Three weeks

Jamie is now just a little over three weeks old.

It’s kind of strange to think how this little person’s life is measured in days, hours. Me, on the other hand… sometimes I can’t remember how many YEARS old I am. For him, every day is a year, every hour is a week. All his experiences are new, scary, exciting, and he’s learning and growing so quickly. His eyes scan you or the room or focus on an object, and you can almost hear the synapses connecting in his little brain.

I’m tired. So tired. Doc is, too. This is to be expected, I guess. I estimate that I’m sleeping maybe four to five hours a day, total, but in bursts that are usually two hours or less. Feed Jamie, soothe him to sleep, wait to make sure he’s asleep, fall asleep myself, wake up to feed him a short time later. I know it’s going to get better, but it’s a really tough road to travel. I don’t have a choice at this point, though, so I shall endeavor to suck it up, sleep when I can, and not complain. Doc is trying his hardest to make it easier for me to sleep by just bringing Jamie to me to eat for the first part of the night, so I’m not kept awake by his fussing inbetween feedings. I know this is not the best way to develop a sleeping routine for any of us, but right now we’re just hanging on any way we can.

I am also having a really hard time napping during the day. I know I need to, I REALLY need to, but the logistics and timing are often tough to manage.

Tired as I am, I’m adapting to this crazy sleep schedule better than I thought I would. I just look forward to the day when I can get 4 hours in a row, or 5, or 6. I was hoping desperately that we’d end up with a kid who was a really good sleeper, and that may yet prove to be true, but it’s not at the moment. He’ll fall asleep sprawled across your chest like a spider monkey, but the minute you try to move him into his bassinet, he wakes up and starts fussing and then full-on crying. We can’t hold him the entire time he’s sleeping… so this is kind of a dilemma for us. Holding him when WE are so tired could prove to be dangerous… he could easily slide off a sleeping parent onto the floor, or onto the bed and be face-down and unable to breathe.

So yeah, we have a lot of questions and worries. I have to admit that I feel sort of alone in this because we don’t have any friends here who have kids. There’s no one we can get together with to talk about stuff, to reassure us, to give advice, to share a babysitter with for a night out. Nate and Yvonne, the one couple that we do know with a baby, moved to Austin earlier this year. There’s always the telephone but somehow it’s not the same.

He’s going through a growth spurt right now, too. He’s fussier and is eating more frequently (every hour and a half or so instead of his previous 2-1/2 to 3 hours) and that gets really tiring for me, since I am breastfeeding exclusively. I’m also beginning to pump milk inbetween feedings, so I feel like I’m either feeding or pumping more than 50% of the time. That’s probably an exaggeration, but that’s what it feels like.

Doc described it as having a lamprey attached to my chest. I think it’s a good metaphor. He just sucks and sucks and doesn’t give much in return. (Yet.)

My little eel.

My little eel.

It’s not all griping and complaining, though. There’s a lot of good things about having a new little person in the house. He’s begun to be able to track objects with his eyes. Last week we were showing him one of his four (!) stuffed lion toys, and he followed it across his field of vision when we moved it. He’s showing some interest in this little play mat thing (a colorful mat with toys dangling from crossbars above). His wakey wakey periods are getting longer. His eyes are opening wider. He’s started making vocalization noises — not cries or burps, but bordering on gurgles and coos. He’s got a bad case of baby acne… all across his cheeks, forehead, chin, and even his poor little ears. It ought to go away in a few weeks, I suspect. He likes getting his hair washed. Sometimes in the morning, after he’s eaten, we let him lie on his side in bed with us and he’s sound asleep and unbearably cute in the morning light and we just stare at him and stare at him and stroke his little head and whisper to him in his sleep.

Have I mentioned that he’s damn cute?

And speaking of damn cute, I feel I must state, for the record, that just because I’ve birthed my own child, I don’t suddenly think that all babies and kids are adorable now. I’m not comfortable around young kids. I have no idea how to talk to them. I don’t know how to talk “baby talk,” nor do I particularly want to. I’m sure I’ll figure out how to communicate with my own son, but I don’t inherently have these relating-to-babies skills that a lot of people seem to possess. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’m not pinging the “femininity” end of the sexuality scale very hard. Who knows. All I know is that my feelings on total strangers’ kids haven’t changed much. They’re lovely, I’m sure, but I’m likely not interested in interacting with them.

If I know you and your child, that’s a different story (Hi, Zoe! You’re still adorable and awesome!). I guess this is not that much different from how I relate to adults. If I know you, great! If I don’t, I’m probably not going to initiate a conversation with you. Nothing personal, I’m just introverted.

6 Comments

  1. Yvonne

    You’re in the weeds now. For the first four weeks of Zoe’s life, one of us had to hold her pretty much 24/7 for her to sleep. My mom had this routine where she’d put Zoe down and pat her back pretty constantly and then sometimes we could get away with not holding her. But that’s when we decided to co-sleep, ’cause we just couldn’t get by any other way. We are both pretty light sleepers and never felt in danger of rolling over her (though I have a couple of friends who had that concern and one who actually lost her baby in the covers and pillows and totally freaked out).

