+ Your legs and how they kick like crazy when I’m holding you and you see Papa (and visa versa).
+ The magical allure any cord holds.
+ You shaking your head when you dance.
+ How sometimes it just takes too long for Mama to get ready to feed you, so you help yourself to the milk.
+ The way your lips form the word Papa, but your voice hasn’t totally gotten it yet.
+ The dimples in your hands.
+ How swings hold happiness for hours, but leaving them is not fun.
+ The way you look into my eyes at night when we’re sitting in your dark room right before bed.
+ Your genius comedic timing.
+ The weight of your little body when you climb into my lap while I’m reading you a book.
+ How impatient you are at naptime to get the reading started.
+ Your sweet kisses to the prickly porcupine in one of your books.
+ Waking up to find that your head is no longer by mine, but your butt is (and being okay with that).
+ Your sweet little voice and how it gets a little raspy when you’re really trying to say something.
+ The determined look in your eyes when you study my mouth as I teach you new words.
+ Your pure joy to be able to stand up and peek over the couch at Papa after you finish nursing.
Guys. I’m over at The Wise Baby today talking about jogging strollers. I’ll be writing with my dear friend Lindsey a few times a month (you remember my three month essentials post I wrote there three months ago)… always about parenting, or buying for baby, or babies in general. So if you’re interested, keep an eye out for me over there!
This month Harry has mastered the smile, and even gives us a breathless little chuckle every once in a while. He attempts to stand at every possibility, and loves sitting and watching himself (or “Barry” as we call him) in the mirror. Bath time is still our favorite time of the day. He can be fussy before and after, but when we’re all in that tiny bathroom, he’s happy. He still loves being cuddled more than anything… in fact it’s hard to put this boy down.
We’re stretching out the 0-3 month onesies, as those cheeks and thighs get a little chunkier. He has started noticing the world around him – outside his mum & dad’s faces. His activity mat is no longer merely a place to lay, but also a fun gym filled with toys to play with. FaceTime with Papa is holding his attention. He’s starting to stretch out his night time sleeps, much to his mum’s excitement. We love him more than we ever thought possible.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a photo of a baby. Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a bad photo of a baby. You know the kind… double chins, eyes wide open (or shut hard), funny faces, blurring… it’s okay, we’ve all done it. I’m no expert, but through the 2,000 photos of my cute kid on my computer, I’ve learned a few lessons. A few things that will make your 17 year old thank you for taking flattering baby pictures he’s not embarrassed about on Prom night (after he sees how chubby and funny looking his friends baby pictures are). I can’t guarantee he’ll be as cool about the naked photos… but those dimply little butts are too cute not to capture.
Okay, so there are three very simple rules to follow. You’re going to look like a pro. I promise.
1. Watch your angle. How often do you take pictures of yourself or your friends from the level of your/their navel? Hopefully never. Double chins ensue. Funny shadows. People look completely different from this angle. So does your baby. I understand, he’s laying down a majority of his time, and if he’s not, you’ve usually got a hand in the matter, making the camera harder to maneuver. But when you take a picture of his sweet little grin from below, it’s not going to look the same as what you’re seeing. He’s going to look chunkier than he already is. His grin will be goofy. Shadows will be everywhere. So move up. Stand above him and look directly down. Hold the camera a little higher than his eye level. Play with your angle, but please, don’t take a photo from his ankles. Unless you’re going for that look. Common case of baby triple chins in the first picture. Plus, since he was only a month old, he wasn’t keen on looking at the camera. So switching up my angles not only eliminated the extra chins (while give you a closer look at the adorable chubby cheeks), but he’s “looking” at the camera now too.
