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Parenthood: 5 months

March 23, 2019

Routines & Sleep

Baby doesn’t have a schedule yet. We’re still following an eat-play-sleep routine at home.  She’s fed bottles roughly every 3 hours at childcare. Her naps are still random, making a true schedule impossible. This is fine, and some other moms have said schedules can be tricky until Baby gets down to 2 naps.  We still have 3-4 naps, depending on length.

We try for a consistant bedtime, but it varies based on naps.  She can generally stay up for ~2-2.5 hours before she gets cranky and wants to sleep. She would play until she melts down if we let her, but she goes to sleep really easily for a well timed nap f we time it right. Many naps are still about 40 minutes, but we’ve started to get a few longer ones too.  I hope that trend continues to develop!  She usually gets at least one long nap at childcare, and only just the past weekend had some longer ones at home.

At bedtime, we do a routine then I nurse her to sleep. I’m pragmatic, and this works for now and is easy.  She still is sometimes sleeping from about 8pm until 5/6 am.  Recently she’s had more  middle of the night awakenings (~2 am), and they seem to be triggered by gas, and started when she had a mild cold. This is not a problem – nursing in the night is better for my milk supply anyway, and she goes back to sleep easily.

She’s still in the bassinet in our room. This is a perk of having a small baby – she fits in her newborn gear for a long time. The bassinet should last us another month.  I’d prefer not to bedshare, and I’m not too motivated to set up a pack-n-play or crib in our room.  This means we’ll move her to her crib around 6 months – unless we come up with something else that works better for us.

Childcare

This marks her first completed month of childcare!  I’m super thrilled that we ended up in a nanny share, even though we only did it because there weren’t other options.  The other child is older and may start preschool, so it is TBD if it will continue after fall.  The nanny is great, and I love how much individual attention Baby gets. When we first started arranging a nanny share, she was barely 3 months and tiny and cried a lot. I couldn’t imagine entrusting her to someone else for 40 hours a week. She blossomed a lot between 3 and 4 months, and she is doing great with the nanny. They have just started going on little adventures during the day, and it makes me happy to see.

Of course, I miss having so much time with her. I miss being the one that knew everything about her, her daily schedule/routines, and the details of how her day was. But all things considered, chid care is working out well.

Eating

She’s still only eating breastmilk, which is simple. It isn’t exactly easy – pumping is time-consuming and annoying – but it is simple. There are few decisions to make.  Baby hasn’t shown signs of readiness for food yet, but I’m hoping she will soon.  After a tiny bit of research, we plan to start solids foods no later than 6 months, and earlier if she shows readiness.

I tried reintroducing dairy to my diet, and it seemed to have an impact on her nursing and gas.  So, I’m back to dairy-free.  The nanny reports that she spits up about twice a day, but we don’t see that at home, so it must have something to do with the bottle feeding.

Personality / Milestones

I think it was just last month when I said I thought she was a bit of a difficult baby.  I take it back! She has turned into an easy and happy baby. Her digestive system has matured, and she isn’t as troubled by gas as she once was. We no longer have a cry before every single nap. She likes us to play with her, but she’s also often happy to play by herself for a bit. It is amazing.

She’s gotten really great with her hands, manipulating everything she can get her hands on into her mouth.  She’s rolling only intermittently from stomach to back, and has attempted back to stomach but not succeeded.  She likes to sit supported, but falls over instantly unsupported. She’s pretty smiley, and laughs just a little bit.  She’s still figuring that out.  We’ve started taking her on our evening walks sometimes, either in the carrier or the stroller.  She sometimes cries if she’s tired, but she’s getting more into it.

She didn’t have a doctor’s appointment this month, so I’m not sure how much she weighs.  I would guess roughly 12.5 pounds.  She’s still fitting into lots of her 0-3 month size clothes, but we’re starting to wear some 3-6 month sizes.

Money

Child care is $600/week, and everything pales in comparison to that. Costco diapers were on sale this month for ~13 cents a diaper, so we stocked up big time. (We didn’t seriously consider cloth diapers for a variety of reasons. I do feel a bit guilty about the eco/environmental impact of diapers, but I do not feel bad about the cost/benefit portion of this decision.)

I already mentioned this, but we intend to open a 529 for her within the next month or two.  I don’t really expect gifts until her birthday or Christmas, but it would give us a place to put the gifts she already received.

