Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The post I've been meaning to write - and some pics!

Happy New Year ladies!! 

I have been so bad at posting - I mean - I have a 2 month old baby already for crying out loud! Where did the time go?  Literally, in a blink of an eye, we have gone from teeny tiny helpless babe, to a less tiny, smiley, cooing babe. Elliott is 10 weeks now and it's still surreal to me sometimes when he's looking at me that he was growing inside of me from that tiny speck to this little person. He has been such a great baby (despite the fussy times), and I am so so thankful that he's now a part of our family.

So I have a lot to update on, as you can imagine - I want to be able to remember this journey because already, I'm starting to forget just how tough the first 2-3 weeks were. So grab a cup o'java and sit tight, here we go! 

The early weeks:

So you know how when you were still pregnant, people tell you "get your sleep now" and "your life will never be the same" - I really know now what that means. The first week of Elliott's life turned mine upside down and inside out. In a good way but also one that I don't think I was fully prepared for.  I think it might also have something to do with the fact that he came 2 weeks early and I was still working the day before he was born - so I really had no down-time to myself before the world as I knew it would never be the same. The first 2-3 weeks were both Exhilarating and Exhausting. My hubby and I were so excited to finally hold and cuddle our little man - but once Day 2 came around, it was like this precious, sleepy bundle of joy turned into a crying and feeding machine (and gradually pooping machine lol). My hubby luckily was able to be home the first two weeks with me while we both adjusted to Elliott - he even stayed up with me during those wee morning hours while I was trying to get the whole breastfeeding routine down pat. He would sit beside me in bed, reading this blog and/or just chatting with me to keep me awake.  Did I already say before how much I love this man?  We were both exhausted and sleep deprived those first two weeks and we gradually fell into a rhythm that felt most comfortable to us.

Feeding/Breastfeeding: 

I was fortunate to have my milk come in on Day 3. The pain of engorgement in those early days were NOT fun but I found quick relief with frozen cabbage leaves and expressing some milk out with a pump.  Elliott was born with a short frenulum (the lil' stringy thing that attaches your tongue) and it was also near the tip of his tongue, which made it even more difficult for the poor lil' guy to get a good latch.  We struggled with latching for the first week, week and a half - and I thought I was going to lose it and give up on bf'ing altogether because each feeding would be him screaming and crying "I'm starving" and me crying "I'm trying".  We even thought we had to get that lil' thing snipped (per advice from our midwife, it might help with latching) but Elliott and I stuck it out. He had no problems latching onto the right breast but the left he was never able to get but he and I eventually figured it out and he was feeding from both sides probably near the end of week 3.  Those times that he couldn't get to the left side I would pump out the milk and store it. Don't get me wrong, things were not all so rosy and great, my nipples felt so raw and sore I didn't even want water to touch them in the shower. We would BF for 30-45 mins, sometimes taking an hour to complete a full feed and I would be exhausted because it didn't seem like an hour had gone by where it would all start over again. I would cry all the time and just feel like I couldn't give any more (tho through pumping, my milk supply was quite steady and bountiful) But my hubby and I had difficult decision to make: whether or not to supplement so it would take some of the feeding responsibility off of me.  He suggested that we introduce the bottle, with the breast milk and also formula.  I know, the big F word I cringed at. I wanted to say yes right away but a big part of me felt like a big fat failure.  Why is it that I couldn't get the energy to do this? All other mothers can BF and their babies are satisfied after a feeding but why was my baby ravishing for more after a very long feed?  He was afterall, sucking and gulping everything down so I knew he wasn't just nibbling or snack feeding. 


I stuck it out for another few agonizing days during week 3 and then I decided that what was best for baby was also a mom who wasn't a walking zombie and that I decided to supplement with the bottle - both formula and expressed breast milk.  We had consulted with his pediatrician before going this route and because he was gaining weight wonderfully (he never lost any weight since he was born!) she told us that introducing the bottle would not cause any nipple confusion I was worried about.  So we went ahead. My hubby got to help with the feeds and things drastically improved on my end. I was still bf'ing at least 6 feeds so I didn't give it up completely and nowadays he will get 1-2 formula feeds a day and the rest would be from me.  I can say now, looking back, that was the best decision I made for us and I don't regret it although I do have random feelings of guilt every now and then because I had wanted to BF exclusively and put a lot of pressure on myself to do so. 

We are so lucky that Elliott took both the bottle and breast and went back and forth without a problem.  I was afraid he would prefer the bottle than boob but he hasn't seemed to notice and eats like a champ both ways. Whenever we are home, I will breastfeed - and the latter evening feeds will be bottle with daddy - which works out because I find that my milk supply in the evening is not as great as the morning/day feeds.


