The fourth trimester: that newborn life

Life with Cookie: what 12 weeks taught us about parenting.

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The essentials

We got home with a teeny baby, we were happy, tired and sleep deprived but mostly, we were clueless. For all the classes we took and the books we read, nothing can prepare you for the shock of dealing with something so small and dependent. Cookie is a fantastic baby but for the first six weeks of his life, he had horrible gas that kept him from sleeping more than 2 hours. Breastfeeding was a HUGE challenge for me, but I'll share more on that later.

First things first, what worked:

Since we got home amazon prime became our best friend but, most things we got from the registry and all the research I did paid off.

A few things we adore: snuggle me for naps

Mamaroo from 4Moms for hanging out with us during awake time in our kitchen

Play Gym and kits from Lovevery: Lucas plays with this every single day and he loves it!

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The Snoo is a great bassinet for sleeping, but we haven't experienced the overnight miracle yet, so if you want to: rent it. Is it worth it? Maybe, it depends on your baby.

For his clothes: Mori, Hannah Anderson, and Primary are my absolute favorite PJs and, Monica and Andy one pieces for going out.

Take Cara Babies newborn class, we loved and learned so much about creating schedules and habits for better sleep. That class is one of the best investments we made and, it works with breastfed babies.

FridaBaby everything: I absolutely love these products, and they're worth every penny.

Things we got after Lucas was born: the Ollie Swaddle and Swaddle Me, turns out that muslin blankets are awesome, but my little Houdini wasn't into them as swaddles. The verdict: get the Ollie, it's great! Just a bit loud because of the velcro and Swaddle me is so easy to use.

Bottles from MAM and pacifiers: we had Comotomo bottles but, Lucas didn't like them and made him gassier so, we did our research and MAM is what works best for him.

Tubby Todd everything is what worked best for Cookie's skin. His cradle cap disappeared after two days with the All Over Ointment.

Nesting Days: I couldn’t use wraps and this was a life saver for me, I absolutely love the company and their mission.

Hatch baby: the rest for white noise and the changing pad are so good! We literally have the Hatch Rest in every room now. The Hatch Grow works great because it’s a scale and works with an app.

For traveling: we took Lucas to Newport Beach for a little vacation and he flew like a champ, we got the Doona stroller (that’s also a car seat!) and it was amazing! Incredibly light and handy.

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Trial and error

Breastfeeding is a natural thing. You must breastfeed him, you'll love it.

Well, reality reared its ugly head on the second day at the hospital when after having Lucas attached to my breast for 45 minutes he wouldn't stop crying. An amazing nurse came in and told me, that he sounded like he was hungry, told her but Lucas has been nursing for 45 minutes but, he wasn't. My milk wasn't there yet. She offered to give him formula, and I felt defeated, like "how come I'm such a bad mom already?" But, I need him to be fed, so I put on a brave face and said, let's do it, the tiniest syringe with a little milk did the trick. I felt my anxiety rising, and then, he stopped crying and fell asleep for 4 hours. We supplemented with formula for a couple of days, and then my milk came in. But, the problems were barely starting.

Lucas' latch was shallow, and I have extremely sensitive nipples, the result? Broken, bloody nipples and excruciating pain. (Ha! Just when you thought the pain was over!) The lactation consultant at the hospital was friendly but didn't really help us, I dreaded feeding him because the pain was too much for me. On top of sleep deprivation, a gassy baby and hormones, I HATED breastfeeding, there I said it.

On a desperate 3 AM move, I found a local lactation consultant who really helped us! She recommended taking Cookie to get craniosacral therapy, which is a form of massage that helps babies to latch better by relaxing the neck muscles. It worked for us, his latch was improving, and my milk was well, let me put it this way: I could feed twins. I’ll be forever grateful to my wonderful lactation consultant Amanda and Viji whose work with craniosacral really improved Cookie’s latch.

In all honesty, breastfeeding isn't easy or painless or natural. It comes with a learning curve. But, something I've seen (sadly) some moms are incredibly judgemental, and when it comes to the boob situation, they get defensive, and there's an incredible amount to pressure to do it. I understand the benefits of breastfeeding, but sometimes it doesn't just magically happen. I mean, I needed my baby to be fed, I didn't have milk. Am I the devil for giving him formula? No.

My issue with this situation is that being a new mom is hard and isolating enough to add more pressure and judgment. I'm doing the best I can, so I believe in the fact that if I'm okay, he'll be okay too. So, he takes bottles with pumped milk so I can shower or eat. It cannot just be being frumpy and letting yourself go because he must be attached to me 24x7. Sorry, but his dad actually wants to hang out with Cookie too. Kudos to you if breastfeeding was perfectly natural and easy but, for me, it just didn't happen that way.

Fast forward to today, Lucas eats in a combo, nursing, and bottles. It's not as painful anymore, and I like doing it. But, I don't tie our bond to my breast. He's a healthy, chubby and happy baby and that's all it matters.

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The aftermath

I had a third-degree tear but, after delivering him, I sort of became an afterthought. Nurses came and went to check on Lucas and sometimes on me. I was sent home with maxi pads and best wishes, not knowing what to expect and was told to see my doctor in 6 weeks. After weeks of care that, was horrible and gave me a full view of what moms mean to the health system here. Thankfully friends and our family helped a lot. However, I have a hard time dealing with the fact that I was sent home broken but, with mesh panties and a wave.

The verdict: Get the MomWasher bottle, witch hazel pads and, numbing spray. Take care of yourself too, you're the cornerstone of your new family. Take showers, try to sleep, eat well. You don't have to do everything perfectly all the damn time.

Dealing with myself

Postpartum depression and anxiety were my biggest fears because of my anxiety history. I had baby blues, cried and felt terrible but never depressed (so far, so good). But, mommyhood is filled with doubts and contradictions, some days feel like I got this down and the next I'm a mess. I'm learning and trying to be the best mom for Cookie. I believe in showering, trying to look good, going to the gym and asking for help when I need it. I know this isn't what works for other moms. But, by prioritizing certain things, I feel like I can be better and do more. Motherhood is very isolating but, I'm lucky that Jorge is a super dad and even more incredible husband even when I can't deal with anything myself. I'm here, doing my best and, a piece of advice: if you're a veteran mom don't patronize your friend who's just starting, save your "tips" unless asked and, withhold your judgy moments. We don't need those.

One thing, you do you, you’re the best mom for your baby, you’re enough.

13 weeks and a lifetime ahead. #LifeWithCookie.