Author Archives: Paige Greenfield

Miles & Motherhood: Five Months

IMG_6726

I just love this little boy to pieces! His personality shines through more every single day and he has such an endearing sweetness about him. He lights up our world! He’s so busy wriggling, rolling, knocking down blocks, and exploring the world around him that I’m so grateful for the tender moments. Those sweet snuggles are more precious than ever these days.

IMG_6672
I’m astonished at how quickly babies change. People told me this would happen, but there’s absolutely nothing like witnessing it for myself. I feel like Miles is a different baby every week. I think that the biggest change over this past month is how he communicates with us. He makes eye contact, mirrors our facial expressions (omg the smiles—I melt!), reaches for objects (toys, Robert’s glasses, our faces, Remy’s tail, our fingers, and our food*), follows us around with his gaze, puts everything in his mouth, grunts when he wants something, and has a big vocabulary of coos. To think that all of this will continue to take off in the next few months makes me so very excited for what’s to come. I feel like I’m just getting to know him and he’s the absolute best.

IMG_6251Truth be told, I was really worried about month four. I’d heard about the four month sleep regression and had visions of being up all night long. Without being able to nurse him to sleep (I guess I’m still not over it…) I was worried there’d be nothing I could do to help him during those long nights. Thankfully it wasn’t as hard as I feared, but sleep has been quite a roller coaster over the past month. At the beginning of July I was pretty sure we’d won the baby sleep lottery because Miles went from waking up once or twice per night to sleeping through the night several nights in a row. I was ecstatic…until he started waking up twice at night again (there’s that regression!) We’d feed him and, thankfully, he’d go back to sleep pretty easily each time. At the end of month four he dropped back down to one nightly wakeup. Now, the first week of month five, he’s been sleeping 12-hour stretches at night again and it’s spectacular. Let’s hope the streak continues!

Falling asleep at night is another story. For naps, we can put him in his crib fully awake and he can get himself to sleep, no problemo. But boy does he hate going to sleep at night no matter how tired he is (and we always try to start bedtime before he gets overtired.) I just remind myself that he’s becoming so much more aware of his environment and knows that he won’t get to see us again until morning. It’s a work in progress and we’ve made some strides this week, so I hope that it continues to improve. Truthfully, though, it’s been one of the hardest things we’ve faced so far.

This month we stopped using a swaddle (he started breaking out of it and waking himself up) and now he sleeps in Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit for naps and at night. It’s the most absurd thing on the planet—he looks like the Michelin man—but it’s a great transition and it’s so stinkin’ cute. Next, we’ll move on to a sleep sack with his arms out.

IMG_6551
This is the first month where I truly feel like Miles is on some kind of a schedule. We never pushed any kind of schedule on him and I’m so happy for that. Lately, Miles wakes up between 6:30 and 7am most mornings (Robert and I love going into his room together when he first wakes up!) and then takes his first nap within one to two hours after waking. Once he wakes up from that nap, we put him down every two hours for a total of about three naps per day plus a late afternoon cat nap during a walk in the stroller. The boy is powerless to any kind of motion! I’ve tried keeping him awake, but he can’t help catching a few Z’s on the go.

Can I admit something totally ridiculous? In the past, I’ve mentioned how much I love wearing Miles and how much he loves it, too. But this month, I only wore him a handful of times. And that makes me so sad! Lately, he’s been completely content being left alone in his crib, on the floor, or in his rock n’ play whenever I need to have my hands free. I’m grateful that he’s such a happy little guy and can entertain himself, but I wish he needed me a little more. (Sob.) I’m sure, like everything else, this is just a phase. But I really miss wearing him all the time.

IMG_6178I feel like month four has been a really big shift for me as a working mom. It’s so hard. I’ve felt a lot of pressure (all coming from within, of course) to have everything figured out by now in terms of caring for Miles, our home, our family, and my work. The reality is that I always feel like something is falling through the cracks. I’ve been back to work for more than a month now. July was actually my busiest month of work ever. I wrote 41 articles. I’m starting, slowly, to do more food prep on the weekends and cook more meals for us, but it’s not where I’d like it to be quite yet. I’m still learning how to manage my time during the day, but I end up working most nights after Miles goes to sleep. It’s okay for now, but not ideal in the long run because it eats into the little time that Robert and I get to spend together each day and means that some days I don’t get any time to relax. All of this is to say that I want to have everything figured out and I feel like I should by now, but I don’t. I’m still learning how to allocate my time and be present and effective in everything that I do, but I have a very long way to go.

IMG_6642Month five is going to be pretty epic for our little family. I have a huge and exciting new work opportunity and we’re preparing for our move to New York on August 18. I can’t believe that we’re leaving our friends and our life here in Chicago. It feels surreal and, at times, kind of sad. But we’re so hopeful about what our life will be like in New York. In my moments of worry, I just think about how much Robert and I love Miles and the fact that soon he’ll be surrounded by even more people who love him so much. Then, I have no doubt in my mind that we’re doing the very best thing for all of us.

