ONE MONTH WITH TEDDY

Yesterday was Teddy’s one month birthday! I truly don’t know where the days have gone and at the same time I can hardly remember what life looked like without him in it. This first month of motherhood has stretched me in ways I couldn’t have imagined and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so many emotions in such a short period of time. The love I feel for this little boy is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and I already find myself wishing time would slow down to make sure we’re savoring every single second!

I’ve enjoyed connecting with so many of you over my delivery experience, my postpartum recovery, and our favorite baby items so far and I’m eager to document as much as possible as this first year of Teddy’s life unfolds. I’m planning to write monthly updates about what we’re up to and my hope is these posts will not only be an excellent way for me to reflect on this particularly rich season of life but also to connect with those of you in (or about to be in) a similar season yourselves.

design darling one month with teddy

baby month cards c/o  //  blanket

design darling grandy and teddy

design darling one month with teddy

outfit  //  bedding

Our first week home from the hospital was probably the most challenging week of my life and I desperately wish I could go back and tell myself how short-lived it would be and how truly magnificent things were about to become. Thankfully Teddy was surrounded by a lot of people who love him, including all my siblings, Will’s parents, and my Grandy (who is very happy to have her first great-grandchild and another coming in January!). Looking back on that first week, I remember I was in near-constant physical pain, panicked about how my episiotomy was healing, weeping several times a day, and still trying to put on a happy face and visit with family during the day, all while sleeping as little as I ever have each night. (There were two nights that first week where the sun came up before either Will or I had slept a wink — there’s a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture!) I was determined to heed advice we’d gotten in the hospital about breastfeeding on demand, not using a pacifier, not introducing bottles, and it all felt rigid and impossible and made me feel like I’d never be as good a mom as Teddy deserves. There is SO much I wish I could go back and tell that self-critical brand new mom version of myself so I’m sharing it here in the hopes that someone else will need to read these words.

design darling zutano baby booties

outfit  //  booties

design darling tummy time

booties  //  play mat

design darling teddy

bedding  //  robe  //  blanket

design darling baby bjorn bouncer

bouncer  //  cardigan  //  booties

First, advocate for yourself. You do not need to be so scared or in so much pain. Do not feel forced to wait until a six-week check-up to ask questions about your healing; find a doctor who will see you now and give you the information you need to wrap your head around what you’re experiencing. (I talked more about this here.)

Second, there is no single right way to do things. We wound up introducing a pacifier in total desperation at 4 a.m. our second night home from the hospital and the next week I started pumping while Will fed Teddy a bottle of pumped milk at 2 a.m. Both these practices flew in the face of what we’d been told in a breastfeeding class and by various nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital, yet I’ve managed to breastfeed exclusively for a month without nipple confusion and more importantly without losing my mind. Don’t hold yourself to a false ideal; give yourself the grace to experiment and find a more nuanced solution that works for you and your baby. 

Third, it will get better. It may feel unlikely or even impossible, but a day or a week or a month from now, you will be in less pain, your baby will be eating a little better, you will have slept a little more, you will be crying a little less, and you will love your baby more with the passing of every hour you spend together. The way you feel right now is not a life sentence; this too shall pass and you may even find yourself missing parts of it. 

Fourth, you are already exactly the mom your baby deserves. Exhaustion, frustration, overwhelm, and sadness are all completely normal emotions to experience right now and none of them precludes you from being an amazing mother. Someone wrote to me that Teddy would be my smile on the days where I couldn’t find mine and it’s a sentiment I’ve repeated to myself a hundred times since. Love that baby with all your heart and know that if he’s clean and fed and loved on, you and he are doing just fine. 

one month with teddy design darling

design darling one month with teddy

one month with teddy

The next week Will and I had a little more time to ourselves to figure out our new rhythm. I was still in pain, but I started taking time for ice packs and sitz baths instead of trying to power through and visit with everyone. (You can see all my postpartum recovery essentials here.) I started breastfeeding for exactly 15 minutes on each side (sometimes less as he often falls asleep halfway through the second side) and Teddy started sleeping for two-hour stretches during the day and the occasional three-hour stretch at night. Will started giving Teddy a bottle at his first middle-of-the-night feed around 2 a.m. while I pumped for 20 minutes and went back to sleep until breastfeeding at 5 a.m. There were a couple days where Teddy was cluster feeding (wanting to eat way more frequently than every 2-3 hours) and it seemed like it would never end, but it turns out cluster feeding (like so much else!) is just a phase and I’ll be a little more go-with-the-flow (ha!) the next time it happens.

