessions and Siena is on the high end of the spectrum, with the average feeding lasting 45-60 minutes and sometimes longer if we are in the middle of a “cluster feed.” I was avoiding giving her a pacifier until we were well established with breast feeding but it doesn’t matter because for now, she won’t take the pacifier anyway. She just wants her two BFFs-right boob and left boob. Nipple cream, soothing breast pads and the My Brest Friend pillow are literally my best friends.
The best way to describe these last two weeks is high highs and low lows. My emotions have been all over the map (which is expected since my hormones are going crazy trying to adjust back to normal after pregnancy) but they strongest feeling I have is true love. I’ve never wanted to fiercely to protect and love someone more. Every cry sends off an alarm in my mind and all I want to do is make her happy, and it’s frustrating when I can’t (besides offering the breast – she will always take it even if she’s not making signs that she’s hungry). I’m pretty sure they make these babies cute so that no matter how frustrating they are, they still melt your heart with one glance.
Despite Siena’s love of food, breastfeeding is way, way harder than I imagined. Despite receiving 8 or more demonstrations in the hospital (Scripps Encinitas is designated as “Baby Friendly” by the World Health Organization and every single nurse has training on breastfeeding) I was still experiencing quite a bit of nipple pain (and a little bleeding) in the first week. My friend Amber who is due this week invited me to a lactation support group at CAP Wellness (which happens to be where I do prenatal yoga) and the lactation consultant there helped a lot. There’s still a little pain at times when she latched wrong and some aching after a marathon feeding but overall it’s getting more comfortable. The two lactation support groups I’ve attended have been therapeutic for me as well because it’s nice talking to fellow moms in the same situation as me.
Mike took 4 weeks paternity leave and I couldn’t be more thankful. He immediately took to being a dad and we have talked about how we are both surprised how quickly he’s bonded with her since we have heard that many new dads struggle in the beginning since the baby doesn’t really do much. He helps me immensely by changing diapers, running errands, cooking food, fetching me water or whatever else I need while breastfeeding, giving me nightly back massages and most importantly, soothing the baby when she’s fussy, especially if it’s in the middle of the night so that I can sleep after each 45-60 minute feeding session. I can’t even imagine doing this without him and I’m already nervous for him to go back to work in November!
We have had several generous visitors who have brought us food and company, which has also helped. Not only does it help to have a meal (even if I have to eat it cold because of Siena’s unpredictable nursing schedule), but a little conversation is welcomed and helps us stay sane among the piles of diapers.
As for me, I am recovering well. My lady parts seem almost back to normal and the most discomfort I’ve experiencing is upper back pain and a little soreness from breastfeeding (hence Mike’s nightly back massages). My stomach shrunk way faster than I imagined it would though it is very squishy and doesn’t look anything like my old stomach (no stretch marks at least)! I have done my best to sleep when baby sleeps by taking at least 1 nap a day and we try to be in bed as long as possible each night even though it’s interrupted. It’s not uncommon for us to be in bed from 10 pm – 10 a.m., although I’m sure we sleep for only about half of that time.
I didn’t do any physical activity for the first four days and then took a walk around the block (10 min or so). I waited another day and then ventured out on another walk. In the past week I’ve managed to get out at least for a short walk every day (we have about a 1 mile trail near our house and the bumps help rock Siena to sleep) and hope to continue this trend. At this point the walks are more for my mental health than anything – being cooped up all day isn’t healthy for someone who is used to working out every single day! I also do some gentle yoga stretches daily (cat cow, child’s pose, happy baby, nothing crazy) to help with my achy back and reverse the symptoms of sitting on my butt nursing all day long (I really need to figure out the nursing in the wrap thing).
We made it out to lunch twice now and man, it felt like an accomplishment! Siena usually takes a little longer nap midday and we took advantage of this and enjoyed some sunshine and fresh air during our lunch. She even slept long enough after our last lunch for us to go for a walk near the beach!
