Saturday, February 6, 2010

A positive trajectory

[Here's another long one... The history major in me just wants to memorialize all these details from Joshua's first week of life, and our first week as newbie parents! There are pictures at the end, though, so there's your reward for persevering through this post. :)]

We were discharged from the hospital last Thursday evening (1/28). We could have stayed an extra night, but David and I both really wanted to be in our own home, and we had been sort of lulled into complacency by how sleepy and good Joshua had been that day, so we thought we'd go ahead and take him home from the hospital that night.

Turns out, Joshua's sleepiness on Thursday was likely just the result of him recovering from his circumcision. When we got home that evening and put him down for his first sleep in his Pack n Play bassinet, he started fussing. We spent the entire night trying to soothe him -- I would try to feed him, David would put him in his bouncy seat or hold him while walking around the apartment, and none of us really got any sleep at all.

(I have to make this interjection here -- I'm so thankful for how good David is both with Joshua and with me. Those first few very difficult nights, David cheerfully took a several-hour shift with Joshua in another room, to try to help me get some sleep. And he's very good at making sure that our sleeplessness remains in a punchy/happy place, rather than a sniping at each other mood. In one of our sillier moments last weekend, he made me laugh by speculating on what other elective surgery we could have Joshua undergo, to recapture the sleepiness of Thursday afternoon... No one really needs their appendix, right?)

By Saturday morning, we were both really exhausted, and a little discouraged at our inability to console our son for longer than 15 minutes at a time. We took Joshua to his first pediatrician's appointment that morning, and discovered that he had dropped down to 6 lbs 14 oz. Pretty much all newborns lose weight in their first few days of life (it's hard making the transition from being fed 24/7 in the womb to having to work for your food from bottle or breast), but this was a little too much of a weight loss. So we had our answer for Joshua's fussiness -- the poor little guy was just hungry. What a heartbreaking diagnosis -- I hadn't been able to give my little son enough to eat! My milk hadn't really come in yet, and even though we'd been trying to feed him at least every two hours, he just wasn't getting enough. So the pediatrician recommended supplementing a little with formula for the next couple days.

Adding some formula to Joshua's diet made such a huge difference. I had him trying to breastfeed at first (for just 15-20 minutes per side, instead of trying to be a human pacifier and causing myself a lot of pain -- breastfeeding hurts at the beginning!), and then we gave him a little bottle of formula, which he attacked with gusto. And then he slept!

My milk finally came in late Sunday evening, so we weaned Joshua off the formula, and started a better feeding routine for him. We took him in for a weight check on Monday morning, and he had gone back up to 7 lbs 3.5 oz -- he gained 5.5 oz in two days! And though he hasn't had any formula since Monday, it looks like he's definitely getting enough just from me now, for which we're so thankful.

We also started implementing a bit of a structured routine for his sleep this week. We'd been feeding him every three hours, as recommended by the hospital and our pediatricians. And then sometimes he'd fall asleep right afterwards, or sometimes we'd have to do a diaper change right away, and then he'd wake up grumpy before the next 3-hour cycle was to begin. We'd try feeding him again, but he wasn't necessarily hungry. So we'd bust out the bouncy seat, the swing, the play gym, or we'd hold him until he fell asleep again. It was a pretty exhausting pattern to try to maintain around the clock... But surely, Joshua was much too little to try to do any sleep training with, right?

I do think that one week old is way too young to do "sleep training" proper (like doing the Ferber "cry it out" method, for instance). But we've started using a version of the Baby Whisperer's structured routine -- eat, activity, sleep, every three hours or so, based on watching and learning to interpret the baby's cues. The first time we tried it out, it worked like magic. Joshua woke up hungry from a nap, so we fed him, and then changed his diaper. And then, instead of just trying to rush him to sleep, we took advantage of his awake time after the diaper change (he really, really hates having his diapers changed) to get him to look at this black and white board book (a gift from Emily and Brian -- you guys, this has been such a lifesaver for us!). It was the cutest thing ever, seeing him focus on the images, and watching the wheels turning in his brain -- it was perhaps one of the first times we got to interact with Joshua as a thinking human being, rather than as a squalling babe that needed to be soothed. Then, at his first yawns, we swaddled him up again and whisked him off to his bassinet -- where he proceeded to sleep peacefully on his own for two and a half hours!

So we're real believers in this structured routine thing. It's helping me and David to feel more on top of things (how exciting is it to be able to read your baby's cues and give him what he needs at the right time??), and we think it's helping Joshua to know better what to expect out of life. There's definitely still a very steep learning curve for all three of us, but we feel we're on a positive trajectory now.

We're in enough of a routine now to be able to break out the camera to capture some great Joshua moments! So here are a few of our favorites from the past couple days -- including some shots of him with his eyes open!

Staring at the mobile above his Pack n Play bassinet

Flirting with the camera before a sponge bath

Pontificating on some deep and meaningful topic, just like his daddy!

Getting to know the toys on his play gym

Snugly wrapped up for a nap -- isn't he the cutest baby burrito ever?


Word Queen said...

good job, guys. the routine of wake-eat-play-sleep is basically what I took away from all the babywise stuff, too. just don't get too used to a "schedule" because it will change in a few days... :) I like to think of the word "routine" as a general pattern.... sounds like you're doing great! beautiful baby! so happy for you! enjoy the babymoon!

Ivy Mom said...

Great advice Word Queen! Sounds like you're doing a great job. We went through the early supplementing with both of ours too. Once milk came in, they were just fine too! I'm all ears for breastfeeding talk if you need it!

(and i'm a huge fan of recordkeeping, so big thumbs up for getting this post in!)

Emily said...

So glad the book and play gym are coming in useful! I had heard great things about the black/white books and am glad to hear it's all true! I'll have to get some of those for our little boy when he's born. Loving these posts! Loving your family!