Charlotte Layna was born Tuesday, June 11, 2013. She was eight days late, but certainly worth the wait. People told Luke and me that once our baby was born, our “lives would never be the same again”. We weren’t sure if what they meant to say was “it’s going to be really hard” or “it’s going to be the most amazing thing you ever experience”. They likely meant both.
But, for me, I really can only say it’s been the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. From the time she came out with tufts of unruly red hair, to the moment she latched on to nurse for the first time, we knew she was special and that she already had stolen our hearts.
We spent two very quick nights in the hospital with her after she was born. We had great family members and friends visit us throughout these two days. (We had soooo many visitors that I was going to attempt to post photos of all of them, but it was just too much. But, you know who you are and we so appreciate seeing you!) We held her and changed her and fed her. We absorbed as much knowledge from the nurses, doctors and lactation consultants as possible. And, we took advantage of the nursery by letting Charlotte meet new friends overnight so we could sleep in between feedings (don’t feel bad about doing this – get the rest while you can!).
The one thing I was so relieved about is that my natural maternal instinct did indeed kick in:) I spent many years freaking out about having kids and thinking it was too hard for me. But, at least in my case – that instinct really does exist (whew!). You really do just figure out how to take care of these little critters, and it is really fun learning who they are and what they need.
Here are Charlotte’s milestones in month one:
1) June 13 – Headed home from the hospital. Luke insisted that we stay in as long aspossible so I could rest and take advantage of room service. Ha. He knows me too well. But, by 5:30, we decided it was time to go. Just before leaving, Charlotte and I both had our first meltdowns. She was wearing the same dress I went home in when I was born almost 30 years ago – beautiful, but not that practical. The fabric was caught in the car seat latch and no one could figure out why it wouldn’t lock. Charlotte started screaming so hard that she was choking herself. This mom’s heart broke and I lost it. Bawling, I said “Can I take her out of there?!?!” Of course, I did, and we got it figured out eventually. But, needless to say, due to mascara streaks, we did not get the happy-looking family photo while departing.
2) June 14 – First doctor appointment. The pediatrician in the hospital insisting we take Charlotte in THE DAY AFTER WE GOT HOME at 10 a.m. to check her for jaundice and weigh her. Her jaundice cleared. She continued to lose a bit of weight, so they told me to nurse her every two hours around the clock. We took her home and every time I fed her in the night (waking her to feed), she projectile vomited everywhere. It seemed like excessive feeding to me.
3) June 15 – Second doctor appointment. They had me bring her in again. This time, she had gained three ounces overnight. The normal daily weight gain is one ounce. Excessive – yes. Her jaundice was checked AGAIN. We were all good and the doctor told us she wouldn’t choke and die on her spit-up at night. So, we left feeling a little better. But, those first couple days home, I irrationally felt like she wasn’t going to make it. Don’t feel bad if you think this. It’s new! You’ll get through it:)
NOTE: Later this day was also when my Baby Blues really kicked in. I was crying randomly for no reason. I just felt so tired and helpless, and the whole “she’s not getting enough to eat” mantra from the doctors had really taken its toll on me. I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster that is the first week home. Just a heads up – this happens to (according to various sources) about 60-80 percent of mommies. Mine passed by the time she was two weeks old, and varied from sobbing while nursing her because I was worried about her weight, to just crying because “She’s just so pretty” and “They grow up so fast”. Ha. Hang in there! This too shall pass. And, if it doesn’t, please contact your health care provider, because it could be postpartum depression.
4) June 16 – First trip out in the stroller. Luke and I walked about two blocks and back. At this point, I was still pretty slow-going, but it felt good to get out. If you’re in a warm climate or your baby is born during a warm time of year, I highly recommend getting out and about as soon as you feel able. The fresh air and exercise will perk you up.
5) June 17 – Umbilical cord stump falls off. This happened way sooner than I was expecting and it scared the crap out of me. Her little stump just sort of was hanging there and was a little gooey. It freaked me out, so – confession time: I just positioned it back in place and put her jammies back on! But, of course, the next morning I had to face it. So, I let it officially fall off and it is still on her book shelf. I don’t know what to do with it! I will eventually throw it away:) Don’t worry.
6) June 17 – Visited her new cousin. Luke’s sister Kate delivered a healthy baby boy just six days after Charlotte was born. So, since Luke was still home with us, we packed up and went back to the same hospital (even the same hallway) to visit little Connor Evan. He is a sweetie. The babies were pretty much the same size at birth, and it was so much fun to take pictures of them together. We got to see Luke’s parents and siblings as well. What a blessed day!
7) June 18 – First real bath and newborn photo shoot. This was Luke’s last day home with us. We gave Charlotte her first real (non-sponge) bath to get her ready for newborn photos later in the day. She seemed to like the bath – no crying or anything. And, it wasn’t too nerve-wracking for us either. Just take your time. They’re a little slippery, but it’s pretty easy. Later in the day, we drove for about 35 minutes to get to the photographer’s house. Luke was not very pleased that I managed to find a person out of town. It was a 90+ degree day, we were tired and grumpy, and the short little road trip was no fun a week after having a baby (although, she slept the whole way).
The photographer was great. But, the room was so hot because the babies need to stay warm. I nursed Charlotte twice during the session to get her to sleep since they’re easier to photograph asleep. We were there for more than three hours! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous and the photographer was sweet. But, the process was so exhausting for the parents of a one-week-old. In conclusion though, we have beautiful keepsakes of our newborn and a few of the whole family. Stay tuned for a future blog full of the photos!
8) June 19-20 – Grandma Mel comes and stays with us. My mom came and stayed with us for a couple of days. At this point, my exhaustion and Baby Blues were improving, but it was so great to have her around. Early in the morning the day Grandma was headed our way, I was super frustrated because Charlotte would not eat much off of my right side and she kept falling asleep during meals. So, I tearfully made an appointment with the lactation consultant. My mom went with us. The consultants watched us nurse and made some latching adjustments. They also told me to blow on her to keep her awake. They weighed her before and after feeding and she gained 2.5 ounces which they said is right on par. Yay! This helped my stress level quite a bit. We had some time to kill, so we took Charlotte to Menchie’s for frozen yogurt. Then the two accompanied me to the chiropractor. They sure don’t tell you how out of whack your back and hips are after labor. Yikes!
Before the baby was born, I was certain I didn’t want/need any help right away. I just wanted it to be Mom, Dad and Baby. Stuuupid! Do not turn away help! But, make sure it’s actual help and not just someone who wants to play with a baby. My mom cleaned, cooked and overall just helped boost my morale. This was great timing because Luke had just gone back to work.
I jotted down a little recap after her first week of life. Here are some of the highlights:
- She smiles and is very alert with eyes open a lot.
- She has her fists and fingers in her face a lot and sucks on them. She’s very strong!
- She became a good nurser after our visit with the consultant.
- She’s a decent sleeper, but spits up in her crib sometimes.
- Everyone loves her red mohawk – she has a ton of hair!
- She has long fingers and toes.
- She makes a funny “squawk” noise which scared the crap out of us the first time she did it.
Here’s a random gallery of very early Charlotte pictures:)
I realize this post is getting super long, so I’ll break it into two parts. Stay tuned for more…