We are learning more about our little girl every day. Every single day has a high and a low, and each day is balanced between the two differently. I know this phase won’t last forever and that I’ll miss her being a tiny newborn, so we just have to roll with the punches. Knock on wood, but I really do feel like it’s getting a little easier!
Moms, what was your favorite or least favorite part of the newborn phase?
I am glad your husband is able to take time off, my husband was able to take two weeks off. I think that made a huge difference in family dynamics. It was us both being new parents for the first two weeks, going together through lows and highs. I did not change a single diaper until my hubby went back to work. It may seem like a small thing, but it was huge for me then. When he went back to work, I took two naps, one during the day, and the other from 9:00 pm to midnight. And then was often up with our baby boy until 3:00 am and slept with him until 10:00 am. The nights would have been so much harder on both of us, if I did not have my early evening sleep. And people often say they miss their children being babies, then toddlers, etc. I love watching my boys grow, I love watching all the new things they do and learn, and how they change. So there is always something new and exciting. Right now I am waiting for them to get home with by husband and congratulate my 10 year old on his first national medal. So as long as you can celebrate who she is, you will not miss the days that has passed!
oh this brings back memories!! hang in there, momma, you’re doing great:) i remember the sore boobs and the tears of frustration at the long nights without much sleep. but to just have her snuggling on your chest as she sleeps was the best thing. and although it made my arms sore, i loved holding her all day long (i didn’t have a wrap!). you are so right about that instant bond and the do anything for your baby love. it’s like no other. all in all, it’s something i’ll always cherish. glad you’re getting out and have such a great dad to help!! props to mike:)
I don’t have any advice, but you guys a redoing amazing. Can’t wait to see you all tomorrow!!
You a guys are doing amazing! It’s so good to have help from the hubb . My husband got 4 weeks off too and thank goodness for it. My daughter would nurse every 30 Mins to 45 Mins the first couple days then it went to every 2 hours. My favorite part was how tiny she was and all the little cute noises she made. My least favorite was just the not sleeping thing. But, my body got used to it and day by day it DOES get easier. 🙂
Oh my goodness, +1 to needing to learn to feed in the wrap! At almost 3 weeks I mostly finally think we’ve got breastfeeding worked out but only in the nursery, with a Boppy and a blanket and several burp cloths… I thought modesty might hold me back from breastfeeding in public, but screw modesty — it’s all the equipment!
Haha I hear you! I’ve had to breastfeed at the pediatrician office and my arm hurt after 5 min of the football hold without any pillows. Glad breastfeeding is going well for you ! I hear once they’re bigger you don’t need as much equipment.
Oh she’s beautiful!! Least favorite part of the newborn phase was the lack of sleep for sure! I could handle the nursing discomfort and not getting right back to exercising but sleep? I NEEDED it! Best part – the all consuming raw love I felt – I didn’t expect it to be so strong or intense! Your description of high highs and low lows was SO true for me! Also newborn snuggles and the newborn smell!!
I used the Moby wrap to nurse my son and it was a game changer for sure! I would wear a nursing bra/top and after a cpl tries we had it down pat! You look great and Siena is gorgeous!
I think my son’s least favorite part was all of his tummy aches from gas and just learning to digest milk. I wondered after my son was born why all the baby books never mentioned that the first two months of his life would be defined by adjusting to having a working digestive system. He definitely wasn’t colicky but man did he let us know if he was uncomfortable. The only thought that kept me from crying with him when I couldn’t help the gas was remembering that even if I couldn’t make him physically feel better, just being there with him was helping. Hopefully he was learning that its ok to cry sometimes, mommy and daddy will just be here with you until you feel better. It took me from a place of frustration trying to fix him to a much more peaceful place knowing that even the crying was building our bond.
Congrats on making it this far with her and still blogging. I’ve loved reading your blog over the years. Its kept me motivated in my own fitness goals just to read such a positive outlook.
