Theodore turned 8 weeks old today. It sounds like such a short amount of time for everything we have been through. I read that the first 3 months of a baby’s life is like the 4th trimester, filled with new things to learn and challenges. This month there were no shortage of firsts. Every week presented new struggles and challenges. The first month was all the initial things after delivery: the healing process, the breastfeeding, the lack of sleep…etc. The second month is a bit different. Your body gets used to not sleeping or waking up several times at night so it begins to function without as much sleep. You’ve gotten the hang of breastfeeding and you’re pretty healed up if you only had minor tears during delivery. What is new during the 2nd month of a baby’s life is his witching hours and learning to regulate my milk production as well your own hormonal changes and moods.
Let’s start with the witching hours not to be confused with colic. Witching hours are when the baby can not settle for a number of hours and there is nothing apparently wrong with him. He is fed, he has a clean diaper… nothing noticeably is wrong that would cause this fussiness. It could happen different times during the day, but for us it’s between 10pm-12am. It’s such a trip to watch him go from a calm, quiet baby to screaming his head off in a matter of minutes. Every baby goes through this phase. When it first started happening it stressed me out to hear him cry, it’s the worst to not be able to do anything for him. But now after a couple of weeks, we understood that it’s coming no matter what and we just deal with it. Some things that have helped us are creating a calm and quiet environment, meaning all lights are off in the house during this time. Daniel and I will take turns trying to calm him down by carrying him and gently rocking him as we walk around the house singing softly. We’ve also used a pacifier to get his sucking reflex to calm him down. He’s usually too fussy to nurse so we wait until he’s calmer before I feed him. He goes down some time after midnight which makes for a long day for both Daniel and myself, but on the upside, he’s been able to sleep longer stretches at night. I used to have to wake up every 2-3 hours, but for his first long stretch of sleep he could go for 5 hours.
The long stretch of sleep is great, however, getting my milk production to regulate has been very challenging. Breastfeeding in general is somewhat of a nightmare. I do it because I’ve committed to it, but it’s one of the worst parts about this whole process. The first month is all about getting your breast to produce milk and for him to latch and nurse correctly. Which often leads to cracked and bloody nipples. The second month is trying to manage your milk production which is based on a supply and demand principle. Also, as part of our anatomy one breast will always produce more milk than the other so trying to balance that is another obstacle. I’ve had to call on all my mommy friends for support on this because it’s truly difficult. There are so many things to think about while breastfeeding such as how often to pump if you are full, how to simulate milk production, but not to cause overproduction of milk. Trying not choke your baby with a forceful letdown. Trying to manage nursing a baby when he’s fussy by cluster feeding. All of these things happen at the same time and have be considered. Also, engorgement issues which I experienced for the first time yesterday.
So my breasts were used to having to produce milk every 3 hours during the night because that’s how often Theodore would feed in the first month, now that he is sleeping longer stretches at night I don’t want to wake him to feed him, so the milk gets backed up. I can pump it out, however, that will give my body the signal to continue to produce milk at that level. It’s a very fine balance to get it work. Plus, I have the issue that my left breast produces way more milk than the right breast. I’ve addressed this with my midwife and we’ve decided that I will exclusively feed from my left. Yes, that means I’m lopsided. I look ridiculous with one huge breast and one little breast. Good thing I’m not leaving the house yet. Anyhow, I was engorged for the whole day and my milk ducts were so rock hard that I wasn’t able to pump the milk out. I was completely blocked. I couldn’t carry Theodore all day because it was painful to have anything pressing against my chest. Thankfully my dear friend, Blair, gave me the best advice as to how to get them down using a warm towel and ways to manage the pumping to avoid it from happening again. She is like #momgoals and I knew that if I followed her instructions I’d be fine. Also, thankfully Theodore’s evening feeding was long enough for him to help release the letdown so that milk could flow freely again and my breast softened. He was the best thing for my engorged breast because he emptied all the milk and released the pressure. I’m told by many that my breast will start to regulate sometime around the 3rd month, but seriously… breastfeeding is a pain.
Lastly, this month I’ve learned that having a baby does a number to your mood. All the different things that are happening with my hormones are causing me to have high and low moments. I’m also very possessive over Theodore. I’m trying to manage the moods by getting fresh air when I can or when the weather allows, but I’m just hoping that once everything else regulates so will my moods. As for being possessive over Theodore, I think that will also lessen once he’s older. He’s still just a little newborn baby and I have intense feelings of protectiveness over him, to the point it makes it hard when I see other people holding him. I can’t describe it since this is the first time I’ve ever felt it, but it’s all I can think about when I see it.
Now on to the positives! And there are many. Our bond with Theodore has grown over the past month, he can recognize us and I’d like to believe he knows that we are his parents. He is talking so much more and by talking I mean grunting, snorting and cooing. It’s so fun to watch his facial expression as he’s so much more expressive than last month. His hands remain in fists most of the day, but occasionally he’ll open up and slap you. LOL. So you can’t get too close! He swats at things that is arms length. He’s also likes looking at himself in the mirror, not sure if he registers that it’s his face he’s looking at. And he’s grown a lot! He’s a little chubby baby and I love his fat rolls. He’s lost some of his hair, but he’s also growing some eyebrows. I love seeing the changes he goes through weekly. Even though certain things about this month has been challenging for me, it doesn’t seem to affect him, he’s still a happy, smiley good baby and I’m so thankful he’s healthy. That’s all you can really hope for. So although most of this post was about the challenges of the 2nd month in a baby’s life, there are amazing things as well. Let’s see what the next month brings us!