Thursday, March 20, 2008

The first 12 weeks

What I want to remember...
About Lucas’s birth:
The moment I saw him - when they told me to open my eyes and they placed him on my belly, and I touched his head for the first time. It was the most amazing moment of my life. In an instant I was a mom.
About bringing him home from the hospital:
The car ride home - when we knew this was for real, we were taking him home, that he was ours forever. We were so worried with him in the car seat. He was sleeping peacefully and I kept waking him up to make sure he was ok. Ryan’s parents met us at home to welcome us with balloons and banners. My parents brought us dinner. Jenny and Brian came over to meet Lucas for the first time. After everyone left we were so tired. That night was one we will never forget. I was a mess from the delivery and in so much pain I could hardly get up and down. I was taking some very strong painkillers which made me feel pretty weird as well. We tried to go to bed, but Lucas was finally getting over his sleepy stage and was awake most of the night. He wasn’t in the mood to sleep any more. We took turns holding him, we put him in his little swing and tried to get a few moments of sleep at a time. I fed him constantly. I don’t think I got any actual sleep at all. I remember the medicine and lack of sleep making me feel so sick, as well as the pain being terrible. Ryan hurt his back on the hospital bed the night before, and could hardly bend over to pick lucas up. We changed diaper after diaper, no clue what we were doing. We were overwhelmed and bewildered and so in love with little Luke. That night was the hardest night, but it was our crash course in parenting on our own. It was our first night alone with Lucas!
About our first trip out, and my first trip out with him:
We went out to lunch at Corralles. We packed up the stroller and diaper bag and took a short walk from the park to the restaurant. We were so proud to walk our little guy for the first time! He slept the whole time - we weren’t gone long and then headed back home. It was a couple weeks later that I went out by myself with Lucas for the first time. Since my recovery was difficult, it took awhile. After Ryan was back at work, I took Lucas out and went to my mom’s store with him as our first outing. I couldn’t get the stroller unfolded! It was raining and I ended up making several trips from the car to the shop to get all my baby gear inside. Now I’m a pro and can have the stroller assembled in a flash. Phew!
About his first smile:
We saw a lot of smiles from Lucas when he was just a newborn, but we new they were just reflexes. When he started smiling for real, it was the most amazing and beautiful thing! To see some of his personality start to show through, to understand better what makes him happy, was so much fun. That adorable smile helped strengthen our bond, and it can cheer me up in an instant. No matter how tired I am, or grumpy I am, when he gives me that toothless smile, so big that his little eyes get smooshed closed, I am the happiest mommy in the world. His smile is contagious!
About my maternity leave:
Sleeping in... those quiet moments to myself that I spent thinking about Lucas, and how I wanted my life to be as a mom. I was able to think about what I wanted to teach him, and the kind of mom I hoped to be. Those few weeks spent at home, organizing the house, preparing his room and all the baby gear, and mentally preparing myself for the biggest change of my life, were essential in my start with Lucas. I loved decorating his nursery. My mom and I spent hours arranging it, shopping for just the right accessories. There were many trips to Babies R Us to pick up the last necessities. It was so much fun preparing for him!
About our family and friends:
The moment we realized we could not take care of Lucas on our own during those first couple of weeks. We were adjusting to the shock of parenthood and trying to deal with sleep deprivation, and I was recovering from the delivery, both physically and emotionally. I called my mom at 7am the first morning we were home with Lucas, and she was there right away to help us out. My dad came later, and my grandma, and Ryan’s parents. They worked in shifts, allowing us some time to sleep. Before Lucas’s arrival I had expected that Ryan and I would be fine, and able to handle it ourselves from the start, but that was not true. We could not have gotten through those first couple weeks without our families and friends coming by to help us out with Lucas, bring us food, and give us time to sleep. Thank you so much, all of you!