*Regarding feeding, earlier this month I posted on Facebook that our pediatrician gave us the green light to start solids at four months old. However, once I did more research, we decided that we’re going to try baby-led weaning (in which baby feeds himself solids—no purees). For a variety of reasons it’s best to wait to do BLW until he’s at least six months old and showing all of the signs that he’s ready including being able to sit up unassisted. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days–I’m so excited for that experience to begin and plan to share it with you!

Huge News: We’re Moving to New York!

Fowler Family_2Yep, you read that right! Robert, Miles, and I {and Remy and Pippa} are packing up our stuff and heading East. And it’s happening soon–we’ll be on our way by the end of August. We can hardly believe it.

They say that having a baby changes everything, but this is one change none of us expected. Within weeks of bringing Miles home, the desire to be closer to my family grew and grew. Fortunately, Robert was up for the adventure and before we knew it the wheels were in motion. His transfer to his company’s New York City office has been seamless so far, the sale of our home is moving forward quickly, and we already found an adorable house to rent. We’ll be living in Westchester, just north of New York City. Robert’s already picked out his brand-new lawnmower : )

At times, this move feels absolutely crazy. We love our life here. We have such incredible friends. We love Chicago, our neighborhood, and our townhouse. I think we can both agree that leaving is going to be one of the more difficult things we’ve ever done.

But there’s just nothing like family and we’re excited to be near them. Miles is so lucky that he’ll get to grow up around them, experience New York City, and we’ll get to spend much more time at my family’s house in Vermont {my favorite place on the planet} than we’re able to now.

So here we go! If you have any advice on packing and moving with a baby while working full-time, we’re all ears. And if you live in New York and want to get together please let us know, we’d love to hang out!

Chicago, we love you and all of our favorite people here. We’ll be back to visit!

Miles & Motherhood: Four Months

IMG_5343Four months in and it finally found me. Grief. Silly, silly grief. I thought I’d somehow escaped it like some new-mama ninja, but no such luck. How can you be so happy and so sad at the same time? This motherhood thing is so confusing. There’s so much good, so much sweetness, and so much joy. And yet…

Even when Miles is giggling and babbling and practicing newly acquired skills like rolling over or shaking a rattle, I miss newborn baby Miles. How? Why? I don’t get it. As I watch him smoothly and intentionally move his hands to grab the giraffe hanging from his activity gym or stretch his freshly unswaddled body first thing in the morning, I feel utter bliss. And yet…

I yearn for those rigid flails and tightly clenched tiny baby fists. How can this be? My greatest job in life right now is to help this little soul grow. So why does my heart yearn to turn back time? I’m often caught off guard in these moments. I remind myself what everyone says—things like “it gets better” and “it gets easier.” Why should I feel sad when I have so very much to look forward to?! For us, it’s all been good. I’ve loved every single stage. Even in his neediest, fussiest and my most sleepless moments, I loved it then and I love it now. I know that in a matter of weeks I’ll look back and miss the little baby Miles who’s in front of me today. Even when it’s hard and he’s crying, even when I haven’t exercised in weeks and can hardly remember whether I’ve eaten a vegetable today…even then I’ve loved it all.

IMG_5514This has been a big month of ups and downs for us. Miles is doing great. He’s the sweetest, happiest little being I’ve ever known. My favorite thing in the whole wide world right now is when Robert picks him up out of his crib around 6 a.m. when he starts to cry. Robert walks back into our room with Miles glued to his chest like a little sleepy tree frog and gently lies him down between us. Sometimes he’ll nod off for a little while longer. But then he begins to wake up. He stretches his arms and legs, which won’t stop moving for at least the next 20 minutes, and smiles up at us with the greatest gummy grin. He then whips his head from side to side as if trying to get mom and dad to fit with a single glance. What a way to start the day.

IMG_5926This is also the month that I returned to work. Working again has been great, actually. I’m so happy editors didn’t forget about me and I feel so lucky that I get to do this job. I enjoy my work and I enjoy earning an income. The 14 weeks that I was able to step away from my computer during maternity leave were so very needed. Maternity leave wasn’t exactly what I’d call a restful break (ha!), but after doing the same job for nearly nine years it was so nice to hop off of the treadmill for a little while. Now that I’m back to work, I’ve never been more focused, organized, or productive in my life. I know that as soon as I finish everything on my To Do list I get to spend time with our sweet baby.

IMG_5928On the other hand, figuring out our childcare situation has been a struggle. Before Miles was born, we had a nanny share lined up where I’d take him to the other family’s house three days per week. The nanny had tremendous experience and heaps of glowing references. Everything seemed great.

And, to my surprise, I did fine on that first day. I think that I was so focused on getting him there, remembering to bring everything, and getting my work done so I could pick him up that I didn’t let myself feel very much. But day after day, it became more difficult to bring him back. I dreaded it. The nanny did things so differently than we did. When I picked Miles up he was always so tired (from crying? From not napping?) Those few precious hours that I got to spend with him in the late afternoon weren’t with the smiley boy I know him to be. Pretty soon I started finding countless things that felt so very wrong. And so, we decided to end it.

