I wanted to share these raw emails with you in the spirit of “It gets better” because I can tell you for sure that Sawyer moved through this phase and now he’s a happy toddler. While I expected that the third time through, mothering a newborn would be easier, frankly, it was not.
Out of the 380 emails I wrote to Whitney in the first two months of my baby Sawyer’s life, only about four expressed my true emotions and challenges. The rest were an escape from my reality: inside jokes, freelance writing pieces for her review, and planning outings. When I wrote about the end of the fourth trimester in a blog post last year, Whitney accused me of glossing over the tough stuff. I finally had the courage, more than a year later, to read these electronic journal entries and am beginning to agree. I pasted them below.
Week 1 update
The first week is a really raw time. I don’t want to see anyone who is not pre-approved to see me leaky and topless. So, that’s a short list. First week of a new baby, highs and lows:
High. This little guy is pure cute. I am so happy to have him in my life and am determined to enjoy these early days and moments because they are so fleeting. They must be fleeting; after all, I have a four-year old and a six-year old and am sure they started out like this!
Low. OMG, the boobs. I’m not one to talk about breastfeeding because I don’t want past and future bosses picturing me this way, but OMG. The worries and fears of “there’s not enough milk” while I wait for him to lose 10% of his birth weight followed by the painful engorgement of “I could feed the whole neighborhood with this stuff” and just ouch. Breastfeeding hurts! Yes, I’m doing it more-or-less right, but ouch.
Low. The swelling. The sheer size of my feet, ankles, calves, and all the way up past my knees due to pregnancy water retention capped off with IV fluids from my birth and I was convinced I was in kidney failure. I nearly checked myself into the ER.
Low. Having two big boys full of curiosity and germs. I love that they LOVE him but I fear their pokey little fingers. The first night home, my (now) middle son woke up three times screaming from fever and ear infection. The off-hours were punctuated with Sawyer’s own sleeplessness.
Dr. says he may have an allergy to something in formula or my milk. First step is to supplement with different formula. If Sawyer doesn’t show improvement in a week, I have to try a more radical elimination diet. She also joked that he didn’t get the memo
about being a more laid-back 3rd baby. Lactation consultant has me nursing in full recline at least 11 times a day from both sides. 22 times a day of boob.
Ten bucks says I have to give up dairy.
At night, he is a writhing kicking screaming little demon whose shrieks are driving me rapidly insane. Sometimes it starts at 8 pm and I wonder if we should just all go to bed. Last night I nursed for 2 or 3 hours to avoid his crying. After 1 hour 15 nursing, he went right back I to it. I tried to text Alec to beg him to come home from his night out. Through my own sobbing, my feeble message of “soon please” didn’t get sent. Regardless, he’s so freaking exhausted, he was already on his way. When he turned into our yard on his bike, he could already hear Sawyer screaming. And we were in the back of the house.
WTH, I fed him again. Another 20 minutes had passed. Besides, I reasoned, I wanted him to sleep long and well. After briefly nursing him into a doze, we laid him in his mini crib across the room. And cuddled. Them, after about 7 minutes, the dance began again with Alec as the frustrated partner. 90 minutes later S was screaming and A put himself in a time out.
By day, he’s pleasant. We’ve gotten some charming smiles and a few consolidated naps.
I’m switching to decaf.
18 week update
I don’t know what happened. After 16 weeks of two or more wake ups and a trip where I think we woke up 3 times a night, Sawyer slept through the night. Alec went in to make sure he was okay. When he had a few freak nights with a single wake up, we made sure not to talk about it because the one rule about STTN (sleeping through the night) is that you don’t talk about STTN.
My screamy baby is now a boisterous wackadoodle toddler who runs to me with a huge smile and sleeps through the night (knock wood). I’m pleased to report, he gained plenty of weight after scaring us that he wouldn’t, and I drink coffee again.
It gets better.