As I sit here writing days ahead of Gage's one month check up, I can't help but think "turn your brain off and relax a little will yah?" I know this blog post won't get done in one sitting, so I start now and silly as it is, writing my thoughts is mostly relaxing, plus I don't want to forget these precious moments as he rapidly grows older. John and I told Gage last night (Monday) that this growing up nonsense needs to quite now; time is going by WAY too fast and we need more of it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am very family oriented and that nothing beats the importance of the time we have together. People also know that I am a very active, generally healthy, busy person who always has multiple things going on, not to mention a fairly organized routine. These two things are precisely why these last three weeks have been very challenging for me. I have had (am having) a major personality role reversal, in that I want to spend all of my time with John and Gage (without sharing) just being. However I also want this time in a clean, organized, healthy home. Doesn't anyone? The conflict that I have experienced has been in my mind, and while it was fairly easy to be "present" during pregnancy and not let my anxiety get to me hardly at all, it hasn't been since reality of motherhood took over. My mind is constantly spinning circles and questioning what I should be doing and what's best for Gage and I. Case in point; it's almost 7pm on a Tuesday night, I have not done anything in the slightest to clean myself up today other than apply deodorant, I reak of sweat, leaked milk, and probably poo, my entire house is a mess, clothes on the bed, baby items everywhere (where is that damn burp cloth? I mean we have dozens), loads of laundry and dishes to do (even though I literally just did them), and I have a sleeping baby resting in his swing while my back rests. Gage has not been dressed in more than a blanket and hat today or even wiped down for that matter, we haven't had story time yet, and I'm not even sure I've genuinely smiled at him. What do I choose to do? Begin writing.
Part of me wants to continue doing things around the house, just because I feel like I should. I've managed to take the dogs, Gage and myself for about a 2 mile walk, get rid of a bag of clothes, do a load of laundry, do a load of dishes, make lactation cookies, make dinner (although it sucks), read without nursing, and check the mail. Yet I feel as if I've done very little in terms of house hold chores and health. I've nursed Gage multiple times, I've changed him, I've talked to him, watched him play on his back and belly, bounced him on the yoga ball, and carried him about half the day. Gage was wrapped to my chest for a large portion of these tasks. Baby wearing is very important to me and I've been making an honest effort to do so since he entered this world (I feel guilty that he is rocking in his swing right now and has been for over an hour, it's not the first time today either). I had about a week there where I became very frustrated that I wasn't wearing him more, because I couldn't get the wrap just right so instead of retrying, I just held him most of the day. Another conflict, because my hands weren't free to do things. John will be home soon and I want to wake him so that we can be a family, yet I probably should eat dinner and shower at some point.
Through the chaos of it all, I look back and think "should I have done this or that?" "should I have exposed Gage to certain things and/or people as early as I did"? or "should I feel guilty when I do nothing but nurse him all day oh and watch TV"?. The answer is no, what's done is done and every day is a learning game. Every baby and parent are different and while there are general guidelines and similarities, we are all unique and must do what best for each one us. While I'd love to be someone who can just sit and "relax" for weeks on end and not worry about everything else, I am not that kind of a person and I will go crazy doing so, therefore I need to do other things. However, I know that balance is key and that I need to rest, let Gage slowly adjust to this strange new place, and that I will miss these times that are going by quickly, especially once I return to work. The laundry and dishes can wait, a walk may not always happen, and a little sweat never hurt anyone (just their nose). Therefore I've really come to enjoy our cuddling time together. Whether it be nursing, sleeping, or just cuddling, I'm learning to breath, slow down, and embrace this time. I look at Gage during these times (sometimes hours) and just realize that I can stay like that all day and want time to stand still. That's why I love carrying him so much; even when I'm busy doing something, we can cuddle and I can kiss him. Baby wearing is going better; I spend about half or more of my activities with Gage attached to me and my back is getting stronger. My body is still recovering though so I try not to push it too hard by doing too many activities, sometimes I'll just hold him and rest.
I see why they call this time the 4th trimester for both mom and babe. All of the adjustments both physically and emotionally make for their own growth period. I've come to the realization that a daily "to do" list only frustrates me. Instead I am trying to stick to weekly and monthly goals and write down what I've done each day to keep me from beating myself up. It's amazing how good seeing the words laundry, walk with dogs, story time, or bathed Gage can make you feel. In general we get out for a short 1-2 mile walk with the dogs most days either around the neighborhood or at the beach. Sometimes we don't get out, but the dogs are adjusting pretty well and have learned to be flexible. We give them chew bones and lots of treats to remind them that they are loved and have not been replaced. Ammo loves Gage and stays near him every chance he gets. We have had to guard Gage against Ammo's licks, because he is a major kisser (especially when Gage cries), but he is learning to tone it down and avoid Gage's face. Mili does not like it when Gage cries. I'm not sure if she's more annoyed or concerned, but we always tell her that he's ok and often show him to her. She responds to this so I think she's looking after him. The two of them have pretty much done exactly what we expected them to. Ammo wants to love on Gage and Mili is somewhere between jealous and protective. TJ is coming around more and more, he even came out to say hi to our midwives today. He's back to sleeping with us every night, but usually gets down when I nurse Gage, because there's too much movement for him. Thursday night, I pulled out a pan of water for Gage to put his feet in and TJ came out and drank out of it and then rubbed his head onto Gage's feet.