I dreaded telling the nanny. I agonized over it and cried more than a few tears. Finally, I made the call. And you know what? She already knew what I was going to say. It didn’t matter what reasons I dug up to explain to her why it wasn’t working. She’d worked with enough parents before and was experienced enough to know why it wasn’t working. I wasn’t ready. The moment she said that I felt a weight I’d been carrying for weeks—long before we started bringing Miles there—melt away. She said exactly what I was unable to recognize in myself. She. Was. Right. I wasn’t ready.

Still, I felt silly. Countless new moms return to work even before I did and somehow make it work. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy and it doesn’t mean that they want to, but they do it. Why couldn’t I? I guess the fact that I don’t have the expectation of showing up in an office every day has something to do with it. I didn’t have to power through these feelings and so I couldn’t. What’s more, if I lived in just about any other part of the developed world I wouldn’t be expected to be separated from my baby so soon. There’s good reason for that. Understanding this has helped me put a little less pressure on myself over the fact that I don’t want to leave my baby for eight hours a day.

After speaking to the nanny, I called Robert at work and apologized. I don’t want to stifle our son. I want him to be social and adventurous and independent. Being the most understanding human being on the face of the planet (seriously people, I married a saint), Robert reminded me that Miles can’t even sit up on his own yet. It’s okay to want to be there for him, to have him nearby. It makes sense.

IMG_5724So what am I doing? I’m still working full-time. But for now we have a babysitter coming to our house during the workday and it already feels like a better fit for us. I’m able to work upstairs while she takes care of him downstairs, but I can pop in for baby smiles, giggles, and kisses any time I like. I should’ve known this was the right path for us from the very beginning, but I also realize that it was impossible to anticipate how I was going to feel.

So there it is: I’m ready to work, but I’m not ready to be away from our little guy. And that’s okay—for now at least. We’ll get there. One step at a time. Maybe by the time Miles leaves for college : )

IMG_5750

Newborn Favorites

BABY STUFF!!! If I told you how much time I spent reading blogs, researching, and perusing Amazon and Buy Buy Baby while pregnant, well, I’d be a little embarrassed. To be honest, though, I think that doing so actually helped take my mind off of the fear and uncertainty I often experienced about our baby’s wellbeing because they allowed me picture him using them some day. That kept me positive and hopeful.

Of course, raising a baby is about so much more than STUFF, but some things are necessary (hello, bottles!) and some just make life a little bit easier (thank you, Rock n Play!). It was all a wild guess as to how well these items would work for us until Miles was actually here. Now that we’re nearly four months in, I’m happy to say that my hard work and time paid off. So today, I’m sharing our favorite newborn items plus one big flop (thank goodness for returns!)

{Sidenote: I was going to make a fancy collage like I did for my Pregnancy Favorites, but then I remembered how many hours went into teaching myself how to do it and then I had a nice little laugh about how I used to have so much time to do whatever I wanted. HA!}

Rock n’ Play Any swing or cradle-like device will work, but what I love about the RnP is how light and portable it is. We have one on our main living floor and one on the floor where our bedrooms are located and I’m often moving them from room to room so that Miles can be near us. He loves it! It’s so important to have some kind of contraption in nearly every room—or at least on every floor—where we can safely put baby down whenever we need to (bed and couch = danger!) Even if it’s for just a few seconds while I put on my shoes or feed the dogs, I always know that he’s safe and comfortable in there. Speaking of the dogs, I like that he’s a little higher off the ground when he’s in the RnP so they’re not all up in his business like they would be if he were closer to the floor.

IMG_3717

Green Mountain Diapers unbleached newborn prefold diapers and Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 diaper covers Well, this is something I never expected to write about on what was once a food blog, but we LOVE cloth diapering. (Btw I hope to resume writing about food some day…) Briefly—and without getting all gospel-y about it—here’s why I love cloth diapering: I love the idea that we aren’t contributing to diaper waste, we’re saving a lot of money (we’re talking in the thousands–especially if we add to our brood some day), and we’re avoiding exposure to the chemicals in disposable diapers. Plus, the fluffly cloth-diapered bum is just so darn cute! If you have any specific questions about cloth diapering, our laundry routine, or anything else please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. And if you think we’ve lost our marbles, that’s cool, too : ) For the newborn stage, prefolds and covers were one of the most economical options and we’ve had great success with these items. We have 24 newborn prefolds (he outgrew them at about 3 months old), 24 small sized prefolds (that’s what he wears now), and about 10 Thirsties covers (which is actually way more than we need). I do one load of diaper laundry every other day and it’s no big deal. Other cloth-diapering supplies we use and love: GroVia cloth wipes (oh yeah, we went there) and Planet wise pail liners.

Thirsties diaper cover & Wubbanub (described below). OMG he's so tiny here I'm going to go cry buckets now...Newborn prefold + Thirsties diaper cover + Wubbanub pacifier (mentioned below). OMG he’s so tiny here I’m gonna go cry buckets now…

Baby’s First Year Calendar I love the idea of a baby book, but I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with one. But a calendar where I write one little thing every day and record his milestones? Easy peasy! In fact, my mom did this for the first two years of my life and gave me the calendars at my baby shower. When I saw something just like it I knew I had to have it. We have this calendar hanging in Miles’ room and at the end of each day I jot down something from that day that I want to remember.