About seeing Ryan as a dad:
I have loved seeing Ryan with Lucas during these early weeks. His love for his son is so strong. He took charge in the beginning, changing all the diapers, giving him his first bath, taking care of me throughout my recovery. He has his own tricks for holding, soothing, and playing with Luke. He is not afraid to be goofy, in fact, he thrives on being goofy and Lucas loves it! He has really taken on the role as dad amazingly well, and he is such a proud daddy. It has been fun to see him pushing the stroller out on walks, wearing him in the front pack carrier around the house and when we go out, and the excitement in his face when he comes home from work to play with his son.
About seeing Lucas with our parents:
It is amazing to me how much of an effect he has had on them. They love him so much, and it seems as if they just can’t get through the week without seeing him. I was so proud to be able to hand him to my mom and dad and grandma in the hospital, and to see their faces as they held their grandson for the first time. Being able to give them this experience has been wonderful for me. I know Ryan feels the same way about sharing Lucas with his parents. We’ve only been parents ourselves now for 3 months, but it has given us a tiny glimpse of what our parents went through with us, and how they must have felt when we were born.
About my recovery:
It was so much harder than I had thought it would be. Lucas is 13 weeks old and I am still recovering, having just had another surgical procedure done to repair damage from the delivery. I had thought recovery would be a breeze, but I did not know what I would actually go though at the birth, and the measures the doctors would have to take to get Lucas out. I will never forget those moments of panic in the hospital when I was terrified that I was going to lose him, and compared to the potential outcome, this recovery has been nothing. I don’t wish it any other way because Lucas is here and he is healthy, and my body will eventually heal.
About the shock of being a new mom:
I couldn’t believe he came out of me! I couldn’t believe we made this beautiful little boy. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to get through those first few weeks, and how hard it would be to be on duty 24/7. But I love it! I love him, I love being a mom. It’s amazing how it just comes so naturally.
About sleep deprivation:
This has honestly been the hardest part of having a baby. I feel like I’m losing my brain because of the lack of sleep. On the days when I’ve only gotten about 3 hours of sleep, I find it so hard to be patient with anyone, or remember anything I need to do, and I just get so frustrated. But on those days, I look at Lucas and he gives me the biggest smile, and everything gets better. In the early weeks this was the hardest. Ryan and I worked out a sleeping schedule where we took shifts, before Lucas had any kind of sleeping pattern. I learned to take naps, which I’ve never liked in my life. Now that he will sleep through the night with only a couple feedings most of the time, things are getting easier.
About Lucas’s first cold and doctor visit:
Lucas got sick when he was 5 days old. He started sneezing and gurgling, and his nose started running. We took him to the doctor, and the doctor said we just had to wait it out. But, he’s only 5 days old, I thought! Couldn’t they do something? But no, they sent us home with a nasal aspirator, aka snot sucker, and said to go to the ER if he got a fever. Needless to say, we were scared to death. We watched him like a hawk, one of us, or one of our parents, was with him at all times. This was baby boot camp I think - why not throw this on us at the same time we are learning how to take care of him in the first place. But we quickly learned what to do for him, and now we are pros at snot sucking! Just when that first cold went away, finally, the poor guy ended up with another one at about 6 weeks, and it is still somewhat there now, at 13 weeks. We are hoping the cold and flu season is over soon, and he will finally be feeling better for awhile.
About the early weeks of breastfeeding:
The very early weeks were a major learning experience. I had no clue what I was doing, and everything was a mystery, from how often I should feed him, how long he should eat, when to start pumping, how to pump, etc. Being the only one that could feed him and comfort him was difficult early on when I was still recovering. Once he and I got the best positioning down, and I was able to learn what Lucas needed and how to read his cues, things got better. By the time we hit the six week mark, it was more enjoyable. Now I am very, very glad I made the commitment to breast feed. It was a big factor in helping me bond with him as well. I love being able to feed him, to look down and watch him fall asleep as he is eating, or see him looking up at me, sometimes stopping to smile at me. I definitely plan on continuing to breast feed as long as he wants me to.
