Today, Oliver is 3 weeks old. I’d like to start weekly recaps, so we can remember all the changes, challenges, and little things that are likely to be forgotten along the way. For the first couple weeks, Oliver just ate, slept, ate, slept with pretty much no fuss (other than diaper changes, which he slowly got used to – aside from when we wiped him!), but this week, we can feel things changing and evolving.
Oliver is gaining weight really well. We visited a breastfeeding support group mid-week. It had been 8 days since his last official weigh in at the doctor (at which he had basically regained his birth weight – he was up to 6 lbs 1.8oz). When we weighed him before his feeding this Wednesday, he 7 lbs 4 oz! Admittedly, that included a (clean) diaper and an outfit, but still – he was likely over 7 lbs, meaning he had basically gained a pound in 8 days! That’s 2 oz per day, which is a very healthy gain, especially for a late preterm baby.
Similar to the above, he eats well, too (most of the time). We haven’t yet perfected his latch, which is why we were at the support group (actually I *thought* his latch was fine, and then when the lactation consultant helped me latch him Wednesday, I realized how much less painful it was compared to what it had been). We’ll be going back to the group tomorrow, and depending how things go, maybe another day this week. If we do well in the sessions, but can’t replicate things as well at home with my own pillow, chairs, etc. we’ll have a lactation consultant come to the house and help us out.
Oliver has basically 4 faces. The “ooooohhh” face is our personal favorite, because his eyes are so, so big and he just looks in awe of this new world.
Oliver has started fussing. It’s not often, but he was literally silent aside from the odd grunt or a very brief fuss when we changed him. In the last couple days, he has started fussing (turning red, tensing up and crying) a lot of the time when he wakes up. We are quick to respond to him and pick him up, but we haven’t quite figured out what this cry means. From the scrunching and redness, we think it may be gas, but are exploring all options to confirm. We often change him, will try to feed him, etc. The fussing is typically brief – a minute or less- but we’d like to help him as much as possible and minimize his upset. The fussing started the day after we started giving him an iron supplement. We didn’t ease him into the dosage, so we can’t help wondering if such a sudden jump in iron has him constipated and more gassy. In the interim, we are giving him some gas meds when he makes his scrunchy, red face and we have stopped giving him the iron for the time being. We’re going to exclude it for a few days, see if the (assumed) gas dissipates, and if so, we’ll ease him into the recommended daily dose to help his body transition. If those don’t work, we’ll continue exploring other options and discuss it with his doctor at our 1-month appointment.
In addition to the intermittent fuss-on-waking, last night he was fussy on-and-off for several hours. We suspect this is standard cluster feeding/witching hour, but it was an overwhelming experience, nonetheless! He previously had a few instances in which his (usually 30-45 minute) feedings would take up to 2-2.5 hrs, because he would fall asleep, be woken back up, feed some more, sleep etc., but last night’s 5 hour session was epic! We eventually got to a point where we thought there was no way he could be hungry, and explored other soothing techniques – swaddling, a pacifier (which I have mixed feelings about introducing right now, before he is on a more consistent schedule – in the end, he used it for a few minutes and didn’t want it again), cuddling, letting him settle on his own, walking around with him, singing. Each had varying degrees of success – some not at all, others for a few minutes. Finally, by the end, Mark was able to walk around downstairs swaying with and singing to him and he finally fell asleep. Once we had him down, he slept for a solid 3.5 hrs (from 12:30 until 4am), and his subsequent feedings were much more normal in duration.
Oliver loves bath time! We wash his face with a clean washcloth, while his body is wrapped in a towel. Then we hold him above the infant bath (still wrapped in a towel) while we wet and wash his hair. Once that is done, we towel dry his hair (so he doesn’t get cold) and then remove his diaper and lower him into the infant tub. When we start, he looks a bit skeptical and his body is a little tense, but as he gets lowered into the water, he really relaxes and ultimately enjoys it. Hopefully he’ll start remembering that feeling soon, and will stop feeling skeptical when we first start lowering him in! His forehead and hands tend to be dry after a bath, so we’ve started putting a tiny amount of Cetaphil lotion on them, which resolves the issue.
