7 things about baby's first 7 weeks

We are seven weeks in to the life-changing experience that is having a baby -even a second baby. Seven weeks living a whirl of never ending feeding times, burping sessions, of “why is he crying?”, of explosions in nappies, surprise showers of pee (normally baby gets himself in the face) and fluffy post-bath hair (so soft!).  Of my milk-stained tops, of trying to fit in as much as possible during nap times, of sleep deprivation.



So I thought I’d describe our life these past seven weeks through seven different categories; love, feeding, healthcare, sleep, big sister, my health and self-care and maternity leave.  It’s our reality.  Maybe you’ll find some parts you can identify with and others that are far-removed from your own experience.  I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.



Love - On loving a new baby


I look down at this little creature gazing up at me with his blue steel eyes wide open and I wonder what he’s thinking. How does he see me? What is he feeling?

I had wondered – and I know it’s kind of a cliché - whether I could really love my second child quite as much as my first.  Of course I could.  And I was sure I would, it’s just that I couldn’t really envision it while I was pregnant. After he was born, at first everything was kind of hazy and I wasn’t sure how I felt about anything really. Then things started to crystallize and in those moments, looking into those eyes, I knew how much I loved my second baby.

My baby, so brand new, so completely dependent on me for all his needs.  And yet, in some ways, he knows his own mind already. Communication is a struggle, a matter of guesswork, intuition, getting to know this new person bit by bit to start to understand what he needs at any given time.

And time, so scarce and so fleeting at the moment, is never enough.



Feeding


I wanted to breastfeed as exclusively as possible – if you know what I mean. With Emma I breastfed in combination with bottle-feeding but by three months old she preferred the bottle and I was producing less and less milk until it stopped altogether.

From the very first in the hospital they give you bottles to supplement with but I started breast-feeding on the first day in the hospital. And it went well, Alexander seemed to take to it well.  My milk came in maybe a day or two after and so I was mostly breast-feeding hardly bottle feeding at all.  The occasional bottle, normally when someone other than me was going to feed the baby.

I had a good milk supply. At his first check up with the pediatrician, Alexander had gained 800g in 16 days which meant that I was producing plenty of milk, the baby was well-nourished and that I should keep it up. And I felt good; proud of myself even.

But it’s hard, tiring, so time-consuming.  Sometimes it feels like he’s only just finished one feed, slept a very short time (not long enough for me to do much) and then he’s waking up hungry again for the next feed.  I need to do things and my almost-five-year-old daughter needs my time, too.  I need to eat, cook, wash up, shower, tidy up and clean (I honestly don’t do much cleaning). I need me-time.

There are times when it’s just difficult.  I’ve begun to suspect that my milk supply is dwindling- I don’t know if it’s my imagination or if it’s real. But there are times when Alexander doesn’t seem to be quite full up enough to sleep for a decent period of time during the day after feed.  I’ve taken to giving him a bottle of formula for the middle afternoon feed, at this time I have to get Emma’s dinner ready – actually everyone’s dinner-and things are a bit busy. Or I just feel that I don’t have enough milk after several morning feeds, or maybe I just don’t have the will or the energy to breastfeed at that moment.  Perhaps I’m just caving in to pressure.

Then again, breast-feeding can be so convenient. Especially for night feeds.  I don’t even have to get out of bed (Alexander is in his bassinet cot right next to my side of the bed).

I haven’t bought a breast pump yet. Put it down to indecision, but I think I’m going to need one for when I go back to work.


Healthcare


We had to get Alexander’s first vaccinations within the first three days after birth so we took him to the practically deserted health centre to get them – they were for tuberculosis and hepatitis- and at the same time we got the heel test done which tests for genetic predisposition to certain diseases. Poor baby, he did not like that, being cut on his heel, then pricked in his arm and thigh. At least it was over pretty quickly and he stopped crying.
The health centre is a free service and they are supposed to give you the baby’s health/vaccination record booklet – except they didn’t have any left (a normal state of affairs) so we just got a piece of paper instead.  I think we were lucky when we took Emma as a baby as they just happened to have one booklet which they gave us for her.

