Monday, August 1, 2011

The first 11 weeks

This will be a long blog post, but since I'm a little later getting this started than I planned on, I'll try and get everyone up to speed on Brock's first couple of months!

We were blessed with the most beautiful baby boy on Wednesday, May 18th at 10:14 am. He weighed 8 lbs, 12 oz and was 20.25 inches long. For those of you who didn't follow my pregnancy blog, Brock was born via scheduled c-section due to his estimated large size. Everyone has their opinions on how a woman should give birth, but I totally trusted my doctor and to this day feel we made the right decision for our family.

My recovery was very fast and I was lucky to have minimum pain. Breastfeeding was our first (and biggest) challenge. Brock was such a calm, patient baby from the beginning. He didn't really get frustrated with working for his food, however, he would wear himself out. He would end up falling asleep everytime he nursed. And not just a little snooze, we're talking passed out, nothing could wake him up asleep. Therefore, he was wanting to eat all the time as he wasn't filling up when he did eat.

When we left the hospital his weight had dropped (as all newborns do) down to 8lbs 4 oz. He was a little dehydrated and had lost a little more than the nurses like to see, so they had us supplementing with pre-mixed Enfamil formula bottles. We used a tiny tube on the end of our finger to 'simulate' a nipple and try and prevent nipple confusion that can come from using a bottle. When my milk started coming in, I was so engourged at first so he was having a hard time getting anything out. By his first doctor's appointment at almost 1 week old, he was down to 8lbs even. The doctor wasn't overly concerned as that may be his 'bottoming out' point, but she wanted to see him back in another week.
At his 2 week weigh-in, he was only up to 8 lbs 2 oz. Usually they like to see babies back up to their birth weight by 2 weeks, so this caused a slight amount of concern (especially for me as the mommy!). To encourage his weight gain even more, they had us start a pretty rigourous program. I really wanted to give breastfeeding as much of a chance as possible, so we started the following: 3-4 feedings a day= nurse, then pump (to encourage milk supply), 3 feedings a day nurse, then supplement with forumula (to encourage weight gain) and 1-2 feedings a day supplement with strictly formula and pump. I felt completely deflated and overwhelmed. As a mother, there is no worse feeling than that of feeling like you aren't fully satisfying your childs basic needs. The fact that I wasn't making enough milk to feed him (when I felt like all I was doing was nursing) was extremely frustrating. As we got almost a week into this process, we started to find comfort in the feedings where we supplemented or gave him formula only because we could see how much he was eating and knew he was getting enough. Pretty soon, he started gaining more of an appetite, but on the flip side also got a little too used to the bottle.
By his 3rd weight check during week 3 he was back up past his birth weight! He gained 11 oz in one week and was finally on the right track. By this point, we had also decided that nursing just wasn't happening for him. He was still falling asleep so hard he wasn't getting much food in his system. We talked it over with our doctor and decided to go to 100% bottle feeding and do half pumped breastmilk and half formula until I built up a bigger milk supply. This was a huge relief for us because we knew he was getting what he needed. However, I found that the process became extremely time consuming and drastically more so than nursing alone. Every feeding was - feed, pump, clean bottles. This was on a repeat cycle 8-12 times a day! Eventurally, he started eating more at each feeding than I was pumping and we never truly got to the point where I was makng as much as he was eating on a consistent basis. However, I was proud of myself for sticking with it up until the 8 week mark. It was shorter than I had hoped before I had him, but longer than I thought I could make it once I started.

