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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
More baby posts you might like:
- My first trimester recap
- What’s on our baby registry
- My maternity jeans review: 13 pairs and what worked and didn’t work about each
- My second trimester recap
- Plans for the nursery
- My third trimester to do list
- What’s in my hospital bag
- Introducing Teddy!
- Teddy’s birth story
- My postpartum recovery essentials + the most useful items in my hospital bag
- Our favorite baby products so far
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