Celebrating the wonderful ups and challenging downs of this journey called motherhood...
I've always dreamed of having a baby of my own. There's just that burning desire in me ever since I was mature enough to think about having kids. I used to say, by age 25, I'll have a baby. But when I turned 25, it didn't happen. Then I adjusted the age to 28 years old. It still didn't happen at 28. I ended up having a kid at 32.
I didn't have any clue how to be a mom. I just went into this whole thing with no knowledge whatsoever about how to take care of a newborn. I read books and researched online about what parents should do regarding this, regarding that. There are a plethora of advice out there... SO MANY... that sometimes, you just get confused on which ones to follow. But no matter how much information you take in, nothing really prepares you for the actual situation. There's this fragile little baby and you're responsible for keeping it happy and alive.
The first three months are indeed the hardest. They call it the 4th trimester because baby is still adjusting to life outside of the womb. Sleeping patterns are out of whack and most babies are extremely fussy. Crying usually peaks around this time too. This is also the period where you establish routines, make schedules, and just get to know your baby's personality and figure out what works and what doesn't. Once you settle on a good rhythm, things should be easier.
FEEDING - When Henson was just a few weeks old, we called him "Little Hulk" because he would morph into an angry crying baby every time he's hungry. And he wants it FAST! When I was trying to breastfeed him, we would always get the little hulk. He would cry at the top of his lungs and would get so frustrated if it took too long. We actually thought he had colic because he would always cry and cry and cry. As it turned out, we weren't feeding him enough. We took the standard recommendations of experts to heart and just gave him strictly 2-3 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours. That's why he was never satisfied because he was still hungry. When we started giving him more, he cried less. Every baby is different and you should follow your child's cues instead of being technical and playing it by the books. A full baby is a happy baby.
Nursing Pillow. A great thing to have for feeding baby is a nursing pillow. Even if you're not breastfeeding, having a breast pillow to lay baby on makes it comfortable for the both of you. That way baby's weight isn't putting a strain on your arms or back. Those pillows that wrap around your waist and prop baby against your breast are the best for added support.
SLEEPING - It was a struggle the first three months to establish a good sleeping schedule. Babies are used to a different time zone in the womb, they usually sleep in the day time when we're out and about in the real world, and they're awake at night when we would be sleeping. So it's quite a challenge at first to switch their body clocks once they're out of the womb. I tried to get Henson to nap during the day for shorter periods and would put him in a bright room and then at night I would dim the lights so he would be able to differentiate night from day.
Swaddler. Some babies love being swaddled. It reminds them of the cozy feeling inside the womb, and it also keeps them from waking up due to their startle reflex. My baby has always been swaddled since birth. We started out with just a blanket wrapped around him, then we transitioned to the Summer Infant Swaddle Me. And then finally we found the one he liked best, the Swaddle Up by Love to Dream.
ROUTINE - I read about how routines are super important for babies. They appreciate predictability, and knowing what to expect next makes them feel secure. We started establishing a night routine for Henson when he was about 6 weeks. We started it with a bath in his tub (luckily he loves bath time), then we put him in his sleeper, give him his last bottle for the day and then swaddle him and rock him to sleep. He never took a pacifier so we can't rely on that to soothe him to sleep. Once we started doing that routine, CONSISTENTLY, in the same exact order every night, after a while he started sleeping longer at night. He would still wake about 2-3 times during the night, but there was a marked improvement from before. I remember the first few nights, I would wake up with him around midnight and then we would stay up for an hour or more because he refused to go back to sleep. After the first 3 months though, he would only wake once for a feed and he would usually go back to sleep after 20 minutes. Sometimes he even slept through the night!
Baby Carrier. Baby wearing is awesome. It not only helps my back and arms from getting sore from carrying baby, I find that it's also a sleeping aid for my son. Every time I wear Henson, it doesn't usually take long for him to fall asleep. I love having him on a carrier because then I have both my hands free to do other things. It's a natural position for babies, warm and snug and they can hear mommy's heartbeat and breathing, things that they're used to hearing in the womb. There are different types of carriers out in the market, there are wraps, slings, mei tai, and my personal favorite, the buckle/soft structured carriers like the Bebamour Adjustable Baby Carrier or the Ergobaby Original.
The first three months or the "fourth trimester" as they coined it, is a tough time for both mommy and baby. Mommy is healing from the pain of childbirth and baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. But it does get easier. After the 3rd month, when your baby starts smiling and doing more stuff other than just sleeping, eating and pooping, that's when the real FUN starts...