Our incredible little girl has been with us for three months now, and it may sound cliche, but it’s so true… the time has flown by. It still feels like yesterday that she was a helplessly adorable little burrito in her hospital-issued receiving blanket…
But here I am now: a less sleep deprived parent (because sleep never really goes back to normal), a breastfeeding survivor, and a new mom who’s finally starting to feel like she’s figuring out this whole parenting thing. Huzzah!
So what’s life been like ever since the moment our world suddenly began revolving around this tiny little human being?? There really isn’t any one word that comes to mind… so let’s just suffice it to say that it’s been a mixed bag of amazingly awesome, cuteness overload, tears, “ow-that-hurts”, “will-we-ever-sleep-again?”, unconditional love that feels like it’s exploding from your ears, and “are-we-doing-this-right?”.
Even after all the parenting advice I’ve read or received, I would say that there truly isn’t a single book, class, or anything in this world really… that can adequately prepare you for those first few weeks at home with a brand new baby. Although everyone’s experience is different… because every baby is different… the fact of the matter is, LIFE as you know it is now different. And not just in a “making little adjustments” kind of way. We’re talking drastically different. Even when you know what to expect because you read all the books and attended all the classes, it still comes as somewhat of a shock to your senses and emotions once you’re in the trenches.
Now, let me put this out there first: I love my baby girl to the moon and back. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for her. And I probably wouldn’t change much about our time together so far, despite the challenges we’ve faced. But I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. If you’re about to become a new parent, you need to know what you’re potentially in for!
Although much of your time will likely be spent ogling over how adorable your precious little one is, and loving him/her so much that you can’t even understand how a heart could fit that much love into it… there are also plenty of times when things won’t be so peachy.
Taking a look back on my own first three months, there are definitely some challenges that stick out in my memory. There are many more wonderful things, too, but let’s talk about the hard parts first.
Immediately after bringing baby home, I didn’t sleep for DAYS straight. I felt like a shell of my former self for a little while. And I’m fairly certain I was slightly delirious the night we spent 5 hours in the ER waiting room when she was just 3 days old because the after-hours nurse hotline politely informed me that I might have had postpartum preeclampsia when I phoned about my sudden edema (I didn’t have it). To make things worse, I couldn’t “nap when the baby did” like they tell you to do, because my newborn liked to nap for SHORT periods of time if she wasn’t in my arms, which basically meant I spent those precious 20 minutes scarfing down a meal instead of sleeping (because breastfeeding makes you ravenous and besides, who has time to eat anymore??). And during her awake time, she HAD to be held in arms, or else a screaming marathon would ensue without an end in sight.
On another note… breastfeeding is VERY difficult in the beginning, even if you’re doing everything right. I had dreams of it being perfect. But every time after that first time in the delivery room, it was downright painful. My baby had a strong suck, a very tiny mouth, and a monstrous appetite. I had cracked and bleeding nipples for weeks, even though multiple lactation consultants told me her latch was great. My baby spit up MY blood once, which was terrifying to my husband and I (but apparently perfectly okay). I winced in pain and cried every time I fed her… which was anywhere from 12 to 16 times a day because it turns out my baby prefers to “snack” all day like her mama, instead of tanking up every 2 or 3 hours like all the books and websites say they’re supposed to. Newsflash: babies don’t always do what the experts and textbooks say!
And, OH, the hormones. I couldn’t even read a book to her without crying! It went on like this for a few weeks, until finally I could get through Guess How Much I Love You without becoming a blubbering mess. My bewildered husband could not comprehend that I was sobbing uncontrollably over how much I loved our baby girl. I just couldn’t make it stop no matter how hard I tried.
But we’re nearly arrived at the light at the end of this tunnel. These kinds of things eventually DO get better! And there are SO many more things to be happy about, that it kind of melts away all the ugly stuff.
Breastfeeding eventually stopped hurting for me after about 3 weeks, multiple lactation consulting visits, and some All Purpose Nipple Ointment to heal my battle wounds. I can even nurse her while half asleep now, so that’s a plus!
The wave of hormones also subsided after about a month. I no longer cry at the drop of a hat, THANK GOODNESS. It was almost embarrassing.
And I have mastered the art of diaper changing, although that achievement wasn’t without a few literal poop explosions beforehand. One time it was all over the wall and nursery furniture at 3 am… AWESOME, right? I was so shocked when it happened that I burst into insane laughter over how ridiculous the situation was. Boy, the cleanup was impossible… but the memory still makes me giggle every time.
Now, I’m happy to report that daily life with baby is becoming more manageable!
Breastfeeding is painless and basically on autopilot, although she still “snacks” instead of taking in larger meals, which means that much of our day together is consumed with time spent nursing. Nonetheless, I LOVE nursing her and I feel so grateful to all my girlfriends and family members who supported me to help me get through the beginning when I wanted to give up just to escape the pain on some days. Now we are tackling the task of getting her to take a bottle on occasion so that hubby and I can eventually go out on a date night, or in case I find myself in a situation where I can’t nurse her. This little girl LOVES the boob and hates all things made of silicone (including the paci), so it’s been a monumental task. But I think we’re making progress.
I have adapted to getting less sleep, so I no longer feel like a zombie. She sleeps for 4 or 5 hours at a stretch most nights before waking to nurse, which is great. She still has some nights where she gets me up every 2 hours… hello, gassy baby and growth spurts! On rare occasions, she’ll surprise us by sleeping through the night, but we don’t ever count on those.
She still insists on being held most of the time, and will ONLY nap in my arms during the day, which means I’m still not getting very much time to do anything productive until 9 or 10 pm when she goes down for the night. But I’m absolutely loving all the playtime we have during the day, so that’s okay with me.
However, as she is hitting more developmental milestones and becoming more interested in the world around her, I find that I am able to leave her for short periods of time to play on her activity mat (in my sight, of course) while I scarf down breakfast with two free hands or fold a few burpcloths from the laundry pile (woo hoo!).
Now that she can hold her head up pretty well, the one place she doesn’t mind being for extended periods of time is facing outward in the baby carrier. I think it provides her with the closeness and feeling of safety she craves, but also gives her the ability to satisfy her unquenchable curiosity while checking out her surroundings. Facing me, sometimes she’ll even manage to take a catnap.
We have started more confidently venturing out into the world again with baby girl in tow, too. We go out with friends, although those visits are often scheduled around naptimes and are sometimes cut short if she gets fussy. Since she prefers being held, this also means she cries in her car seat a lot (but not always). If she is pooping, she’s typically quiet in it, haha! Or if she is tired, she will sometimes fall asleep during the drive. We take the baby carrier along most places, too, which helps keep her happy if there’s any walking involved.
She smiles ALL the time, and lights up whenever she sees me or my husband from across a room, or if we peek over the edge of her pack and play in the morning when she wakes up. She’s also just starting to giggle sometimes, which is music to my ears.
She’s a tummy time champ, and can completely hold her head up at a full 90 degree angle for a few minutes at a time without tiring. She’s also just starting to get the hang of rolling over from belly to back.
She kicks her legs like crazy, and excitedly swipes and grabs at the toys above her on the piano gym activity mat. She also loves grabbing my hair when I hold her (ow!), and tries to hold onto my arm while I’m changing her diaper. She’s getting wigglier by the day!
Finally, she really seems to enjoy bath time and having her hair shampooed, which is so fun!
Overall, our first three months together have been full of love, laughter, and just figuring it all out. I am SO excited to see what the next few months will bring as she continues to grow and fill our hearts with joy!
What were your experiences as a new mom in the first three months of baby’s life? Share your stories in the comments below!