Saturday, June 16, 2012

Musings & Must-Haves of a First-Time Mom

I've been a mom for almost 6 weeks now and it's been an adventure! You think you know it all before the baby comes and then you are humbled. During these past weeks I've been doing some musing and came up with what I hope to be a helpful list for soon-to-be moms. (Or something old-time moms can laugh about as they remember when!)

A few things nobody ever tells you about having a baby...
(Or maybe they did tell you, but you thought it'd never happen to you...)

Your baby's skin will all peel off. I was a little worried when Katie's hands and feet started to shed, followed by her legs, face, tummy, and hands and feet again. Use coconut oil - a great moisturizer as well as an anti-bacterial.

You will ask yourself... "What have I done?!" I was at a party once and my friend told me that after she had her baby she and her husband went home and thought, "What did we do? Our life was so good..." I laughed at that story, but then it happened to me. Babies are easy while at the hospital. After 4 days in the hospital I thought, "This is easy." But then we came home and real life kicked in (no nurses to wheel her away and change her diaper). Life as we knew it would never be the same. It takes some adjusting and it's okay to wonder if you're okay with it. Of course you are (or will be) and it's okay to take your time getting used to it all. One night Tanner and I laid in bed and reassured each other that we had made a great decision and things were going to be great!

It's harder than you think. While we were reassuring each other, we both admitted that having a baby was a lot harder than we thought it would be. We are both very accomplished people. We thought, "A baby?...No sweat." Yeah, right. It's hard and takes dedication and love and a team. 

It gets better. The first few days were the hardest. Long nights, ear-splitting screams, upset tummies... that's when you start reading and searching for anything and everything about what to do. And fortunately I found some awesome resources. And fortunately, Katie got used to her new setting a little bit more. I felt a huge weight on my shoulders the first few days. I was so worried about anything going wrong and wanted it all to be perfect. That stress was wearing me thin. After a few days the weight lifted and things started to come into balance.

You have a team - use it. I can't imagine doing this as a single mother. (My hat is off to those moms who do.) I am so grateful that Tanner and I are doing this together. We share diaper duty, we both hold her, calm her, we can lean on each other when she is crying or won't go to bed, we can ask each other for advice, and share all the sweet moments too. In addition to your husband, use your family and friends to help when you need it.

You're the mom. You know it all now. I remember the days of holding a friend's baby and when she would start crying I would look at the mom for her to tell me what to do because, of course, she would know. Now I'm that mom, and guess what... I don't always know what to do! It was funny the first time it happened. Katie was crying while my friend was holding her and she looked at me for what to do... and I didn't know. But thanks to the many great resources and my mother's intuition I am learning and knowing more and more just the trick!

You'll get used to the crying. The first week or so I would get so nervous anytime Katie would cry. I was worried she was hungry, but I had just fed her, or I was worried she was in pain. The noise was hurting my ears. Any little cry would send me over the edge. But now, I can deal with it. I can breathe easy while she cries it out and most of the time I know exactly what to do to solve the problem.

Your baby is another person - you need to nurture your relationship. I figured my heart would just burst with love for my baby girl the moment she came into the world and nothing would ever change. Yes, I did love her immediately, but I realized I have to nurture the love and build our relationship. One night she wouldn't go to sleep and she had a little booger that was stuck in her nose and it was making the most annoying noise when she would breathe. I was so tired and annoyed by the noise that I found myself getting bugged with her. I was angry with her... my sweet little baby. I felt so bad. She couldn't help it. But it was so annoying! During that experience I realized that the love doesn't just come without work and effort. Our love and friendship will increase overtime and it will take patience and understanding. I have already felt our love grow a little bit each day!

Don't underestimate how much you love your baby. The night of the booger incident I was confessing my wrongs to Tanner. I told him how bad I felt about getting angry with Katie and I was scolding myself. He said something that was very encouraging..."Don't underestimate how much you love her, Anne." And then he pointed out all the things I do for her, and how much I have already given to her. How I sacrifice for her and want the best for her.