Co-parenting

With childcare, things during the week feel relatively equal. Aside from nursing for me and dog walking for him, we share the remaining tasks pretty evenly. On weekends, I feel more tied to her because I need to feed her every 3 hours or so. We can probably work on making the weekends more equal in the future.

The immediate impact on our careers has been unequal.  I’m back full-time and T is on reduced duties (no teaching for the semester) with normal pay. Now that we’ve started childcare, this is probably a boon to his career – more time for research.  He’s also traveled for work a few times already, while I’ve yet to travel and have no immediate plans to. This is quite the change from the past few years where I traveled a lot (and generally enjoyed it). I spend roughly 1.5 hours pumping during each work day.  I can somewhat work during this, but it breaks my flow, limits when I can have meetings, and is a huge distraction overall.  T does try to make things easier for me by doing the childcare drop off, taking care of the dog at lunch (formerly my responsibility), and generally being as available as possible. But again, being the one producing the milk means I’m more impacted.  I expect things will settle in time.  In the long run, this is a short period of time.

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Random money bullets

March 14, 2019

In place of my monthly reports, here are a bunch of updates about money lately.

  • Our net worth has recovered after dropping last fall, due to market recovery and continued earnings.  Yay!
  • It appears we will owe a modest amount on our taxes, despite my rough projections and payroll adjustments trying to make a small refund happen. It was a little unclear how much taxable income I’d end up with, considering my maternity leave and short term disability.
  • My short term disability came through without trouble. The overall policy is not great, but it was good that the check came pretty easily. The real value is that it would have covered me if something extreme happened in my pregnancy early on.
  • We are now paying for childcare.  I might post more on this later, but we are paying about $600/week for 40 hours a week of nanny share.  This is expensive.  The share is close by, so we’re able to put off getting a second car for a bit longer.
  • We paid off the 0% interest car loan, mostly to have better cashflow throughout the year. The title came in the mail this week.
  • On that note, we may need a second car at some point in the next year. I’m keeping that in mind as we shuffle cash around. I love being a one car family, but if we ever move to a daycare, logistics get to tricky to manage.
  • I only worked 35% of February (half time for 3 weeks), and took about a week unpaid in January, after exhausting my sick and vacation leave (which I’d been hoarding for years in anticipation of maternity leave).  Most of my income thus far been shuttled to my retirement accounts. So, I’ve pulled money from our overfull cash buffer to cover expenses.  This was the plan – the money was to cover leave and I want to funnel the cash (indirectly) into retirement this year, regardless of whether we can cash flow it in the calendar year.
    Aside from childcare and lost wages (hahaha, aside from that huge expense), the baby isn’t so expensive! But anyone who says breastfeeding is free is a liar. First, that is only true if my time is worthless. Second, I am working so I have to pump. This requires milk storage and all the pumping accessories. So far, I’ve gotten a free hospital pump “rental” from my insurance. I may or may not have to start paying for it at the 6 month mark.
  • I have not created even a rough 2019 budget or tracked my expenses in months.  I want to create a budget, but the budget is largely useless without following up with expense tracking. This is a lot of effort and my previous system was not automated.  Is this OK?  Does anyone operate without a budget?
  • I think I need to open up a 529 account for the baby.  We’re saving for college indirectly via Roth IRAs because it gives the most flexibility, and we have an abnormal and abundant amount of retirement savings room. However, I want to enable family members to contribute in lieu of gifts, and it doesn’t seem acceptable to say “just write the check to me, I’ll put it in my Roth, and eventually she’ll benefit!”
  • To my dismay, we now employ a gardener for $25/week (2 hours every 2 weeks).  It helps a lot with our jungle-yard, and really, we don’t have time to keep up with it all ourselves… but it also feels wrong not to do it ourselves.  On the other hand, the gardener works for lots of our neighbors, was looking for more work, and is currently undergoing treatment for a medical condition. He’s an excellent gardener. He also helped with a larger short-term project.  We’re still doing (or not doing!) the house cleaning ourselves.  T is also doing a lot of yard stuff himself, it’s just there is so much!

That is all for now.  Things are relatively good.  I’m enjoying being back at work (mostly…), but things have been pretty busy.

Parenthood: 4 months

March 11, 2019

I’m doing my monthly net worth, but haven’t managed monthly wrap up posts in a few months.  I hope those will resume soon…  Most of this was written at the 4 month mark.