design darling teddy bath time

design darling teddy bath

teddy bath time

infant bathtub  //  gingham washcloths  //  whale rinser cup

Our third week with Teddy was the last of Will’s paternity leave and we decided to start trying the Moms on Call schedule to ease the transition and give my days alone with Teddy a little more structure. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve done our best and I like having a schedule to aspire to as opposed to constantly trying to remember exactly what time I fed him last. The schedule introduces playtime after each feeding and bathtime every night and getting to spend time with Teddy where he’s more alert made me fall even more in love with him. (More on his current “schedule” in this post.) He did start getting baby acne in his third week which we’re still hoping will clear up soon (any remedies welcome!). Around the end of our second week, I also feel like I turned a corner in terms of physical healing and was finally able to join Will, Teddy, and Rory for walks around the neighborhood. At first I’d be exhausted after even a half hour outside the house, but it felt so good to get some fresh air as a family unit. Having things to look forward to (tummy time, bath time, family walks) besides just breastfeeding and praying we’d get some sleep sparked a total shift in my mindset. I went from feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel to feeling like there no longer was a tunnel — maybe that’s just the standard two weeks of baby blues, but I feel like knowing what to expect and telling myself I can do anything for a handful of weeks will give me great peace of mind with future babies. 

tummy time design darling

This past week was my first week flying solo with Teddy with Will back at work, though my parents have been amazing about stopping by in the afternoons and giving me a moment to shower or fix a bite to eat. I’m hoping to continue breastfeeding for at least a couple more months assuming it’s still making both of us happy and meeting his nutritional needs — I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about it so I feel really lucky that it’s gone as well as it has and given us so much one-on-one bonding time together (though I imagine I’d feel similarly about feeding him a bottle — very much of the mentality that fed is best). I can’t get enough of his cuddles and coos and watching him turn his head turning play time (he’s even started to roll from his tummy to his back and showed off for our pediatrician at his one-month visit!). I’m slowly starting to feel more confident in trusting my instincts and interpreting Teddy’s needs, but more than anything I’m blown away by how much better I feel physically and how much I love this tiny baby I’ve only just gotten to know. I was a little nervous about bonding with him that first week and I’m so grateful that concern feels like a distant memory at this point because I can hardly remember a time where I didn’t just want to spend every moment staring at him in complete awe that he’s ours. 

This is bordering on essay-length now but I hope it’s encouraging or reassuring to some of you in the same boat right now! Part of me already misses those first few days home from the hospital and the rest of me is thankful that we’ve gotten this far and we’re starting to see more of his personality come through every day. I’m so grateful to this little boy for making me a mom and to all of you for sharing in our ups and downs in this new chapter. I can’t wait to see what the coming months and years have in store and so appreciate you following along!

design darling teddy one month baby month cards

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45 thoughts on “ONE MONTH WITH TEDDY

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  1. This is such helpful, sage advice for new moms and moms-to-be. One thing I was wondering was if you’re noticing any weird diapers, crying, spitting up? He has a lot of rash which looks exactly like my kids did right about this age when we realized they had dairy intolerances. I highly recommend checking with his ped if you have any doubts or inklings that he might have it – it’s a lifesaver once you put a plan in place to help him and you through it!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! My son is three months old and I identify with all of this (especially wondering in the first few days whether I would ever feel normal again!). Like you, I wish I could go back and tell myself that the pain during recovery will pass and I will get the hang of being mom sooner than I realize! Also, others have touched on this, but thanks for also mentioning pacifiers, etc. I am not able to exclusively breastfeed so my son has bounced from a bottle to a nipple to a pacifier since birth and has had zero issues. Like everyone has said, fed is best! Moms have enough to deal with – we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if expectation does not live up to reality.

    Your little boy is the sweetest and I hope all continues to go well! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh my goodness, I could have written this myself! If only every new mom would listen though – those first few weeks are SO hard but it passes so quickly. So glad you and Teddy and Will are finding your new rhythm.

