Hard to believe it’s already been a month! The time has been flying by, and not long until we’re driving to Colorado with a crying baby, three stressed cats, and everything we own crammed into a U-Haul… but let’s not think about that now.
The Growing Girl
We did a three week follow-up visit with our midwife Kellie to check in and make sure all was progressing well. Freia had gained another pound (!) since we visited the pediatrician the week before, which means that when compared to weekly infant growth averages she’s gone from around 5th percentile weight at birth to over 25th percentile at 3 weeks. So still small, but catching up quickly. Based on how frequently and ravenously she’s been nursing this gain on the scale wasn’t too surprising, and besides that she’s definitely getting noticeably larger in our arms. Thunder thighs imminent.
Breastfeeding so far has been going really well, and we’re doing our best to not mess it up. This week we introduced a once-daily bottle feeding of pumped milk so that Aaron can have some milky bonding time and I can potentially get an extended nap. I love our time together as nurser and nurseling and in my perfect world I would provide all of her sustenance directly from the tap until she weans, but I reluctantly admit that this is not realistic with going back to work and the possibility of life away from my daughter for more than an hour at a time.
When I was a wee babe, I was notoriously resistant to taking a bottle and my Dad would have to drive me in the middle of the night to nurse from my Mom when she was working night shifts for the railroad. Aaron and I are trying to avoid this scenario, and want to have the option of using a bottle if needed. There are a lot of quirks to introducing bottle feeding as part of exclusive breastfeeding. We’ve been trying to read and ask and observe and found the following things to be the most important concepts beyond the basic bottlefeeding dos and don’ts (like cleaning, storage, etc):
- Don’t bottlefeed or pump more than once a day – it can throw off mama’s milk production and potentially compromise the effectiveness of breastfeeding as a contraceptive (as we’re planning on doing)
- Put baby in a position that is distinctly different from typical nursing placement – they can get confused and are more likely to start rejecting the real thing if they’re expecting a bottle instead. I use cradle hold or sidelying for breastfeeding, so Aaron tends to place her in his lap with her head at his knees and feet near his stomach for bottlefeeding.
- Make it a social experience for both of you – singing, talking, and making it a fun time all around is a great way for papa to get more in sync with her cues and personality.
She just keeps getting more and more vibrant. She’ll get in these active moods where she starts kicking off of everything and will keep doing it until we put her down for tummy time, which she seems to like a lot. She’ll spend 10-15 minutes a couple times a day grunting with enthusiasm as she tries to figure out the mechanics of ground propulsion.
Very recently she started smiling real big (we think there’s even been a giggle or two). The smiles have been increasing, as has her general alertness. She stares intently at our faces and will lock in on random things.
According to the research, at this stage infants see mainly in black and white and tend to focus on the higher-contrast edges of shapes rather than their interior (like looking at your hair or face shape rather than your nose or mouth). They have no depth perception and are very nearsighted. Weirdly, they are able to distinguish vertical contrast lines more easily than horizontal contrast lines. We haven’t noticed her show any visual preference for objects in motion, but that should be starting fairly soon.
She’s losing her newborn hair (this is due to a change in hormones) and is slowly becoming adorably bald. No telling when or how her actual hair is going to start coming in. With her newfound baldness, Aaron gets a kick out of imagining her as a tiny fat balding middle-aged man who has suddenly become our roommate. This middle-aged man constantly chugs milk until he passes out, poops his pants, doesn’t pay rent, sleeps in our bed with us, and cries about everything. It’s a strange and comical living situation.
We made the switch over to cloth diapers as soon as her belly button stump was healed (around a week). After much brand debate, we went with Grovia and really like the way it’s going. We started out using reusable wipes for everything but they just weren’t very effective at cleaning up poop, so we’re going the disposable wipe route for the more substantial diapers. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a wipe that isn’t laden with harsh chemicals, soaps, and fragrances. (Especially the fragrances. What’s with that?) We’ve been using Water Wipes, which are >99% water with just a hint of fruit extract.
She’s had zero diaper rash or issues so far and the extra laundry is totally manageable. We’re not far enough into this endeavor to make any comprehensive determinations or recommendations, but keep an eye out around month two or three for a rundown of our diaper experiences.
My Recovery Thus Far
I’m feeling more and more like my old self everyday, but know that I’m not near fully recovered from pregnancy and childbirth and in reality my body will forever be changed (among other things, I’ve got some her cells in me now). Not by any means for the worse, just different, and I’m grateful for every extra inch or curve which allowed me to carry a healthy beautiful babe for 9 months and continue now to nourish her so wholly.
After the official lying-in period was up we stared to incorporate family walks around the neighborhood and to local restaurants and coffee shops. Along with the midwife-approved modified plank designed to help close the separation in my abdominal I’m doing some light stretching and pelvic floor conditioners. This is all I’ve been given the go-ahead to do, and have been warned to continue to take it easy and keep my movements gentle. It took 40 weeks for my body to morph into a motherly vessel, it will take more than 4 weeks for muscles, ligaments and tissues to return to their original tone and condition. This is all all right with me save for one sore spot: I miss my bike. I know that two wheel adventures will be in my future again soon though….
At Freia’s three week visit I also had a weigh-in. I was down 15 lbs from the highest I weighed in pregnancy, making me still up 10lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight. I don’t have a scale at home and don’t plan to, or honestly want to, pay too much attention to these numbers. More importantly I feel pretty good about my post-partum body so far. The line down my stomach is fading slightly, I never did get any pesky stretch marks, and I have yet to start losing all the wonderful pregnancy hair. I can technically fit into my pre-pregnancy pants but the button is a struggle and the resulting muffin top is worthy of an Elaine Benes business venture (to you non-Seinfeld watchers out there, what are you doing with your life?).
For most of my pants I’m still using my belly band to make things more comfortable, which has the double benefit of covering up my tummy if nursing calls for lifting my shirt up from the bottom. Speaking of new, slightly unforeseen wardrobe complications, my late pregnancy staples are now a non-option as tunics and dresses over leggings cannot be easily lifted or pulled down to breastfeed. In the venn diagram of my wardrobe, the overlap of “fits well” & “can easily nurse in” is limited to a small handful of tanks and one over-sized top. As someone who hates shopping, I’ll probably just sort of deal with this unfortunate circumstance until I don’t notice it anymore.
More intimately, the only remaining bleeding is limited to occasional light spotting. This was the most surprising aspect of my postpartum period. I fully expected the bleeding to be much heavier for much longer. No complaints here. I have yet to take a mirror to myself, but judging from context clues I suspect my minor tears are all but healed completely. I think I can attribute much of this rapid healing to staying off my feet, using cold comfrey compresses, taking regular baths, and good nutrition.
April’s looking to be a busy month for us with packing up the house and figuring out what happens when we set foot down in Colorado. I’m thankful that Freia and I are doing well and getting stronger so we’ll be up to the challenge, and very grateful for our support system.
We’re working on a list of all the baby gadgets that I’ve considered essential to our first month together, and we’ll share it here soon. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from our one-month photo playtime!