2. Turn off the flash. I know. Babies are ridiculously cute. They are. And they’re cute in the light, airy living room in the middle of the day… and in the dark bedroom right before bed. But turn off the flash. It casts a very harsh light on your baby, making him look two-demensional. Not to mention the crazy eyes it gives him. They’ll either be open wide (and reflecting a very bright light) or they will be closed as tightly as they possibly can be. Either way, he won’t be happy, and you won’t have a great picture. You can always lighten your image up later… or better yet, try to find great lighting in the room. Now, I understand, there are times when he is just making the cutest face or eating his toes for the first time, and it’s just too dark to take a picture without a flash. By all means, turn that baby on, capture that memory. But I promise you’ll like the look of the non-flashy photos much better. Sure, the image on the right is not perfect. The lighting was pretty dark, but his face is so much more him than his face on the left… with it’s harsh shadows, weird almost-red eye, and eyes half closed.
3. Take a million pictures. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you first time momma’s this. But seriously, when your kid is being extra cute and wiggly, pull out that camera and take 3-10 pictures. Chances are much better with this many pictures that you’ll get a good one. The perfect capture of that gummy grin. But here is the key… delete the rest. Sure, every picture of your kid is a masterpiece, but you’ll thank me when he’s 3 years old and you don’t have 3.5 million pictures of him picking his nose. I may have missed that charmer of a photo if I hadn’t been snapping away. It was the 5th photo I had taken in about 5 seconds… and is now one of my favorites of my boys.
That’s it. Easy peasy. Seriously though guys, I know these rules don’t always apply, and sometimes you just need to snap a quick picture. But if you are conscious of these rules, not only are you going to get a good picture, but you’ll capture what your baby really looks like right now. No extra chins, no weird shadows, no gassy burps. I’m no expert, but this is what works for me. Oh, one more… get a cute iPhone case. Your baby will want to look at it… and we all know 95% of our pictures are from our phones nowadays anyway.
I know, I know. We already did the four week post. But I know I won’t be able to keep up with weekly photos, especially when I go back to work. So we’re going to be doing monthly shots to see how Harry grows. And here are his one month shots…
At one month old, Harry has mastered the fist pump (and does it quite regularly), has had two haircuts, is finally fitting into his clothes, gets the hiccups twice a day, loves being held and cuddled, is trying very hard to crawl (despite keeping his face on the ground), averages 12 dirty diapers a day, loves to read Brown Bear Brown Bear, is staring into our eyes, and lets a smile slip a few times an hour. We love him a whole month’s worth more than the day he was born, and that’s a lot.
I have a post stirring in my mind. Non-baby related, if you can believe it. I’ll try to get it out this week for those of you who are ready for something other than those cute little cheeks (though, I’m not sure how that could be possible).
Well, tomorrow marks four weeks of blissful mommy- and daddy-hood. Four weeks. This weekend makes ONE MONTH. How has my little man been here so long already? I guess it’s true what they say – the time really does fly. It hasn’t all been kittens and roses, but even the 3am feedings are pretty magical. I love being a mom to Harry. There is nothing that could turn me off from it. It’s perfection.
I’m relearning what I already knew – advice sucks. Be it conflicting theories in child rearing books (SO much of that) or the well meaning musings of friends, family, and strangers, advice is something that is going in one ear and out the other in this household. I feel like I know my son well enough to know if I need to read up on something, ask a friend, or just trust my gut. And more often than not, after reading and discussing, I go with my gut anyway.
But here I am, giving advice. I have lots of friends who are pregnant with their first child right now, and many of them have asked me what I found helpful in the hospital and the first few weeks. Instead of giving each pregnant lady I know the much dreaded advice, I thought I’d compile a list of the things that got us through the first four weeks. So if you’re not into advice (I don’t blame you) feel free to skip this post. Though, I tried to make it as much of a “These were our favorite things” list and less of a “You simply MUST have this” list.
1. Newborn onesies. When I say newborn, I don’t mean 0-3 months. I wish I would have had more simple, white, newborn onesies. The first couple of days of Harry’s life, we went through three or more of these a day. I was convinced my baby was going to be big enough to fit into the 0-3 months onesies from the beginning, even if they were a bit baggy. But I forgot that babies lose weight in the first two weeks. Harry was born at 7lbs 4oz, but he was down to 6lbs 13 oz when we left the hospital. Newborn onesies were what he LIVED in for the first two and a half weeks. The cute clothes didn’t fit yet, and honestly, he soiled them so often I would have gotten frustrated putting a new outfit on him every two hours.
