Life with Rhys: Months 0-4
You guys. Rhys turned 4 months old on January 6th! He is 1/3 of a year old. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! I know they are supposed to grow and get bigger but oh my goodness, time is flying. He doesn't feel like a new, fragile baby anymore! I'm equal parts sad because part of me misses the squishy newborn stage, and equal parts excited because it's so much fun to see him grow and develop. I know this sounds cliche and mushy, but it is true - I couldn't even imagine how much I would love him until he was here. All the emotions I have about Rhys are overwhelming at times.
Overwhelming is actually a good word to use when describing life with a newborn. Overwhelming in different ways. Overwhelming in the sense of holy Sh*T, I have a brand new little baby who knows nothing at all and it's my job to keep him alive and teach him about life, and make sure he becomes a good person. OMG that's a lot of pressure. And overwhelming in the sense of holy SH*T, I love this little boy so much that my heart is exploding and I could (and do) cry tears of joy just thinking about him.
The day we came home from the hospital with Rhys was a beautiful, late summer/early fall day. The sun was shining, we had spent a few days in the hospital getting to know each other, my body was starting the healing process, and we had a healthy baby boy...all was well! My sweet parents met us at our house with lots of delicious homemade food, and our dog Norm, who stayed with them while we were in the hospital. As soon as I walked into our house, I felt an overwhelming (there's that word again), unfamiliar feeling. It's hard to describe. I was in my most familiar place, yet nothing about the situation felt normal. It suddenly hit me that our lives would truly never be the same. I was never going to walk into our house and NOT be a mom again. I felt scared, excited, sore, and my heart was bursting with love for Rhys already. Meanwhile, Norm was running around the house like a maniac, so happy to see us after being away for a few days. Which irrationally annoyed me. Ugh. How was I going to balance all of this? My mom was putting away all the amazing food she made us and I just started crying. Hard. Thank goodness for my mom - she wrapped her arms around me and reassured me that everything was going to be OK. I think at the time I told her that I didn't really know why I was crying and that Norm was annoying me. Lol...poor Norm. Luckily my mom could read between the lines. She told me that having these feelings and sometimes crying for no reason was totally normal. She shared with me that she remembered feeling the same way when she brought her babies home. That it IS overwhelming, but that things start to become normal. A new normal that is way better than the "old" normal. She was right. My mom is always right.
The first few weeks with a newborn were both hard and wonderful. Scott was a big help. He gave me support, was patient with my hormonal, sleep deprived self, and helped around the house, especially with the dog. It took us a few (long) solid weeks to feel like we were even close to getting into any sort of groove. The first few weeks truly are survival mode and you just make things work the best you can. One thing that really helped me was getting outside and going for walks, even when Rhys was teeny tiny. The weather was beautiful the first 2-3 months of his life which made this huge life transition easier for me. Every time I would walk outside with Rhys, I would feel grounded and calm. There is something about nature that is incredibly therapeutic. Scott and I would often times take Norman and Rhys on a walk in the morning before he left for work, and in the evening when he returned. Family time + outside time = happy Lauren!
So what's life like now?
Ahh sleep...I remember those days ;) This was one of the things I was most nervous about. I have always been a person of sleep. I love it. And I need a good 7-8 hours at night to function. I knew there would be sleep deprivation with a newborn but whew, I'll admit the first 6 weeks were ROUGH! My little guy wanted to eat allll the time and would wake up every 60-90 minutes wanting to eat at night. I would see people post on Instagram about how well their little babies were sleeping at night by 4-6 weeks old and it would seriously make me angry. Side note: basic coping skills when you are painfully sleep deprived do not exist. I wondered if Rhys would ever sleep...even a 3 hour stretch. I would literally pray out loud asking God to please help my child sleep and would get anxiety at night before bedtime. Around 6 weeks old, I started getting serious about starting and following a bedtime routine. This helped A LOT. Every night I would do the same routine at the same time and then...something really wonderful happened...Rhys started sleeping!!! Not through the night, but anything was better than what it had been. His longest stretch so far has been 7.5 hours, although that has only happened a few times. He typically sleeps 5-6 hour "long stretches" then gets up 1-2 additional times throughout the night. He started working into a pattern that is somewhat predictable which has made all the difference in the world. I'm still getting up a few times a night, but now that I'm getting some consecutive sleep hours and he falls back asleep easier, things have gotten MUCH better. Having said that, the past week has been a bit different. He is smack dab in the middle of a 4-month sleep regression AND is teething (we can see his little tooth right below his gum ready to come through) which has thrown us for a bit of a loop. His sleep pattern has changed a little (waking up more again) but we are rolling with it. It's amazing how much your perspective changes once you have a baby. I used to think sleeping 4-5 hours at night was the worst thing ever and now I'm like HALLELUJAH I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD!!
