Disclaimer: I am not a health care practitioner, doctor, pharmacist, or naturopath. Please keep this in mind as you read. Just because something worked for me, it is not guaranteed to work for you. Take it as me sharing my experience with you vs. something to follow. There isn't any proven science behind my madness! I do not get paid by any companies that I am mentioning in this blog I am just letting you know what I've experienced and what has worked or failed for me! Special THANK YOU to Alex & Katya for being awesome mommy friends who taught me most of what I know today!
Quick UPDATE!*** I am not going to write another baby blog so I will add this here. I was having a hard time with André sleeping and someone recommended the "Sleep Sense" book by Dana Obleman and it's a GAME CHANGER! I am happy to report that by 3 months of age André is fully sleep trained! He's in his own crib in his own room and self soothes to fall asleep on his own! I started putting him in his own crib and own room at 8 weeks but I was too scared to let him cry it out. Obleman has a "gentle" approach to sleep training where you can stay beside the crib in the room while the baby learns to self-soothe. I was doing it wrong for the first few weeks because I was still breast feeding him to sleep, but this was only making the process more difficult. The day he turned 3 months I promised myself I would try the training again, so I put him in his crib that night awake. He screamed at me for 20 minutes then fell asleep. every time he woke, and each nap over the next few days I made sure to put him in his crib while he was drowsy but still awake and he learned to put himself to sleep without my help. I cannot tell you how liberating this has been I'm so proud of my boy and happy I stayed strong because this has made my life so much better!
So after 39 long weeks of being pregnant, all the gagging, barfing, the occasional peeing myself incident, constant heart burn and Oreo cookie obsession I officially became a mom to a beautiful boy named André Jax! I spent a lot of time reading and prepping for this day and spoke to a lot of people and asked a lot of questions but there really isn't anything that can truly prepare you for the first weeks as a new mom. I am so grateful to my friends who helped me get through these first few weeks and to our moms, now grand-moms as well. I am especially grateful to my hubby who has really rocked being a new dad thus far. I am really blown away watching his natural daddy instincts come out! So amazing to see :) I really couldn't do it without all the love and support from everyone.
I decided to write this blog because I want to really be open about the first few weeks with a new baby to help prep other expecting parents, or for anyone who is interested in hearing about what we've experienced so far! I realize that "every baby is different" but there is so much literature out there that kind of proves otherwise lol. There are significant milestones and stages that all babies will experience around the same time so it's really good to read up so you know what to expect. I never would have known that all babies experience a growth spurt at day 10 and won't stop eating or crying, and then again between week 2-3 and 6 and 3 months and 6 months! How would I know that if I didn't read about it? I really would have been lost and felt even more overwhelmed if I didn't know it was coming! I am not someone who can "wait to see what happens..." zod bless you if you are!
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I downloaded the 'What to Expect App" and found it so helpful. Every time I experienced something I got an article about it, sometimes I felt like my phone was reading my mind! They also give you daily and weekly updates about the size of your baby, comparing it to different fruits. I loved that it was so fun! The app continues to send daily updates and articles about things that are happening after the baby is born, super helpful.
I read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp, and I listened to the audio version of "Healthy Sleep habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth because reading it was literally putting to sleep lol! I recommend you do lots of reading to prep before hand and these are two great sources. If you are anything like me, you appreciate coles notes so I have attached two links that sum these books up nicely! A lot of people take pre-natal classes which is great and all but a lot of the focus is on the vaginal birth and since I was having a C section I decided to pass on the classes. I also babysat babies for years and I've changed a million diapers so for me I didn't feel they were necessary. I did sign up for a breastfeeding class, however, by the time the date rolled around I was already 38 weeks pregnant and there was no way I was getting off my couch to go! So if you do decide to take these classes be sure to book them far in advance so you get the date and time that will be best for you. They also offer breast feeding classes at the hospital after you have had the baby, but again for me I was cut open and leaving my room to go and pay attention in a class was not a thing!
(^^^I couldn't attach actual links in here not sure why so this is a screen shot of them!)
I decided early on that I was not going to post anything about my pregnancy on social media for a number of reasons. One being that I am just really superstitious about that kind of thing and I didn't want to say anything because anything can happen- good or bad. I also wasn't looking to share something so personal with the world until I was really confident and comfortable with it all. So I waited until he arrived and was happy and healthy. Everyone is different but that was what I decided to do. Now that he is here, he has his own instagram account @andrejaxlio! I decided to create an account for him so that my friends/ followers could choose to follow his account instead of having him take over my personal account. As a new mom you take a million pics and want to share them all and it can be really annoying for people who just don't share the same excitement you have for your own babe! As a teacher who vowed never to have kids, obviously that changed lol, I had to sit in multiple staff rooms where for some reason every single conversation that we had ended up discussing the gore of vaginal births and other people bragging about their own kids and it would drive me insane. It still annoys me now so I try and be as mindful as I can when it comes to that stuff. If people ask me about it I will talk about it.
