THE FIRST FOUR WEEKS WITH A NEWBORN
Whew, if I’m being honest – these first few weeks have been quite the rollercoaster. Everything from complete bliss to brutal sleep deprivation. I will say, every single day continues to feel better and better. We’re learning each other more and more every hour and with that, John and I both feel more and more confident in knowing her cues. For me, I’ve been healing from my C-section, navigating postpartum emotions, learning how to be a stay-at-home mom, and figuring out some sort of work/life balance. Those first few days, anytime something felt hard or overwhelming, I felt bad for feeling stressed. Whether it was breastfeeding, getting her back to sleep at night, or soothing her, I wasn’t giving myself a lot of grace for not being perfect at all of it. However, I quickly had to come to terms with accepting that this season is hard. And that’s okay – it’s okay to feel and it’s okay to admit. More than hard even, it’s just new. I was feeling so much guilt, and still do some days, for wanting this so badly, yet struggling through it. I didn’t want to complain, but even more so, didn’t want to feel the need to. It didn’t take me long to realize that shame has no place in motherhood. Grace, on the other hand, completely shifts your mindset. J has been such an amazing partner – and that’s exactly what I’ve needed. Someone to tag in when I need help. He’s encouraged me when I haven’t felt strong, he’s literally dried my tears, he’s validated my feelings, he’s checked-in on my headspace every single day when he gets home from work, he’s challenged me to be independent, he’s supported my intuition, he’s helped me heal, and he’s loved me past any and all pain. I knew he would be an amazing dad, that was never even a question. However, I didn’t think he could get any better as a husband. Grateful for a good man doesn’t even begin to cover it.
All of my friends have told me over and over – just get to six weeks. Getting through every week feels like a badge of honor, but especially four (now) and apparently six. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way rushing the newborn stage at all! I’m sure we will look back on this time and it will feel like the blink of an eye. But sometimes, the days feel long and the nights feel longer. It’s all part of the process and every mom I know has had such compassion and understanding. That camaraderie has made me feel so normal and I’m so grateful for that. It’s like that badge of honor you earn gets you into this club full of like-minded, badass women who have been there and done that. Those women have encouraged me, checked on me, answered my questions at 2AM, and even taken over when I needed it. I’ve never felt more than you can’t do life without your village.
I wanted to share all of this because so many of you are expecting or in the same newborn stage as we are. I thought it might be helpful to share what these first few weeks have looked like, what we’ve been surprised by/what’s worked well for us, the products I’ve used the most initially, and validate any of you who may have similar feelings or struggles in this season.
WHAT WE’VE BEEN SURPRISED BY:
- – Everyone told me to sleep while I could, when really, I should’ve been prepping my body to not require as much sleep.
- – I knew breastfeeding would be painful initially. I was so lucky that she latched from the get-go and I was somewhat prepared mentally + physically for getting used to feeding. However, is it just me, or did everyone know a newborn feeds 8-10 times a day? Whew.
- – I thought having her sleep in a bassinet in our room would give me such peace of mind and it did for the first couple of weeks. However, we slowly started letting her nap in her crib and she did SO much better in there and away from us. She slept longer and didn’t cry/fuss as often after going down. Once we learned that, we moved her in her crib full time at 2 weeks.
- – There’s not a lot of logic right now. I’m the type of person that looks for the reason behind everything and over the last few weeks, I’ve been looking for patterns behind her behavior to make sense of it. However, every day is just different right now and that’s okay. I have to keep reminding myself that she’s a newborn and often times, there’s just no logical explanation for her sleep patterns, emotions, feeding, etc.
- – She loves motion! She loves to be in her car seat, stroller, in the Jeep, golf cart rides, etc. It’s an easy way to calm her down or put her to sleep, if needed.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED:
- – The girl loves to be outside. I attribute that to me being outside constantly while pregnant with her, but she is the most calm outdoors. All of the noises, especially at night, are like a natural sound machine and she loves the heat. Literally, even if she’s fussy, the minute the heat hits her outside, she’s asleep. I have no idea what we’ll do in the Winter to calm her down!
