Life with Charlie: One Month
Hard to believe Mr. B and I have been parents to our little Charlie Marie for that long. Can we get a high-five?
Everyone says the first four weeks fly by.
I would definitely agree with that statement, but it should end with an asterisk because in the those four weeks Mr.B and I have been on a steep learning curve. From learning a new routine to lowering my expectations of what I can get done in a day to having a new found respect for my body to managing sleep deprivation to realizing it takes two to take care of an infant to breastfeeding to unconditionally loving something so small.
Did you get all that? I’m still getting all that! Even though we have been learning, growing and changing just like our wee babe this entire first month, it’s still the best to be a new parent. So I figured I would give you guys the real deal about the first month below and what I found to be my biggest hurdles and what products worked for us to be, well, better parents!
How We Are Really Doing….
I feel like I need to answer this question in two parts:
Weeks One & Two:
When we brought Charlie home from the hospital we were still running on adrenaline and excitement. For me, I felt like I could totally conquer this whole mom thing. I am so lucky that my mother was able to come out for two weeks and help us settle into a routine, answer all the newborn questions, and provide endless emotional support. If you are going to be a new mom, I can’t recommend enough having someone come and help you those first two weeks. You need someone in the trenches with you.
Like I said the first week I was running on adrenaline. The day after we brought Charlie home from the hospital we took a stroll to the farmers market which was down the street. It felt good to move and get some fresh air after being in the hospital. I definitely pushed it a little too much that day, but I was determined not to let this new way of life change me completely. Which is odd and such a naive statement to make because it’s a MAJOR LIFE CHANGE. Hello, denial for a hot minute.
This denial led to a major fatigue and mental exhaustion by beginning of week two. The adrenaline wore off and I was just tired. Tired from the new routine, frustrated that my old life was gone, and at a loss as to what to do in this new mom role.
After I had a moment, my mom, Mr.B. and I worked hard the next week to get a more balanced routine. This is where I started pumping a bottle in the morning so Mr.B could feed Charlie at night to give me a head start on sleep. I would go to bed at 9:30pm and Mr.B would give her the bottle at 10:30pm and then put her to bed. To sleep from 9:30pm to 1:00pm was life changing. I feel like this is where we turned a corner and things felt a little more normal.
Weeks Three & Four:
Even though it was extremely hard to say goodbye to my mom after two weeks because we had such a good routine going, I knew Mr. B and I needed a moment to figure out parenthood by ourselves. So we just kept going. We each brought our own unique strengths to the sanity table. But we also knew each others weakness and when the other one needed to step up more to help. I think that is crucial as parents. It’s funny our next door neighbor said to us, “For first time parents, you guys are extremely calm.” My first reaction was, “I look like two miles of bad road and feel delirious.” But after that comment I felt reassured that we must be doing something right!
This new found reassurance led to my first official outing with Charlie – to happy hour with my girlfriends! I didn’t know what to expect from Charlie and honestly, I was more worried about my reaction to her if something should happen. Well, I was blessed for about an hour to chat with the girls, sip a glass of bubbles and enjoy some charcuterie. Then Charlie woke up and had the biggest blowout. Like throw away the onesie kind of situation. BUT! I was proud of myself because I didn’t freak out, I cleaned up the blowout and decided it was time to leave. I feel like deciding to leave was the hardest part because I wanted to stay and feel a part of my previous life. But I told myself things are different now and that’s okay. I got an hour with my best gals and now it’s time to take your child home. I realize that may sound selfish or weird, but for me as a FTM it was a baby step in a direction of having balance.
By the end of week three we were definitely in a better groove. Tired for sure, but feeling more and more confident each day as parents. Charlie is a good baby overall minus her gas and the witching hour situation, but that’s pretty standard for an infant. I would 100% say the first two weeks are just a sh$t show compared to week three and four. Week four felt like we could get our arms around this whole parenting thing. Plus, it was so fun to get dressed up as a family for Halloween!
How is Breastfeeding Going…..
Oh, breastfeeding. They say you are a natural, but you are far from it! Breastfeeding is hard work y’all. I was lucky that my milk came in early, but it took Charlie at least two weeks to latch correctly and feel comfortable eating. Also, things they don’t tell you: your boobs will itch like crazy when your milk let’s down, your nipples will get sore AF, milk will shoot out at any moment, hand expressing is not fun at all, and your back will become sore at some point from trying to get the baby positioned correctly. Natural, huh? I say this not to discourage someone from breastfeeding, but more of, I wish they told you this stuff at the hospital as to what to expect. Plain and simple, it’s hard work. But now Charlie and I are in a groove and she smirks at me between feedings like she thinks it’s funny gobbling up my boobs.
Anyways, besides learning how to breastfeed correctly, I had to deal with Charlie not gaining enough weight at the beginning. She weighed 6 pounds 6 ounces at birth, and then dropped to 5 pounds 13 ounces after.
Thankfully my pediatrician’s office offered a lactation group because that truly saved my sanity. After a few visits Charlie started gaining weight (around the end of week 2), I started to pump a bottle a day like I mentioned above so Bret could join in on the feeding fun.
Truth: I don’t know how long I will breastfeed, but at the end of the day a fed baby is the only thing that matters. Whether that comes from your boob, pump or formula. Do what works for you to keep your sanity!
