Yesterday, Daphne got her 2-month shots, but a week late at 9-weeks. I had to leave the room while Merp held her, but as soon as I heard her cry I ran back in and scooped her up until she fell asleep in my arms. The day before, we did absolutely nothing special to celebrate Father’s Day, because being together was enough for us. This weekend, we took our first road trip as a family, up the I-5 to Carmel Valley for a night at my Mom’s to drop off the dogs and then to San Francisco for 3-days where we stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast in SF’s North Beach so I could be in a good friend’s wedding. Try packing a teeny tiny room with all the baby stuff needed for such a journey – it looked like Buy Buy Baby threw up all over – diapers and breast milk implements and baby clothes strewn about chaotically. Daphne did pretty well with my Mom except at night – nothing or no one could convince her that the bottle was an adequate substitute for the boob. I left both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding dinner to comfort the poor wailing baby, whirring up and down SF’s notorious hills via Uber. Overall it was a beautiful weekend that left me with a sense of accomplishment – I CAN travel with a baby thank you very much. Whoever said all adult fun dies with the birth of your first child was totally and completely wrong! Though attitude IS everything. I could’ve let the fact that I soaked through my strapless bra and bridesmaid gown get me down or that I missed what is being called the most epic father of the bride speech ever or that the bed and breakfast staff were “quite concerned” by my child’s crying, but nope, I will not take ANY of this for granted. Boobs leak. Newborns cry. Especially when they’re being forced to accept bottle over boob. We’re in baby country now folks and I can’t complain.
Because I’m feeling particularly brain dead today as the result of the 4.5 hour drive home, a family crisis at my Mom’s when picking up the dogs (I have a mentally ill family member who is struggling. Infertility or mental illness – I’m not sure which is worse), and two months of sporadic sleep, I’m going to tell you about my daughter and what I’ve learned over these last 9-weeks with the help of your friends and mine – bold headings.
Breastfeeding and the Myth of nipple confusion
Lactation consultants and pediatricians alike told me to hold off on introducing the bottle until 4-weeks. Though the words “nipple confusion” did not actually come out of their mouths, other phrases like “wait until breastfeeding is established” did. Same difference, don’t you think? Anyway, I did as I was told. I braved those first weeks of red, cracked, swollen nipples to establish said breastfeeding and despite my issues with overactive letdown and night after night of wet sheets and soaked bras we’re still going strong. The problem is that a warm soft booby is preferable to a stiff plastic nipple, even I know that, and Daphne certainly knows too. I’ve decided that the LCs and pediatricians of the world may have it wrong. Isn’t establishing bottle feeding JUST as important? ESPECIALLY for Moms who will need to return to work? What about in the event of infection or illness or even catastrophe? I heart breastfeeding big time, it’s a miraculous feat to be able to feed your child from your own body, but if there’s a next time, aka a sibling for little D, the bottle will be making its debut by week 2.
After WEEKS of nightly spaz outs from the child who doesn’t cry for longer than 5-minutes otherwise (more on that later), we finally found the bottle that works for us (sometimes). The Lanisoh Momma Bottle, in all its boob shaped glory, seems to be the non-breast feeding implement of Daphne’s choice at this current juncture. Unfortunately, we thought we’d found the one in the Playtex Nurser for a few days until she refused it. Then again it seemed like love at first suck with Tommy Tippee until, nope, no silicon nip substitute for Daphne. So yeah, fingers crossed that the Momma Bottle can keep Miss Daphne Joyce happy, otherwise returning to work may be impossible…
Sleep – Every 2 hours or else
I’ve come to learn that the first two weeks of most infant’s lives are harmonious times where many think they’ve been graced with an easy baby. That was us. Daphne slept and slept, waking for an hour or two of quiet alert time before slipping back into slumber land without any help from Mom or Dad. And then something changed. Around 4-weeks Daphne became sensitive to everything – the TV, the dogs barking, the world turning. My easy little girl, while not a colicky crier, turned into a grouchy, fussy mess most of the time. All the while I’d marvel at how little she slept. At 4-weeks old she’d be awake for hours and hours. Night time was good even back then, with our average stretch at 4 hours, but there was nothing easy about Daphne the rest of the time. Prompted by mom friends from my birth class I read Babywise. Aware of the controversy, and unsure that feeding my newborn every 3-hours was enough, I downloaded Healthy Sleep, Happy Child. I am SO glad I didn’t stop at Babywise, though I did find it somewhat helpful. Healthy Sleep, however, provided me with one very key piece of advice – up until 4 months old or so babies should not be up for any longer than 2-hours at a time (strangely my pediatrician had never heard of this advice). Once I started winding D down for naps after about an hour or so of awake time my easy baby returned. In the beginning it took a lot of soothing to get her to go down so often and I was a little discouraged by her short 50-minute nap times, but now it seems we’ve settle into a routine of Sleep, Change, Eat, Play, Sleep. And last night, after 4.5 hours in the car (the only time we give her the pacifier which she now loves), Daphne slept a record 6 hours and 49 minutes straight. Halleluiah!