We are filing his nails rather than cutting them with clippers, and it is so easy. I have heard a lot of traumatized moms complain how hard it is to keep little infant nails short (they grow relatively quickly) and to not cut their little nail beds in the process. With the emery board, I can simply swipe it on each finger a few times while he’s asleep on my chest, and it keeps things tidy and stress-free. He did have a small jagged corner the other day, and scratched his face lightly with it by accident, but it healed in less than 12-hours and didn’t even cause any fuss when it happened (just a bit of redness, which Mum and Dad noticed but O was seemingly oblivious to).
Mark goes back to work tomorrow, which we have mixed feelings about. We have loved the last 3 weeks at home together,bonding as a family, and Mark will be sad he is no longer around to stare at Oliver’s cute little face and snuggling with him. However, since Mark is currently unable to participate in feedings (which makes up pretty much all of Oliver’s non-sleep time), he feels much less productive than he is used to, and it’s causing a bit of cabin fever. We’ve largely been able to combat his cabin fever by sending him on errand runs and by walking up to Starbucks as a family every other day, but he loves his job, the productivity he feels at work, and providing for his family, so he is also looking forward to going back to work. The last few weeks have been so blissful, I am hoping (especially with the small amount of fussing Oliver has started doing) things don’t self implode once daddy goes back to work!
He still loves his Rock n Play, and we love having him sleep in it. We can move it around the house to whatever room we are in (downstairs eating dinner, in the bathroom showering and drying hair, etc) and love having him sleep right next to us at night. Incidentally, when I set my alarm to try to anticipate his next feeding, I find I always sleep through the alarm (turning it off with no recollection), but wake the second Oliver starts waking up and making little noises. Mother nature is amazing!
We haven’t used many of this clothes. We have about 4-5 sleepers that fit him reasonably well (right length, but still a bit
baggy), but most of the time, we have him in a diaper covered in a swaddle blanket so we can maximize skin-to-skin time with both Mum and Dad. As I type this, he’s laying on my chest covered in a muslin swaddle blanket.
We started using the Moby wrap today. The minimum recommended weight is 8 lbs. Since Oliver is tall and at least 7.5 lbs at this point, we went ahead and tried him in it for some laps around the house, and it was GREAT! I could have him close while also walking around the house getting things done. We tried using it for our walk to Starbucks, but it’s less optimal for such long walks, since using that rather than the stroller is warmer for me (and it was a warm, sunny day today) and requires carrying the diaper bag (plus any shopping we pick up) rather than storing it in or on the stroller. I think the Moby will be a great option for around the house, for short walks, or when going around places like the grocery store (where I can pop him out of the car seat and into the wrap, and not have to have a stroller while picking up items). I think we’ll stick with the stroller (which we love!) for longer walks, or those that might involve shopping.
I am healing very well (haven’t had any pain since the first day or two post-birth and bleeding is very minimal), and think that along with the ‘self care’ I have been practicing (taking care of myself by showering and ‘getting ready’ every day and eating well) have gone a long way to making me feel good. I am generally feeling good, coping well with the new sleep ‘schedule’ (except brief points of frustration during his cluster feeds), and loving the little guy. Each of the last 3 Saturdays, I have cried briefly – typically due to pain with breastfeeding (we are still working to perfect his latch; hopefully it’ll be more seamless soon) – but aside from those very brief moments of frustration and/or pain, all is going very well. I am sure tiredness will continue to build, and may introduce its own moments of weakness, but hopefully with a bit more help from the lactation consultant, the feeding-related frustration will subside, and things will be even more blissful. Overall, I absolutely love being a mama, and feel I was made to be doing this job and loving this little man.
I have read that the first 6 weeks are the hardest – that you are just in survival mode at that point. If that’s the case, I am pleasantly surprised how well the first half of that period has gone, and I hope that despite Mark going back to work and Oliver’s more “awake” state, the next few weeks are equally as manageable, if not a bit more of a challenge.