Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adventures with Zilla: 1 Month

How old?: 1 Month!

Weight/Height:  At our last appointment he was 9lbs and 3 oz, putting him in the 60th percentile.  Dr. F was very excited about this because usually they are just hoping the kid has made it back to birth weight.  Our little chubby baby far exceeded these expectations.  He's an overachiever, like his momma.  His height was also in the 60th percentile, but I don't think he actually told me the measurement.

Baby clothes:  Zilla started out wearing newborn clothes but has quickly graduated in 0-3 month.  He's also up to size 1 in diapers.  I'm not going to lie, when I realized he was outgrowing his newborn outfits I was pretty sad.  He's already growing up too fast for me! 

Milestones: He is definitely opening his eyes more and more each day and having some quiet awake time where we will just sit and I'll talk to him. I can't wait until he starts cooing back and smiling!  He's also extremely strong!  We started short tummy time and tummy time on our chest and he can hold his head up like a champ.  He can also scoot along the floor if we put our hands behind his feet and provide a base for him to push off.
One day before his 1 month birthday he also did this little trick and I was so excited!

Special outings: Zilla attended his first Mass on March 2nd.  It wasn't very successful...we arrived late and he immediately started screaming.  So momma, daddy, and the little guy went into the vestibule for the rest of Mass.  It was pretty awesome bringing him up with me when I received communion!
He also went to his first restaurant: Pluckers.  Classy, I know.  But we figured that place is already loud, so if he started screaming it wouldn't be as big of a deal. 
He attended his first party!  Uncle J Wag turned 30 and we had a party in his honor as well as found out that sister and bro in law are having a baby girl!  So Excited! 

Highlights of the month: Taking our sweet little boy home!  While it's been so exhausting, we keep reminding ourselves how blessed we are to have him.  
Before I go on I don't think I ever mentioned that this happened:
And it was one of the most heart warming things to see.  Little Zilla was having trouble getting his temperature up, and skin to skin with mommy just wasn't cutting it.  So his amazing daddy took his shirt off right there in the hospital and had is own skin to skin time.  Sure enough, this worked like a charm and Zilla was warmed up in no time! I love these two.  
Having lots of wonderful visitors!  My sister set up a care calendar for us and our friends and family have been so amazing bringing us dinner and helping out.  We've also had special visitors from out of town like Jason's brother and sis in law, Auntie Kendall, and our friend Vik.  It's so clear to me how abundantly loved Zilla is.  Fridays are always wonderful because Auntie Stephanie spends the afternoon with us and gives mommy a chance to have some adult conversation!
The Catholic Church has a new Pope!  And Zilla and mommy celebrated in true Catholic style:
Overcome with emotion when popealarm.com notified us about the white smoke, Zilla took a quick nap before they made the big announcement
Upon waking, he couldn't contain his excitement...
Laughing with mommy for how silly we were every time we saw a shadow behind the curtain on the balcony...
Shocked that we have our first Pope from the Americas, who is a Jesuit, and taking the name Francis!  
Joining Pope Francis and Catholics around the world in praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be
Baby's routine:  We've had a rough time with this one.  It has been all over the place.  I'll reflect on this more below.  I know the first month is always hard for everyone, so I keep telling myself eventually we will get on a routine.

Baby's favorite food: This will become more relevant later, for now, breast milk. 

Baby's favorite activity: Eating

Baby's favorite toy: My breast.  Okay...his pacifier (maybe that's mommy's favorite toy). He does seem to like his swaddle blankets for now *fingers crossed this continues*  He also seems to like his swing.  This was the only way we could get him to sleep other than in our arms during week 2. 

Big changes:  Since it's the first month, pretty much everything is a big change for both of us!  One completely random big change I noticed for myself the other day was how easily I can bend down to pick something up now.  While I was pregnant, I would sigh and grunt whenever I dropped something.  I noticed myself sighing the other day because something had fallen only to realize I'm able to easily pick things up off the ground again!

