The Highs and Lows of New Parenthood

Parenting means experiencing extremes.  On the one hand, spending time with your baby is so fun.  Everything he does is the cutest- all of his expressions and movements, whether while sleeping or crying.  Best of all is when he’s actually awake and not upset.  It’s fun interacting with him, even though the smiles in response to us aren’t consistent yet.  Of course we’re biased, and we think he’s the most attractive baby ever. 🙂

It’s a wonder looking at this little human, who is now 5 weeks old.  Given his myriad of expressions and actions, and to stimulate his growing brain, I talk to him as if he understands me.  Yet I also realize how primitive he is when he’s breastfeeding- he’ll wave his head wildly and then go for my hand or his own fist instead of the breast.  Even though he’s been getting noticeably heavier, seeing him with my husband makes me realize the size difference and how little he still is.

On the downside, it is tiring having to care for him 24/7.  This week was my husband’s first week back at work.  He works less days, but has long work days.  So for three days and nights, I was essentially taking care of WZW by myself.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I had my mom come over for a few hours one day to help cook dinner.  But it is tough when there’s no one to relieve me.  One day he had fallen asleep and I had stripped down to hop in the shower when he woke up and started crying.  That meant the shower got put on hold.

Speaking of showers, I must admit that even when my husband has been around, I’ve often been skipping days.  I guess since I’m mostly at home, it feels like such a hassle daily.  It’s not that I dislike showering; in fact I enjoy taking my time.  So between the baby and the California drought, I feel like it’s nice to take a leisurely shower, but to do so daily these days is more difficult.  I tell myself I’m saving water.  And I recently came across a BuzzFeed article that supports that we don’t need to shower daily:

My husband makes fun of my filthy lack of showering, and the fact that I’m using the above excuses.

I think the hardest is at night.  Although I’ve been pumping and we’ve started introducing a bottle every other day, I’m primarily breastfeeding.  That means that I’m the one who gets up multiple times at night.  I’m not the kind of wife that’s going to kick her husband awake (on his off days) just so he can feel my pain.  So unless I really need him, I let him sleep so he can function better during the day.

But when I’m the one getting up in the middle of the night, feeling groggy and alone in the dark in my misery, it can be tough.  I can’t help but feel bitter that I’m the one with the lactating breasts that has to get up multiple times each night.  If it was just a matter of getting up and feeding him and going right back to bed, that wouldn’t be as bad.  But sometimes he’ll get fussy while on the breast, so it hurts when he moves his head around and pulls on my nipple.  Ouch!

Thankfully, most of the time he goes back to sleep once he’s done, but by the time he’s been fed, burped, and had his diaper changed, easily 45 min have passed.  By then I’m hungry, and I can’t go back to sleep.  Or maybe it’s from the screen time of going on Facebook while breastfeeding, but by the time I want to go back to bed, my brain is no longer in sleep mode.

Last night, I woke up at 3:30 to feed him, then when all was said and done, I tried to go back to sleep at 4:30.  After lying in bed for 15 minutes I realized I was too hungry to do so.  So I got up, made some food, and by the time I was ready to go back to bed at 5:30, WZW started to wake up.  I tried to put him back to sleep, but it wasn’t working and in my tired state I was getting impatient, so around 6:00 I decided to feed him again in hopes that it would put him back to sleep.  Before I knew it, 6:30 had rolled around and he didn’t go back to bed after feeding, so at that point I woke up my husband (who was off work) to take care of him because I desperately needed sleep.

So I’m living the life of the typical new mom.  Being tired, I definitely have been straying from staying Paleo.  I’ll eat healthy meals half the time, but then the fatigue will make me just want some sugar and carbs.  I do feel kinda gross because I’m mostly in the house and am not getting exercise regularly, and am still 10 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.  But I’m too tired to make the effort to eat better and exercise just yet.  Eventually I hope to, as WZW starts sleeping longer hours and such.  But for now, I’m gonna try not to beat myself up too much about it.

On the upside, we went to get our flu shots, and an older lady in line asked how old WZW was.  She also asked how I lost the pregnancy weight so quickly, so that was a nice compliment.  I told her that I didn’t gain too much in the first place, and that breastfeeding burns extra calories.  Figured in case she passes along the message to others that it wouldn’t hurt to plant the seed.

