Baby L – The First 3 Months as “First Time Parents”
The eleventh day of every month now holds a special meaning to me as Laurent will be turning another month older with each passing 11th 🙂
I used to have the time (and energy) to update my blog almost weekly, but now, I’m just thankful I can do a monthly update.
Laurent is 3-month old today and looking back, I felt like we’ve came a long way!
And it was when my confinement nanny left that we truly experience what parenthood is like.
At close to 2 months, Laurent was still drinking every 2-hourly, leaving us with little time to do other things. He was a noisy sleeper and we kept waking up at his every whimper and mumble. It was especially bad in the mornings, around 4-5am when he was trying to get the wind out of his bloated tummy. He refused to play on his own and constantly wanted to be carried. He also slept very little during the day (15-20 mins each time), making it tough for us to even have a proper meal together at home before he starts brawling or whining for attention.
The first week alone with Laurent, we spent a lot of time out of the house running errands because Laurent sleeps extremely well when placed in the stroller. We almost resorted to bringing the stroller up for his naps.
I remember a friend commented that she can’t imagine how I’ll cope when my confinement nanny leaves. At one point, I had the same doubts too. There were even occasions when I was so frustrated and helpless, I felt that I wasn’t cut out to do this. On the first day I was alone with Laurent, he refused to be put down for more than 5 minutes, I could not even finish the McD lunch which I ordered. That evening, Wayne returned to a wailing baby and a sobbing wife. And that… was only the beginning.
But over the past couple of months, we learnt. Just like every parent out there.
Some things we learnt from our parents, some from professionals like doctors, some from helpful friends and relatives, quite a bit from the internet and a whole lot was pure intuitive because God made us this way.
While the learning process is still ongoing and will never cease, we now feel more confident in caring for Laurent. We’ve learnt how to clean him, bathe him, recognise his cries, how to calm him down, how to make him happy and very importantly how to keep ourselves sane on those really ‘bad’ days.
Laurent now drinks at 4-hour interval and no longer has a terribly gassy tummy. He can now play on his own, giving me enough time to not just finish a meal, but I even have time to cook a proper lunch and the occasional dinner! His nap times are longer and more regular so I actually have some time to rest or finish some chores.
Here are some nuggets of “wisdom” we’ve collected from this 3 months as newly minted first time parents.
1) Crying is a baby’s only way of communication
Don’t be afraid of your baby’s cries because crying is the only way babies communicate with us. I used to be so afraid of Laurent crying that I will carry him with 1 hand while I warm up his milk and assemble the very complicated Dr Brown bottle with another hand. Not a very wise thing to do when handling hot water and doing that actually slows down the whole process.
I’ve come to realise that the person listening to a baby’s cry is usually in greater distress than the crying baby. Babies cry to get your attention and will be back to their happy selves after their needs are satisfied (within a reasonable timeframe of course).
2) Don’t overfeed
When Laurent kept waking up at 4am with frustrated cries while trying to get rid of the wind from his tummy, I thought the food that I’m eating was causing him to be bloated. We brought him the PD one day when we couldn’t take it anymore. Hearing that Laurent still feeds at a 2-hr interval, the PD concluded that we have been overfeeding him (note: Laurent is mainly bottle-fed), which causes indigestion and hence, discomfort in his tummy.
Oddly enough, Laurent started to only ask for milk every 3 hours since that day and subsequently about a month later, he dragged his feeding time to every 4 hours.
We realised that with longer break between his feeds, his reflux problem improved tremendously, he was able to sleep better at night, and his bloated tummy ‘deflated’ to normal size. We also brought him to Yu Guo for baby tui na which also helped greatly in ridding the wind from his tummy.
So don’t always assume that baby is hungry every time he cries!
3) Incorporate PLAY
Our first couple of weeks alone with Laurent was rather disastrous because he constantly wants to be carried and seldom took naps. Almost every time after we put him down in his cot when he fell fast asleep in our arms, his eyes will shoot wide open the moment he touches the mattress.
It was later when I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg’s EASY routine for babies that I realised we have been missing out the Activities!
Laurent was probably cranky and refused to sleep because we were only interested in feeding him and making him sleep when he obviously had a lot of energy and just wanted us to play with him!
So after that realisation, we will talk to him and play with him for a period of time until he starts to give signals of being sleepy. Since then, he was able to take longer naps and gradually, he was even able to entertain himself and play on his own for a while, giving me enough time to shower, make lunch, etc.
4) Build a routine, slowly
I took some time to get used to taking care of Laurent and I’m sure Laurent took some time to get used to me being his primary caretaker. While I slowly figured out his routine of feeding and sleeping, he also slowly got used to the time I bathe him, read to him, and the time I needed him to be on his own while I do my things.
As we do that, we slowly built a routine which both of us are comfortable with. And a routine is useful because you will be able to find pockets of time in between to do your own things and it also make going out easier.
I remember trying to search for a typical routine for Laurent earlier on because I was desperate for some structure to my days with him. So I think I will do up a separate post on my current daily routine with him for your reference, with photos to illustrate 😉
5) A beautiful mess
I used to be very hung up about keeping my home clean, tidy, sweet smelling and looking good.
It was almost impossible during the initial period with Laurent. Toys from his baby shower barely had anywhere discreet to go, rockers, baby seat, play mat, mattress, unfolded laundry were strewn all around the living room and I always have the fear that my hands will be reeking of detergent when Laurent cries while I’m mopping the floor.
It’s much better now. I’m able to carve out time to do some basic chores and make sure I put essential oil into the air purifier so the house smells nice. Even on terrible days, my baseline was to keep my bedroom clean and I make sure I make my bed everyday. I still have a bunch of baby stuff all over the house but the mess no longer bothers me as much as it used to.
If I focused on completing all my chores and keeping the house spick-and-span, while neglecting precious time with my baby, I might was well be a helper rather than a mum. That helped me to prioritise and see beyond the beautiful mess.
6) Join a group
Facebook groups, especially the one with mummies of the same EDD month, are extremely useful for first time mummy. Our babies go through the similar milestones around the same time so we are able to discuss about signs that our babies are showing and even show support when one of us has some issues (usually there are other mummies facing the same problems as well).
If not for the sharing from mummies in the group, we might have brought Laurent to the PD a lot more times than we had.
7) 2 is better than 1
I’m extremely thankful that Wayne is a very hands-on daddy. I am very confident I can leave baby with him at home for a day and he will be able to cope very well. Sometimes when we are out shopping and Laurent needs a change, he will ask me to continue with my shopping and he will disappear with him to the changing room. My mum even thinks he takes care of Laurent better than me 😐
It’s really important for daddies to be involved in caring for the little one. Not only does it help to bring the couple closer together, it also allows the daddy to build a closer relationship with baby as well. More importantly, there is someone to share the load with and readily take over a crying baby so that mummy can take a breather.
We have learnt a lot more than these during the past 3 months, but I’ll end my post here before it gets far too long (it’s already quite lengthy).
So new mummies out there, if you are having doubts about yourselves, remember no one else can be a better mum to your baby because no one can replace you. If you are having one of those really bad days, hang on because it will pass.
Don’t worry too much and don’t be too hard on yourselves. Just like all of us, you will learn and you will be able to look back at these initial days and realise how far you have come.
And one day, before you know it, your little one will no longer be that needy and dependent baby, always seeking for your attention. Every time I think of that, I try to cherish every bit of attention that Laurent is giving me, and demanding from me.
Keep going mummy!!