Three Weeks Old

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One of my favorite shots of her from our newborn photo shoot at two weeks old.

Our little girl is doing wonderfully. We’re starting to really settle in to being parents and learning how to take care of her.

The past few weeks have been busy. When she was just over a week old our out-of-town visitors started to arrive. I wrote earlier in this blog about our guilt over asking family to wait a week before flying in to visit, but I can report now that I’m so glad we did. In fact, since she arrived a few days earlier than expected, we had about a week and a half with just the three of us before visitors started to arrive. That period was probably the hardest so far: she wasn’t sleeping well, wasn’t feeding well, and was losing weight faster than she should have been. We had no idea what we were doing, but at least we were buoyed by the excitement and the adrenaline rush of having a brand new member of our family. We took that time to get a better grasp of our new roles, bond, and get her on track with sleeping and eating. If we had also been trying to host visitors I think we would have fallen apart completely from the stress – and missed out on a really special period.

Our first visitor was my Dad, who only stayed for about 24 hours. It turned out this was just the right amount of time. It was wonderful to see him and he loved bonding with his new granddaughter, but to be honest, she doesn’t do a lot right now besides eat, sleep, poop, and cry, so he couldn’t really play with her or anything.

After he left my Mom arrived. She was an absolutely wonderful guest. She cuddled the baby for hours so I could get things done around the house, walked our dogs, cooked tons of food, ran errands, and was really conscientious about respecting our alone time as a family. She also joined us for our 2-week-old newborn photo shoot with a professional photographer, which was a lot of fun. Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot:

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So cute! I would highly recommend getting a newborn photographer if it’s in your budget. Her grandparents initially scoffed at the idea, but now they adore the photos! However, be prepared to go into the shoot with a lot of patience – it took about four hours and a lot of coaxing to get these lovely angelic pictures. There was a lot of screaming and pooping in between.

After my Mom’s visit we also had visits from my mother-in-law and brother-in-law, and we’ll be having my sister visit in October. As wonderful as it was to get to introduce the baby to her extended family, it’s a bit of a relief to have the place to ourselves again. Even though people were helpful, there’s still a sort of implicit pressure to entertain guests – and honestly, I just spend most of the day parked on the sofa feeding the baby or changing diapers.

For those of you expecting babies soon, I’d advise a few ground rules for out-of-town guests, based on our experience:

  • No overnight guests in the first week.
  • Unless you have guest bedrooms, guests should plan to stay elsewhere (AirBnB, hotel, etc.). Our apartment is enough of a disaster zone without air mattresses and luggage in the living room. Even if you do have guest rooms, you might still want to do this so you don’t feel pressure to play host 24 hours a day.
  • Set expectations about when people should arrive and depart (even if it’s just to their respective bedrooms) for the day. For us, that meant arriving no earlier than 10am and departing by 8pm. This gave us some breathing room that was essential for both us and the baby since morning feedings and the bedtime routine take a while.
  • Also, set expectations about meals and entertainment. I think most people understand they shouldn’t expect you to feed or entertain them while you have a newborn, but it helps to lay the groundwork in advance. Ideally, they do some cooking or just pick up takeout for everyone, but at the minimum they should plan to feed themselves (and do some grocery runs so they aren’t eating all your food).
  • Make sure you have a private space where you can go to nurse. I was ok with nursing on the couch with my mom around, but not so much with my dad or brother-in-law visiting. I would retreat to the bedroom with the baby to nurse her and get some alone time.
  • This will probably differ for everyone, but I would recommend not having anyone stay for more than a few days unless you’re 110% sure they’re going to be very helpful, and you want that help. Our guests ran the gamut from very helpful to not at all helpful, and that was ok – but people who didn’t plan to help out (and were also a bit bored after the initial excitement of meeting the new baby) became kind of a burden to have around after a few days.

Ok, moving on! I wish there was more to report regarding the baby, but like I said, she mostly just sleeps and eats right now. She has become more alert over time, so I notice her looking at things longer – for example, there’s a picture with a black frame on our white wall that she loves staring at, probably because it’s high-contrast. She loves being cuddled and carried around, and enjoys it when I play music and dance with her. She also really likes being carried in her Boba wrap, which lets me snuggle her while having my hands free to wash dishes or whatever. Most days we get out for a walk around the neighborhood and I prefer carrying her in the wrap vs. using our stroller, since she usually just sleeps the whole time in the wrap. The stroller is kind of bulky if we go into stores and it’s hard to soothe her in it when she gets fussy.

I also took her to a mommy-and-baby group this past week, which was fun. There was another baby there who was born on the same day as her! Talking to the moms was fun, and it made me grateful for how well she sleeps. Currently she’s sleeping four-hour stretches at night which is fantastic. The other baby her age would only sleep 1.5-2 hours at a time and his mom was so exhausted.

Breastfeeding is going well and it’s great that she seems to be getting the hang of it more. Now she latches well and eats pretty efficiently, excepts when she’s gassy or fussy for some other reason. I’ve been making plenty of milk so I can pump and stash some for later, too.

Ok, I’m going to wrap this up. Sorry it’s kind of long and disjointed! I have to write in short bursts when the baby’s napping. 🙂 She’s actually going to be one month old tomorrow (it’s taken me a full week to finish this post!) so I’ll be back with a one-month-old update soon.