I also didn't have a baby shower before he was born for the same reason, I just wanted to make sure all was well before I celebrated. There is definitely a downside to doing it after because you end up having to buy a lot of essentials that you might have received from the shower but I guess you win some and lose some!
At first I didn't want to set up the nursery because again I am very superstitious, but then as the end of pregnancy approached I changed my mind. I wanted to have a fun creative room that isn't babyish that reflected our personalities. Here's what we came up with!
(I needed a cool room so I'm pretty proud of what we did here!)
I had a C section and was in the hospital for 3 days and was so ready to come home to my own house. Only thing, I was really unprepared. I mean I had diapers and wipes but I really didn't take into account having a proper set up. With the C section surgery, you don't want to be running up and down the stairs to change diapers. Vaginal birth is also very trying and exhausting so this applies for you as well! You MUST have a set up on the main floor of your house as well as in the baby's room. So that means buying two of everything. I have two diaper caddies, two wipe warmers (if you have a baby boy you need a warmer- Dré would freak out if we used cold wipes on his bum!) change pads, bum cream, bibs, cloths, receiving blankets, swaddles and diapers. Buy everything in bulk, or put multiples on your registry to make sure you have enough for upstairs and downstairs. I felt completely overwhelmed and disorganized when I got home because this wasn't set up before hand so I strongly recommend that you get this done and have it ready for when you get home from hospital.
(Baby Room Set Up)
(Main Floor Set Up)
(Beside your sink, have a bowl set up with warm water and natural soap to throw used bottles, pacifiers and breast pump pieces to be sterilized after each use. Let it soak then sterilize. Drying racks are also essential. There are many options available it's all personal preference. Whatever works just have it set up and ready to go!)
The truth about breastfeeding... the truth is... it is so hard and not magical at all! I don't care what anyone says, I do not believe for one second that women love it from the beginning and find it easy! You are all liars! LOL! Ok, the truth is- everyone is different, but holy jesus this was the hardest thing I have ever done and I've done parties, after parties, and after after parties! My first few days I was breastfeeding in the hospital and my body was half frozen and then when the freezing wore off I was recovering from a C section so I was getting a lot of help getting my babe to latch on from the nurses and my hubby. We watched youtube videos and had people come and show me, but to be honest most of the nurses were just shoving his head into my boob and I wasn't learning how to do it properly. I ended up going to meet a york region lactation nurse and she was amazing. By the time I saw her I already had the hang of it but she definitely gave us some helpful tips that I wasn't doing. I highly recommend you see a lactation consultant at the hospital before you go home, or go see one of these nurses after. Luckily for me, André a good latch and good suction from the get go but that doesn't mean it just worked! He was and still is kind of slow when feeding since he just likes to hang out on my boobs. He falls asleep a lot and rests his face on them and soothes himself on them so it can be a really lengthy process if I don't move it along. I have learned to give him 10 min on each side and switch back and forth at least twice with burping in between to keep him awake and attentive. The first week my nipples were absolutely killing me, they weren't bleeding or cracked but just raw. Your baby will be eating a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours. That's every 3 hours, for an hour! You literally become a cow, and my next project will be to become an animal activist to release all dairy cows since I now know how it feels to be one of them! I tried quite a few nipple creams but the best one is the prescription one, Dr. Newman's APNO cream. Get it from your doctor ASAP.
(Dr Newman's All Purpose Nipple Ointment, ESSENTIAL!)
Anyways, it does get easier but it's really hard the first few weeks. You don't get your mature milk supply until the end of the third week, so there is A LOT of work you need to do to get it going at the beginning. My friend Alex came over and gave me a crash course and honestly without her I never would have know what to do and probably would have ended up in the hospital from being engorged. She literally took one look at my boobs when I got home and felt them and they were hard as rocks and boiling hot. She took me upstairs to my bathroom right away and literally milked me. I was kind of embarrassed to show her my boobs sine they aren't cute and little like the once used to be but at that point I was like "go for it!" LOL! No one tells you how important it is to massage your boobs right from your armpit all the way to nipple to release and get your milk flowing. YOU NEED TO DO THIS! To help get my milk going she also gave me these natural pills, Greek Fennel and let me borrow her pump. FYI- you should have your own pump before to avoid complications if you plan to breast feed. It's essential! I purchased the Medela Freestyle pump since it allowed me to walk around and do other things while pumping. Other pumps you are glued to the wall since they have to be plugged in- ain't nobody got time for that!