Mommy Journal:
Whew!  What a whirlwind of a first month!  I have experienced every emotion and felt more exhaustion than I thought possible.  I've laughed, cried, and loved harder than I knew was possible.  There have been times I've never felt more alone and other times I've never felt so embraced and supported.
Our little man had a difficult time adjusting to life outside the womb.  The first few days/nights Zilla was sure he was supposed to be sleeping during the day and wide awake at night.  On top of this I had implemented an exhausting feeding schedule.  I've always wanted to breastfeed, but while at the hospital they weren't sure Zilla was getting the amount he needed and he definitely wasn't latching well.  So, I would breastfeed with him for about 15-20 mins, pump milk, and then bottle feed him.  This routine took anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours and was putting a big emotional strain on me.  There's so much pressure on new moms (or we put so much pressure on ourselves) to do everything right.  I felt like I was already falling short because I couldn't keep my sweet baby well fed.
Thankfully, my mom stayed with us the first week after bringing him home.  This was a huge help to have someone around who is a natural with babies and has done this before.  Also, someone I knew wouldn't judge me when I barged into her room at 4 am holding my crying baby, crying myself, and handing off the little guy so I could go back to my room and cover my ears.  She was a trooper and stayed up with him the rest of that night.  When I woke up the next morning and came into our den apologizing she only reassured me that this was all part of the process of becoming a mommy.
And she was right.  It is all a process of learning about what it is to be a mother.  In the interest of not giving every detail of the happenings of the first month I'll try to give short summaries of the emotions, joys, and troubles:

1) It took almost two weeks (and maybe it's still happening) for it to really sink in that I'm a mother and Jason is a father.  Those words hold so much weight and responsibility.  Sometimes the thought of "this is forever" can be a little scary.  But the scariness is far overshadowed by the excitement I feel when thinking about all the wonderful memories to be made!
Our world has been totally flipped upside down. Parenthood has taught me so much about selfless love.  I have so much love for this little bundle that even when I'm running on two hours of sleep and he's started another crying fit I can't help but continue to hold him and rock him in hopes to ease his pain.  And watching Jason love him in the same manner has shown me a whole new depth of our love for one another.
Then there's our relationship as husband and wife.  An hour into one of those crying spells and I would be lying if I said I haven't looked at Jason and just thought "why won't you fix this?" and had a sense of bitterness towards him.  But, far more times, an hour into a crying spell when I'm at my wits end and Jason comes over to me and hugs me and tells me that I am doing an amazing job and then takes the baby from my arms, it's those moments I feel more loved by him than I can accurately describe.  He has given me some of the best pep talks these past few weeks.  And Jason is no stranger to these.  There have been times he's brought me up out of a slump during graduate school and I wanted to just quit and he's helped out of spiritual holes with his loving embrace and words.  But the way he has loved me through this first month has been incredible and shown me how madly in love we are with one another.  

2) If you're gung-ho about breastfeeding do lots of reading before hand (I recommend "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) and then realize that it's not as natural and easy as one would think it should be.  Your nipples will probably be sore for weeks and you will convince yourself that your baby's hands are in a constant battle to keep his mouth from finding your breast.  Getting a good latch will be cause for celebration and a bad latch with feel like someone is trying to saw off your nipple.  You will start to question your decision when you realize every moment of your day must be planned around the next feed and come to terms with the fact that you will have to wake up every time he wants to eat in the middle of the night.  No passing off the responsibility to someone else. Even if you (or your spouse) feed him a bottle of expressed milk for a feeding or two, you will need to pump during these feedings in order to keep up your supply.
Still, the moments where you feel comfortable will be some of the sweetest moments with your newborn as you continue to provide him nourishment and ease his transition into life outside the womb.  The bonding that occurs while breastfeeding is priceless!
Confidence is key!  We went through this terrible routine of breast, pump, bottle for two weeks before I had a lactation consultant assess Zilla and I.  Turns out, he was getting plenty of food and I simply needed to relax more while feeding him.  If you are having doubt or trouble, see a lactation consultant!  They are worth the money.
And read this.  A friend of mine sent it to me and I find it so encouraging.

3) Our poor little Zilla is experiencing colic.  If you've never heard of colic it's essentially when a baby begins to inconsolably cry for hours at a time.  And it's not just a little whine, it's a loud screaming kind of cry.  The result of this crying is a very tired mommy and daddy who feel utterly lost and incapable of parenting.  There are feelings of guilt and times where you feel so angry with the helpless baby who has been yelling at you all day.
Jason and I have read just about every article, blog, and forum about colic and infant sleep patterns we can get our hands on.  The hardest part is the guilt you feel for not being able to fix whatever is wrong and the increased guilt for being mad at the baby.  The days it's the worst are the days I've never felt so alone.  These are the days I get angry with Jason's job for not giving him more time off so that he can help me.  I wonder if 7:00 will ever come so that I can just pass Zilla off to his dad and retreat to our bedroom to cry, sleep, or scream.
So what do you do if you have a colicky baby?  Well, we are very new to this so I can't say I'm an expert.  But, finding other people who have experienced it is a great first step.  Even if all their recommendations don't work for your baby, chances are you'll find other mothers and fathers who have had the same feelings, thoughts, and emotions as you are experiencing.  This is invaluable and can help ease some of that guilt and let you know you're not alone and you're not a bad parent.  Seriously, Jason has sent me a number of articles by moms who have had a baby with colic and just to read how they felt has been so helpful!
Recently, I read some information based on "Happiest Baby on the Block" and found that swaddling, holding Zilla on his side, bouncing, playing an ocean sound very loudly, and then giving him his pacifier in that order has helped to calm him and even put him to sleep.  And for this I am so grateful! Even if it only works sometimes, I'll take it.