Don't underestimate how much your baby loves you. She can't say it, and can't really show it. But she does, you just have to believe it.

Take some time for yourself. One night last week Tanner was headed to his parents and I asked him if he would to take Katie with him. I was home alone!!! It was great. Even though she would have slept the whole time, it was so nice to have the house to myself and nothing on the back of mind. I had 3 hours to do whatever! Fabulous.

Go with the flow - then make a plan. For the first 4 weeks we just went with the flow. I fed her when she was hungry, put her down when she was tired, etc. But now we are getting on a schedule and it's great. I can plan my day a little better. Plus, by not making a schedule right away you can observe your baby's natural habits and then create a plan that will be supportive.

You will be tired... the rest of your life probably. One morning, after waking up way too early, I was day dreaming about the day I would once again be rested... maybe in 3 months, maybe 4?! And then the thought came, "You may have to reconsider your sleeping habits. It may never go back to what it used to be." :( I'm used to 8-9 hour nights. Now I'm getting 4-5 hour stretches. It will get better, but it may never be the same. Oh well, there are worse things in life.

You'll be doing a lot more laundry. How can one tiny little baby make so much laundry?! Well, she poops, spits, and pees wherever and whenever she likes.

Take your baby out. I thought I'd be cooped up in the house with the blinds drawn for 4 weeks. Well, that wasn't the case... at all. We have been out and about since week one. Luckily, Katie loves to be on the go. She loves her car seat and the car. So it's great for her, and it's great for us. Nice to get out and see the world, socialize, move your body. So weather permitting, take your baby out.

The world keeps on turning. Even though I wasn't cooped up for 4 weeks, I have still felt a little detached from the world. I went back to work for a little bit last week and realized that a lot of projects had started and finished without me even knowing. I thought, "Why didn't they fill me in?" Well, they didn't need to. They just kept on moving forward. It was weird to be out of the loop. This is why it's good to get out - so you aren't totally cut off from the world. But it's also a very special time to be so involved with your little one and to have few distractions.



The following products have been life-savers for me, Tanner and Katie. I highly recommend all of them!

NoseFrida and Saline spray: Saved my sanity (see story above). I saw it at the store and thought it was gross, now I'm kind of obsessed with it. No more annoying boogers!

Dunstan Baby Languages: Thanks to this, I know she's not always hungry. It seriously works!

SwaddleMe blankets: Works like a charm!

Happiest Baby on the Block book: I hadn't heard of this until my friend recommended this. In my desperation I decided to read it and boy, oh, boy am I glad I did! Tanner and I thank God for Dr. Karp daily.

TLC essential oil spray: A calming oil blend mixed with water in a spray bottle creates a calming atmosphere for bedtime.

Coconut Oil: My #1 obsession. I'm always wiping this stuff on her. People think Katie sweats a lot, but it's just the coconut oil on her face. But people also comment on how great her skin looks, again, it's the coconut oil. Anytime she has baby acne, a scratch, a rash, etc. I turn to coconut oil and I haven't been disappointed yet! I have yet to use any other lotion or cream on her. I recommend Extra-Virgin Raw Coconut Oil. You can find it in the baking isle at the health food store or online.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar: Since I started drinking 1 tablespoon a day Katie's stomach issues have completely gone away. She used to complain about a tight tummy  at least once a day, but not anymore! Hooray!

White Noise App: (Actually, I now recommend a blow-dryer with a timer) Play the sound while they sleep. The noise recreates the womb and keeps baby snoozing peacefully... for longer!

A good book: To read while nursing.

12 hours by 12 weeks book: This book has helped me create a good feeding and sleeping schedule so far. I'm excited to see if it works by 12 weeks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meet Katie Claire

I've been meaning to write this post for the last 2 weeks now... but I've had other things to attend to - namely Katie.