Solly Baby wrap I think I’ve waxed poetic enough by now that you already know how much I adore my Solly wrap. It’s so soft and comfortable, but most of all I love how close Miles feels to me when I wear him in it. It’s nearly as good as when he naps on my chest, but allows me to get stuff done at the same time. I tend to use the Solly when I’m wearing Miles around the house, but when we’re out and about or Robert’s wearing him we use the Lillebaby, which we also love.

IMG_4614

The First Years Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling Bath time is one of the things I looked forward to most about having a baby and it’s even better than I imagined. Miles loves his baths! He’s so calm and relaxed in there, you’d think he was at the beach. Robert and I even have a song that we made up (spa day…) and sing whenever he’s in the bath. (Yep, we’re totally those parents.) There are a lot of fancy tubs out there, but in my opinion this one has everything you could possibly need and transitions easily from infant to toddler. We’ve been using it ever since Miles was a week old. We keep it in the bathtub and fill the water to just below the sling before putting Miles in it. It’s so simple and practical and will last a very long time.

Born Free Nighty Night Nursing Light File this under Ridiculous Things That Work Really Well. And you don’t need to nurse to use it. Basically, it’s a dim light that you can clip onto your shirt, though I just left it on my bedside table. It gives off just enough light so I could check on Miles when he was sleeping in our room without turning on a lamp and waking everyone up.

In addition, here’s a quick list of items we have, love, recommend, and use all the time that need little explanation:

Finally, there’s one thing that I thought would be a lifesaver, but for us was a total fail: The Momaroo. I debated getting one for a really long time and finally took the plunge shortly before Miles was born. I ended up returning it. Some babies adore it, but we didn’t use it often enough to justify the cost or the space that it occupied. Miles only lasted a few minutes in there at a time before he started to fuss. Ultimately, I found that keeping him near us in the Rock n Play or wearing him in the Solly were far more effective than putting him down in the swing, which isn’t very portable. What can I say? The baby loves to be held and this mama is more than happy to oblige.

Miles & Motherhood: Three Months

IMG_5174
I know I say this every month, but I really can’t believe that Miles turned three months old this week. In some ways it feels like he was born yesterday and in other ways I can hardly remember what life was like before him.

We have one happy baby and two very happy parents! Just how happy is he? Often, while I’m giving him a bottle I have to stop midway to give him a break so he can smile and “talk”. He just can’t contain it! We also get some of his biggest smiles while he’s on his changing table or hanging out in his activity gym.

There’s so much change that happens from one month to the next, but I feel like I’ve noticed some of Miles’ greatest leaps over these past four weeks. It seems like he started out the month still a newborn and is now a full-fledged baby. The fourth trimester is totally a real thing. Within this past month he: eats more at each feeding; goes to bed earlier and sleeps longer at night; strings together noises to make more complex sounds; outgrew his newborn clothes and fits into his 3-month outfits; smiles and “talks” constantly; is more interested in toys, and much more. As you know, he was a tiny 4-pound peanut when he was born so we’re thrilled that he’s growing like crazy. We think he’s about 12 pounds now.

IMG_4924

I think that the biggest lesson over this past month, for me, was to put the gosh darn parenting books down! Every family has their own parenting style and that’s totally cool. All along, Robert and I have taken a figure-it-out-as-we-go approach. Still, I’ve consulted different books for some guidance along the way. But you know what? Miles is our greatest guide–at least at this stage. We may be his parents, but changes are so much easier for all of us when he leads the way because it tells us that he’s ready for them. All we need to do is watch for his cues and help make it happen.

IMG_5216His bedtime is a huge example of this lesson for us. I’d read that babies should start going to sleep earlier as they get a little older. At the beginning of this month, he still had a pretty late bedtime—around 9 or 10pm. I tried moving it up (because the books told me to), but it was a struggle to get him to fall asleep any earlier. That is, until one night Miles moved his own bedtime to 7pm and it has been that way ever since.

Here’s how that went down. One evening around 6pm, when Miles was about 9.5 weeks old, he was completely inconsolable. We tried everything we could think of to calm him down and nothing worked. Finally, as a last-ditch effort we decided to give him a bath because he’s always happy and relaxed in there, even though it was several hours earlier than we’d normally bathe him. Happily, it worked. While taking a bath, he started to yawn so we decided to continue with our bedtime routine and just see what happened. So, after his bath he got some snuggles while wrapped in his towel, we put him in his PJs, I fed him a bottle, and before he was finished he started falling asleep. We swaddled him, put him in his crib, and before 7pm he was fast asleep. Robert and I snuck out of his room and as soon as we got downstairs we did a happy dance. Success! What’s more, he slept 6.5 hours (instead of his usual 3 to 4) that night before waking up for a feeding. Nearly every night since he’s gone to sleep between 7 and 7:30pm. Especially now that Robert isn’t working such crazy hours, it feels pretty spectacular to have our evenings back. Although we know that we should probably get in bed shortly after we put Miles down, we’re just so happy to have a few hours together in the evenings right now.IMG_5106