    Great advice to all new moms to be! Keep giving yourself some grace, you’re doing a great job, M!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing, Mackenzie! Counting down the days until we meet our little guy and love the advice to give yourself grace. You deserve it!

    My mom breastfed me for a whole year (with a twin! eeeek!) but my mother-in-law breastfed my husband not at all. So every time I get nervous about breastfeeding, he points out how well he turned out 🙂 He’s joking, of course, but it’s also true! I’m hoping humor will buoy us during the first few weeks which sound equally difficult and beautiful.

    You are doing an awesome job and are the perfect mother for Teddy!

  5. Hi Mackenzie,

    Congrats on such a precious little guy; it’s been fun following your journey. As a Mom of three who breastfed, might I suggest lying down for feedings so you can also catch a quick cat nap? I’m sure there’s plenty of controversy about this, but it’s the only way I got some sleep and extra snuggle time when my kids were babies. I remember whispering this to my pediatrician like I was confessing a horrible crime, certain that she’d threaten me with a C.P.A. visit, but she just laughed and said she did the same thing with her kids. She assured me that “rolling over and crushing the baby” horror stories really don’t happen without substance abuse. Good luck!

  6. On several occasions, I have laughed out loud at your Teddy Instagram stories. He is absolutely adorable, and he has the best facial expressions! The joy he must bring you…

  7. what a lovely boy!!,to me and for the time being ,Baby looks a lot like his father .!!! time flies once you have children and one time you just note they ve got 25 years old and you ve seen nothing !!! .
    enjoy these moments ,you re a lovely family .

  8. Nurse (almost nurse practitioner) here. What I always say about feeding is you do whatever is best for you and the baby. I was formula raised and I turned out fine. If you need to bottle feed to be better rested (and therefore the best version of you) then that’s what’s best! If anyone tries to shame you, send them my way and I’ll give them an earful. Also, the acne may be because you’re bathing too frequently. Newborns don’t need a bath every day and that can actually cause eczema to flare up. The pediatrician I did my rotation with said once a week is enough though the academy of pediatrics says about 3 times per week! You’re cleaning privates with every diaper change and it’s not like babies get smelly from sweating and all they do all day is lie around. Enjoy the extra free time!

  9. I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to subscribe to your blog but I’m so happy I did. As a mom who also has a one month old at home, I love your honesty about the good, the bad, the ugly and downright euphoria of life with an infant. I really have to commend you for making the time to update your blog in real-time with such raw, honest experiences that are so relatable. It is SO hard to put a full thought together when you are truly in the trenches- much less an outfit- you are rocking this! And Teddy is an absolute dream- congratulations!!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m trying to write the words I’d want to read (if that makes any sense!) and it makes me so happy to know it’s resonating with someone who’s in the same boat. So appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment! Congratulations!!!

  10. You are such a beautiful writer, Mackenzie, and I know your words will be comforting to many. I wish I’d had something this thoughtful to read when I had my daughter a year ago. Best case, giving birth and caring for a new baby is frightening. Hearing other moms’ less-than-Instagram-perfect experiences and solutions helped me enormously, and I know I will come back and reference this post of yours should I be lucky enough to have another baby! Sending lots of love in the days ahead – those newborn moments fly by way too quickly! xx

  11. Moms on call is so good! My second baby (5 months) is a Moc baby and it’s great to have an idea of what a day should look like, even if the schedule can’t be followed exactly. You are doing great! And the 12 week swaddle drop is the best…not too far away!

  12. I don’t normally comment, but I just wanted to say what an encouraging post this is! I wish I had been able to read this when we brought our baby boy home from the hospital. He’s eight months old now, so we’re in a different phase, and you’re right – it does get better! There are always new challenges, but also new joys. One thing I will share that I hope helps other new moms out there – I was told by both my NICU lactation consultant and my cousin who has been a NICU charge nurse for several decades that nipple confusion is not real. It has been debunked by numerous research studies, and the body of the academic literature on the subject strongly suggests it’s a myth. I spent the first week home from the NICU (where exclusive breastfeeding is rarely possible) in full-blown anxiety because our pediatrician insisted that we not bottle feed at all to establish breastfeeding and avoid nipple confusion. Long story short – we found a different pediatrician who is excellent and supports our needs, and our sweet boy is thriving. Do what’s right for your baby and your family. Fed is best!