But she is sleeping peacefully now, and the dishes are done, the bed is made, the floors are swept, so now I can finally sit down and introduce my sweet baby girl to you! (Okay, totally kidding about the house being clean. It's the exact opposite.) But I have a happy baby, so that's what matters. Plus, today she is 4 weeks old so this is the the perfect way to celebrate!

Name: Katie Claire Brown
Current Weight: 8 lbs. 4 oz.
Eye Color: Blue Gray
(I think they'll end up blue like her daddy's)
Hair Color: Soft Brown in back, light blond in front
(Hoping for curls!)
Favorite Hobbies: Eating, Sleeping, staring at the light coming through the blinds
Other Favorite Activities: Taking walks, going for drives, loud noises - especially the blow dryer

Katie is named after Tanner's great-grandma Katie Claire Young May. We liked the name Katie May even before we were pregnant but then it fell off the list. We named Kaite "May Elizabeth" for one day, but then I was embarassed to tell anyone or call her that so I figured it wasn't right. So we went back to the drawing board: Adele, Caitlin, Julie and out of no where Katie popped up again. We thought May felt a little to "light" for our Katie, so we went to Claire. Funny thing, my mom suggested Claire as the middle name and didn't even know it was a family name! Once we settled on Katie Claire we all felt really good about it! And it is perfect for her!

I love that it's a family name. Tanner didn't ever know his great-grandma and it's not like she has a legacy in the family that would call for naming our baby after her, but from what Tanner's mom tells us she was a very sweet and kind lady (with a great name!). I wonder if they knew each other in Heaven and if there is a special reason why we chose that name. On Mother's Day Marcy surprised me with the Katie Claire's old scriptures! What a surprise and treasure!!

Katie is such a good baby. She doesn't fuss much - just when she's hungry. She sleeps for at least 3 hours a stretch at night and sometimes up to 6 hours! We love her for that! And sleeps for long stretches during the day. She is very pleasant and very alert. Her eye are beautiful and just draw me in!

She loves to be on the move. She falls asleep the moment the car turns on and will sleep as long as she's in her car seat. She is very easy to travel with! Bonus for her, because we are her parents and we like to travel!!!

Tanner and I are having quite the adventure in this new parenting world. Everyone told me to enjoy my sleep before she came and I didn't quite understand. Now I do!!! The morning I woke up after a 6 hour sleep stretch I felt so rested and thanked every little lucky star in the skies. I remember when 6 hours of sleep was a bad night! Tanner is a great help at night and will stay up with her if needed.

The part that is hard for me is that everyday is so inconsistent and I'm not sure what to expect. I'm used to knowing what I am doing every hour (or minute) of the day. I like my plans! Just winging it each day has been an adjustment for me. 

I was super overwhelmed the first few days after arriving home. Going to bed and not knowing when I'd wake up and how long I'd be up. I wanted to do everything right and nothing wrong, I didn't want her to cry. In fact, her crying made me nervous. Not so much anymore - you get used to it. I felt this huge responsibility and kept thinking... It's worth it, right? Billions of other women have done this, I can do this! Things have settled down now and I feel more confident and relaxed in my role as a mother, but still a lot to learn.

My favorite parts are snuggling with Katie. I love how her little body just melts into my arms. I love her little noises and squeaks and her tiny little movements. I love inspecting every part of her little body. I love kissing her soft cheeks. I love when I look at her and my heart just gets really happy and I think, "Wow, you're beautiful." "Wow! You're mine!" I love watching Tanner love and cuddle her. He just LOVES his baby girl.

We determined Katie was a Type 3 when she was born. It was really obvious, not only in her features, but just in her spirit. I had this sense (and felt this way the whole time I was pregnant) that she is a strong, determined, peaceful soul. I am excited to see how she grows into herself. Tanner and I recorded a video with Katie talking more about her Type here.

All in all, Katie is amazing. She is a blessing in our lives and we love her! 

My dear friend Jessie Shurtleff took these amazing pictures. To see more go to her website. (You should have her take your pictures too!)