Whew, now that that piece is off my chest (no pun intended) - let's move on to sleeping.

Sleeping:
At around 6 weeks, Elliott started sleeping through the night! And what I mean by that would be that we would put him down around 11:30 and he wouldn't wake me up for a feed until about 4:30/5 am.  That was a big accomplishment seeing that I never got more than 3 hours sleep in a row. 
Then at around 8-9 weeks, he went down around 11 pm and didn't wake until 5-6 am, and last week, until 7 am! Sleep had never felt more glorious.  I attribute our routine that was loosely based on the BabyWise principles (more on this later) and it was TOUGH but now it is so worth it. He is definitely more alert and awake during the day time and seems to go down for the night without a fuss and we count our blessings every day that he has fallen into this routine and has allowed us to be well rested during the night. 


Circumcision:


I think it was worse for me than him.  I was just a wreck and I couldn't bear going into the room with him while the doctor performed the circumcision so my hubby went in to represent. This happened week 2 of his life. Poor lil' guy.  He healed withing 10 days but those days after the surgery his lil' wee wee was all swollen and red and purple - I cringed everytime I changed his dressing and diaper. Everything looks great now and I am glad we made the decision to have it done. Seeing your baby 'get hurt' is the worse feeling in the world and I felt so guilty for putting him through it but we felt that in the long run, it would be best for him - to prevent any infection and unnecessary surgery later on in his life.



On being BabyWise:
In the first few weeks I tried to follow this book as much I could.  To stick to the routine of feed, wake, sleep - but I found it so difficult to keep a newborn awake after a feed, I thought I had failed.  But then I realized that it wasn't a hard and fast rule and that eventually, on his own, he would stay awake a bit longer and then sometimes not.  I decided to put the book down and just go with my gut instinct on what was best for my baby.  When he needed to sleep, he would sleep, and when he needed to eat, he would wake up (and it would be every 2-3 hours anyway).  I do think that some of the BabyWise principles were a good guideline, but when I couldn't fit in 8 feedings like the book said and thought I was doing more damage than good, I started to realize that my baby was eating what he needed and if he needed more he would adjust his schedule.  He was also a lot smaller than most babies (born 5 lbs 9 ounces) so he was eating for his size. At his 2 1/2 week appointment he was already almost up to 7.5 lbs so I knew I was doing something right with him.   I do agree with the parental assessment and clock method - because sometimes it would be just a dirty diaper or gas and not really a true feed.  We also relied heavily on the Dunstan baby language to help decipher what Elliott wanted (as seen on Opra.h) and it has been bang on.  We can clearly hear his 'nehs' vs 'eh's so at least it helps us narrow down what he needed from us at the moment.  I still flip back to BabyWise now and then but looking back, I wish I wasn't so hard on myself when it wasn't working out the way that they laid out.  To each their own and every baby is different right!



Oh how he's changed!
Elliott is now getting bigger and stronger every day.  The first time he truly made eye contact with us and smiled filled my heart in a way I never felt before.  When he wakes up in the morning, he has stopped screaming and crying, he will now just coo and call for me and when I go into his room (oh yes - forgot to mention we moved him to his room/crib by week 2) - he greets me with a big grin on his face because he knows that I am going to feed him soon.  It's the best feeling in the world and I really cherish those quiet mornings with him. All in all, he is a dream baby.  Every day, every week we are noticing that he is growing and developing his curiuosity of the world around him. He is starting to really like his activity gym as he's starting to 'talk' to his hanging monkey and giraffe friends. I can't wait to see what the next month brings (he just started to find his hands yesterday).   

For me, I started to take him out around week 5 to visit friends and even to the mall (we observed the Asian tradition of staying indoors for the first month - with the exception of doctor appts) - and can I say that doing those 'regular' things just made me feel human again.  Not to mention a big confidence booster that I can handle getting him ready to go, carseat, stroller, winter clothing, feeding, etc by myself.  My mom has also been a great help. She came over almost every day around week 2/3 to help out - if not burping him, than cleaning the dishes piling up in the sink and just little things around the house.  Nowadays if I have to run some quick errands I can call her up and drop E off without hesitation (she is a 7 min drive away thankfully!).  


So I think that's an update and a half.  I apologize I haven't been blogging lately but now that we've gotten into this routine, I hope to be posting a lot more frequently.  I am still catching up on everyone's blogs so if you see random comments here and there on your old posts - that's me! 


Gotta run for the next feed...ciao! Oh, and here are a few pics of my lil' guy! 

day 1

 end of week 1


 Celebrating his 1 month