So, we made it through the first 6 weeks of baby-hood! And let me tell you, it is a real reason for celebration. The newborn stage is HARD. Like, whoa. People tell you that, and you believe them, but for some reason, you kind if doubt that it can be THAT HARD. Newsflash, it is in fact, that hard.
If you take the sleep deprivation out of the picture, because that is just a given, there are some other major struggles that arise in those early days. Ones that you don’t really know that will be a part of every day life.
Adam and I found that frankly, the best tool you can have in your belt is a good support system. My momma was a saint, coming at all hours of the morning when I needed her, and staying as long as possible when she had so many other things to attend to. Having her here was a life saver, and the best gift ever.
Along with the basic help she provided (dishes, laundry, holding Joey so I could shower, etc.), my favorite part of having Momma Kathy here was the fact that it allowed me to feel the way I needed to feel, without questioning myself. If I cried, Mom held me and told me it was ok. If I needed to voice that breastfeeding is really hard, she nodded and brought me yet another glass of water. She constantly made sure that Adam had everything he needed, helped him take care of me, and even made it possible for the two of us to spend some much needed time together during those wary early days.
But, we strongly realize that this is not always the case for everyone. And even though it was for us, we still needed some baby tools to save the day. We are pretty minimalists, so we did not start off with many baby goodies. However, the ones we do have are PHENOMENAL and perfect for us. So I thought I’d share some of our struggles and how we combat them. Because let’s be real, everyone with an infant is looking for tips at 3 AM and I’m guessing some of these will save some mommas and dads out there, like they did for us.
Joey HATED being flat. More than that, he is a mover. Which means, the typical “swaddle and lay them on their back” situation made for a lot of sleepless nights. First, we stopped swaddling him. Immediately he threw his hands above his head and kicked his legs until they were where he wanted them. Cue, no more swaddle.
But still, he didn’t want to be flat and he just did not sleep well. We tried the wedge under the mattress, letting him sleep in his MommaRoo (which worked, but not a good habit to form), even putting him down on his tummy (he could lift his head from day 2 of life, so we weren’t too worried about tummy sleeping). Finally, a customer of my mom’s suggested the Snuggle Me. It’s very similar to a Dock-a-Tot, but smaller and made for co-sleeping. We DID NOT co-sleep, but there is no reason that this thing can’t be used in a big enough bassinet, or as we did, the crib. As long as the baby can’t roll over and get himself wedged, it’s perfect. The first night we laid him in the Snuggle Me in the bassinet by the bed, he slept a solid 4 hours and we never looked back.
Highly recommended from this momma, and I attribute Joey’s great sleeping habits to the Snuggle Me.
Along with the Snuggle Me, I have a tip that may cause some riff… Adam and I put Joey in his crib on week 3. The initial reason, as recommended by my saintly mother, was because Joey takes so long to wake up, that I’d wake up at this initial grunt, and lay there for half an hour while he awoke enough to eat. Meaning, I’d be up for at least an hour and half, multiple times a night, to nurse him. We moved him to the crib, in his Snuggle Me, and put the monitor close by. Now, I only wake up to his real hunger cues, and not his small groans and grunts he makes through the night.
Witching hour is something I think most new parents are always hoping to beat. For us, Joey likes to have a fuss right in the middle of making dinner. And if you know me, you know that I love to cook, and take-out and quick meals are not really my thing. So, a crying baby at 6:30 is not really fitting into my schedule. Well, let me tell you, the Moby Wrap is magic. I seriously put him in it, and less than 5 minutes later he is passed out. Or if he doesn’t fall asleep right away, he is definitely happy. He will normally sleep all snuggled in that thing until I am ready to feed hime and put him to bed. Sometimes that is 8:30, sometimes not until 11. He doesn’t care, as long as I keep him in that Magic Moby. This works great for us, because evenings are something we very much enjoy – whether it be having our tribe over, going out to eat, hanging at the ranch or picnicking in the backyard. Our nights don’t have a schedule, so it’s nice that Joey is getting used to bedtime being whatever it may be. It allows us to keep our social schedule, and not worry about getting baby to bed.