(I was taking all of these 4 times a day, follow the directions on the back after speaking to a Naturopath or Doctor)
(Medela Freestyle Breast Pump, the Pump of all Pumps!)
So, on top of feeding 8 or more times a day, I was also pumping for 20 min after each feeding to help get the juices flowing. I can't tell you how demanding and exhausting this is. There is a ton of pressure to breastfeed from everyone around you, even people who don't have kids ask if you are breast feeding. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this because I really didn't want to breast feed, I thought it was gross I didn't find it magical and beautiful. My opinion has only changed a little on this. I like the bonding experience it brings for me and Dré but the whole process is something I still find really exhausting and challenging and I honestly don't know how long I will continue it for. I was a formula fed baby and I turned out amazing so I'm really not worried about that! I didn't suffer from child hood obesity because I played outside so don't let people tell you that to scare you into breast feeding. Not only that, in today's world, you can find organic formula, I assure you I was not fed organic as a baby in the 1980s!
(Organic Formula, there are quite a few options available. There are also hypoallergenic options as well if your baby is super sensitive to cow based formula blends)
It is amazing though how judgy people are about this topic. Let's just say that until you are on call 24/7 and being milked by another human and then a pump you should keep your opinion to yourself! If breast feeding is magical and easy for you that's great but you need to remember that it's not that way for everyone and women who can't breastfeed for whatever reason shouldn't feel bad at all if they decide to use formula. Currently, I have to give Dré formula a few times a day because he would be on my boobs ALL DAY if I let him and I personally can't handle it. In the first few weeks, the night time feedings were gong on for so long that I decided to pump and feed it to him in a bottle so that we could get back to sleep faster. This worked really well for us to help move things along. Now that my milk is flowing, I have gone back to boobing at night and it is working really well for us. I give him 3oz of formula around 8pm plus boob so that he sleeps longer and then the other two feedings are boob. I give him 3oz of formula again in the morning to hold him for another nice chunk of sleep because I am so exhausted! Then he gets boob all day. We have played with feeding scheduling so much but this is what works best for us for now. I'm sure it will change again tomorrow lol.
This brings me to my next topic... sleep!!! I am someone who NEEDS and always gets 8 hours of sleep a night. Well, I had to say goodbye to that on April 27, 2017 and not sure when me and my 8 hours will meet again! There is no such thing as "taking turns" with your partner for night feedings if you are breastfeeding... another reason I find it so frustrating. If the baby doesn't wake you up after 3 hours, your boobs will! I wake up in a cold sweat from being so engorged and needing the milk to be released! Carlo was feeding Dré boob milk bottle while I was up pumping for the next feeding, so even if your partner is helping you, you are BOTH awake. No sleep for the wicked!
Something really important to remember is that your baby just spent 10 months in a tight, warm uterus that was rocking and humming to him. From all the readings I have done, most baby experts agree that human babies are born a trimester too early and are essentially still a fetus when they come out. So their first three months they should be thought of that way and supported. Around the end of month 3 is when they really become babies! I can't wait for that but don't want to rush any time away, know what I mean?! In Harvey Karp's book he points out that animals like giraffes and horses give birth after about a year of being pregnant and their babies can walk and run, human babies can't. Food for thought!
Our first night home from the hospital I was really excited to get a flow going and I really wanted Dré to sleep in his brand new Halo Bassinet. I was super excited to have the bassinet by my side and our first night home was a total fail to say the least! I thrive on organization and routine and drown in chaos! We swaddled him and tried to put him in a flat open bassinet and he just wasn't having it. He needed to be held and would only sleep when he was in one of our arms! We had sent my mom home that night because Dré was so chill during the day we figured we would be fine, by 7am after not sleeping at all I sent an SOS to grama and she came back to hold the baby to let Carlo and I sleep. This is how it was for the first nights until we started to figure out what he needed. So be prepared for that!
(We purchased the top of the line HALO Premier but for Dré it isn't working. It might in a few months so we'll see what happens!)
Now that we are at week 5 with baby we have a really good flow going. We start winding down at 7pm, we take baby upstairs, change diaper, get pyjamas on, mommy gets ready for bed and then we feed some formula and boob and rock baby to sleep. We go to sleep with him at the same time to maximize the amount of sleep were getting. It works well for us since we are getting 3 blocks of anywhere from 2.5-3 hours of sleep each time. He was sleeping in the mamaroo- another essential that has saved us! The first three months of a newborn babies life is all about figuring out what will work, there is no right or wrong so no bad habits will be formed. We have discovered that Dré needs to be sleeping on a 30 degree angle and he needs to feel like he is supported all around. We swaddle him with the SwaddleMe swaddles (we like these the best, super easy to use) and then he went into the mamroo, we play the ocean sound for him, I mean who doesn't love the sound of waves crashing and we put a slow motion movement on until he falls asleep. I wish there was a timer to turn it off because you really should stop the motion once the baby is sleeping, but by then I have also likely fallen asleep- so oh well baby gets rocked!
