Bringing home bebe: Surviving week 1

I promise I’ve been percolating a birth story for you fine people, but mostly I’ve been breastfeeding. Which does not lend itself to much higher-level cognition or, actually, typing.

Let me preface this by saying that little Luke is a very, very “good” baby, as far as such a statement can be applied to a tiny unique human being. What I mean by good is that he nurses enthusiastically, sleeps a decent amount, and is almost supernaturally calm during his wakeful times. In sum: he’s the same baby he was in utero. Calm, placid movements, no insane periods of tumbling and kicking, and aside from the ferocious Dorito cravings (and subsequent heartburn) no major pregnancy pains. I mean, none that were his fault, per se.

When he was born he had a bit of a distressing final exit, but once arrived he blinked and calmly looked around the delivery room, checking out dad’s face and then settling on mine. The still slightly jumpy nurses watched him warily, wanting – but holding back, for which I am eternally grateful – to cut that cord and get him under the observation lights, but it became clear after about a minute that this baby was in no way distressed. He was just very, very chill. His 9/9 Apgar score underlined that for everyone, so we were mostly left alone for our first hour. And it was heaven.

I did make the rookie mistake of letting all the amassed visitors who had somehow seen the bat signal (I literally had told nobody but my sister and Dave’s mom that we were in labor) come tumbling into the delivery room with well wishes and tears less than 30 minutes after his arrival, so that delayed nursing for us until about the 1 hour mark. Once he got going though, he went to town, and I, tottering on the precipice of 40 hours without sleep, let him do pretty much whatever he wanted. Rookie mistake number 2.

By the next morning things were headed down to the dirty south in the nursing department because of my sleep-deprived inattention to form, and really, until yesterday, there was a lot of pain. A lot. The nurses were vigilant about checking Luke’s blood sugar every 90 minutes for the first 12 hours post delivery, because “big guys take a dip,” and sure enough, his did. So every 90 minutes he got a heel stick, I got punched in the stomach. And I basically nursed him in a zombie-like state of “oops did I drop him, nope, he’s magically back in the bassinet. Whew.”

Needless to say we checked out at the 24 hour mark on the dot. Much sleep. Such restful.

Once we got home I was able to deploy my arsenal of top 5 must haves for newborn survival mode, and thus we come to the long and rambling point of this post. Thanks for hanging on.

1. The rock n play. This thing is everything. We only started using it when a friend lent it to us for newborn Evie, and not coincidentally, it turns out, she was our very first baby with a sleep setting. We have the super simple model that does nothing but hold baby snugly at a 45 degree incline and it is amazing. 3-4 hour stretches of sleep amazing. And no spitting up. I can reach down from bed and rock him and I can drag it around the house and keep him from the roving paws of his adoring fans. 5 stars.

2. This pump. It’s technically my sister’s and maybe it’s become a literal sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pump situation as 3 of us have now employed it at one time or another, but we all have our own connective gear and whatever. I have a lesser-quality single side Medela of my own, but nothing beats the Pump n’ Style for efficiency and power. Which are, of course, what you look for in a diesel truck. Or a breast pump. We had to take a 8-hour pumping “vacation” this week while I healed and it was a life saver. As the baby gets older I’ll generally try to pump 1x a day to have some emergency milk in the freezer for when it’s 5 am and I’ve been up 5 times and daddy is relatively rested and ready with the bottle.

3. These swaddle blankets. I bought knock offs this time at TJMaxx and they’re just as awesome in terms of size and feel, but I can tell they’re not as sturdy and we’ll see how they hold up in the wash. Either way, you need a big, thin muslin swaddle blanket or three to wrap baby burritos, function as a floor changing table, and even a nursing cover. And a head scarf for those adventuresome forays to Trader Joe’s. Just kidding. Maybe.

4. These pacifiers. When Joey was a baby I remember crouching in his room in horror at 2 am sometime during week three, sobbing from sleep deprivation and the fear that if we retrieved the hospital-issued soothie from the trunk of the car, nipple confusion would set in immediately and he would never go to college. Well, we caved and he started sleeping a little more with the extra sucking satisfaction and we went on to nurse for 13 months. No word on college admissions yet, but he does know his colors.

5. All the domestic help you can get/afford + Progesterone injections. Super normal things to add to a baby registry, right? Well if you’ve ever danced with post partum depression (PPD) you know that it’s not an event you want to attend a second time. Ever. So far I’ve had it horrifically bad twice, and moderately bad once, and I’m crossing all my still-swollen fingers and toes that this 4th times the charm in terms of avoiding the big bad P. As soon as I get near delivery day, my wonderful doctor writes me a prescription for the progesterone to be filled as needed. This time that need surfaced on day 2, so Dave was able to hunt down a pharmacy that carried the goods and we were off on our every-other-day injection adventure. So far it’s helped to stabilize my moods and stave off the super crazy, (though, if I may be so bold as to offer some advice, if you struggle with depression or anxiety, do not take Percocet. Don’t ask me how I know. Gulp.) and in my doctor’s words: “it either helps or it doesn’t, but it can’t hurt. And if it’s going to help you, it will help you right away.”

True.

I’ve also been shamelessly accepting any and all offers of help, babysitting, meal deliveries, etc. The big kids are a little sensitive about all the upheaval and the start of the new school year, but we’ve farmed them out for afternoons at the park or play dates a couple times this week, and we’ve had some helpers at the house too, in the form of my college-aged sisters, Dave’s wonderful little sis, and my trusty mother’s helper who is currently steam mopping the disgusting kitchen floor. I wasn’t sure it was worth it to have her come today since Dave’s still home, but it turns out it was. And he was able to be spelled for a morning of work and silent coffee consumption.

Oh, and if you can and if he can, if there’s any way at all that it can be done, have your husband home for the first week.

Dave doesn’t have paternity leave, but he had accrued PTO and a rough idea of when baby was coming, so he planned his work projects accordingly. For which I am eternally grateful.

7 full days of breastfeeding boot camp and netflix in bed and trying your very hardest to not care that the floors look like that and the laundry is piling up, because thank God daddy is home to wrangle big kids and cook mac n cheese and give you the incomparable gift of a week-long baby moon.

I’ve been reading this and repeating Blythe’s mantra of DO NOT CARE over and over again, because taking it easy does not come that way to be, and it’s almost a force of nature to resist the siren call of the vacuum. But I’m recovering a lot faster for all the resting, I can tell. And I’m making way more milk (tmi? Whatever, we’re in full mommy blog mode today) than I usually am at 7 days out, and I’m gonna chalk that up to all the resting and water-drinking I’ve been doing.

The normally stoic bebe is crying out for his 11vensies, so I must away. But thank you for all the prayers and well wishes on the Facebook page. And Luke says hi.