We survived the first month!! Every one has been telling us to enjoy this time because it goes by so fast, and we really are trying to be present, but this first month certainly brought on some challenges (as it does for any parent of a newborn).
Before I get into our first month as first time parents; one question I've been getting a lot is how we came up with the name Emory. We first heard of the name Emory from the show Fresh Off the Boat (I was named after a soap opera actress, so I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!). John and I tossed several other names around, but none stuck quite like Emory did, and the very few people we shared our name ideas with all loved Emory the most. It's also not a very common name, which I wanted because I haven't met many other people named Cali and I wanted our child to have a fairly unique name. We chose James as his middle name because that's my father's middle name and we wanted to tie in a family name. We decided to hyphenate his last name because I didn't change my last name when we got married; I wanted my name included in his and when he's old enough, he can make the decision if he'd like to keep the double-barreled name, or change it.
So about that first month...similar to how reading about other blogger's birth stories helped me with my pregnancy, I turned to a lot of blogger's newborn recaps during our first month with Emory. John and I never spent a lot of time around infants/babies, so we really had no idea what we were in for. We envisioned this harmonious life where we would go out for brunch or cocktails and leisurely enjoy ourselves while baby snoozed away in his stroller. I envisioned baby whimpering when they were hungry, but I eat what, 3-5 meals a day, so surely that must be how much baby will eat, too? And babies sleep a lot, so we can lay in the garden behind our walk up and enjoy the lovely late summer weather! Insert reality: our baby has colic. And cries-I mean screams-A LOT. He also hates sleeping on his own. He will cry the minute we put him down :) I'm lucky if I can get a shower, so we can just scratch the idea of eating in public for a bit. Shame on us for not doing our homework, but as challenging as this past month has been we are so thankful we have a very healthy baby boy. These challenges will soon pass and we'll be faced with new ones.
Our first weekend home my book club came over to see Emory, I was exhausted and nervous how the dynamic would be considering I'm the first one of the group to have a baby. Ever the introvert, I even questioned John, 'Should we really be hosting a brunch? Shouldn't our energy that we're spending cleaning the house be used to catch up on some sleep?' But John was persistent and said we needed to see our friends. I'm so happy they came over, he was right, it was so good for the soul. The group brought some champagne and food to eat that morning, and each person brought over a homemade dish they froze that we just had to pop in the microwave to make sure we had food on hand for the next several weeks. That right there, is how you know you won the jackpot with friends. If you take away anything from this blog post--the next time one of your loved ones has a baby--bring them a home cooked meal. It will mean the world to the new parent(s). Or, be like my old roommate, Toni, and have a bottle of champs delivered to the new mommy :) Man, I'm so happy I can have bubbles again!
I was fortunate that John had two weeks of paternity leave. I remember we went for a walk as his second week was coming to an end and I was just crying the entire time--it was a mix of some baby blues, postpartum hormones, exhaustion, and being scared beyond belief; how was I going to be able to take care of Emory on my own during the day?! How can I make myself lunch, or go to the bathroom if Emory doesn't want to be put down...ever!? It was during week 3, that I called my mom and cried during our entire phone call--I needed help. I tried to do it all on my own, but I was exhausted. Fortunately, she had that week off and was able to fly in and help me that week. It was seriously such a HUGE help. She showed me some baby tricks, made sure I was getting enough to eat and drink, and honestly, even at 30 years old, sometimes you just need your mom.
Here's some more updates and our first month experience:
Early on in the pregnancy, I decided I wanted to breastfeed Emory; I purchased my pump and had all the tools ready--nipple cream, pads, nursing tank tops, cooling gel pads, sanitizing bags, you name it. However, I didn't get my hopes up because I know of so many moms that wanted to breastfeed and it just didn't work out. So before Emory got here, I knew my first choice was to breastfeed, second would be to pump, and if none of that worked out, he would be given formula. And I truly didn't have an issue with any of the options--I just wanted our baby fed and healthy.
As my milk came in I was paranoid--was he getting enough milk? Was I producing enough? I was in a constant state of fear: was my baby getting enough to eat? The lactation consultants (LC) in the hospital encouraged me to use a nipple shield because I have flat nipples (nipples could be flat? who know?), but even using the nipple shield, I was experiencing so much pain when breastfeeding. The LC's checked to see if Emory was tongue tied in the hospital (which he wasn't), so I knew he had a shallow latch and that was causing the pain. Around the end of his first week my nipples started to crack and bleed.
Without question, we fed him a bottle of formula. I was devastated. And in pain. I considered quitting breastfeeding, but with the encouragement of some of my mommy friends, I decided to start pumping. This allowed Emory to continue to get my milk, keep my supply up, and let my nipples heal. Eventually they did, and the morning of our newborn photoshoot our photographer encouraged me to breastfeed Emory beforehand so he was milk drunk. I knew that was the best way to put him to sleep, so I decided to give it another go and it was much easier. Our photographer breastfed her two children and we talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of breastfeeding. It gave me the confidence to just keep at it and from there on out I stopped pumping and he nursed. Every day it kept getting easier and easier.
He did get some formula feedings at night so I could get some extra rest and John could be more involved with feeding him and they could have that experience, but soon his latch improved, and breastfeeding became much more comfortable and enjoyable. To any new mothers struggling, I completely understand--every one told me breastfeeding would be hard, but I never fully understood what they meant by it. I feel so incredibly fortunate Emory and I are able to have this experience, I know a lot of mothers (my mom being one of them) where breastfeeding just didn't work out even though they wanted it to--so I don't take this experience for granted.
