This morning, I got to go sit in a circle with a lovely group of Moms and a Dad all in the thick of our first year of parenting at a New Mom’s Group. It got me thinking about how quickly not only these days pass, but the phases, or chunks of time, that our babies go thru and we go thru with them. For Marin, I wrote down a list of Firsts for her First Year (which I hope to do this time too), but for Isaac, I journaled some of his first month, by the day (almost everyday), to reflect on the brevity, the lessons learned, and everything between, over our first days together. Below is a calendar of his first month, including what we did to how we felt, day-by-day with some pictures of him today at seven-weeks-old.
11/25 – Born, first poop (3 in 12 hours!), first pee, first nurse (5x in first 4 hours), first toot, first snorts (when you want to nurse), and sneezes. In the middle of the night, I had a hard time sleeping and just soaked up the first night knowing you’d grow all too quickly.
11/26 – First snow! We enjoyed a relaxing day alone as a family. It felt extremely peaceful.
11/27 – First Thanksgiving! Milk is here! First football game with Daddy! Your left eye’s swelling has gone down.
11/28 – Newborn metabolic screening. First time I started to cry that Daddy was going back to work.
11/29 – First rivalry weekend! Both FSU and Tech won, but someone’s going home a loser when they play for the ACC championship next week. From this night till Monday afternoon, I laid in bed with you outside of bathroom trips to pee every 2 hours throughout the night (which sadly woke you up each time…) entirely. I had a 101-103 fever that didn’t break and would only lower with some extra strength Tylenol. I suffered through what was thought to be the virus you sister first had when I was in labor, then a bladder infection, and then at the doctor’s office on…
12/1 – …was diagnosed a uterine infection. It was terrifying for me and on…
12/2 – …. as you turned one week old that morning, I had a good cry about spending your first week in bed sweating on you and not having the energy to love you much outside of nursing you between bathroom trips. I felt robbed and my infection felt unjustified which made me angry and broken over the lack of control I had in this unfortunate outcome. I prepared to lose control in labor, but not postpartum – not with rest, not with doing it ‘right’- eating and drinking tons of fluids, focusing on whole foods, resting, not lifting your sister and so on. I felt like I earned mastitis with Marin, but with you, I only earned healthy black bean brownie points whose reward should’ve been a bill of good health and no risk of complication. When it didn’t pan out, and by the time I had energy to cry, I felt guilty that my precious newborn time with you would now be sad and wasted by a stream of tears that this was happening to us. Again, it felt like, only much more difficult to diagnose – so in many ways, much more terrifying and helpless. I wondered if you’d be my last baby as well-intentioned family flooded by texts with the word ‘hysterectomy’ that shot me further into my black hole of doubt that the ObGyn was correct at all or if I was on a path to losing my uterus with no end or help in site. As scary and as powerless as labor felt with Marin, these few days felt with you. There was no energy I had left to voice and advocate for myself, and I was in the hands of caregivers, some trusted and others new, that my body would be well again and ok. I kept thinking that I’d make a good episode of House for hosting such bizarre symtoms – intense tension headaches, overall achiness which was acutely painful when I peed in my lower abdomen, high fever, and loss of appetite. I hated those few days and I hated them more for hating the beginning of my time with you.
First trip outside to Mommy’s appointment!
12/3 – Your one week appointment! First family date afterwards at Five Guys! First time I put you (to sleep) in the Moby! Your appointment wore us both out!
12/4 – First day with just Mommy and Marin! Daddy went to work and Mommy was on her own for the first time! Today, I woke up angry for all I did right to not matter. I had high iron my whole pregnancy and to lose that with hemorrhage and have terrible daily tension headaches made me angry that for all I did right it didn’t even matter now…
12/5 – First day that Daddy worked from home! It was really hard to not want to spend the day with him and let him be productive instead. Marin spent most of the day working with Daddy so it was nice to enjoy more one-on-one time with you without feeling bad about it.
12/6 – Even though I would have loved to stay up to watch the ACC Championship game, FSU vs Tech, I went to bed with you after you enjoyed a draining cluster nursing session. I couldn’t help but try to remind myself of how fast these days would go and how much I’d miss them. I pet your head, evened out the hair on top of it, kissed you as much as I could and held your tiny hands. I am enjoying you so much more than I thought at this age and am filled with such mixed emotions about you growing up. I already feel like you’re growing too fast.
12/7 – I swear you laugh in your sleep – you smile after too. 🙂
12/8 – I couldn’t nurse you to sleep in bed for 45 minutes and leave your sister that long everytime you wanted to nap, so today, we are mastering the Moby wrap together. As of 12:41, we are killing this on our own business. My body needs to heal so I should be sitting more, but my confidence of watching you and Marin on my own is increasing with every naptime you fall asleep in your wrap.