  13. Mackenzie, he is so adorable! That hair is so amazing, and the bath faces, he’s just darling!

    So glad to hear you are doing better! My first month of motherhood was such a blur, and looking back I now only remember the good things and with rose colored glasses! I try to remind myself of that now, how somethings get so much harder, but most get so much better!

    I am so glad you touched on “nipple confusion!”
    I hoped to exclusively breastfeed as well, but we introduced a pacifier within like an hour of birth because he was so loud and I was so out of it (c-section!) and it helped so much. We also had him take formula and so many different nipples and bottles over his first few weeks of life to get his weight up and as my supply came in. He now can take anything, and likes the pacifier, but could take it or leave it. I believe it is because he got so much at the beginning, that he just had to roll with it!

    I wish people would stop talking blaming nipple confusion for things. Fed is absolutely best, and I would have felt so guilty if he wasn’t able to breastfed and thought it could be nipple confusion, new moms don’t need another reason to feel stressed in those first few days and should be encouraged to do what they need!

    So excited for you and your family!

  14. You son is a beautiful joy and your best treasure. I am so glad that you are mending. Shame that your delivering doc was insensitive. You will slowly forget the angst that his actions caused you.i know from experience, the trauma is real but I was told that the medical personnel focus on getting the baby delivered.When my husband saw my emergency c section scar he fainted. Enough said. My daughter is now your age with 2 healthy babies and she was a bit shocked by events in her delivery also. I would never tell you to forget your challenging delivery but allow yourself time and try not to re-examine it over and over. You have a new doc who will care for you. I enjoy your blog, my husband was raised for 8 years in Darien. He has fond memories.We have renovated many houses, yours is a lifetime one, classic and inviting.

  15. Great work with one month of EBF – it is so surprisingly hard. One bit of information, as a lactation counselor: the issue with bottle feeding isn’t nipple confusion, it’s bottle preference if bottle flow is too fast or the bottle is too big. As long as the bottle size is good and is appropriately paced fed (google paced feeding, there are great YouTube videos on it!) you’re good. Enjoy this time with him, I hope you don’t feel pressure with any of your parenting decisions – you’re his mom and whatever you decide works best for your family will ultimately be best for him.

  16. Loved reading about Teddy. I married much later than most of my friends and remember calling them those first couple of weeks and apologizing for not being more there for them when they had their children, I had no idea how hard those first few weeks were until I had my children and wish I had been more present for them! I

  17. Congrats on your precious boy!!! I would check out Em for Marvelous’ blog series on “Slowing Down Time” – it gave me great perspective to enjoy the first months and year of motherhood versus feeling like time was fleeting. Also- that baby hair!!!!! All the heart eyes!

  18. One of the best treatments for baby acne is breast milk! It’s truly magic! Pump or squeeze some out and dot over the affected areas a few times a day.
    If you can breastfeed at least through the winter flu and cold season, you may be able to avoid Teddy getting sick, even if you catch a virus. He’s so cute!

    1. I second both of these things!
      Breastmilk on baby acne helps so much (as well as for scratches on their face) AND Mustela Stelatopia emollient cream is wonderful too.

      Having a September baby is hard because they have to go through all of flu season without a shot. My dr. said to at least breastfeed through flu season (ended up BFing for a year+ with all three of mine). This helped put my mind at ease.

  19. This perfectly sums up the first month. A whirlwind of exhaustion, uncertainty, and emotions. Mine will be 9mo this weekend and your post made me flash right back to the early days. Thank you for posting. I find each month to be better and better- with their own new challenges of course. “The days are long but the years are short” is what I hear :-). Xoxo

  20. Live Moms on Call! I used it with both of my daughters, who have very different temperaments, but it got both sleeping through the night by 8 weeks! I also never hit the schedule perfectly, but something about the evening routine was magic (most importantly keeping a full three hours between the “supper” feed and bedtime feed). If you’ve already learned to give yourself a little grace, you’re better than I was my first time around. You’ve got this 👊🏻