Miles still wakes up twice at night to eat (the second time is  usually between 4:30 and 5 a.m., so technically I guess he’s only waking once at night?) I’ll take it for now, but I’m hoping he’ll drop at least one of those feedings over the next month, especially now that he’s eating more during the day. But do you want to know a secret about those nighttime feedings? I kind of like them. I realize I probably sound like a weirdo for saying that (and I may change my tune when I’m back to work), but for now I really cherish them. It isn’t always easy to get out of bed when I hear him crying on the monitor, but there’s something so sweet and peaceful about holding and feeding our baby in the middle of the night. I know that Miles won’t be waking up at night forever (right? Right? PROMISE?) so I’ll take those late-night snuggles and sleepy smiles while I can.

IMG_5122Without a doubt, the highlight of this month was our first family trip to Saugatuck, MI. Robert and I went there last September to celebrate our first anniversary and loved it so much. It’s this adorable little town along the Kalamazoo River and we were so happy to be back with Miles. He did great! He slept the whole three-hour long car ride there. He was such a champ while we bopped around town during the day and he napped while we ate a fancy steak dinner (with Robert wearing him in the Lillebaby and standing up at the bar – ha!)  He kept us entertained with smiles in our little rental house and he slept well at night while Robert and I shared a bottle of wine and played cards.

I’m so excited about what’s to come during his fourth month. Miles is on the verge of so many cool things. We’re waiting for a giggle to happen any day now. When he’s really excited he wiggles his entire body, gives us the biggest open-mouthed gummy smile, and makes a sound that’s almost a giggle. It’s like he’s trying to figure out how to coordinate the facial motions and sounds necessary for producing a giggle. When Miles is on his tummy, he lifts his head and chest nice and high and leans to one side (see below) so I know that rolling over is just on the horizon. He did it once on his own last week, but we’re eagerly waiting for him to do it again. His head control has improved dramatically over this past month—it makes such a difference—so I’m sure it’ll continue to get stronger until he can totally hold it up on his own.

IMG_5243

Finally, this is the month that I start back to work. We have a fabulous nanny share situation (I’ll be taking him to the other family’s house) that he starts the second week of June. I’ve already reached out to some editors about my return to work and have quite a few assignments waiting for me when I’m back at my computer. I have about 10 million feelings, both good and bad, about returning to work. I’m so fortunate to work from home, work for myself, enjoy what I do, and have some flexibility so I’m incredibly grateful for all of that. But the thought of being apart from Miles and having someone else care for him is really difficult for me to wrap my mind around at the moment. I know that over time we’ll find our new normal and figure it out together as a family. Just like we’ve done all along.

Miles & Motherhood: Two Months

IMG_4309
Happy two months, little man!

I can’t believe how much has changed since my last post. In his second month, Miles has definitely woken up. He opens his eyes nice and wide, makes eye contact, and focuses on people and objects (and dogs!) around him. He’s also started to vocalize with the cutest “gahs” and “ayes” and we always babble those sounds right back to him. I can’t get enough!

As you can see in the picture above, last week he started giving us some smiles, and…just …wow! Seeing those first smiles—real, unmistakable, on-purpose smiles—is the best thing in the world. It reminds me a lot of what it was like to feel him kick for the first time when I was pregnant. It’s hard to explain, but in both instances I suddenly felt so connected to this little life. We’ll do anything to make him smile no matter how ridiculous we may look.

Robert and I feel incredibly lucky that Miles makes it pretty easy for us to be new parents. Like any baby, he has his moments of crying and fussiness, but overall he’s a calm and content little fella. Not only does he look like his dad, I’m pretty sure he has his easygoing demeanor, too.

IMG_4038

Our little wolf pack

I’m happy to say that a lot of the things that felt so hard during the first four weeks are becoming much easier now. Of course, every day brings new adventures and challenges, but I feel like we’re really getting the hang of things now. In the past month, I’ve also started doing some things that make me feel a little more normal again. I go grocery shopping with Miles, we’ve gone to a few restaurants with him, and I try to go on a super long (70-90 minute) stroller walk most days. Cooking is still way too intimidating–I’ve only cooked a handful of things since he was born, so we’re still living off of those freezer meals and foods that are really easy to assemble (salads, sandwiches, eggs, etc.)

Sleep is a work in progress. In general, I’d say that he’s a pretty good sleeper for an 8-week-old. Currently, he goes to sleep between 8 and 9 p.m. and wakes up twice at night for feedings, which last 30 to 45 minutes each, and then goes down pretty easily after each one. When Miles was about 6.5 weeks old, we moved him out of our room and into his nursery. It was bittersweet, but a good decision for all of us. He makes so many noises at night that were keeping us up! At first he was sleeping in his rock n’ play in his room and he did really well with that. However, we know that he should be sleeping in his crib (which he’s never really liked) so we’ve been working on having him sleep in there at night and for some naps. We still swaddle him using either a Halo Sleepsack or Summer Infant Swaddleme.

