I can’t believe a month has already passed since our sweet boy stormed into the world! This Saturday was (is?) my due date, and I feel so blessed that we have gotten to have him with us an extra month! I know it is bad form to WISH to have a premature baby, but man did we luck out! Let’s be honest…pregnancy stinks! To end up with a healthy happy baby boy AND skip the 9th month? That almost seems too good to be true!
Though his entrance into the world was sudden and unexpected, his time in the NICU turned out to be a huge blessing, down to the fact that we only owe $900 of a $30,000 hospital bill….thank you insurance!
Spending a week with our amazing nurses was such a confidence builder. I’m sure all new parents are terrified the first time they hold their newborn…but with the cords and monitors compounded by the fact that he was just so darn little, terrified just doesn’t even scratch the surface. But after a week of what we like to call “professional tutoring”, things got much less scary. When we walked out those doors with our little miracle we were slightly more ready (and slightly less sleep deprived) than we would have been otherwise.
Here’s what we have been up to the last month…
Caleb started out on an IV, and fortunately he was big enough that we were able to begin breastfeeding as soon as I was able after the surgery. He started with supplemental formula and I started pumping right away. (Those hospital pumps are awesome!).
At first eating was exhausting…for us all! Since Caleb was so sleepy, eating was quite the ordeal. He spent about a minute at a time actually eating, followed by a minute or two of us trying to to wake him back up. We were told that breastfeeding would actually burn more a calories than Caleb would consume at first, so we had to limit our attempts and supplement with high calorie formula. This meant bottles from the beginning. Even though every book and article I have read warns about the evils of bottles in the first weeks, my goal was to bring my baby home…and if that meant bottles, so be it. Turns out it was the best thing we could have done (more about that later). Thanks to the hospital pump, I was able to get my milk supply to the point where we no longer needed formula by the time we left the hospital (cha-ching!).
Once we got home we were able to slowly increase his breastfeeding time and cut back on the bottles. This saves us a considerable amount of time. At first, best case, I was spending 20 minutes breastfeeding, followed by 20 minutes bottle feeding, and then another 20 pumping. Every. Three. Hours.
Fortunately Nick was able to do a lot of the bottle feeding while I pumped, so that cut down on a lot of the time. Sometimes it took twice as long because we had to spend so much time waking him up. Now feeding takes 20 minutes. I pump a couple times a day so that we can also use bottles and Daddy can still share in the fun 🙂
Ahhh….sleeping. I am slightly afraid as I type this, for fear that I will curse us, but we have an incredibly good sleeper on our hands. Now, I don’t know if this is a result of his prematurity, his personality, or our insistence that he remain on a schedule (thank you Babywise!) and sleep mostly in his crib, but this kid is spoiling us. I say this because not only is he starting to sleep longer (4 hour) stretches at night, but he is able to sleep anywhere, and has mastered the art of self soothing. I was a bit skeptical about whether this routine business would actually work, but so far so good!
During the day I wake him up to eat every 3 hours if he hasn’t woken up on his own. After each feeding we have playtime if he is awake enough. I always put him in his crib when he is just slightly awake, and he manages to go to sleep on his own. At night we have started a bedtime routine and put him to bed at 7:30. At 10 we wake him up to feed him, and then we let him sleep as long as he wants for the rest of the night. He usually wakes up at 2 and 5:30. Because he still takes bottles (even though he doesn’t have to) we are able to share the load of the nighttime feedings. I get up at 2, and Nick gets up at 5:30. We are so much happier and well rested as parents than we would be if we didn’t have a routine, and I think it has led to us being able to enjoy this time so much more! Hopefully his night time stretches will get a little longer soon, but for now we are thankful for his predictability!
I also believe we owe a lot of our sleepytime happiness to the art of the swaddle! Nick got private lessons at the hospital in how to properly swaddle, and LOVES those pink and blue hospital blankets. Little did we know that not all swaddle blankets are created equal.
We came home (without any of the hospital blankets…booo) thinking our receiving blankets would do. We were very wrong. This led to an evening trip to the store on our first night home. This month we have tried just about every swaddle blanket on the market. Our little Houdini is a master at breaking free, but really needs the coziness to sleep. We are currently using a combination. We start with a newborn Swaddlepod, which is basically a pouch with a zipper down the middle. Once he is contained, we do a traditional swaddle on the outside with a muslin swaddle blanket (I love the Aden + Anais ones!). It allows him to roll his entire bundled self over to the side a bit, which is the position he likes best (something he couldn’t do with his arms straightjacketed down in the Miracle Blanket). So far he hasn’t been able to break out. Score!
Caleb loves to wiggle and stretch when he is awake. Right now smiles are infrequent, and we are still waiting to see one that we would consider “social”. He is getting stronger and can hold up his head for a few seconds at a time. He doesn’t mind tummy time, and can lift his head long enough to turn it the other direction. He is content to do pretty much whatever we are doing…I think he gets his easygoing nature from his dad 🙂
Awake time is increasing a little every day, and as of right now we usually get two “play times” every day. He makes it about 45 minutes before it is time to sleep again. This week we started playing in front of the mirror. Caleb has been fascinated watching his reflection.
With my elementary school teacher immunities being transferred via the womb and breast milk, we haven’t really been too afraid of taking little man out and about. We keep him bundled and in his car seat for the most part to ward off foreign hands, and for the most part people “oooh” and “ahhh” from a distance. Aside from the occasional infringement of personal space (one poor old lady almost lost a hand when she tried to touch him while Daddy was holding him) we haven’t regretted bringing him out into the world. I think it has saved our sanity to be in the land of the living, and it is fun to show him off. 🙂 There is only so much Netflix a girl can handle.
Aside from daily trips to either Target or the library or Walmart or to meet Daddy for lunch (Mommy has a hard time sitting still…) we have started taking walks around the neighborhood now that the weather is a little warmer. We also had our first two trips to the church nursery! Nobody cried (even mom!) and he got lots of snuggles and attention from the sweet volunteers.
We even went on our first road trip! Last weekend we went to see Grandma and Grandpa at the lake! We can’t wait until he is big enough to enjoy all of the fun things to do there! Daddy had fun shooting guns, while Caleb stayed home to cuddle with Grandma.
We ended the first month with our first holiday: Easter! All of the cute bunny ears for kids were WAY too big for his tiny head, so (of course) had to make my own 🙂
So far we are loving being parents! I am adjusting to life as a stay at home mom, and Nick rushes in the door every afternoon and can’t wait to get his hands on our little guy. We are so thankful for all of our wonderful friends for the gifts, meals, and most of all the company over the last month! We have loved seeing everyone and introducing our sweet boy. We feel so blessed and are enjoying every minute! 🙂