Emory was 21.5'' when he was born, but I'm pretty sure he was measured wrong, because at his one month check up he measured 21.1" (and during his first week check up he was measuring 19").
For a baby born past their due date, Emory was such a small nugget when he was born at 6 lbs 12 oz. He went down to 6 lbs 8 oz when we left the hospital, which is pretty normal. However, when we took him for his first pediatrician appointment 2 days later, he had lost more weight and was down to 6 lbs 4 oz, so we had to bring him back the following week to see if he was gaining any weight. We were still in a healthy window because he hadn't dipped below 10% of his birth weight. When we went back he was at 6 lbs 14 oz, above birth weight--way to go momma and way to go Emory! At his one month check up, he weighed 8 lbs 13.8 oz.
Emory is a very healthy boy! He did have jaundice, but with the help of breastfeeding it quickly went away by the time he was about one week old. He is quite a gassy baby and has hiccups here and there. During his first month he had a hard time with his gas and it would really upset and bother him. Towards the end of the month he also started to get a little bit of baby acne, but it started to go away about 1-2 weeks later. He also has managed to keep pretty much all of the hair he was born with so far!
Mornings (that's usually when he's the happiest!), looking at the cats, laying in his Keekaroo Peanut Changer (seriously a life saver--when he pees during a nappy change, we can just wipe it up! No extra laundry with a typical changing pad!), taking baths, listening to music (specifically Ed Sheeran; Mom & Dad aren't mad about it!), going for walks, being held, and snuggling in bed with his mom and dad...he is a very cuddly little baby!
Being hungry, having his diaper changed, sleeping in his bassinet/anywhere that isn't on Mom/Dad/Nana/Papa, and being in his carseat.
I thought for sure I was going to have a big baby, so I didn't buy too many newborn clothes. I was pretty surprised when I found out how much of a little nugget he was when he was born. When my mom came to visit we went to Target and bought him some more newborn sleepers and she also picked up some cute ones in Michigan. Emory wore newborn stuff for his entire first month, they started to get a little tight on his one month birthday. He also wore newborn diapers in the beginning as well, but we switched him to size 1 diapers around 4-5 weeks.
Primarily breastmilk, with the exception of the handful of formula bottles we supplement with at night when I need a little break.
We're still working on this :) We were completely naive and unprepared. Being two former DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) we prized our 8+ hours of sleep each night, so when we brought Emory home and he needed to be fed every 1.5-2 hours we had a rude awakening.
Then week 3 came and the colic set in. Emory's witching hour(s) would start around 7:30pm and last until about 10:30pm. On top of it all, he wouldn't sleep on his own. If we weren't holding him while he slept--he'd wake up and cry. The first month with Emory--our hands were full. Literally. We didn't invest in a baby carrier before he was born; I had a wrap to baby wear Emory, but go figure--he hates being in the wrap. So when our tula baby carrier arrived around week 3, I did one BIG happy dance! And he loves being in his carrier! Woo Hoo!!
Emory doesn't sleep in his Rock n Play, bassinet, or Dock a Tot--he will only sleep on our chests or in his carrier. Around week 3-4 we started bringing Emory into bed with us because it was the only way we all got some sleep (I'm talking 3-4 hours stretches of sleep--which makes us feel like a million bucks). I'm not crazy about this sleeping arrangement since I'd really love to be able to put him down in his bassinet in between feedings at night, but I have to keep reminding myself that he's only a month old, and this too shall pass.
When my mom came to stay with us during week 3 she stayed up and held him during most of the night so we could get some sleep and it was such a huge help. When she came I was just so exhausted, my dad came for that weekend to spend some time with Emory and they both took shifts during the night so we could sleep, I only had to get up to feed him. It was seriously the best, and I'm so thankful for all they did for us and that we live close enough to them that they were able to come help. When my parents left I cried so much--once again, I was scared. How were we going to do be able to do this?
John had to go to Florida for his brother's wedding around the time Emory turned one month old (I stayed behind due to Emory being so small, and it's such a good thing I did considering how colicky he is), and my parents came to Chicago again to help while John was gone. I remember just counting down the days until they came back to help. It seriously takes a village, and I think to myself every single day--how do single parents do this? There isn't enough credit in the world given to people who don't have family nearby to help/are doing this on their own. Taking care of a newborn is such hard, demanding, selfless work and I have so much respect for those of you doing this on your own.
Sleepers! Especially the ones with zippers, our Tula Baby wrap, Dr. Brown bottles (it really helps with his gas), and the Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad
-His umbilical cord stump fell off when he was one week old
-Had newborn photos taken when he was 8 days old (I'll be sharing those as soon as I get them!)
-In this first month, he hasn't smiled for us yet but he does smile a lot randomly throughout the day (which is most likely gas)...I can't wait until he starts doing it on purpose!
I want to thank all of the women I reached out to during this first month who shared their experiences with me, their lessons learned, and provided me helpful advice. I felt so much support and encouragement--thank you for all the help!
Despite the challenges we faced, our hearts are so full--we love this little guy so much and it's been so much fun watching him grow! We are so thankful we have a healthy, growing, beautiful baby boy. Every one says it gets easier and honestly, I feel so much more confident at the end of his first month than I did at the end of his first week. We're learning how to meet his needs better, how to cope with this new sleeping schedule, and we look forward to all the new memories we'll be making with him. We love you, Emory James!