Stillness – it may be one of my secret favorite parts to having a newborn. Never in my life have I ever been so unproductive – let the dishes sit, left piles of laundry, dirty or unfolded, forgotten to look at all the crumbs collected on the kitchen floor. But you my dear, happen to be so lovely, so distracting, so enchanting that although it crosses my mind, I dismiss it to look at you in my arms a little while longer. To enjoy the surreality of a sleeping baby in my arms or asleep beside my breast. You were still in my belly only two weeks ago, and every Monday night for the rest of this year, I’ll probably think of that last night as one. I could truly carry you in my womb forever without complaint because of the oneness we shared that I’ll never get back. So what do I do? I lay still beside you as much as possible – to get as close to you as I can as our physical separation grows.
12/9 – I’ve been reading about the Quilala’s loss of their son, Jett since yesterday and it gives me so much more perspective on how precious everyday is and how grateful I am to have full term pregnancies. I’ve been really enjoying your baby fist stretches when you’re moving in your sleep or just waking up. You tremble them upward and it’s just exceptionally adorable compared to your need to be on me or nursing constantly. Still, today I have increased perspective on how wonderful it is to feel you nurse and breathe beside me.
12/10 – First trip out with just Mom and Marin. First book reading – we read about Isaac in your storybook Bible! And first time I clipped your nails – as I asked you to not hate this as much as your sister, I clipped one too short and it bled. You cried. Sorry son, I want to cry too. Then I did.
A short list of what Marin says to you all the time –
“Hold my hand?”
“I want to pet the baby!”
“Can I kiss it? Ok.”
“Isaac doesn’t like the carseat.”
“I wanna hold him.”
“He look at me! Look at me, baby!”
I always thought that the moments I had falling asleep with Marin in my arms were especially precious because I thought that I’d never get to do that with another baby. I’ve found that to be completely untrue – for now. I am enjoying the moments that you can sleep happily on my body for as long as you like, and knowing that when you can’t, I will still get to cuddle with you at night.
12/11 – Today, we made a hard, important decision to not go to Daddy’s Christmas party. It felt awful to tell them so last minute, but I’m proud of us, me and Daddy. We put our family first, which even if it’s a top priority, is still hard when the pressures from what others will think can easily affect us more than how you feel. Daddy has been working long nights for deadlines at work and I didn’t want to sacrifice our time with him as a family, and just as important to me, I didn’t want to hear you scream in the car. More than anything, you crying in a carseat, not understanding why I can’t soothe you at this age, breaks my heart. I don’t handle babies crying well, or toddlers for that matter, since I still haven’t robbed your sister of her paci. And I don’t know when I’ll have the guts to.
12/12 – For about 80% of today, you were laying on me or nursing, in the rocker glider in the living room. I can’t get over how much you want to sleep – and and arguably would, if you were my only child. But you aren’t, so I’m a tad worried about what this will all look like once the holidays have died down and it’s just us three most days. For today though, I was inspired to have some perspective on what it will be like to put you to sleep once someone isn’t entertaining your sister simultaneously – it will be easy compared to what we will have to figure out in the future. I’m not sure what dilemmas will arise, how I’ll cope when your feelings are hurt or how I’ll encourage you to cope, but those mountains will turn these days into molehills. And all that is stressful now will seem incredibly simple then.
12/13 – First walk with Daddy, Marin and Kuncle to the park! First trip to the park! And fortunately, first time you fell asleep in your carseat on your walk to the park.
12/14 – First REAL on purpose smile to Mommy (I have pictures to prove it!) and first trip to church! You met Grandpa Bennett for the first time today (since he arrived late last night)!
Vulnerability – The first time we took MK to church she was 3 weeks old. I woke up before her to do my hair and makeup, with my perfect dress, and Spanx – doing all I could to ensure I didn’t look like I’d *just* had a baby. I ate up compliments and loved the praise for looking so good with a newborn in tow. Today, I wore yesterday’s makeup (lightly retouched), with greasy hair I sprayed with a color squirts of hair spray, and an outfit I didn’t feel 100% in with a little postpartum belly. Today, I wanted to feel beautiful, and I wanted to embrace what I look and feel like almost 3 weeks postpartum. I want another woman to look at me as an example – a true, real, sometimes flustered one, of new motherhood. To rebel a little against an expectation that my body will just go back, or that I do not have tired eyes or arms, and that life is easy for me in transition. Maybe it’s a little because of that spirit that having you has felt much easier, much more survivable and free, and I’m sure, it’s a little bit because of you too.