Great job with the breastfeeding! My daughter is 14 months and I just weaned her last month. I remember those nights in the beginning where I would be crying with her on the couch trying to get her to nurse while my husband sat next to me telling me it was going to be ok and that I could do it. It does get easier and eventually breastfeeding will be completely natural. I always say breastfeeding was one of the hardest most selfless things I did, BUT one of the most rewarding things I did.
Jen @ Pretty Little Grub
First of all, I was away when you had your precious little girl so I have to say congratulations! She’s beautiful and you look amazing.
I’m sure the adjustment is soo hard but lucky your husband could take the time off. I would definitely need that out of the house time for my sanity too.
I feel like I could have wrote this exact post. I had so many high highs and low lows in the beginning. What would we do without our husbands and the Brest Friend pillow? Walks and visitors have been my saving grace. You’re doing great mama! Allie is almost 8 weeks and everything feels a little easier now.
Yes I remember reading your one month post and it helped prepare me! Glad that we can support each other through it! It really is worth it!
Me too! I hate to say this, but it makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one who struggles. Most days are amazing but some days are really hard. I’m here whenever you want to chat!
Kristen @ Glitter and Dust
Reading this was like taking a trip down memory lane for those first couple of weeks. You look great and it sounds like things are going relatively well. I know what you mean about the high highs and low lows. I have had my low lows mostly when I have been alone with Axel. It can be very lonely and stressful when you don’t have any help.
That is so wonderful that Mike has 4 weeks off. Justin had a week off and it was amazing. I couldn’t imagine having him for that long. What a great bonding time for you and your family. ☺ I honestly don’t know what I would do without Justin’s help (when he is home from work). Taking over as the lone parent during the days is really hard – harder than I thought it would be. Some moms thrive, some struggle – I’m at the struggling end. Hopefully it will get better.
Isn’t it nice when friends/family bring meals? It saved us on multiple evenings – and we ate a lot of lasagna!
My favorite part of the newborn stage is building the bond and learning the ins and outs of this little person I created. What certain cries mean, seeing that satisfaction on his face after getting changed, his facial expressions during bath time, and watching his sweet face while he sleeps. The most difficult part is not being able to talk or communicate with him – not knowing what is wrong at times and being overwhelmed by his cries. I can handle the sleep deprivation, but the crying is really hard for me, especially when I am alone with him.
Leslie @ Triathlete Treats
Ohhhh Siena is super cute!!!! I’m sure it will get easier!! Hopefully cause I have no idea!! 🙂
Sheena @ Paws and Pavement
Wow sounds like you have your hands full! Glad Mike gets to stay home for 4 weeks. More dads should be given longer leaves too to be home during those first weeks.
Oh my gosh, I know so many of these feelings all too well. I think we all have those breakdown moments where things just don’t seem to be working right, or baby is so unhappy for whatever reason. Everyone has told me the that it really does get better. You and Siena will figure each other out more each day. 🙂 I know Trevor and I are getting there, but we still have some moments of frustration. They seem to be the toughest with lack of sleep. Thankfully wonderful husbands can help as well. Hope you’re feeling more confident every day!
Thanks Kristen! We are definitely feeling more confident already. It’s crazy how much you can even learn in just a few days.
Congratulations! What a beautiful baby! You look great too!! I could not believe how hard breastfeeding was. With my daughter, I felt like I was constantly nursing. It was overwhelming. However, it did get easier, and I started enjoying it more. You also get used to the interrupted sleep. I promise. My son was a colicky baby but super-efficient nurser. I think every child brings you a different challenge and an immense love. Cherish all these moments. They pass so fast. My daughter is about to turn 12!!
Thanks Whitney! We have made some progress already so I’m optimistic but yes, it’s hard!!
Congrats on your beautiful baby!! Thats so great that Mike was able to take 4 weeks paternity leave, that was probably so nice! Its also great to hear that you were able to get out and walking so quickly =) Also, having friends and family around to help really makes a big difference as well! I hope you are still enjoying your beautiful baby!
Thank you! It’s been a whirlwind but those first weeks were by far the hardest!