Gage is 1 month today! I just can't believe how fast the time has gone by already, it seems like we just welcomed him to our family yesterday. At the same time that feels so far away, another reminder to relinquish these precious moments. We spent the morning cuddling and grunting. He's so funny when he starts to wake up! It's a very long process of grunting, stretching, dozing back off, and eventually fussing or opening his eyes to say good morning. His faces are also very amusing. We just love to admire him and chuckle when he smiles, asleep or awake. He's sleeping better and falling asleep faster after feedings during the night. We decided to co-sleep with Gage for safety and bonding reasons. During the first couple of weeks we set him in a co-sleeper in-between us, but after multiple nights of getting him back to sleep, just to have him wake up multiple times in his sleeper, we decided to try direct contact. Just like his parents, he loves to cuddle and sleeps better that way. He still gets up every 1-3 hours to eat, but instead of me spending 1-2 hours awake, we all sleep soundly within 30 minutes, an hour max if he needs rocking.
At his 4 week check up yesterday, our midwives weighed Gage and he was a whopping 10 pounds! He gained 18 ounces this last week, making 14 the previous week seem subtle. He is most definitely a munchkin and loves to eat. We are grateful that he is nursing and growing so well. All of his check ups have been positive and motivating.
During the short periods that he's awake and not feeding, I make it a point to read stories to him and socialize with him during tummy or back time. Gage is very observant and likes to look around. In the morning, John usually takes him for an hour or so and sits by the window. Gage loves this time looking outside and bonding with his daddy. There's a picture in our living room of Nugget Falls that we catch him looking at daily. He also really likes to look at our faces and himself. I'll set my phone on reverse camera so he can look at himself and he seems to enjoy that. John also dances with him when he's awake, which is adorable. He's getting strong fast! He's lifting his head for longer periods and kicks his little legs right into our belly's letting us know just how strong he is. When he's on his tummy, he lifts his head for a few seconds to look up and is already bringing his legs up towards his belly. Signs of a fast crawler maybe? I hope he isn't a super fast crawler, because I want him to stay small.
We gave him his first real bath when he was three weeks old and a few days later, we decided to try a shower with me. He does really well with both methods, enjoying the water and getting loved on. John does a really good job soaping him down and keeping him warm afterwards. Taking him to the pool for the first time will be lots of fun, I suspect that he will enjoy it. Gage is a very happy and content baby. He really only fusses when he's hungry or tired and while he's one of these two A LOT, he calms quickly. He LOVES the yoga ball! If at any point he needs to be calmed before eating, sleeping or just generally soothed it's the yoga ball to the rescue. Bouncing on it instantly soothes him and often puts him to sleep and calms him in the evening to feed if he's tired and hungry at the same time. Our backs ache, but our core are getting solid :) One night John and I were passing him off every 5 minutes to give each other a break. We did this for close to an hour before bed time.
While we by no means have a routine going or a schedule really (I don't believe in scheduled feeds or sleeping this early. I trust that Gage will eat and sleep when his body needs to and I wouldn't want somebody telling me when to eat or sleep, I do it when I need/want it) we are getting the hang of parenting a newborn a little better. Today we feel pretty successful after reorganizing a few totes, running the dishwasher twice, one load of laundry, taking the dogs out, and making dinner. I definitely enjoy John's day off as much, if not more, than he does. I appreciate his help, enjoy his company and love seeing him with Gage. I've come to respect companies that offer paternity leave a lot more and now recognize how valuable it is. John didn't get any time off, we were just lucky enough that we gave birth on his day off. I try to bring Gage to John at work occasionally so he can see him, while not exposing Gage to too much too soon or pushing myself too hard. All dads should get paternity leave, regardless of their job. After 10 years of just us and the animals, it has been a crazy change for John and I, but an excellent one and we wouldn't change it for the world. Years of not believing parenthood was in our future, makes being a parent extra special. John and I are still in awe of this little angel in our lives and look forward to each day with him, anxious to see how little Gage will influence us :)
Until next time,
Love the Klein's