Dear Natalie: Week 3

Dear Natalie,

Your newest accomplishment this week: eye contact! It’s a bit inconsistent and sometimes you’re actually just staring at the light behind our heads (good Lord are you fascinated by lights!), but when we can catch your eye, it’s magical. Your eyes have stopped randomly crossing at random times and you’re starting to be able to track objects that we hold up in front of you. It makes your weekly photo shoots much more fun!

Your grandmother Hall came to visit last week to help out around the house when your dad went back to work. He’s working a part time schedule for now, which means I get to ease into spending the whole week with you by myself. I love you to pieces, baby girl, but the thought is rather daunting. I know for sure that we’ll figure it out, though, and I think it will get easier as you get older and slightly less floppy.

We didn’t realize until yesterday that apparently your name has been incorrect since you were born. We went to the Cambridge City Clerk’s office yesterday to sign your birth certificate and get a copy, and only realized after we signed it that the paperwork sent from the birth center spelled your first name “Nathalie.” Your middle name was missing entirely, but at least we saw that before anything was signed. Now we need to wait for the birth center to send a letter of correction so we can get it fixed. So for now you are “Nathalie,” even though that’s never what we intended. I blame sleep deprivation for us not catching the mistake in the first place.

Speaking of sleep, yours seems to be improving a bit. Your first stretch after we swaddle you and put you in the co-sleeper is consistently three hours – woohoo! After that it’s really anyone’s guess, especially after 4 or 5am. Some nights you decide that that’s the perfect time to party, and some nights you calm down as soon as you’re back in your swaddle and you sleep for another few hours.

You continue to gain weight like a boss. At your 2 week checkup, you cleared 10 lbs – 10 lbs, 5 oz, to be exact. I’m so proud of all of us for figuring out this whole nursing thing, since clearly we’re all doing a good job. Keep up the good work, baby girl!

With all the love in the world, “Nathalie,”
Mama

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Dear Natalie: Week 2

Dear Natalie,

You, my baby girl, are growing. Like crazy, like a weed, like anything that suddenly sprouts overnight and leaves you wondering where your tiny newborn babe has gone. I predicted I would have a small baby; at 8 lbs 10 oz you were anything but. In the weeks before your birth I bought a few more newborn-sized outfits, since I feared that everything we had would swim on you.

Not quite.

You’ve already outgrown all of your newborn clothing. My aunt Elizabeth sent you the cutest girly outfit that you won’t even get to wear because you’re already too big (thankfully the outfit also includes a bib and I think we’ll get some mileage out of that!). We had to make an emergency trip to the Diaper Lab during the first week of your life because we’d vastly underestimated the amount of newborn diaper covers that we’d need; you’ve since outgrown nearly all of them.

At least we’ll have them ready for your sibling.

You don’t fit in the one-size diapers yet, so keeping you covered and dry is proving to be a bit challenging. We’re doing laundry twice a day just to make sure we don’t run out of diapers, and you’ve been very patient with us as we figure out our laundry routine.

We’re starting to get the hang of a very loose bedtime routine. Your night wakings have gradually settled into a more-or-less predictable pattern of every two hours. Usually you and I start to stir at the same time, and I can scoop you up out of the co-sleeper and feed you before your hunger wins out and the crying starts. Middle-of-the-night diaper changes are still a little rough for you, but we’re getting faster. I still haven’t mastered the art of swaddling you by myself, so I do have to rouse your dad to help me with that. It’s worth it, though, since that’s the sure-fire way to get you back to sleep quickly and soundly.

The big news this week is that we went on a road trip! You went to the Inn for the very first time and met your great grandparents and some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone loved you, of course, and they were so happy to see you. With you being just eight days old, it was a tiring trip for you, your dad, and for me. Even so, I’d say it was a successful visit – you were so good and slept the whole way there. On the way back, we stopped about half an hour into the two hour trip home to feed you and change your diaper, and you graced your dad with a diaper blowout while on the changing pad on the front seat of the car. That seems to happen far more often when he is changing you, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Love always no matter the state of your diaper,
Mama

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Dear Natalie: Week 1

Dear Natalie,

Today you are one week old. This week has seen a lot of tears (yours and mine), a lot bodily fluids (also yours and mine), and a Grinch-like swelling of my heart with love for you as your dad and I adjust to being your parents.

The first night you were home, we broke a number of rules by bringing you into our bed (we hadn’t yet mastered the magic of swaddling and having you close to us was the only way to get you to stop fussing and drop off to sleep). You slept for five hours straight. Your dad also slept for most of that time. I didn’t sleep at all.

Completely overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility that was placed in my arms at 7:46 that morning, I was awake for most of the night just watching you sleep, reaching out to touch your soft belly every few minutes as it rose and fell with your snuffling, snorting breathing. You curled your fists up by your face, every so often waving a tiny arm at me. You are still so new to this world, baby girl, but never so new as you were that first night.

You had three pediatrician visits this week, the first of which was just 28 hours after you were born. The doctor confirmed what we already knew – you are perfect. She sent us down to the lab for an innocuous-sounding “newborn screening,” which turned out to be an awful, awful test where the technician pricked your heel with a needle and squeezed out enough blood to cover four circles the size of my fingernail. Watching you wail and writhe on the exam table just about tore my heart from my chest, even though the minute it was over and I gathered you in my arms, your crying subsided immediately. “This is always harder on the moms,” the technician remarked, handing me a box of tissues.

Your next visit was two days later, to check your weight. Your dad and I had been dutifully marking off each wet or poopy diaper and each feeding on a chart that the birth center had given us, but your doctor was concerned that your output was not at the level it should be. She shoved two boxes of formula into my hands and instructed us to chase each feeding with one ounce of formula if you hadn’t had another wet diaper by 3pm that day. I barely made it out of the office before the tears started streaming down my face. I felt like a failure as a mother – I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed my child, and now I’d have to give you formula. Not the end of the world, of course, but the implication –that if I didn’t, I would be doing you a disservice for my own selfish reasons–really shook me.

We broke another rule by disregarding the doctor’s advice after a tearful phone consultation with our doula, who advised that giving you formula would do far more damage to my ability to breastfeed than it would be beneficial for you. She was right. My milk came in later that same day, and we quickly set aside the feeding-and-diapering checklist as it became obvious that you were not only normal, but an overachiever (usually only when your dad changes you – let’s keep that up). You became the valedictorian of baby weight gain when over the course of just three days you gained a whopping thirteen ounces.

We haven’t had a weight check since then, but it’s clear that you are thriving. You hate having your diaper changed, but good lord do you love to eat (I think you get that from me). And that’s wonderful, since that’s your job right now – growing. Your pediatrician remarked that these feeding “challenges” would very quickly become a distant memory, and even a few days beyond those trials I’m finding that’s true.

This week has been both the hardest and the best week of my life. You are so very, very patient with us, baby girl, and for every moment where I feel like I’m letting you down by not figuring out quickly enough what you need (from a short list of options, too – are you hungry? Need a diaper change? Just want to be held?), there are a hundred moments where you make me feel like the luckiest person on the planet. The way you hold up your arms like little chicken wings when you nurse. The exquisite and sometimes hilarious expressions that chase themselves across your face. Your wobbling head bobs to announce your desire for dinner. These are the moments that I want to remember always, because soon enough they’ll just be memories.

I’m so excited to watch you grow, Natalie, but for now I’m so happy to just be, to just be in this space where you are so small and snuggly and we are your world – just as you are ours.

Love always,
Mama

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