About our early bonding and attachment:
Early bonding was hard. I was in so much pain, and I could hardly move around. I couldn’t get up and around the house easily for the first 3-4 weeks. Because of this, it was hard to hold him, rock him, take him out of the house, get up at night to change his diaper, etc. I had to rely on Ryan and our parents to do a lot of that. All I could really do was sit and hold him, or feed him. I didn’t get to feel like I was really taking care of him like I wanted to since I was such a mess still.
From the moment I saw him, I loved him. I instantly bonded, but it was a different kind of bond than I feel now. I didn’t know him yet, I just loved him so much. It wasn’t until about 5 or 6 weeks that I felt true attachment and bonding. One day, as I was holding him, it just felt different, I felt like I was getting to know him so well, and I felt like he needed me, that we had become this little pair. I was his source of nurturing, and he was this beautiful little boy that I loved.
About his first shots:
It was horrible. The sound of his cry of pain is the worst sound that he can make. As a mommy, it breaks my heart to hear that cry. He was a brave little guy though, I was so proud of him. He just cried for minute, and then he was happy again. They gave him a little band-aid and sent us on our way.
About watching him grow:
I love watching him grow and change. I look forward to all the development, and watching him learn and attempt new things. At the same time I wish he weren’t growing so fast, because he has already outgrown the newborn phase. Before long he won’t be a baby any more. He grows so fast. Sometimes I swear he grows overnight. I will look at him and he just seems bigger. Every time we visit the doctor, which has been very frequently with him being sick for so long, he has gained another pound. Now at 13 weeks he is already 13 1/2 pounds!
About eating out, and our first meal in a restaurant:
Our first attempt at a real restaurant was PF Changs. We brought the stroller in and Lucas slept until we were ready to leave. We gently jiggled the stroller the whole time to keep him sleeping, and it worked! We had our meal and we were thrilled! We felt like pros at this parenting thing! It was wonderful to get out and go to a restaurant.
About his first bath:
Ryan gave Lucas his first bath. We used his little blue bath tub. I took pictures while Ryan did the hard part. Lucas liked the water and he was a good sport until it came time to wash his hair. Overall, he did very well, and so did we!
About our first date night:
Our first date night was fun, but we missed Lucas the whole time. We left him with Ryan’s parents and went to a movie. We sent text messages to check on him during the movie, and called to check on him when it was over. We decided to go get dinner at the natural cafe after the movie, and we sat there thinking about him and talking about him, and finally just rushed through eating and went to pick him up. But it was really nice to get away for a few hours and spend some time together. We still haven’t had another date night, but hopefully soon we will do it again.
About introducing him to our pets:
Our pets did great meeting Lucas. It was easier than we thought. They actually didn’t really care too much that he was there. Ruffy and Gizzy sniffed him a bit, but were more interested in getting their dinner and some attention from us, than the baby.
About his routine, and being at home with him:
Being at home with Lucas has been a blast. He keeps me on my toes! Just when I think I’ve got the routine down, something changes. He likes to surprise me. It has been a bit hard coming up with new ideas of things to do with Lucas at home. I make up new games as much as possible, and try to remember all the ones I used to use as a babysitter. We sing songs, we roll around on the floor, we play game after game after game. Ahhh!
About his favorite toys:
Lucas has especially loved his baby einstein activity mat. He can lay under that for so long, listening to the music and playing with the dangling toys. He started off just looking, then swatting at them, and now grabbing them with his fingers and kicking them with his feet. He also has really liked his squishy turtle book, and his little pink telephone rattle.
About our favorite places to visit together:
We have had lots of visits to the mall, and to target, where I can just wander around and look at fun stuff while lucas naps. Now that he is older, he loves going to the grocery store with me - all the bright lights and colors on the shelves are so interesting to him. We like to go on walks around our apartment building, and to the dog park with Ruffy.