We have to go back for the top-up vaccinations pretty soon, when Alexander is two months old.

We took Alexander to Emma’s pediatrician when he was 16 days old.  He had put on quite a lot of weight in those first two weeks; at birth he weighed 2.8 kilos and measured 50cm. 16 days later he weighed 3.6 kilos and measured 51 cm.  This was proof that he was feeding very well and possibly – and I remember the doctor saying this exact same thing about Emma too – that by genetic predisposition he should have been bigger when he was born, but just didn’t have any more room to grow in my uterus, so was now making up for it with this spurt of weight gain.

Anyway, the conclusion was that we should be very grateful we have such a healthy baby. We are!

Since there were no real health issues we didn’t have to take him to another checkup until he’s two months old, so I have no idea how much Alexander currently weighs.  I just know that he keeps getting bigger and heavier and some of the outfits that used to be enormous on him are now a perfect fit, some are even getting a bit tight.


Sleep


At first, Alexander was waking up pretty much every three hours day and night, with the exception of that first night in the hospital when I couldn’t get him to feed either from the breast or the bottle because he was just so sleepy.  I got used to being woken up several times a night and it really wasn’t as bad as I’d been imagining.  That was one of the things I’d been sort of dreading during my pregnancy – how will I cope with having to wake up every three hours? It turns out that I’m better at surviving on less sleep than I was five years ago when Emma was a newborn.  But then again, I tend to keep nodding off during feeding – and the baby even more than me!

More recently, he’s started sleeping for longer periods of time most nights and is waking up less frequently.  Particularly the time from the last evening feed at around 9pm-ish until the next early hours of the morning feed these days is usually about 6 hours.  That means I should really go to bed early and make the most of those 6 hours.  I don’t at the moment, but I must try to do that next week when I start back at work.


Big Sister


Emma is nearly five and no longer an only child.  It does mean I have to do a tricky and not always successful balancing act to divide my time and attention between Emma’s needs and the baby’s.  Perhaps this is the most difficult thing of all.  It’s Emma’s dinner time and the baby needs feeding, we have to wake her up and get her ready for school and the baby wakes up at the same time; she needs someone to supervise her homework, she wants to play with me, it’s time to get ready for bed. All these things are important. Which is why if my husband or mother-in-law can help with feeding Alexander at dinner time it takes some pressure off me.

Emma seems to be taking all the changes in her stride, I think.  She says she likes being a big sister and loves her little brother.  She likes the idea of being able to teach him things.  Sometimes she gives him a kiss and says how cute he is and occasionally she wants to hold him, but passes him back almost immediately because “he’s heavy”. Other times she is more interested in playing or doing whatever it is she’s doing. The other day she said the “baby is no fun, he’s boring”. Well I guess for a five-year-o more interested in playing or doing whatever it is she’s doing. The other day she said the baby is no fun; he’s boring.  She can’t really play with him yet.

She hasn't really showed signs of being jealous, except with her grandmother sometimes, when she’s holding the baby. The other day Emma started chanting “Nena doesn’t love me, Nena doesn’t love me!” I’m sure she didn’t really believe that, it seemed more like a game or a way to wind up her “Nena”.  I don’t know.

She often says things like, “ When the baby is five, I’ll be nine – I’ll be in primary school!” (Wow!)  Or asks me, “How old will Alexander be when I’m …”.  She’s fascinated by the idea of being older and bigger and is very excited by the idea of being in primary school!


My health and self-care


I had my stitches out about 12 days after the c-section and the gynecologist said I was doing fine, the scar was healing well.  I haven’t been back yet for my final all clear.  During my pregnancy my ankles were very swollen and I got quite severe varicose veins.  For the first few days after the birth my ankles were still really swollen, but then they soon went back to their normal size.  The varicose veins improved very slightly but are still pretty bad. I need to wear my compression tights but they still feel a bit tight on my tummy.