First time in your Ergo carrier!
12/15 – It seems so ironic and cruel that I spend my kids youngest days wishing they’d grow up and their oldest days (so far) wishing they’d slow down.
I will not hate today for fear of tomorrow.
12/16 – Today, Grandpa Bennett left for his work trip and I’m a tad relieved to no longer be contained in our bedroom for a lot of the day. Having male company always feels a bit awkward and isolating for me because of nursing since I’ve been hiding in our room for every feed and letting him play with Marin (which she has thankfully loved!). It’s one thing for you to nurse all day, and it’s another to feel like I need to do it privately and away from everyone (but I’m working on that!). Even though I miss adult life, I am enjoying petting your head as you nurse and holding you against my body…
12/17 – …These moments are a mix of precious and overbearing for me. How am I supposed to love a time that is so physically and emotionally demanding almost all of the time? Showering AND blowdrying my hair feels like a total luxury. But in the back of my head is a ringing ‘but you will miss this’. Is it perspective or guilt? It’s honestly hard to tell, but probably both. It’s knowing that this isn’t forever, more than I knew with your sister, so enjoy this phase for all it is worth. Just like I enjoyed just us time with Daddy before Marin, and just Marin time before you, I’m enjoying just Isaac time a lot now before I bear the full weight of two kids time. And all of our family time. Not that we won’t have that time again, but it will never again be so sacred and respected as necessary as these days.
12/19 – First time in the ring sling! I’ve been desperate to get it so I can nurse you in a carrier and was devastated when it arrived in the wrong color. I have felt pretty emotionally stable, but that totally pushed me to tears.
12/20 – First trip to the mall, and therefore, Chick fil A! Today, it dawned on me how scared I am to go out with you. Not just because of you crying in your car seat (which is just about the worst sound in this world to me), but to bust out of my comfort zone and learn how to get you to sleep, or find a place to nurse, or be brave enough to not care if and where I do. Today, it was just awful to go out with you, but so needed. I need to try new things with you. I need to learn you in new ways and give you new chances for success or failure. I need to be flexible and grow as a Mom, not just because of Marin, but for myself too. This doesn’t have to be scary if I don’t let it, and you’re a great baby to learn that life lesson with. And because of that combination, bravery and a baby to be brave with, I learned to nurse in my Ergo carrier with you today.
12/21 – Nursing has taken on an entirely different appeal for me this time. With Marin, it felt always incredibly taxing with her long nursing stretches and my fears of side lying her to sleep for late night nursing sessions. I was always tired and worn down and felt like I was drowning in every area of my life. I can now see some of it was her and some of it was me. Nursing you hasn’t felt that way because you’re a much more low key baby and I’m a much more low key second-time Mom. Do I get tired? Of course. I’m still getting woken up! But because I’m able to rest more at nights by having you sleep with us at this age, I’m able to enjoy our nursing relationship in ways I never did. I look into your eyes more, put my phone down just to connect with you and them, and tell you I love you. Nursing is now a very special, sacred time – it’s time for just you and me, no one else, and I treasure it so much.
12/22 – You know, it’s funny how much I tell you I think you’re perfect. Or how much I now say ‘it just makes sense that we would have a boy’ because in so many ways, you were predictable – how I carried you, the meaning of your name, the fact that I was so afraid about what to do with a BOY…But I read something that took me by surprise on HONY about a special Ed teacher creating a space for her students’ parents to grieve about the child they didn’t have. And I thought, you know what, I have a perfectly happy and healthy baby boy that I am smitten with, but I do not have the child I wanted. Maybe that sounds bad, or downright terrible to say that your child, but honesty is a cornerstone of my parenting because I think kids crave a sense of truth. So, I’ll tell you now, I really wanted a girl because I always wanted a sister to grow up with my whole childhood and I wanted to give that to MK. You are not a sister (clearly), you’re a brother and I know you are perfect for us because you’re what God gave us, but I think it’s ok to take a moment to be sad that you weren’t a girl too.
12/23 – First time Christmas caroling and to the Fisher’s new home!
12/24 – First Christmas Eve! We went to Mrs. Lauren and Mr. Mike’s for the night! You did not like staying up past your bedtime, but enjoyed the car ride home. So did I, because you quietly slept the whole time.
12/25 – You’re ONE MONTH! First Christmas! We stayed in all day with Kuncle, Daddy and Marin in our pajamas and enjoyed an atypical Christmas by relaxing all day and doing nothing. Usually, we run from house-to-house and it’s fun, but exhausting. I’m glad we got to spend this one with you not in tears or overwhelmed.