  21. He is so, so precious. Most darling boy! So happy you’ve had a great month. You will find that everyone’s pediatrician/hospital/internet says something different – which can be so frustrating! My pediatrician said there’s a study out of Oregon that said pacifiers make for better breast feeders. Mine both had them in the hospital and were exclusively breastfed – it’s crazy and overwhelming all the conflicting information you will get. Choose to trust your own ped (who you chose for a reason!) and yourself. No need to over complicate it! You were made for this. You’re doing a great job – and it only gets better! xoxo

  22. You poor thing….whomever gave you that rigid schedule about breast feeding is an idiot. I am an RN and can’t imagine anyone who is a mother giving you that kind of guilt tripping advice. I am so glad that you and Will finally decided to use some common sense for your own sanity. Teddy will be better the more calm and relaxed you are and not getting sleep does not make a calm and relaxed mom. Absolutely nothing wrong with pumping and giving a bottle…give yourself a break and nap whenever Teddy does. The first year is exhausting and you never seem to get enough sleep but eventually things calm down and it looks like you are doing a fabulous job!

  23. Teddy is adorable and so expressive at one month!

    I remember feeling overwhelmed and like I was falling short on the mom front with all of the advice. Kudos to you for doing what feels right. Our beloved, old-fashioned pediatrician would reassure us anxious parents, “If he’s eating, sleeping, pooping and peeing regularly, then you’re doing just fine.”

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m sure it will help lots of new moms and soon-to-be ones.

  24. Totally with you on “fed is best” – I started researching formula recently (not a parent yet, but the pressure to BF already freaks me out) and I came away feeling so much better about formula. I’ve now seen plenty of testimonials about how much easier it made things for mothers and how bonding wasn’t harmed in any way. It’s a great thing to have options and to have some pressure reduced. You’re doing a great job and I’m enjoying your updates!

  25. I just had my first baby 3 weeks ago- so I am very much in the same boat. Thanks so much for posting this, it’s great not to feel so alone! Teddy is such a cute little guy, and lucky to have you as his mom!

  26. I’m not a mom (actually still a newlywed!), but I just wanted to pop in and say how much I love reading your Teddy posts! I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability, and I know I’m going to come back and read some of these when I’m expecting. Thanks for the real-life glimpse of the beginning of motherhood. 🙂 Teddy is just as cute as can be!

  27. Hi Mackenzie…. Congratulations on your bundle of joy! Teddy is precious! As a pediatric icu nurse, it drives me crazy how the lactation consultants are so rigid anymore. No pacifiers, no bottles etc. A fed baby is the best no matter how that is whether it is exclusively breast fed, pumping only, formula or breast and bottle. My hospital will not even offer pacifiers to the newborns in L&D anymore. You have to bring your own. You are made to feel guilty for anything other than breast feeding. For personal reasons, I chose not to breast feed my daughter and did formula from the beginning. Back then, it wasn’t so frowned upon. However, I was continually asked by each new person during my 3 day stay why I wasn’t breast feeding. I told them on day 2 to stop asking, I had my reasons and it should be respected. Everyone needs to do what is best for them. Enjoy your sweet little boy and Happy 1 Month!

  28. So precious! You might have mentioned this previously but how is Rory doing with Teddy?

    Also, not a mom but I have heard that breastmilk helps baby acne?! Apparently you just take some and rub it on the skin a couple of times a day! Have had a few friends use that with success before trying any harsher products.

  29. thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Your grandmother is glowing! so joyous to see! And your reflections are spot on accurate. keep doing what you’re doing- you’re the perfect mother for your baby. You are enough. <3

  30. omg the not introducing a pacifier or bottle to make breastfeeding work is such BS! I had twins – one who needed a NICU stay and a really tough delivery so even though I was producing milk, I couldn’t breastfeed the other right away. In the NICU they give most babies pacifiers and bottles and many NICU moms go on to breastfeed their babies for up to a year. i remember going to visit my daughter in the NICU those first few days and feeling like such a failure because we were unable to follow all of the advice given to us at the breastfeeding course at the hospital – unable do skin to skin right away, she had been given a pacifier and a bottle, etc. they really should not make such absolutist statements