One Month With Our Little Fox
Wow, it’s hard to believe I’m writing this post already! As cliche as it is to say (or write), the last month has really flown at an unbelievable pace. This I expected – but what we didn’t expect as new parents was how fast this little guy would change and develop. It’s crazy to go to bed one night, wake up the next morning and discover that he has discovered how to do something new, whether it’s grasping or making noises other than cries (Thank God for that, lol). Read on to learn more about how our little guy is doing at one month of age, my postpartum journey thus far, some lessons I’ve experienced first-hand and check out a small curation of must-have products for month one.
OK, obviously everyone sees their own child as a super star but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Alden is doing incredibly well in regard to his physical development – he’s so strong! He first began rolling over at 3 weeks (albeit not consistently) and can hold his head up when on his tummy for several minutes (I joke that he looks like a cobra sitting up out of a basket). I’m assuming some of this is genetics and some of it can be attributed to our putting him on his stomach constantly/basically whenever he is awake (judge away – but he loves it!). Around 3 and a half weeks he really started understanding how to grasp things like his baby rattle and following things with his eyes.
He gave us his first social smile at 2.5 weeks and continues to give us several each day since. It’s amazing how much that small smile melts our hearts! He’s still so young so I feel like cognitive development is harder to measure currently but we make a point to talk to him in language and tones other than baby talk and work with him every day with high-contract flash cards. This may make us sound a little neurotic but he honestly loves his flash cards and being engaged with (he is a little human after all!). We also try to balance his awake time – actively engaging with him for most of it but also allowing him to have time where he is able to take in the world on his own. My favorite thing in the world is looking over to see him lying in his bassinet, contentedly chewing his pacifier and looking around with his eyes peeled open as far as they will go like a tiny flight-less owl.
Unfortunately, COVID has really put a damper on this little guy’s first month in relation to getting out of the house and socializing (It was so sad not being able to bring him to family celebrations for Thanksgiving!). So far he’s only met family members through the window or during brief outdoor visits and has only been held by Andy, myself and a number of pediatricians. We’re not sure what Christmas is going to look like this year, but chances are it’s going to be a quiet day at home. We also had to cancel our scheduled newborn photos. Thank goodness we have a tripod!
We did make one social exception for Alden’s baptism. It was an intimate ceremony held only with direct family members. It was special though, as it was held at the same church I was baptized at 27 years ago and grew up going to. He was also able to wear the baptismal gown my grandmother sewed for me when I was just an infant.
During this month, we’ve obviously enjoyed a lot of firsts including his first car ride, first doctor appointment, first bath (he loves the water!) and even his first craft. Suffice it to say we’ve been having a lot of fun filling in his baby book!
I’ll be honest – I was terrified of the postpartum period. Even more terrified than I was of childbirth. Over and over again I read how difficult it was to recover from birth while also adjusting to a total upheaval of lifestyle. I’m happy to report that the reality wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to be. Here’s how I’m doing:
I feel really lucky that I made it out of childbirth fairly unscathed. I was able to have a natural delivery and my body handled it pretty well overall. Sure, I was tired and sore at first but I really felt pretty good after the first week. I’m super stubborn and admittedly anal retentive at times and probably would have been up vacuuming and carrying laundry up and down the stairs after a day or two but my husband was really good at making sure I stayed stationed on the couch and away from the vacuum. This was made easier by the fact that I was exclusively breastfeeding at the time and – as I discovered firsthand – breastfeeding is a HUGE time commitment. This is something I want to talk about more in the future but am not quite there yet.