    But … four-six weeks is one of those magical times when they reach some milestones and suddenly sleep a little bit longer. Then eight weeks is another and 12 weeks and on and on. Just when you think you’re going to go insane with lack of sleep you will wake up and realize they have slept for a five-hour block of time (or however long) and you are singing praises to the god/universe/deity of your choice.

    I know the phone isn’t the same and I’m really bummed I was too sick to visit while I was in town, but feel free to call anytime. You will get through baby bootcamp. Life is A LOT easier now than when Zoe was a newborn.

    And btw, you crack me up. I also do not find all children universally cute or interesting. And I know that my total and utter fascination with all things Zoe must have some biological component. I guess you take better care of your offspring when you find them unbearably adorable.

    Also? Wine. Have a drink or two every once in awhile. It made me feel a lot better. 🙂

  2. Nate

    I always said the first month is like brainwash for the parents. It is a way to prepare you for what’s next. Sleep deprivation and sudden life milestone realizations make you see the world in a different light.

    Then, things get a little easier–he sleeps longer, playtime is longer and more rewarding for parents and monkey. At that moment, you remember when it was harder and appreciate how tough you are for getting through it.

    And, then a sick part of your mind misses those first days.

  3. Marissa (Weege) Kilpatrick

    Hi Katie,
    My mom told me you had a blog and I thought I would see how you guys are all doing. It does get easier, I remember feeling the way you feel just a few months ago. It seems like all you do the first few weeks are feed the baby and never sleep and you wonder why you don’t sleep because you don’t felt like you did anything all day. I have to agree with the above poster, a glass of wine can do wonders. Let me know if you need anything, I’m no expert on parenting but I do remember those days (and nights) and how overwhelming they can feel.

    Marissa

  4. Katy

    Yvonne: I had wine tonight with dinner. Yay! Of course, dinner consisted of basmati rice with lemon juice, and a glass of root beer. Easy, yes; nutrition, not so much. 🙂 I’m really sorry we couldn’t get together over Christmas, too. I’m going to call you one night this week though, to talk about sleeping and swaddling and breastfeeding and milestones and coping techniques. Just hearing reassurance from you, a parent who has recently gone through this stuff, makes me feel so much better.

    Nate: I cannot imagine how anyone could possibly miss these first few weeks!!! This has been trial by hell; the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But play time is getting a little more rewarding each day, as his eyes open wider and his calm periods get longer and he starts making little “ooh” and “aah” noises at us. We can’t wait for the three of you to meet him.

    Marissa: Hi! Great to hear from you. You’re right, everything is going by in a blur; it’s all feeding and soothing and maybe sleeping a bit here and there and nothing much else gets done at all… it’s crazy. If you ever want to get together to chat , that’d be great, especially since we live so close. My mom showed me photos of Haley… she is so cute!!

  5. Doc

    I didn’t intend for you to visualize hem as an actual lamprey using your mad photoshop skills… I thought he might be more like a cute magic lamprey character from a children’s book who loves his host very very much and grants her 3 wishes!

    The changes he has gone through in the last 4 weeks are astounding. it alrerady is getting so much better. (I am behind in reading these posts because I havent felt I have had the time to actualy give them the proper attention). If we get through this gas thing thats still upsetting him I think we are on the road to restville. (for all 3 of us)

    Only you and I (and maybe your mom) know what I have done to try to make things better… I am exhausted, almost everything else in my life is on hold, I would throw myself into a pit of angry chihuahuas if it meant you could sleep for another hour… But its all been worth it for you and him.

  6. Katy

    Doc: I know our little lamprey loves us. And I am priveleged and honored to be his host. It’s kind of amazing, really, that he can thrive and grow on no substances other than what I provide him from my own body. I guess that’s what he did for 40 weeks in the womb, too.

    And the changes he’s gone through just since I wrote this post are astounding. He’s more active, more alert, he seems happier (most of the time), and the gas thing is distressing (for him and for us) but we’ll get through it and then we’ll all be sleeping longer and having more playtime. I really think the first 3 or 4 weeks were the toughest, even with the 12-hour (ish) crying jag he had a day or two ago.

    I think you’re right that a lot of people will assume that because I’m the mom that I have done most of the work and because you’re the dad, you’re secondary and on the sidelines. But that is not how it is with us. We are equal partners in this adventure. I may be feeding him, but you’re doing most of the soothing when he’s really upset, changing most of the diapers, and you watch him by yourself a lot so that I can sleep. These are things that have made an enourmous difference to me, and I will not soon forget.

    People who know us know that we are equal partners in life, in our marriage, and will hopefully assume that we’re equal partners in raising our child too. Strangers probably won’t know that and will make assumptions based on stereotypes. We don’t have any way to control that. But I am doing my best to make sure that the people I care about know how much you do for me and for him. It feels like you’re doing well more than 50% of the hard work. So you should see that as a “win”… you’ve made me feel like my burden is far less than it could be.

    And for anyone who would assume that you sit around while I do most of the work, or who is surprised to learn that you are “such an involved father’… screw them! All that matters is that we raise a healthy, happy child who feels safe and loved. We do this regardless of what anyone assumes about us.

    I love you and Jamie… my family… more than I can figure out how to say. I would do absolutely anything for the two of you.

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