IMG_4089No matter how much or how little sleep I get at night, I always look forward to the morning. Morning Miles is my favorite! (Bathtime Miles is a close second.) Even if our day starts at 5:30 a.m., I’m totally okay with it because of how sweet he is. After Miles has been fed, he’s super alert and so fun to be around. We’ll hang out in the jungle (aka his activity gym), do some tummy time, read some books in bed, make funny noises back and forth, and chill. Miles doesn’t even need to be entertained–he’s just happy and alert–but now that he’s awake for longer stretches, especially in the morning, I try to take advantage of that time when I can.

IMG_3692

This is probably a result of spending way too much time on social media and reading too many blogs, but I often see people lamenting the fact that their baby is growing up and getting bigger. Is it weird that I don’t feel sad about this? As much as I adore this newborn stage (and I really really love everything about it), I’m excited about everything that’s still to come! I can’t wait for giggles, babbling, playing, crawling, and on and on. I love that he’s getting bigger. I love that I’ve already packed away his preemie outfits and his newborn-sized clothes are next. I love that every day he discovers something new like the crocodile hanging from his activity gym or the lights in the kitchen ceiling. I love that as soon as I think I know him, he becomes someone new. For me, this is what it’s all about and I’m happily soaking it all in.

IMG_4020

In my last post I mentioned how much I love the Solly Baby wrap. Well, I’m convinced that babywearing is the key to a happy baby and happy parents, at least in this household! In addition to the Solly, we love our Lillebaby. I love the close contact babywearing provides, while enabling me to have my hands free to do things such as walk the dogs, put together a meal, eat, fold laundry, answer e-mails, and more. It’s also a great alternative to using the stroller when running errands. Babywearing is pretty magical—as soon as I put Miles into one of the carriers, he snuggles close to me and falls asleep. Some evenings I’ll wrap the Solly on while he’s still napping or hanging out and as soon as he starts fussing I plop him in there and all is right in the world again.

Looking ahead, this next month is a big one for us. Robert has one week left of his busy season and then he’ll be around a lot more. Woo hoo! In many ways it feels like a fresh start for us as parents. He’ll be taking a week of paternity leave in May and we planned a little getaway to Michigan for our first family trip, which should be really fun and, hopefully, relaxing.

IMG_4012
Finally, I wanted to end this post with something that’s been on my mind since Miles was born. I realize that it may seem like it’s all puppies and babies and rainbows and unicorns around here, and for the most part it is (well, minus the rainbows and unicorns). What follows, which is about feeding Miles, has consumed a lot of my thoughts and energy during these first few months. As we enter his third month, I think I’m finally starting to accept things as they are, focus on the positive, and let my disappointment go.

So here it goes…

I had every intention of breastfeeding Miles for at least the first year. Before he was born I did everything I could to set us up for success. I took classes, read books, researched, stocked up on everything I could possibly need, and more. It was really important to me to make it work.

Unfortunately, that is not our reality. I just never produced anything. I worked with lactation consultants and tried everything imaginable, but still had nothing to give him.

Finally, my doctor offered one more option: a medication to treat acid reflux that’s prescribed off-label to induce lactation. I considered it briefly. I wanted to know that I did everything possible to feed our baby and that certainly would’ve been everything. However, after careful thought and discussion, I decided that the side effects such as anxiety and depression were too risky (what new mom needs that?) and there wasn’t enough long-term evidence for me to feel certain that it was safe for Miles and me. I also felt that I didn’t want to force my body to do something that it clearly wasn’t doing on its own. And so, our reality is that our baby is formula fed.

Accepting this reality has been the most difficult thing I’ve faced since he was born. I know that in the scheme of things feeding him formula isn’t that big of a deal. (Heck, I was formula fed and I seemed to turn out okay…) And of course, the most important thing is that he’s happy, healthy, growing, and loved. He’s certainly all of those things. It’s just that knowing all of the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, I’m disappointed that we don’t get to experience them.

Whenever I feel bummed about giving Miles a bottle I call to mind something my mom said that put it all into perspective for me. At his two week doctors appointment when we found out that he was over five pounds, which was a big milestone for us, I texted my mom the news followed by “no thanks to me.” Her response: “Babies also grow on love.” Isn’t that the truth? I may not be able to feed him in the way I had hoped, but I’ll always be able to nourish him with an endless supply of love.

Miles & Motherhood: One Month

IMG_3286We officially have a one-month old! When I think about how much has changed from the day we brought Miles home until now, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been one month. But oh, what a month it has been!

I’ve heard that the first three months (“the fourth trimester”) are all about survival: Just doing what you need to do to make it through each day and night. Honestly? That thought makes me sad. So even before Miles was born, I knew I wanted it to be different for us. I knew I wanted to be present; to soak in the happy moments and embrace the challenging moments with as much love and patience as I could possibly summon. And you know what? We’re doing much more than surviving over here. I’d even venture to say that we’re thriving!

Miles has an incredibly sweet and calm demeanor. He’s still pretty sleepy, but has one or two very alert times each day–often in the morning and early evening. During those times, he’s perfectly content hanging out and quietly drinking in the world around him. I just sit back and watch him take it all in. I try to remind myself that there will be plenty of time for books, songs, toys, and more as the amount of time he spends awake during the day increases over the next few weeks and months.