About the new confidence he gave me:
I used to be much quieter, shy I suppose for certain things. i never really spoke up for what I wanted. Now, all of a sudden, I find myself speaking up more, and asking for what i want, whether Lucas is involved or not. This started when I was pregnant, I guess I felt I had an extra boost of confidence with my big belly. It has continued and gotten stronger now. I feel like I need to speak up now to make sure I get what I need, and that Lucas gets what he needs. I am hopefully setting a good example for him, and caring for him to the best of my abilities.
About mommy hormones:
Mommy hormones, mommy instincts, they all kicked in as soon as Lucas arrived. Somehow I can be completely brain dead in every other aspect of my life, but I can remember exactly when he ate, slept, pooped, or cried last. I am in tune to all his different noises, and I wake up in a split second in the middle of the night - sometimes I wake up just minutes before he does. It’s crazy!
About spit up:
It’s everywhere! On the floor, on the bed, on me, Ryan, Lucas, everywhere! I feel like I constantly have a wet shoulder. He’s starting to drool now too, so it’s spit up and drool all the time!
About my free time:
What is free time? I thought I was busy before I had a baby. i don’t know what I was thinking! In the beginning I barely had time to take a shower. Now, thanks to Ryan, I get a shower almost every day! :-) Other than that, my only free time is when Luke is with his grandparents, and then I am running around like crazy trying to get a million things done. I end up staying up late at night after Luke goes to bed, when I should be sleeping, to get some time to myself. I think I’ve come to accept that my life has changed, and I no longer have time to myself. Now, it’s time for little Lucas.
About learning his different cries, and how they evolved:
Luke had the cutest little cry when he was born. It was so tiny sounding, short little cries. These evolved over the first few weeks until he really got a set of lungs on him. He can cry louder than I can yell! But, thankfully, he really doesn’t cry often - just when he’s hungry, or tired, or bored, or in the car..... he seems to hate the car seat! Over the last 12 weeks I’ve learned to know the difference between all his cries, and I’m pretty good at figuring out what’s wrong and fixing it quickly.
About driving with Lucas:
Unless he’s sleeping, driving is miserable! He doesn’t like to be in the car seat. If we’re driving non stop, he will quiet down and fall asleep, but if we’re stopping at lights, or slowing down, he can’t stand it. He cries in the car! In the first couple months, he seemed to cry uncontrollably, but now that he is 3 months, he kind of cries and whines, and occasionally starts screaming. I hope eventually the car will be fun for him, because we love road trips!
About leaving him for the first time:
The first time we left him was only for about 45 minutes. We were visiting my parents for dinner when he was probably 3 or 4 weeks old, and wanted to go to Lowes, which is only 5 minutes from their house. He was sleeping and my mom was holding him, so we took off quickly. The whole drive there we kept saying we should go back. I called them at least 4 times while we were gone. We rushed through the store and drove back home quickly, and Lucas was still sleeping, never knew we were gone.
About visiting the shop with Lucas:
My first trip out by myself with Lucas was to my mom’s shop. From then I just started visiting about once a week. Lucas gets to visit with his grammy, and I get to visit with my mom and the customers. I’m enjoying it now because I know before long Lucas will be running around and we won’t be able to just hang out and visit as easily anymore.
About the things Ryan did to help me:
Having a baby brought out another side to Ryan that I hadn’t seen before. He took such good care of me in those first few weeks when I couldn’t move off the couch. He cleaned and cooked and got up to get Lucas for me all night long. He was so sweet and took such good care of both of us. He still makes sure I have water ever time I’m feeding lucas, and he will get up any time I ask him to during the night. He also makes sure I get to take a shower every day! He loves to give Lucas a bottle any chance he gets, and is much more patient than I am when trying to get him to sleep.
Well, that’s only a handful of my memories of the first 12 weeks. It has been a challenge but it has been the most rewarding 3 months of my life so far. I can’t wait to see what Lucas does next!

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