Now for the million-dollar-question: How much of my 55-lb-weight-gain was actual fat? That exact answer is yet to be determined but if I were to guess I would say about 20 lbs. Honestly, considering I had to eat constantly for my morning sickness and was ravenously hungry for nine months straight, I’ll take it. Plus, what is 20 lbs of fat as a trade off for literally creating life? So far I’ve lost 38 pounds total and am looking forward to being cleared to workout hopefully very soon. I must have been retaining a LOT of water as I dropped 30 pounds in the first 10 days. If nothing else, it’s really nice being less swollen – my wedding rings actually fit over my fingers now and I’m able to enjoy wearing all of my shoes again (yay!). Something that surprised me was that following birth I had an insane itching in the tops of my feet for about two weeks. I’m assuming this is related to swelling/un-swelling as it seems to be just about gone at this point.
And now the other million-dollar-question: How much sleep does one actually get with a newborn? We’re lucky that Alden is a pretty good sleeper and currently goes 4 hours without needing to get up and eat. The biggest adjustment has been knowing that you’re not going to get a solid night’s sleep in one stretch. Pre-pregnancy I was used to running on little sleep though, so I feel like once we get to 6-hour stretches it will feel pretty much back to normal!
I was so scared of having postpartum depression – a fear that was driven by the fact that I’ve never considered myself very maternal. I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do with a baby (even if it was my own) and that I would struggle to bond with this little person that I was now responsible for caring for. I also most definitely struggled with depression during pregnancy (more on that later). While I definitely experienced the baby blues during the first two weeks (I missed having a routine – any routine – SO bad), there was never a time when I didn’t feel anything but complete love for our baby and feel currently blessed that PPD has not yet been an issue for me. I also know that I’m not truly out of the woods yet (PPD can onset months after birth) so I’m continuing to keep a close eye on my mental health.
Definitely the most difficult aspect of mental recovery has been adjusting to our new lifestyle – learning to be more patient and also learning to be kind with myself. I was never one to leave agenda items on the daily to-do list at the end of the day but that’s just the reality of having a newborn. To help myself feel less overwhelmed I make a point to accomplish one productive thing every day as well as one fun thing. It’s also been incredibly helpful that Andy is also on parental leave – we’re able to take turns doing feedings and diaper changes! I know my mental health will also take a huge turn for the better once I’m cleared to workout. I love me some exercise-induced endorphins!
27 Takeaways from My First Month of Motherhood
A few thoughts as we close out month one…
- The love you feel for your child is unlike any other.
- You will be incredibly protective of your baby.
- You may mourn your pre-baby life and that’s OK.
- Mothers easily connect with other mothers because pregnancy, birth and postpartum are one Hell of a ride.
- It doesn’t matter how many burp clothes and bibs you have – go out and buy more.
- Re-usable cloth diapers make excellent “pee shields” during diaper changes.
- The first time you have to be somewhere at a specific time with a newborn is a humbling experience.
- You’ll spend more time sanitizing things than you expected.
- The soiled diapers won’t bother you as much as you’d think they would.
- You’ll wish for your child to fall asleep and then “miss” them once they’re sleeping.
- Standing over a baby’s bassinet to listen for their breathing is a right of passage.
- Swaddling is an art form.
- The “baby weight” won’t bother you as much as you think it will and f#$% anyone who has anything to say about it.
- Breastmilk poop is way more pleasant than formula poop.
- You’ll learn to track your days by “number of bowel movements.”
- Breastfeeding is beautiful.
- Breastfeeding is incredibly demanding.
- It’s OK to give your child formula either exclusively or as a supplement.
- Anyone who says having a baby is different from having a pet is both right and wrong.
- Newborns are like wild animals that you have to somehow train into being human beings.
- Babies smell oddly good.
- Babies’ looks change every day.
- Babies develop more every day.
- You may find yourself going deaf from the absurdly loud crying.
- You may find yourself making up weird songs and poems as you change them, bathe them, put them to bed.
- You may find yourself going through your camera roll looking at photos from the day or week before and crying because, “They look so much older already!”
- You may find yourself planning the next one already (eek!)
Must-Have Products for Month One
Honestly – there are a LOT of products I could recommend for this crucial first month of life. Below are just a handful of my favorites! Fun fact: I actually purchased some of these on my phone from the recovery room at the hospital and several others within the first few days of being home.