Wow – has it really been two whole months already? Really?
Looking back from where I am now, I’m beyond amazed that Nathan is already almost nine weeks old. They aren’t kidding when they say time flies, but I’m also not particularly unhappy about it (even though, apparently, I am supposed to be). There have been good, bad and ugly moments in our first two months together, and while I will appreciate them as fond memories (and, someday down the road, I’m sure I’ll look back on some of the struggles I’ve had and laugh), I’m really not feeling that wistful lament that he’s growing up on me that I’m apparently supposed to. I’m really looking forward to moving past the sack-of-potatoes phase, because it’s just been exhausting. Here’s a few highlights of our first two months together, and the constant learning curve we have been on.
First things first: you guys didn’t knock on wood when I asked you to, did you? Pretty much right after the post where I had the audacity to brag about how easy he is, Nathan got a cold, and everything kind of went to hell from there. For a good 10-day stretch, he was so congested and cranky that he was waking up every 45 to 60 minutes around the clock – including all night, every night – because he couldn’t breathe well enough to sleep. He stopped sleeping in his crib at all because his sinuses couldn’t drain when we laid him flat, so we would have to put him to sleep in his bouncer or swing, which made us paranoid. I spent a lot of time uncomfortably napping on our tiny, crappy couch so I could be near the swing (and him) to make sure he was okay. I felt like I was constantly filling his humidifier, putting saline drops in his nose, and using the snotsucker to try and clear him out.
(By the way, get a snot sucker. You need one. You don’t know that you do, but – just trust me on this one – you do.)
Anyway, that was about weeks 2 1/2 to 4 of his life – I was so sleep deprived and run down that I could hardly find the energy to keep up with him, let alone do much of anything else. Mercifully, he got better, and then we had another week or so of easy baby bliss before the gas hit.
Good lord, the gas. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a perpetually fussy, cranky baby who would spend way way WAY more time awake than he should because he was too uncomfortable to sleep… and he was miserable the whole time, both because his stomach hurt and because he was so tired. He went from sleeping nearly 20 hours a day to often less than 10. We experimented with tons of different types of bottles and nipples, various remedies – gas drops, gripe water, you name it – and only last week did we finally figure out the best way to manage his gas/colic and get him back to being relatively agreeable. For us, the answer was two-fold: Bio Gaia probiotic drops (this didn’t actually reduce his gas very much, but made a HUGE difference in his colic – he remained uncomfortable, but he was less uncomfortable, so there was far less screaming and crying) and, further to that, Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottles decimated his gas incidents. He still has episodes once or twice a day, but they are FAR shorter and less severe than they were, and he is doing much better now. Thank goodness for that. Colic is hell. Several days during the worst of it, around week 6, I would cry until I ran out of tears and scream myself hoarse into a pillow. It honestly felt like it would never end sometimes, and the only thing that kept me from completely losing it was telling myself that, yes, it would end. Nothing lasts forever: even the worst of days end, and even the crankiest of babies sleep eventually.
The only other large struggle we’ve had to contend with so far is clinginess – insofar as an infant can be clingy, anyway. Especially in the last week or so, Nathan has made it very clear that he wants to be held all the time (and, when you have a particularly wakeful baby, this can be trying). We’re managing it the best we can, and he fortunately still sleeps soundly in his crib or cradle on most nights (usually in two blocks of 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours, with one feed in the middle), but during the day I’m often not able to do much more than watch Netflix and surf the internet because he tends to wake up less than 20 minutes after I put him down, almost without fail. Babywearing has made things a bit better, but there’s still a lot you can’t do with a baby strapped to you, especially one as big as mine. Did I mention he’s more than 14 lbs?! Yep, 14. Already. He is already filling out 3-6 month clothes, and I imagine that he’ll be out of those sometime in January at this rate, too.
With those complaints aside, there are good things, too. He becomes a little more alert and responsive by the day, and he finally gave me a real smile yesterday, apparently in celebration of his two-month birthday. I really didn’t enjoy the newborn phase at all, but I am so, so excited for what lies ahead. I can’t wait for our interactions to be deeper, and for him to do more than cry and eat and poop. I want to play with him and read to him and help him learn to walk, teach him the alphabet, scrub mud out of his hair after a long day of hard play, carry his backpack home from school while he tells me about his day. Knowing that all of that is coming is really exciting.
Adjusting to life with a baby is hard, and probably more so when it’s your first (living) child because it’s all new to you; you don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t, everyone seems to have an opinion about what you’re doing at all times (and whether or not you’re doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’), and you’re totally not prepared for how different your life is going to be with one, no matter how hard you might try to get ready. I was ready for the reality of being peed, pooped, spat up and thrown up on, but I never anticipated some of the grittier realities of motherhood, like having to decide whether I want to eat or use the washroom in that five precious minutes of calm before he wakes up and realizes he’s not being held anymore, or how devastating it feels when you’ve finally put your sleepy baby down for a nap and just as you tiptoe out of the room, he has an explosive poop and you need to change him and start all over again from the beginning.
Or trying to rock his swing with your foot to keep him amused while you desperately try to get a pump done, because he’s been awake for 5 hours but still doesn’t want to sleep, is bored if he sits still, and the batteries for the swing are dead.
Or that feeling of sadness when you take him out for a walk in the stroller because you’re starving and you want him to sleep for a little bit while you find some food, he passes out as soon as you leave, but he wakes right back up again the second you get back. You would not believe how sick I am of ready-to-eat foods like chips, granola bars and cereal.
ANYWAY! I digress.
So, yeah, it’s hard sometimes. There are so many things I thought I was ready for, and it turned out I wasn’t because there’s just really no way to prepare for them. Perhaps the most agonizing is when your child is screaming and you either have no clue what it is they need, or it’s something you can’t help them with, like gas. We seem to be moving out of the worst of his colicky phase – and thank goodness, because his crying grates away at my nerves in a horrible way – but it’s still awful to hear him cry.
I have other topics to touch on (how having Nathan has affected my grief, things I’ve learned about self-respect and other people’s opinions, and so on) but I haven’t got the time right now, so I’ll leave it at that for now.