I am so so SO lucky that breastfeeding has gone well for us. Rhys and I figured it out pretty quickly and things have gone great. I am incredibly thankful for this. I had mentally prepared myself that it wouldn't be easy, and while I wouldn't say the beginning was "easy", it was significantly better than I thought it would be. Rhys likes to EAT - he is a man after my own heart ;) Breastfeeding has been such a powerful bonding experience for us and I honestly love it. I exclusively breastfed him for the first 6 weeks then tried to introduce a bottle of pumped milk. I was nervous because he will NOT take a pacifier so I worried that he might not take a bottle either. He wasn't too keen on the bottle at first, but after a few tries (with Scott or my mom) giving him a bottle, he took it and now takes it pretty easily. As much as I love nursing him, it's nice for someone else to give him a bottle every once in a while so I can run errands or get work done without the pressure of rushing back to feed him. I am still nursing him but also supplementing with a few ounces of formula at night per my pediatrician's recommendation which seems to help him sleep longer.
I'll admit, laying low was hard for me. I like to be on the move so not being able to pick up anything heavier than the baby or drive for the first 2 weeks (due to the C-section) was tough. The first week at home I was fairly content taking it very easy and just soaking up the time with my precious newborn, but I started getting antsy fast. My surgery scar healed wonderfully and I honestly felt ready to work out again after 4 weeks. My doctor told me to wait at least 6 weeks, so I followed her advice. I did however go on lots of long walks. This helped me not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I was actually surprised how good I felt when I started working out again! I kept active during my whole pregnancy up until about the last week before he was born. I know this helped tremendously. Having said that, working out definitely felt different. It took a few months to really feel close to "myself" again. And I still don't feel 100% back to my pre-baby self. But you know what, that's OK! My body took 40 weeks to create a human being, and I had major surgery to bring him into the world so of course I am not going to feel 100% like myself. I remind myself of that fact when I get frustrated or impatient that things aren't exactly what they used to be. But in general, I'm feeling great! I'm back to running which I'm really excited about. I also do strength training (I prefer doing mostly body weight resistance training) a few days a week and have recently gotten back into yoga which feels good. The hardest part is trying to find the time (and energy some days) to workout!
After I had Rhys, my hunger was at an all time high! I was waaaayyyy hungrier right after having him than at any point in my pregnancy. I would say that for the first 2 months, my hunger could be described as straight up ravenous. It makes sense - my body was/is producing food for Rhys AND healing from both labor and surgery. Whew, that takes a lot of energy! I can't tell if my hunger levels have dropped off some now or if I'm just used to eating a lot more haha. I am still eating all the foods I was eating before. Just really trying to listen to and honor what my body needs. I craved carbs like no other right after he was born - it brought me back to my first trimester when all I wanted was bagels and mac n' cheese :) I'm trying to drink tons of water which is important for keeping my milk supply up. Plus, I'm just super thirsty in general while breastfeeding. I'm also still taking these prenatal vitamins, and these vegan DHA supplements which I took throughout my whole pregnancy.
Other random things:
- Rhys likes to be moving constantly! By the end of the day I am exhausted because I am bouncing, swaying, and moving with him all day. He also likes when the car is moving. Stop lights are not always our friend lol.
- We lucked out because Rhys is such a happy baby! He smiles all the time and his toothless grin seriously melts my heart. He recently started giggling a little bit and it's the sweetest, funniest thing in the world. I could listen to his little giggles all day!
- He has become a little chatterbox recently. We "talk" back and forth to each other and it's so much fun! The past few mornings he has woken up around 5am and just starts babbling to himself. Even though Scott and I are SO tired and not ready to wake up, we love listening to him. We let him "talk" until he starts getting fussy, then I get him from his bassinet to feed him. We like to think he is telling us all about the sweet dreams he had throughout the night ;)
- He LOVES music! I'm sure most babies do, but he really responds positively to music. For the first 8 weeks, anytime he was fussy, I would turn on Frank Sinatra and he would immediately stop crying (most of the time). It was hilarious....and wonderful. Thanks Frank!
- Rhys has expressive eye brows and his facial expressions make me laugh on the daily!
- Scott is a super tall dude and it seems like Rhys is taking after him already. He is a long baby and is growing like a weed!
- My house has never been as messy as it is right now. Having a messy house gives me a slight eye twitch, but there are only so many hours in the day. And right now I need to prioritize Rhys time, work time, family time, and try to squeeze in a workout (and/or a shower) whenever I can. Someday my house will be clean again, but today is not that day.
- Rhys took his first flight down to south Florida for Christmas. We were anxious to see how the whole "flying with a baby" thing would go, but it was much better than we thought. I nursed him during take off and landing, but other than that he slept in my arms pretty much the whole time. We booked a direct flight into a different airport than we usually fly into, and I am glad we did. I know the direct flight made things much, much easier.
- Rhys rolled over while we were in Florida for Christmas! He had been close for weeks but when he actually did it, it pleasently surprised both us and him.
- By the way, his name Rhys (pronounced Rees), is the traditional male spelling for the pronunciation of the name. It's also the Scottish/Welsh spelling which is special to us since Scott is 50% Scottish.
- I spent 30 years of my life without Rhys, and even though he has only been here for 4 months, I am completely smitten and in some ways, can't imagine life prior to having him. Crazy how that happens!!
There are a million more things I could write, but I'll stop here. If you have stuck around to read all of this, give yourself a big pat on the back - that was a long one! Thanks for all your love and support the past 4 months of Rhys' life. Your sweet comments mean the world to us! In the past 4 months, we have started to established our "new normal". A wonderful new normal. A new normal filled with lots of smiles, dirty diapers, less sleep, and an overwhelming amount of love. I can't wait to see what the next 4 months bring!