It’s been a little over a month since Blake and I brought home our beautiful baby girl, and it still feels like I have no clue what I’m doing. I spent the last couple of months of pregnancy just wanting it to be over, all the while worrying about how life would be with a newborn. We did our best to prep; put together the picture-perfect nursery, bought all the essential baby gear, and read as many baby books and articles as we had energy for. Still, you can never be fully prepared for life with your first baby.
If I had to describe early motherhood in one word, it would be ‘humbling”. On the one hand, this little thing you’ve grown and loved for 10 months is finally here and it’s amazing. On the other hand, there are plenty of moments of overwhelm and exhaustion. Sometimes I feel so empowered by the motherly instincts that seem to kick in with no problem, and the next moment I’ll doubt my ability to master this whole motherhood thing. Much like pregnancy, the first month with baby is an emotional roller coaster of happiness and self doubt.
It’s taking some work, but we are slowly finding our groove as a family. In between diaper changes and midnight feedings, Blake and I are discovering who we are as parents and what this new role means for our marriage. We’re adjusting our daily routine to include our newest family addition, and it’s no easy feat. I’ve spent the last month stuck on the couch with a baby attached to my breasts. I’m lucky enough if I have time in between feedings to slather some cream on my nipples and run to the bathroom for a quick pee.
It’s been fun, this whole feed on constant demand thing, but at our doctor visit yesterday, the pediatrician suggested we get on a schedule. Doctor’s orders include feeding on a schedule (Before people yell and scream that a baby this young shouldn’t be put on a feeding schedule, this is due to the fact that my little angel isn’t gaining weight as fast as she should. The problem is most likely her constant yet insufficient snacking. The doc is hoping that stretching the time between each feeding to two hours will make my little one hungry enough to consume a whole meal, thus getting proper nutrition. We have a weight check next week to see if this helps.) and putting Lily down for bedtime when she’s still awake. Yikes. This is going to be a tough transition. Not only does my spoiled baby get to nurse whenever she wants, she has never, I repeat, never fallen asleep on her own. Sleep comes when she’s in my arms or on the boob. The pediatrician assured me that this is normal for the first month, but now that we are on to month number two, it’s time to start healthy eating and sleeping habits.
I left the appointment with mixed emotions. I was hopeful for the time this new schedule would bring. Just think of all the household chores I could get done when I didn’t have a baby attached to my breast? Better yet, I could actually shower on a daily basis! On the other hand, this transition was going to be a rough one. Completely changing a five month old baby’s routine from loosey goosey to regimented and systematic would be no easy feat. Would this really work, and how long would it take before she adjusted?
After our doctor appointment, my friend and her three week old baby (aka, Lily’s future BFF) came over for a little visit. I was explaining the new routine our doctor insisted that we implement and Brittany said it sounded similar to the routine they had just started at home. A friend from work had suggested she read Babywise, a book that I had heard rave reviews about but hadn’t gotten around to reading. She and her husband had started the new schedule of feedings, naps, and a consistent bedtime four days ago. It can be rough at times, but she insisted that even after just a few days, this new schedule has saved her sanity.
When Blake got home from work, I could barely wait to tell him how this new schedule was working out for our friends and their baby. I told him all about the book and how parts of it mirrored what the doctor was prescribing. We decided we were going to give it a solid effort, and immediately downloaded the book onto my Kindle. We read several chapters before falling asleep. Even though I haven’t finished the book, nor have I worked out the details, I decided to attempt to stick to a schedule today. Lily has taken three naps today so far, all of which lasted about an average of 30 minutes and were preceded by about 15 minutes of very dramatic crying. I’m doing my best to stretch feedings two to three hours apart, but this kid gives me hungry cues after just an hour. Yes, establishing this new routine will be a challenge, to say the least.
How did you establish a routine with your baby? I’d love to hear from fellow parents on what worked for their little ones. Share your scheduling tricks, tips, or frustrations.