Kindred Bravely Bra: I can’t say enough positive things about these bras! When you are up multiple times at night and don’t want to mess with a shirt, etc. these bras are the tits. They are so comfortable, light weight and will keep your milk from leaking out onto the bed while you are sleeping.
Gap Nursing Sweater: I have been wearing these nursing sweaters with leggings, etc. because they are comfortable and so easy to breastfeed in. Plus, I love the colors.
Nipple Pads: Highly recommend these if you are out and about. It’s amazing how much milk can leak out of your boobs even when you aren’t nursing!
Spectra S1 Pump: I was little hesitant about pumping because let’s be honest, a machine that you hook up to your hooter doesn’t sound appealing whatsoever. BUT! The Spectra pump was actually easy to use and wasn’t hard on the nipple!
Dr. Brown Bottles & Bottle Warmer: I had a huge fear that if something were to happen to me I didn’t want Charlie not to be able to take a bottle. This and wanting to get some sleep plus having Mr.B join in on the feeding fun we decided to use Dr. Brown Bottles. Easy to clean and put together. Plus the bottle warmer is a life saver!
How Is Postpartum Care?…….
I felt like once I got breastfeeding under control my postpartum care issues burped up. I don’t know what happened, but I had a huge allergic reaction to my inner thighs. Like they turned purple and started to puff up. Of course when one breastfeeds I could only take half a benadryl, cut out my Sitz bath, the pads I was using, the itching spray, etc. I was down to rubbing cortisone all over my who-ha area and wearing cotton liners. I was a hot mess. Again I was so glad that my mom was here to help navigate all this craziness with me. I love Mr. B, but he doesn’t know what to do with a ladies who-ha.
Once I got the allergic reaction under control, I decided to start walking at least every day. Getting outside was the best feeling mentally and physically. Plus, Charlie loved being walked especially during her witching hour. Other than dealing with healing in the southern region, I felt mentally good. I was worried at some point a hormonal roller coaster would burp up, but I’ve been lucky that I haven’t felt out of control. Mr.B was also really good about checking in with me at the end of the week. He would ask how I’m feeling mentally and do I need to chat about anything. Also, another thing that helped was knowing I could talk to other mothers, my doctor, my lactation consultant, and this community. Knowing you aren’t alone is saving grace!
What Surprised Us…..
One thing I didn’t take into consideration for the first month is figuring out all the stuff. Like how to put the baby into the baby carrier, how to collapse a stroller, how much gripe water to give them when they are gassy, how to change a diaper correctly while they are pooping mid-change, what do you really need to carry in your diaper bag, will the car seat fit in a shopping cart, etc. There are a lot of moving parts you don’t think about before the baby arrives. I definitely should have done some dry runs with some of this stuff!
OH! And one last thing, babies can be super loud when they sleep! Charlie started grunting around week two and we were like WTF is that sound? Is she dying? Nope. She was completely asleep. Our pediatrician informed us that it’s super normal and that babies make so much noise when sleeping. Who would have thought?
Do We Sleep?
Yes and No. The first two weeks were crazy and we felt like we were up all the time. Since I was breastfeeding and trying to establish my milk supply afternoon naps were essential. Feeding every two to three hours is a lot. BUT! I will say having a few things like the SNOO Bassinet helped us navigate those sleep depravation waters. By week four Charlie started to stretch out her feedings a bit to every four hours which was life changing. And again with the bottle we were just adding to the sleep bucket.
SNOO Bassinet: This bad boy is worth every penny. I know it’s expensive to purchase the entire thing, but I highly recommend renting it month by month. That way if your child doesn’t like it you can send it back. But I promise it will give you sleep back!
Taking Cara Babies: Love Cara! I have been using her newborn methods to help establish a sleeping routine for Charlie and I believe it has started working. She is learning how to sooth herself when I put her down which is amazing! Definitely take her course!
Dock-a-Tot: Charlie loves this thing! She naps it in during the day and instantly falls asleep when I put her in it. Also, I love that I can move it around the house.
Rohm Sound Portable Machine: This portable sound machine is amazing. I use it when I put Charlie down for a nap and leave it on while she sleeps. I also bring it with us when we are in the car just to help sooth her because she currently hates the car seat.
Hatch Nursery Light: Since Charlie sleeps with us I don’t want to wake Mr.B by turning on a bunch of lamps in the middle of the night to nurse. This night light has the perfect glow which keeps Charlie calm during a feeding.
Products We Are Actually Using and Love:
Ubbi Diaper Pail: best investment you will ever make.
Honest Products: diaper cream is by far the best!
Water Wipes: clean up anything and doesn’t irritate Charlie’s skin.
Pampers Pure Diapers: best way to contain a blowout!
Oogibear Picker: best thing to get rid of boogers!
Gripe Water: stock up! we go through gripe water like crazy and surprisingly Charlie loves it!
Ergobaby Carrier: Charlie loves this thing. we carry her around in it during her witching hour and she passes right out.
One Month Summary:
The first month has been a whirlwind. A wonderful, crazy whirlwind. Mr. B and I had no idea what to expect as first time parents, but I will say having Charlie was the best decision we ever made. She is 100% worth the sleepless nights and endless poopy diapers. We can’t wait to see how she changes and grows in the next month. I hear they start smiling!