Pacifiers are that thing that some people swear by and others can do without. For us, it’s in the middle. The nurses at the hospital advised us not to use a pacifier until Joey was a strong, confident nurser. So we didn’t give him one. But as you can see above, sleeping was a struggle, and he was constantly moving, making his wake time hard for us. After our first pediatrician appointment, and Dr. Reid STRONGLY recommending the put a pacifier in this boy’s mouth, we stopped at Walmart and I think I bought the whole pacifier rack. We gave him a Soothie while he screamed in the carseat, and he immediately stopped crying and his arms and legs stopped flailing all about. He had trouble, as it turns out, keeping the Soothie in his mouth, so when we got home I tried the NatureSutton that was gifted to me. He loves it, can keep it in his mouth, and it’s adorable. Win.
If you’re an oils person, you’ll love this one. Momma Kathy brought over some DoTerra Balance oil, and I started diffusing it in his room at nap time and at bed time. He loves it, as do I. I love that his room smells distinct, and that it soothes us both. It seems to help particularly during our 3 am nursing session (the only time I actually nurse him, see below). He stays calm, I stay calm, and we love it.
It was something that Joey and I struggled with. At 3 weeks, Adam and I decided that I would stop nursing and pump and feed with a bottle instead. BEST. DECISION. EVER. It was a Saturday, we had gone to the farmers’ market and had plans to meet up with friends for lunch. We made a pit stop at my office in between events so I could nurse Joey. We were all sweaty, rushed and hungry. It was miserable. Joey takes forever to nurse, so we were late to everything, and as it turns out, he wasn’t getting enough to eat. It’s common to hear, “Don’t worry, you’re making enough milk.” I was told that, many times, and frankly, I just wasn’t. As soon as I started pumping, measuring, and supplementing with formula, we had a much happier baby. Some items I’ve found that help so much with our unique breastfeeding situation:
My favorite T-shirt bra from Victoria’s Secret. Nursing bras are for the most part ugly, uncomfortable, hard to find, etc. And what I hated the most was that I was wearing my 2 nursing bras ALL THE TIME. You have to sleep in a bra when you nurse, because milk… and I definitely did not have time to wash them every other day. They are expensive, temporary, and mostly uncomfortable (and made me feel gross). So, I put on my favorite no wire T-shirt bra, and called it a day. These are my favorite – flexible, not too much padding, fit super well and can accommodate the ever changing size of my breasts throughout the day.
Milk PH testing strips. I went 10 months with no wine. No more. These are great if you want to have a glass with dinner but aren’t sure if you are clear to nurse (or pump). Two minutes and you can have peace of mind. And a glass of wine.
I decided to use Enfamil Non-GMO formula (the non-GMO is just part of the game, and does nothing to entice me…). It’s as natural as you can get in a formula, and I love that like most formulas, it expires within the hour after you mix it with water. It made me feel better about feeding it to my baby boy, knowing that I wasn’t filling him with preservatives and no artificial crap. I can get over my “no-refined” mentality in order to save our sanity. Happy mom, happy baby, and for us, that means formula. Enfamil makes single serve packs, and I love these for on the go. I only have to pack one bottle, a handful of formula packs, and a canteen of water from home. Game. Changer.
Other favorite things:
- These blankets. Especially the Dragonfly one.
- White onesies from Gap Baby. The softest.
- My Timi + Leslie diaper bag.
- Honest hand sanitizer. Because my hands were getting really dry from all the washing all the time.
- This playlist on Spotify. I love Jazz, and he must remember it from listening while still in my belly, because it’s his fave too.
- Our Uppa Baby travel system. Easiest. Thing. Ever. Get the carseat, too.
- Burts Bees Cream-to-Powder Diaper Cream. And the bath wash. And the lotion. Just get it all.