I do have a mum tum, although now I can actually fit into my skinny jeans again! With my belly spilling over the top a bit!  I didn’t really put on much weight during the pregnancy so I’m almost back to my normal weight again. I’m lucky in that that’s not much of an issue for me. However I should really look into some exercises for losing this tummy.  I’m rather lazy about doing exercise. I’ve pinned so many posts about postnatal workouts and exercises but haven’t read any of them yet!  However, I think the main thing I need to do in terms of self-care is to try to get more sleep. Easier said than done, though.


Maternity Leave


Maternity leave in Mexico is very short, in my opinion, 84 days in total.  Mine started on 27th November so I have to go back to work on 19th February.  The baby is not even two months old yet.  Mostly I am a bit nervous about it and a bit worried. My husband will be looking after Alexander in the mornings and I wonder how he’ll get on. I have to leave the house very early and I wonder how he’ll cope with Emma’s morning routine and Alexander at the same time.  Hopefully he’ll manage. It’s difficult when the baby is so small still.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel being back at work; I enjoy my job so that’s an advantage, but I think it’s going to take me a while to get back into the routine.  I’ll let you know how we all get on in my next update, but things are going to feel even more hectic I think.



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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


“Reflections

12 Comments

  1. You got this mama, and are doing brilliantly! Keep up the good work and remember to look after yourself too! #KCACOLS

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  2. This brings back a lot of memories as I'm sure it will for all of your readers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. #ItsOK

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  3. Wow this brings back a lot of memories and it didn’t happen that long ago for me. Amazing how quickly you’re onto the next phase. Sounds like you’re doing a great job and both your children are gorgeous. Rubbish maternity leave in Mexico though! #ItsOK

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  4. My niece just had her first baby and she is telling me some of the same things I hear from you. She is breast feeding and will go back to school soon. Congratulations on both of your beautiful children. #KCACOLS

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  5. Brings back memories of having my second baby, I remember almost feeling like I was cheating on Aspen by spending so much of my attention on April. The girls are 3 years apart so Aspen didn't have quite as long as your daughter as an only child, she took pretty well to her new sister. I think it is hard for them waiting until the baby is old enough to not be boring, now at 14 and 11 they still giggle and play as they did when they were little. Once that sibling bond appears it is so beautiful to witness! It is hard adjusting though, going back to sleepless nights and the baby constantly feeding, crying, pooping, somehow I got through it, and even went for a third, and some crazy days I long for it all over, then we have a couple of nights where everyone is sick and I think never again. But as hard as those early baby days, months, even years are gosh they are precious! Sending love your way! Also thank you for linking up #ABloggingGoodTime

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  6. Oh my, that is one cute baby! I really do miss the newborn phase. It really is the sweetest, even though we don't feel it at the time! Your maternity leave is the same as South Africa. In the USA its only 6 weeks. Can you imagine! BTW, my son is 21 months old and I have still not been for my final check up.. Oops. #itsok

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  7. Ahhh ... you're doing a great job! Hang in there mummy. I love the fluffy hair too. #itsok

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  8. He's absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea Maternity leave differed so greatly in other countries. #KCACOLS

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  9. I had no issues with my milk supply the first time around but the second time my experience was similar to yours. It started out great but at some point I felt like my supply just started going down. I had to supplement with formula too. Luckily it didn't start being a real problem until just before we started solid foods so that fixed the issue pretty quickly and I didn't have to spend a fortune on expensive formula. I also agree with your thoughts on needing sleep. I was worried too, remembering how hard it was the first time. But it turns out that in my first 3 years of motherhood my body has learned to function without sleep. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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  10. We had to get Snappy's heel test done twice. He did not appreciate that. Also he would not take a bottle. Or a sippy cup. Awkward thing. #kcacols

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  11. When our youngest son was in and out of the hospital they had to do frequent heel pricks to check his bilirubins. It was traumatizing for all involved! #KCACOLS

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  12. Effective feeding is more than just putting the nipples into the baby's mouth. It is more about controlling the flow and ensuring the baby takes in a good amount of milk and not get asleep. This guide is a nice representation of what it takes to do that.

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