(4moms Mamaroo! aka Life Saver!)
After searching for another option, I came across a bassinet by SwaddleMe that has all these characteristics. It recreates that womb like feeling, keeps baby right beside your bed, can be used at a 30 degree incline and then can also go flat for when its time to transition to a crib. I was so pumped to find and order this and we have had a successful few nights in it! He is officially out of the mamroo at nighttime, and now right beside me at my level. I feel so much better about this! Unfortunately, right now it is only available in the US, so it cost me about $70us just to ship it here, but in the end it's totally worth it since he is having great sleeps.
(SwaddleMe By My Side Bassinet)
During the days, my baby just wants to be with me, on me, at all times. A baby carrier that has proper back support is absolutely essential. I am currently using the baby Bjorn and it has been a life saver. I can cook, clean, go pee with him attached to me. He is happy and I am happy!
(Baby Bjorn Carrier- Essential!)
Something else that is essential is a breast feedign pillow. I have a few and the one I like the best is "My Breast Friend" nursing pillow. It is a thick, firm pillow so keeps baby in a good position and it also clips around your waist and give a nice back support cushon to lean back on. SO not only do you have a baby attached to your boobies, you have a pillow as well LOL!
(My Breast Friend Breastfeeding Pillow on the left, we have two one for each floor)
Holy. I talk a lot but I really hope that this blog helps you if you are feeling overwhelmed and lost. There is one more thing that I do want to talk about and that's just all the pressure that comes with being a new mom. I am someone who likes to be in control and feel like I have everything figured out right away, I am not good with all this trial and error! I don't like failure I never have and it's hard for someone like me to not have things go how I want. SO there is a ton of pressure that I am putting on myself to be this perfect mom. Not only that I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to get skinny again... I can't control this feeling it's really hard to do especially when you have friends that had babies and just bounced right back to pre-pregnancy bodies and f**king instagram with all these super model moms who popped babies out and are in bikinis the next week. Good for you ladies but I hate you! So what have I done about this you ask? I went to the mall and I bought bigger clothes so I don't feel as fat when I put them on lol. I gained way more weight then I ever imagined I would during this pregnancy, but then again I don't know what I was expecting to happen when I was eating row upon row of Oreos! Buy hey... you only live once and I'm only doing this once so I will try not to be so hard on myself and I will get back to my pre-pregnancy weight when I do!
Oh, and for all the pregnant ladies out there reading this there is one last thing I need to warn you of... people will say the absolute dumbest things to you when you are pregnant. Like "wow I've never seen your ass so big, or your thighs" "I'm so used to you being skinny" or "let's take a picture because this is the only time you are fatter than me!" "Your tattoos are going to be completely ruined" (mine are totally fine thanks for your concern!) "You must be having a girl you're losing your looks" "You look tired!!!" "Your face looks pregnant!" Seriously you can't make this shit up and you also can't take it to heart. You have to let this stuff roll off your back, trust me!
So I hope you found this blog informative and helpful. Like I said, I am no expert I just really wanted to share things that have worked for me thus far. If you have any questions please feel free to ask!
Below are a few more items that I feel are essential to have to get this party started and make your life easier!
(All breast fed babies need to take Vitamin D drops daily. They have one specifically for babies)
(They do have ready to serve formula which are really great to have as backup or to grab and go when you are in a rush. I am personally not comfortable with breastfeeding in public I don't care how many wars women have fought to make it a right!)
(The Dock-a-Tot is amazing for co-sleeping, or just hanging out safely on the couch. Baby feels secure and you don't need to worry about him falling or rolling off bed or couch!)
(The Baby Moov Love Nest is an amazing invention to keep your baby's head supported and prevent it from developing flat spots when lying flat in the crib or bassinet)
(Summer Infant Right Height Baby Bath Tub set up with knee and elbow pads is essential, you need to be comfortable while leaning over and washing the babe)
(Kidway Breast Feeding Chair. This chair fits my body perfectly while breast feeding. The legs come out and it reclines so you can really get comfortable during nighttime feedings. Leather is also really easy to wipe if baby pees, poos or pukes on it!)
(Play centres are great for getting the baby started with new learning. I have a few just to keep things interesting. After about two weeks of being cute I've put him to work learning new things.)
(I love the SwaddleMe swaddles. They are velcro and super easy to use- Essential!)
Last but not least, we have 6 styles of our Secret Lives... leggings for babies and toddlers, 6 month-> 3 years! www.secretlivesotw.com/collections/baby-leggings