4) Which leads me to: if you have a colicky baby, invest in a pacifier.  Do it.  Now.  It's not a cure all, but even before we started the swaddle routine, the pacifier would quiet him down for a few minutes.  And when a baby has been screaming for hours every minute of silence counts!  We did wait until after the first two weeks before giving him the pacifier in order to establish my milk supply (there's a lot of research regarding the importance of allowing your little one to suckle at your breast for the first two weeks even if he's not eating to help your milk come in).  After that, we are all about the paci.  Yes, there's a great possibility that I'll regret this when I have a 10 year old who doesn't want to give up sucking on a pacifier because his momma was such a fan of it when he was little.

6) Surround yourself with other mothers.  I can't describe how wonderful it is to hear a mother you respect tell you that you are doing a good job.  My sister in law is great at this; constantly reassuring me and providing me with an abundance of support.  I spent much of my brother in law's birthday party sitting in the back room feeding.  While I was back there my sister and law and friend who has a 5 month old joined me and had lots of words of encouragement.  Just to hear that all the crying I was doing was normal made me feel more confident and at ease. 

5) Accept all offers of help.  It can be so hard to do this.  I want to prove to myself and to everyone that I can do this on my own and I'm a natural at motherhood.  Sometimes being a natural at motherhood means being humble enough to ask for help when you need it. Luckily, I think Jason realized I was avoiding asking for help when I needed it and took the initiative to seek out some of our friends and family.  And wow how they responded!

6) On a similar note, have somebody set up a care calendar for you!  My amazing sister did this for us and has ensured that we are well fed during this hectic time.  Here's the website: http://www.carecalendar.org/

7) When people come over, don't be shy to sneak away and catch up on sleep.  They won't be offended.  If you're like me and have trouble sleeping during the day you can also take the opportunity to shower (without rushing), do some laundry or the dishes, or even go for a walk/run.  Sleep, of course is important, but so is feeling normal for a few hours.  I went for a short walk/jog while my aunt watched the little guy one day and I felt so revitalized.  I think more so than if I had just taken a nap.

8) Look at every moment/outing alone with your spouse  as a date during the first month.  When Zilla was 3 weeks old my mom came over to watch him so Jason and I could go grocery shopping.  This was the first time we were leaving the house without Zilla.  We've always loved grocery shopping together, but this time we really relished in it.  We stopped and ate burgers first and then headed to the store.  We cuddled together while pushing the cart and danced down the aisles to all the oldies music being played over the loud speaker.  It was wonderful!

9) Celebrate every happy and quiet awake time with your baby!  Those times when Zilla is awake and happy are the best moments of the day.  I get to hold him and talk to him, tickle his toes, pinch his little cheeks, and love on him.  I have been tempted to set him down in his swing during these times just because I'm so exhausted if it's following a lot of crying, but I don't want to waist these moments where we get to bond.  He really is so precious and I love him so much!

10) Take lots of pictures!  Your friends and family might get tired of your facebook blowing up with pictures of your cute little one, but that's too bad.  You should be proud!  Post those pictures!  Zilla is already growing so fast, I would be so mad at myself if I didn't capture something for fear of taking too many pictures.

That's all for now!
The VrlyFries



3 comments:

  1. I am very glad I saw this last night and not at work cause I was bawling. Jason was like why are you crying? Then I told him I was reading your blog. You and Jason are such good parents, I hope I have your stamina when my time comes. I love you very much!

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  2. A woman like you is enough to inspire any man to things he normally wouldn't be capable of. Madly in love with you Blue :)

    For any fathers out there, remember: the best way a man can love his children is to love their mother. I never fully understood this until becoming a father, but it is the truth.

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  3. you are so inspiring! Aidan is lucky to have you and Jason as parents!

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