The Poopy Monster
My skinny little girl eats every two hours and is STILL only in the 30th percentile for weight as of today, but she IS in the 94th percentile for length. She’s grown almost 2 inches since her last appointment! She’s a long string like little monkey who swims in her 0-3 month clothes because they’re baggy, but the footies of her jammies might not last another week. Grow my little bean stalk grow! We will chop off those cute little monkey footies if we must!
And even though her feeds are short, we’re talking 10-minutes on each side MAX, (thank you free Feed Baby app for helping me obsessively track my girl’s feedings, sleeps, and diapers), she is a pooping machine. I have been sprayed by pee and poop more times than I can count (it’s like she waits for us to take off the diaper) and wow does orange baby poop stain. Why oh why do they make changing pad liners in white?
Speaking of poop, there are few things more satisfying though than knowing that those 9 pees and 6 giant poops in a day are the result of my hard earned boob milk. Is it weird that when Merp changes her that I sometimes request a glance at the poo volume before the diaper is rolled up like a buttery poo croissant and tossed? The bigger the load, the more sickeningly satisfying.
If you find yourself plagued by this most unpleasant of skin conditions PLEASE remember this post because I have tried everything. Of course my doctor told me to leave D’s baby acne alone, but no, I did not and could not listen.
I tried baking soda and water. Nothing. Baby zits everywhere.
I tried California Baby Calendula Cream. Nope. Worse.
I tried Emily’s Skin Soother’s for Diaper Rash. No change, but amazing for diaper rash. Go figure.
I tried Cetaphil Gentle face cleanser. Some minor improvement maybe, but nothing significant.
I tried Babyganics Ezcema lotion. Some moderate improvement, but not enough. I was determined to unveil the beautiful newborn skin lurking beneath.
And then I finally found, via mommy blog somewhere out in cyberspace, Mustela’s Physiobebe Washless Face wash. This product is amazing. I swab it on with a cotton ball after feeds and presto, Daphne’s face is FINALLY clearing up! In fact it was close to perfect in SF. Back down South it’s not as good because of the heat, but I am now a HUGE fan of the Mustela line of products. California Baby is overrated I’ve decided. If Mustela is good enough for Europe (where food and product laws are more restrictive), it’s good enough for me.
At around 4-weeks, the same time she realized that the interval between the warm bath and the changing table is cold and uncomfortable (eliciting blooding curdling screams for at least 5-minutes), we also began seeing glimmers of social smiles. She’d look at us with a shy grin then quickly look away like it was all too much. But as we crept into weeks 5 and 6, however, my little girl got brave, smiling and cooing at us and the world like she’d been doing so all along. She loves ceiling fans and the wooden octagon wall hanging above our bed, we call it her Wall Mommy she smiles at it so wide. She loves the little made up songs I sing her. She loves kicking around on the changing table half naked. She loves when I coo at her and ask her to coo back, which amazingly she does about 75% of the time. Daphne Joyce is so freaking adorable I can hardly stand it!
Interestingly, however, little D is very independent. She’ll lay on her play mat for 15-20 minutes kicking and cooing like its her job. She’ll wake from a nap and for 20-minutes will look around at her nursery (she naps during the day there, but we cosleep via cosleeper at night), thrusting her little legs encased in a swaddle up and out like she’s a worm (hence her long standing nickname Squirm Worm, or The Worm). The only time she cries is after a bath and that’s short lived or when she’s overly tired in the evening. She sometimes fusses at the boob if she’s gassy or if I pull her off too early to switch sides, but overall her independence and calm demeanor, now that we’ve found a sleep schedule that works, astound me. I read about so many clingy babies in my Baby Center Birth Club that sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with her, but then she cuddles against me in the Baby K’Tan (which I absolutely love because it’s cooler than the Ergo for our HOT SoCal days) or her face lights up with the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen and my fears dissolve. As you can see I still worry more than is probably healthy. In fact, I had a major OCD moment when I had to take off my Daphne necklace for the wedding. I worried that I was “jinxing” her and felt compelled to tuck the necklace in my purse for good luck. I resisted the urge because well that’s ridiculous, but the urge was there all the same.
Other new moms out there, are you finding your baby does best with frequent naps during the day? Have you been plagued with any irritating newborn skin conditions? What’s working for you and what isn’t?