Oh, and bonus points for onesies and shirts that open in the front (and have built in mittens). Then you don’t have to pull them over his head (and he doesn’t scratch his face off). Which makes him a whole lot happier, and me feel like a way better parent.
2. Tucks pads (or similar witch hazel pads). Without going into too much detail for some of my readers who really don’t want to hear about this (Hi, Papa) these were necessary and such a huge relief for the first two weeks. There were times when I thought to myself that I would never heal, never feel better, never be able to sit normal again. But these were a sweet, sweet relief. Stock up.
3. Nursing tank tops. I lived in these, night and day, for the first couple of days. Your (ahem) ladies get so swollen you can’t even think about putting on a bra, even a nursing bra, but you need support and quick access. I still sleep in these at night. Grab at least 3-4. You’ll be doing laundry every day, if you’re anything like me and your baby is anything like Mr. McBlowout Diapers, but sometimes you’ll need to change in the middle of the night. I had 3 and I wished I had one more.
5. A soft chair. In the hospital, I didn’t sit on anything but the soft bed. So when I came home (oh, bring a pillow to sit on in the car) it wasn’t easy to sit on much aside from my bed or the couch. Luckily, my office chair has a bit of a cushion. I used it at our dining table for weeks.
6. Total Baby (iPhone app). For tracking dirty diapers (and their variety), feedings, sleep, baths, shots, doctor’s appointments and so much more. I love this app. Buy the $5 version. It is worth it’s price in the first 4 hours.
7. Different diaper varieties. When we were in the hospital, we used Huggies Little Snugglers for Newborns. They were great. But when we got home, I tried to use the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Newborn diapers… and they were just a tiny bit too big. Both sized for little newborns, but one worked for the first 10 days, and then (as luck would have it right as we ran out of the Huggies) the other fit perfectly. Different brands fit differently, so I would say to stock up on different brands when you’re buying diapers. Who knows what will work for your baby. Oh, and before going out to buy more newborn sized diapers, try a size one on your baby. You’ll be surprised that he might already fit.
8. Stretchy blankets. Harry isn’t huge on swaddling. He likes to have his hands free. And that’s okay with us. But for the first two weeks, we swaddled him religiously. And because he was squirmy and didn’t particularly love being swaddled, stretchier blankets worked much better to get a tight fit.
9. Different options for sleeping. We have Harry’s crib, a Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, and a swing. Not to mention mom and dad’s arms. The crib seemed so big and far away for the first week (he naps in there now) so we carried the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper all around the house. He actually still sleeps in that at night. The swing is nice to keep him down when he’s not too happy about going to sleep. It’s soothing. Having different options was great because (for now) Harry sleeps anywhere, and if he didn’t like one… we could move him to a different option. Check Craigslist for swings. I got mine for $30.
10. A good camera, and an easy camera. I love my Nikon D3100 to take the perfect pictures of those little toes and that great big baby mohawk, but my iPhone is always nearby so most of our daily captures are on that. I’m so glad there is a decent camera on that thing.
So there you have it. The ten things Harry and I have loved for the first four weeks. Anyone have any different essentials?
Sitting here catching up on a few of my “daily” (notsodailyanymore ((now that I have a little man I would rather stare at all day))) blogs with my Harry sleeping next to me and all of a sudden I was overcome with emotion. Specifically love. You mothers and fathers know the kind. The kind of love that is completely indescribable, but absolutely perfect. Love that starts when that little one grows inside of you for those nine months, and then explodes into something huge, something unbelievable, something scary as soon as you see that little face. My life will never be the same. I will never be able to be as selfish as I was before. I will be waking up on someone else’s alarm clock. I will be arranging my day around someone else’s eating schedule (and forgoing my own hot meals for more than a while).