I imagine it’s typical of most newborns, but I feel grateful that when he cries it’s always for a reason that I just need to figure out and fix. He’s either hungry, needs a diaper change, needs to be burped, or wants to be held. At first it was all trial and error, but I’m getting better at anticipating which one it is. Thankfully, once I’ve solved the issue he stops crying immediately. I’m not yet able to distinguish one type of cry from another, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. IMG_0149I also feel lucky that so far he loves being worn because I always hoped to do a lot of babywearing. My sister gave me a Solly Baby wrap for my shower and it’s one of my favorite baby items. I put Miles in it in the evening when he gets a little fussy and he almost always conks out. I’ve even eaten dinner with him in there. I love that sometimes all he needs in the world is me. What a feeling!!! I can’t wait to try out other carriers as he gets bigger and I know Robert is excited about wearing him, too. IMG_2942 Our sweet boy is growing like a weed! At first, all of his newborn clothes were giant on him. My sister sent us three preemie outfits, which were pretty much all he wore for the first 2.5 weeks. Then, all of a sudden, one day he couldn’t straighten his legs in them any longer and so it was onto his newborn clothes. Now, some of the arms and legs of his newborn onesies seem like they’re getting a little short. I thought I’d feel some sadness over the loss of his newbornness as he got bigger and bigger, but, for the most part, I feel happy about it. Sure, looking back at photos where his entire bum fit into the palm of my hand (he was four days old in the photo below) makes my heart ache a little. But his biggest job in life right now is to grow and my biggest job is to make that happen so it’s incredibly fulfilling to watch it happen before our very own eyes. We have his one month doctors appointment today and I can’t wait to find out how much he weighs at four weeks old. FullSizeRenderThriving though we may be, if I had to sum up our first month in one word it would be hard. The thing is, it’s been hard in ways I never imagined it would be. Before Miles came along, I assumed that the most challenging part about life with a newborn would be the lack of sleep. I hope I don’t jinx myself (I almost don’t want to type this…), but I’m actually getting a decent amount of sleep–about five to seven hours per night. It’s fragmented into two to three hour chunks at a time and is lighter than I’m used to (I’m totally that new mom who wakes up to make sure her baby is breathing), but I’ve been pretty functional on the amount of sleep I’ve been getting. I also try to get one nap each day, often in the late afternoon or early evening (more on that in a moment). We had every intention of putting Miles in his crib from day one, but he was so new and so tiny that I couldn’t do it. So he sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper right by my bedside for now.

So what’s so hard about newbornhood? I think it’s the fact that it feels like I’m using every single brain cell every second of every day. I’m basically on all the time and in ways I never was before. Even while I’m folding laundry or writing this blog post while he naps, my mind is completely focused on Miles and anticipating his next need. At the end of the day I’m exhausted not because I didn’t get enough sleep, but because I’m mentally zapped. And it continues through the night and into the next day and so on. I imagine this will lessen over time (maybe?) as more of this stuff becomes second nature and doesn’t feel so new. However, I’m also aware that things change so much from one week to the next, so perhaps this state of being on is our new normal…or the essence of parenthood.

What else I’ve found to be hard are the evening hours. While I thankfully haven’t experienced PPD or anything close to it, I get a little blue during the evenings from about 5pm until bedtime. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Miles was born during Robert’s busiest time at work (he’s a CPA), so it’s often me and the baby all day and all night long. By the early evening I’m ready to have another set of hands so I can do some of the activities I used to do that make me feel like me. I miss cooking a lot, but it’s just too challenging to attempt right now (I tried. I failed. I cried.) Thank goodness for all of those freezer meals! Fortunately, some nights Robert has been able to come home in time for our pre-bed routine, which has been super helpful. Then he puts in a few more hours of work from home–poor guy.

Once I identified what was going on by about week 2, I found some things that help me get through those stretches. I’ll call my mom, run an errand with Miles, or take a nap with him on my chest (my new favorite thing in the entire world—it’s glorious!) I also know that it’ll get easier when Robert is around a lot more starting in May and we’ll find our new evening routine together as a family.IMG_3043 Whenever things get challenging, something that really helps ease my mind is saying to myself “this is normal.” So whether it’s a wide awake baby in the middle of the night, fussiness, or feeling lonely in the evening, knowing that it’s all totally normal and that countless women have walked this path before me is reassurance that I’m totally capable of getting through it.

In fact, that’s something that’s really surprised me during these early weeks: My ability to be a mom. Before Miles came along, I had very little experience with newborns or babies. In the past, whenever I would hold a baby or play with one or care for it in any way, I always felt super awkward. I had no clue what I was doing. But for some reason, with Miles, I feel totally capable. Even if I’m doing something I’ve never done before, which is pretty much everything, I feel a sense of calmness and confidence. I probably don’t do everything exactly right, but I try to approach each new situation with common sense, safety, and love. So far it’s working out extraordinarily well.