- – A schedule is key. Even though she’s still so young and isn’t quite catching on to a routine yet, it’s so helpful for us to know her cues. We’re following Mom’s on Call, to the best of our ability, and loving it so far. We’re giving ourselves grace and not stressing over it minute by minute, but hoping the schedule will help with her sleeping through the night sooner than later. Let’s be honest, that’s the goal at this point!
- – Nighttime bottles. This took us exactly four weeks to figure out, but it’s been a game changer. While I’m nursing throughout the day, it’s hard to know how much she’s actually getting, but giving her a bottle of breastmilk before bed and during the night has helped us know she’s full and in turn, allowed her to sleep longer. Right now, J is giving her the nighttime bottle, which gives me a break and him time with her after I’ve been on mommy-duty all day. I’m waking up with her during the night to feed, another bottle of breastmilk, and she’s good until early morning. She’s done really well so far going back and forth between the bottle and nursing and I’m really glad we introduced a bottle so early. Currently, she’s drinking about 3.5-4 ounces in those bottles during the night.
- – She changes every single day and has already grown so much – I’m just focusing on soaking up every second of her. Every face, every time her little hand wraps around my finger, every coo and noise she makes, everything. It’s such a sweet time. Somewhere around the 4 week mark, my perspective changed to feeling like I have to get up in the night with her to I get to get up in the night with her. So honored to be her mom, so thankful God chose me for this role. It’s the greatest, most important role of my life.
THE PRODUCTS WE’VE USED THE MOST IN THE FIRST FOUR WEEKS:
- – The boppy. Perfect for propping her up while feeding. A good pillow also does the trick, too, so it’s not a necessity, but definitely helpful.
- – The haakaa. I had no idea what this thing was until one of my friend’s introduced me to it, but it’s so helpful. While breastfeeding, I wear the haakaa on the breast Linen is not nursing on and it collects milk. I can collect anywhere from 3-5 ounces a day which allows me to have extra milk to freeze for future use!
- – Vitamin D and Gas Drops. Since I’m breastfeeding, our doctor advised us to give her Vitamin D every day. The Frida Baby Gas Drops have been so helpful! Linen actually likes the taste and it seems to work/calm her down in minutes.
- – We registered for and have been using ComoTomo bottles. They’re soft, safe for baby, and so easy to wash after using. We love them!
- – Noodle & Boo bath wash and soon, lotion, once we’re able to use it on her. It’s gentle and smells AMAZING. I even have the diffuser in her nursery!
- – The Laundress Baby Detergent is by far my favorite. The scent will forever remind me of this season of life. We use it on everything she touches, as well as my nursing bras and gowns I typically wear throughout the week.
- – Diapers + Wipes are a given, but in case anyone is interested, we’re using Pampers Swaddlers and Sensitive Wipes.
- – Speaking of nursing bras, I ordered this pack of 5 while pregnant and they’re amazing! I bought a size medium and they’re so comfortable + inexpensive. I’ve been living in them!
- – The Wubbanub is the best pacifier of all time for newborns! They’re so cute and she loves them. Her little horse is her favorite.
If you’re interested in knowing more about what we registered for or the brands we went with for the big purchases, that info is HERE and HERE! We’re learning more each day, becoming more confident in our routine, and getting her (and myself) out of the house more often. Thank you for giving me a little grace right now as I’m navigating this season – it’s so new, yet so wonderful.
I love how you changed your perspective from “I HAVE to” to “I GET to”. I think it is so important! It’s something that I tried to be very mindful of, probably around the same time as you! You’re doing great mama. Xo
I have a little girl a week older than Linen and am so happy I heard that you just need to survive the first 4 weeks before she was born. It’s so true! It allowed me to give myself the grace I needed to enjoy the time with her and not feel like I wasn’t doing things right or doing enough. I feel the same about getting up in the middle of the night now. I used to do 1:30ish and 4:30ish feedings and couldn’t wait for her to sleep through the night. Now, she has gone down to just one around 4 or 4:30 and I’ve realized how much I enjoy that peaceful time of night with her and will be sad when we no longer have it.