But it’s all worth it. Looking into those eyes that are just starting to focus. Just starting to look for me. Look for dad. Feeling him sink into my shoulder as soon as I pick him up. Knowing that he will love me hard one day, if he already doesn’t yet. It’s just amazing.
I have plans for posts. We need to do the nursery tour. And I’d like to write up my own little review of Hypnobirthing. I’ve also had a few pregnant friends asking what I needed/didn’t need in the hospital, so I’m planning a post about everything I needed these first 9 days. And we will still have a few non-baby posts. But bare with me, this little guy is my life. Which means, he will not only be popping into most of my posts, but it might be a little slow going for a bit, because, forgive me, but I would rather snuggle my baby than sit at the computer.
Harry’s birthday was the best day of my life. One of the hardest, but the best. Maybe tied with our wedding day. There are so many emotions involved with that day, but aside from the tears streaming down my face as I write this, it’s not as easy as I had thought it would be to express them in this post. But today, as my son is one whole week old, I would love to share his story with you.
January 9, 2013. 12:30 am. I woke up with another contraction, a little worse than the rest. I thought to myself that labor was coming, but this definitely was not the beginning. The remainder of the night passed in 10 or so more contractions, and luckily I was able to sleep in between. I wasn’t timing because obviously, they were irregular (or so I thought) and this was not real labor. By the time I woke up at 6, there was definitely a pattern.
Contractions were about 10 minutes apart at 7am, so I got ready for the day and sent Jonathan off to work (promising to call if my contractions sped up at all) as I logged into Style Me Pretty thinking I could possibly be working my last day before maternity leave. I tied up a few loose ends, just in case. By 10am, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, but (blame it on all the movies with all the false labor) I was thoroughly convinced it was false labor. Or at least it was still super early and I still had hours (or days) to go.
I did let Jonathan know they were speeding up a bit, but again, I in denial that anything was really happening. He decided to come home and pack up the car with our hospital stuff, just in case my midwife wanted me to stay after my 11am appointment. By the time we left for that, we were facing contractions every 3 minutes.
Before we were called back to see Col. Rensch (my midwife) I looked to Jonathan and said “If I haven’t progressed more than a centimeter from last week, I will cry.” And with trepidation, we walked back to be checked out.
The poor nurse who was attending to me. I’m pretty sure I freaked her out when she asked me if I was contracting at all and I replied “Yes, about every three minutes.” Things moved a lot quicker in that little room after that.
Col. Rensch came in and brought an OB in training with her. She turned to him and said “Now, this is where you might see tears, if she’s not progressed as far as she thinks she has.” Jonathan and I looked at each other and laughed (albeit a little nervously). It was good news though, I was 100% effaced and about 5 centimeters. I was so relieved that I had made such great progress with my contracting, I wasn’t even concerned about the uncomfort that came with her massaging my membranes to “possibly cut up to 4 hours off labor.” And the fact that she wanted this new guy to check my dilation to see what it felt like, didn’t bother me in the least. I was half way there.
By this point, I was so distracted by the fact that I was progressing so well (oh, and the contractions every 3 minutes) that when Col. Rensch said we were going to have this baby soon and to call her when we were on our way in, I didn’t even realize she meant THAT NIGHT until Jonathan asked. I guess I should have realized that when she warned the trainee OB not to break my water 10 times. She told us we were more than ready to go upstairs to L&D or we could go home and labor there for a while. She knew I wanted a natural birth and that I was hypnobirthing, so staying home for as long as possible was always part of the plan.
We decided to go home so I could take a warm bath for those final few hours while Jonathan packed up the rest of our stuff and made cookies for the nurses. That was the plan. We got home around noon, I sent out a few emails for work, and Jonathan put a chicken in the oven for lunch. And that is when the contractions started coming fast. And hard.