Ultimately, watching Miles grow and thrive, getting to know his little personality and witnessing it develop each day, and relishing in his newborn noises and snuggles make even the hardest parts of life with a newborn so, so worth it. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything in the world.

When I was pregnant, Robert and I often joked that I was excited about having a baby because it meant that I’d have an excuse to not leave the house for a while. As a total homebody I felt that I wouldn’t have a problem being at home all the time and was even looking forward to it. So I’ve been really shocked that I eagerly seek opportunities to get out of the house at least once a day. I don’t think it has anything to do with going stir crazy. I think it has more to do with finding an activity to break up the repetition of diaper changes, feeding, and napping that make up most days. Of course, connecting with others helps keep me sane, too : ) I think I also like the challenge of figuring out how to time and execute our little outings while Miles is asleep. I’m much braver than I ever imagined I would be! So whether it’s meeting up with other new moms, running an errand, getting a pedicure (yep, I did that at 2.5 weeks!), or going on a long walk, I try to have at least one outing per day.

I’ve also learned that if I don’t shower, brush my teeth, or get dressed early in the day then it likely won’t happen at all. So as soon as I’m done feeding Miles in the morning, I put him in the Rock N’ Play in the bathroom while I take a shower. Accomplishing these tasks increases the likelihood that we’ll make it out of the house at some point. And let’s be real—there’s no hair drying or makeup applying and I live in yoga pants just like I always have.

Finally, what’s also surprised me about the first month of motherhood is how quickly my body has healed. I’ve read enough birth stories to know that I’m nothing short of lucky with my labor and delivery (and, achem, the fact that he was less than 5 pounds…) But I’ve felt 100 percent since 10 days postpartum. Around that time, the weather warmed up to over 50 degrees and Miles, Remy, and I started taking four-mile walks almost every day. In true Chicago spring fashion, the temperature dropped and it snowed this past week, but I’m looking forward to getting back outside with him again. I also can’t wait to get back to the yoga studio in a few weeks, too! IMG_2897 I could write a short novel about our first month (and already have), but I’ll stop myself here and wrap up with 10 things I’ve learned during Miles’ first month of newbornhood and my first month of motherhood:

  1. Forget everything you said you wouldn’t do as a parent because you’ll do it all—most within the first days after your baby is born. This includes: Feeding him formula (sigh, more about that another time…), feeding him from a plastic (not glass) bottle, using your cell phone while holding him, sleeping with him in your bed, using disposable diapers for a prolonged period of time (he just started fitting into his newborn cloth dipes this week–I love it so far), giving him a pacifier within the first two weeks, and much, much more. Let go of your expectations and accept things exactly as they are. He’s happy and healthy and that’s what matters most. (I foresee this being an ongoing lesson I’ll need to learn and relearn…)
  2. Your baby sleeps more heavily during the day and more lightly at night, as most newborns do. At night, make sure he’s fully asleep before putting him down otherwise he’ll cry and you’ll have to start over. There will come a time when you’re able to put him down sleepy, but awake and he can learn to soothe himself to sleep. That time isn’t now.
  3. All of those things people said about how your heart will swell with more love than you ever thought possible watching your husband become a dad? Spot on.
  4. Your baby is hard to burp. Try this: Put him over your shoulder (thanks for the tip, Leah!), turn on some music, and dance around. It’s fun, effective, and drastically reduces gas-related fussiness.
  5. Accept help in every form. While you hadn’t planned for your parents to come out the first week after Miles was born (because you thought you could do it all yourself—ha!) it will turn out to be the best thing ever. They’ll get your house and your life organized, cook delicious meals, and stock your refrigerator with things you’ll live off of for the first month. Then, when Miles is three weeks old, your sister will visit and help you in even more ways–from organizing your closet, to navigating Whole Foods with Miles for the first time, to cooking even more meals. Your family will help you in ways you never expected you’d need help and saying “thank you” will never, ever feel like enough. Your heart will also break over the fact that you don’t live closer to them.
  6. Any time Miles falls asleep, eat something. If you save eating for last, he’ll wake up just as you take your first bite. It never fails.
  7. Buy a big package of notepads (like these) and leave them all over the house with pens. Whenever something pops into your head such as a To Do, grocery-list item, etc. write it down. Mommy brain is real.
  8. Some time around week two you’ll have a big breakdown because you’re trying to do way too much during the day and feel like you’re missing out on all of your baby’s newbornness. Here’s how to cope without having your house become a disaster: Choose at least one (but ideally more) of his naps per day that you spend with him lying on your chest and try to nap, too. You can do stuff during the other naps, but make at least one per day all about you and your baby.
  9. The Internet and Amazon.com will still exist after your baby is born and you’ll find time to use it. You don’t have to buy everything you think you might need before he’s here. This will result in countless trips to the UPS store to return a gazillion useless items. Wait until you actually need something before buying it. You’ll make it through the two days it takes for it to arrive at your door.
  10. You’ll be amazed at the outpouring of love, support, and advice from other new moms—some you know well and some you haven’t spoken to in years or even decades. Facebook truly is the 21st century village. Embrace it. Reach out to them when you need to and hope that someday you’ll have the opportunity to pay it forward.