One new mom milestone I recently achieved is perfectly depicted by this cartoon:

Projectile Poop
I woke up one morning to change WZW’s poopy diaper, and was holding his legs up to clean his butt.  As I was doing so, he erupted with another poop, which flew straight at me and landed on my shoulder!  At that point, all I could do was laugh hysterically as my husband ran out to see what the commotion was about and proceeded to video the aftermath.
Before having WZW, I had never so much as changed a diaper.  Once the babies are delivered, I hand them off to the parents and pediatricians, so I was just as clueless as most new parents.  Growing up, I never had young children around or needed to babysit.  My pediatrician friend recommended the Baby 411 book, which has been very helpful.
What’s funny is that it’s been 30+ years since my mom has had to take care of babies (me and my brother), so when she holds WZW, it’s a little awkward.  It’s been a quick learning curve for me, and looks like I’ll have to re-teach my parents if they’re going to help out sometimes with their grandson.
My fatigue makes we want to vent, but I realize these are just the normal experiences of having a newborn, as any new parent knows.  Ultimately I’m grateful that WZW is healthy and normal.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for parents who have babies with medical conditions.

6 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of New Parenthood

  1. Meg October 11, 2015 / 6:47 am

    Hey POB,

    I know this is the new mothers’ boat and lots of new mothers are in it, but just wanted to say I’m in here too. My husband, who’s a light sleeper, sleeps with earplugs in. Most nights when babs is wailing he doesn’t hear much of it. It’s me getting up and comforting, and feeding, several times a night, sometimes for hours. The boy still panics when he feels his gut moving in any way so he’s grunting and squirming and whinging multiple times a night. I feel like I’ve moved through the frustration and reached a state of resigned acceptance: this is my life for the next few months.

    I’m exhausted, totally exhausted. Still, when I think back to my PhD days when I was this tired sometimes, I never functioned well the next day. Now somehow I manage to be alert and super efficient during the day – hormones? I just fall asleep on the sofa by 9pm and thankfully hubby takes over dinner duties.

    I had a similar flying poop incident in the hospital in the early days. I was alone with baby for the first time and laughed myself silly! At six weeks of age now, master JJH has started to smile at us, deliberately. It’s amazing. Really, such a simple thing, and of course we knew it was inevitable that he would soon, but when he did it deliberately it made our day. He’s also starting to look at us closely, like studying our faces.

    My diet and exercise went totally down the drain in the first 5 weeks. In fact I gained some weight as we were staying with my parents and my mum who’s a wonderful cook was making all sorts of delicious things for me. I feel like I’ve been slowly getting back on it this past week. I too have 5kgs to lose (11 pounds) and have started to track it and be mindful of what I have to lose.

    And yeah totally agree with being grateful for a healthy, happy baby…. ONE healthy happy baby…. I am really amazed at how parents of twins cope!


    • Paleo OB October 11, 2015 / 7:58 pm

      Even though I know all new parents go through similar experiences, it’s nice to hear directly that you’re in the thick of things now as well. That sweet smile from your son must be so rewarding! I’m looking forward to WZW’s smiles being more consistent. It’s amazing how he already recognizes when there’s a new face- he’ll stop fussing for a bit and look more intently at the new person he’s meeting.

      Having twins (or more) must be so crazy! The lady who cuts my hair said when her twin boys were infants, she cut hair in the evenings when her husband was home, so she was alone with them both all day! But she had struggled to have children (her sister was her surrogate), so she said as tough as it was, she was just so grateful to have them.


  2. Le Grimpeur October 11, 2015 / 6:07 pm

    WZW, and your handsome husband are lucky guys.


  3. Meg October 17, 2015 / 7:11 am

    Hey POB,

    Just had to post this: I think I can beat your projectile poop story. I was playing with baby the other day by holding him up over my head and bringing him back down. He was loving it, laughing and gurgling. I too got a little carried away and didn’t notice that baby was about to vomit as I was about to hold him up again. Next thing I know I felt something fall down onto my face, on my forehead, on my eye and down my cheek. I bring baby down and his chin is covered in vomit. I go to a mirror and see that I’ve got baby vomit all down one side of my face and hair. Cutest thing was, baby just did the vomit and continued gurgling and smiling with his vomit covered chin as if nothing had happened. All I could do was laugh along!


  4. Paleo OB October 17, 2015 / 8:15 am

    Hahaha that’s a great story! Gotta love a happy baby!


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