I never got in my bath. It took me too long to get upstairs (through contractions) and get a bathing suit top on. By the time I was halfway undressed for the bath, I was in a lot of pain and starting to feel a little “pushy.” Luckily, our amazing doula and friend Angie had ignored Jonathan when he said it’d be an hour or two before we went to the hospital and came to check on us then. She found me laboring at the top of the stairs, in too much pain to get in the tub or down the stairs. That’s when she told Jonathan it was hospital time as she worked her relaxing fingers on my back.
I really have no idea how I got down those stairs. With the help of Angie (while Jonathan was throwing last minute things in the car – bras, shoes, camera, water bottles, no cookies for the nurses for there was no time) I was able to get down the stairs in between contractions and get shoes on my feet. Next thing I knew, we were in the car on the way to the hospital.
Contractions were coming fast and I was having very short relief in between, timing them was out the window, and I was feeling pushy as we drove the five minutes to the hospital. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to walk all the way to labor and delivery, Jonathan pulled into the pick up/drop off, no parking zone and bolted into the lobby to grab a wheelchair. He grabbed me, my purse, and a towel and took off. Panicking a little that someone would steal our car (which had the engine running and the door wide open) I had enough energy left to yell “The car!”
As we wheeled frantically by an O-5 in the Navy (pretty high up for those of you not in the know) Jon stopped and said “Sir, are you busy?” Then proceeded to ask him to park our car, and drop off the keys to the front desk. I later learned he had not only done that, but brought our bags up to L&D. We were the talk of the unit after that valet service.
The rest of my labor passed in a very painful blur. I was wheeled up to the third floor, into my room, which was already set up and ready to go, thanks to my wonderful nurse (and neighbor) Katy, and was checked by Col. Rensch. At 7 centimeters, I still had some time to go, but I was beyond comforting. I moved around from leaning over the bed, to laboring on the toilet, to kneeling on the bed, to standing next to the bed. At one point, I was unbelievably uncomfortable while kneeling on the bed, so I got off just in time for my water to burst all over the floor, shoes, my own bare feet, and who knows what else.
Throughout this time, Harry’s heart rate was being monitored when I was near enough to the monitor, but that was it. No IV. No contraction monitoring. No meds. And finally, I looked at Katy and said “I feel like I need to go to the bathroom. I have to push.” I love her for simply replying “Do what you need to do.”
Col. Rensch came back as Katy was checking my progress and she encouraged me to labor on the toilet again – which worked wonders. Shortly thereafter, she came into the bathroom and told me I had to stand up, because I could not deliver this baby into the toilet. I remember asking if I was that close and hearing yes. That’s all I needed. I stood up, she pulled a stool up behind me and I pushed. I had no idea how long I was pushing before she said “I see a bunch of black hair!” And I was done. As soon as she said she saw hair, I shakily cried “He has hair?!” and pushed him out into this world. I needed to see that hair.
The feeling of seeing Harry for the very first time, all wrinkly and messy, with a mouth open wide in a squawk, was indescribable. The best feeling ever (and not just because I was done pushing him out). He was absolutely beautiful – and still is – and my heart exploded with love. I don’t remember much of anything else aside from his face for the next hour. We fed, he looked at me, and I fell in love harder than I ever thought possible. He is perfect.
One thing I know is that this birth would have been exponentially harder if I didn’t have the best birthing partner in the world. Jonathan knew exactly what I needed. He knew when to distract me by counting. He knew to remind me that my thumb didn’t hurt. He knew when to just look into my eyes and be supportive. He knew to rub my back, hold my hips, and squeeze my hand. He just knew me. And having his face to focus on, especially when I though I just couldn’t do it anymore, was what got me through the worst of it.
I found out later the timing of our birth. We got to the hospital right around 1:25pm, I had him at 2:38pm. I still have no clue how long I pushed, but Jon guesses 15 minutes. No medication, no drugs, just how I had wanted it. But not necessarily because it was on my birth plan, but because there was no time. It was fast. It was intense. But now, I have the most beautiful son, with the most amazing black hair.
Images of the three of us courtesy of Angela Iverson.