Getting the feeding problems solved was the first step in getting him to sleep more. Once they told us he was at his birth weight, the doctor told us we didn't not have to wake him up every 3-4 hours any longer to feed him at night. This was the point we could not wait to reach! We let him sleep as long as he wanted at night and it was usually at least 3-5 hour stretches. He would eat around 10-10:30, wake up at 2 am and then again at 6 am. From hearing other moms stories, this schedule alone was a dream!
However, I really wanted to try and eliminate the 2 am feeding before I went back to work full time. So at about the 6 week mark I started doing some research on how to do this. I read an article that said feeding them every 3 hours during the day and then feeding them every 2 hours after 5 pm (cluster feeding) would help them associate daytime with eating and nighttime with sleeping. It also was important in getting more calories in him during the day so he wouldn't need as many at night. We started this at 6 weeks and all it took for us was 2 days and that 2 am feeding was gone! We started very strict with the 3 hour schedule, waking him up at the 3 hour mark if he was asleep during the day, etc. Now we are able to be much more flexible and let him lead us more now that he sleeps through the night.
(DISCLAIMER: While this schedule worked really well for us, there are a few things to consider. 1. He was already sleeping in longer stretches at night, 2. He was bottle fed -- the cluster feeding may be harder when nursing, 3. He's a big boy so he can go longer without eating. I think it's so important for moms to share what works best for them, but also be realistic and not assume their tricks will work for everyone. If there's one thing I've learned being a mom it's that you have to do what works best for your family and no family is the same!).
He slept in his bassinet next to our bed until last week (10 weeks old) because Mommy wasn't quite ready to let him go to his big boy bed yet. I was afraid it would be a rough adjustment, but as usual with Brock, it was a total breeze! We are so lucky that he's so easy going and has been a total champ with everything!

So far, Brock has been about a week or more ahead on all of the 'what your baby should be doing this week' charts. He has been lifting his head up since literally the day he was born (obviously with more strength and control now). He is so alert and as long as he's not wet, is such a chill, happy baby! We are unbelievably blessed with such an amazing little man! He LOVES to smile and laugh! He has some little animals that hang on the mirror in the car that he looks at in his carseat and he thinks they are hilarious!! He is a morning baby for sure and loves to laugh and smile on the changing table. He is starting to 'talk'/coo a lot! He is especially talkative after his nightly bath! He smiles at almost every one. His new favorite activity is to sit in his Bumbo chair and look at and try to reach for his toys! He has started reaching his hands up to be picked up, standing on his legs (with support) and grasping things with his hands.

Diaper changing - He hated getting his diaper changed, probably because it was cold. Well, our wonderful baby photographer, Mrs. Rebecca Peters showed us this genius trick she uses when photographing newborns. She turned on my hair dryer when he was a little fussy during his first photo shoot and it worked like a charm. The combination of the heat and the noise helped him fall right to sleep and totally calmed him down. So, one morning when I was changed his diaper and he was wailing away, I propped the hair dryer in the corner of his changing table - and it instantly quited him down. NOTE - the hair dryer was on the low/warm setting. Now, it may not be the 'safest' thing (don't worry - it was no where near touching him and it was in a surge protector AND it was a new hair dryer) but as all us moms know - sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. This also worked great for cutting his nails! I'd set him on the changing table, turn on the hair dryer and go to town.

Leaking - As a newborn, he'd go through sometimes 3 or 4 outfits a NIGHT from leaking. He hated to be wet so he would let you know if he was unhappy! Once he was big enough for size 1 diapers - we switched over to Pampers Baby Dry diapers for nighttime. They aren't as soft as the Pampers Swaddlers he was (and still is) wearing during the day, but they are a lot more heavy duty and he rarely leaks out of these or even wakes up for a wet diaper.

Gas problems - Brock didn't suffer too badly with gas, however, we did buy the infant gas drops (at the suggestion of our doctor) and gave them to him on days where we could tell he was having stomach issues. They seem to help almost immediately.

Car seat - he used to HATE to get into his carseat. He would cry everytime we even set him in there. Well, when I was breastfeeding I gave him Vitamin D drops (as encouraged by our doctor) every day. They smell sweet so I think they may taste a little sweet as well. If there was a day I knew I'd be going somewhere and having to put him in the car, I'd wait until he was in his carseat to give him the drops almost like a little treat. It always calmed him down and before long, he stopped crying. Now, I don't think that was TOTALLY because of the drops - I think he just started getting used to it, but I know they helped him stop crying so I could get him strapped in. Formula fed babies get their recommended daily vitamin D from the formula, but our doctor said extra drops couldn't hurt.

Hopefully the little tricks I used can help other mommies! If nothing else, hopefully I can look back on this if we are blessed with more babies and can remind myself what worked!!

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