It’s been getting easier, and more fun.  She spends more time awake is generally happier.  It is easier to figure out why she is crying when she cries.  There are few total meltdowns, and more just sad complain-y fussing type cries when she has an issue.

Sleep has been reliable for the last month. She goes to bed around 7-8pm.  T does diaper, pajamas, and a book or two or three.  I nurse her and place her in the bassinet in our room asleep.  We sneak in later. She sleeps until about 4 or 5 am, eats, then goes back to sleep.  I want her to sleep until 7 am, but she often gets up by 6:30 am.  (Sleep experts warn heavily against nursing to sleep, but I’ll change it when/if it becomes a problem.)  I sometimes hear her wake in the night, and go back to sleep on her own. We’re considering moving her crib in her room soon, but I like having her next to me in the bassinet, so I’ve been putting it off.  We did little to achieve such good night sleep. I didn’t encourage her to drop night feedings at all.  As soon as we got the “all clear” to let her sleep from the pediatrician (which wasn’t until her 2 month appointment since she was so small), she immediately started sleeping 6+ hours (unless sick or having digestion trouble), and gradually increased from there. We practiced “drowsy but awake” a LOT for naps, but not really for bedtime.  But honestly, it rarely worked and we often ended up putting her down fully asleep for naps. I refrained from nursing to sleep for naps, because I needed other people to be able to put her down for naps. I knew she was going to childcare, plus she was taking 4+ naps a day and T was home to help.

We did allow some fussing at bedtime around 3.5 months in the cases where she woke up again after nursing to sleep, but never when she sounded really distressed, and never for long. I give it 3 minutes to see if she needs me, and if she does, I go cuddle her. Intervening immediately often would wake her up more fully, and resulted in lots of crying as I tried to rock her back to sleep. If she is still fussing after a few minutes, she probably has some issue, or just needs to be held and comforted.

Similarly, we started allowing fussing at naps when it became apparent that rocking/bouncing her was sometimes just upsetting her more. I rock her to drowsy if she will let me.  If she is fighting me too much, I set her down for a 3 minutes. Usually, she is asleep before a minute is up, whereas she would cry in our arms for much longer. If she doesn’t fall asleep quickly, I pick her up again and rock her until she is calm.  Naps are still generally 40 minutes and in the crib in her room.

We’ll see how the nanny taking over much of the nap duty impacts our schedule.

Growth, milestones, personality.

All of the sudden she is no longer has any trace of newborn!  She looks like an older baby and has officially entered infanthood.  She’s still small, but growing well.  She has mastered moving her arms and hands around, and is getting more into toys.  She smiles a lot and makes lots of different sounds.  She’s constantly squirming and kicking her legs on her playmat, but not reliably rolling tummy to back.

We now get 1.5-2 hours of awake time between naps, so there a lot more time for interaction and play!  She is generally happy, unless tired or hungry. She often prefers to be on the floor kicking and wiggling around instead of being held, but likes when we hang out on the floor with her. She is content with a play gym or toys by herself for short periods. When she gets bored, she’ll fuss and ask to do something new. She likes flying (superman/airplane style), likes being sung to, and has so many cute vocalizations and coos. My favorite is when I sing to her and she sounds like she’s trying to sing along. The dog is doing fine with her, although we often keep him on the other side of a baby gate when we have her on the floor.

She had her first airplane ride when we visited my sister and parents in the midwest (combined with a work trip for T).  She did really well on the flights, and even better hanging out with my family. Her cousins made her laugh! She smiles quite a lot, but laughs are still pretty rare.

Money/Spending

Childcare started the day after she turned 4 months old.  We ended up going with a nanny share for 40 hours a week. This is more hours than I was initially thinking, but the set up was a good fit. We could have gotten by on less for a few more months, but eventually we do need full time care.  The share is very close to our house, and we can continue to delay getting another car.  There is some chance we’ll switch to a daycare center this fall, but my current preference is to keep her where she is if possible.  (The cost would be the same and the commute is worse – but we’d have access to 50 hours/week.)

Other than that HUGE EXPENSE, costs have been fairly low.  Diapers, some pumping supplies, very little on clothes thanks to generosity of friends and family.

Feeding

We’ve been lucky that breastfeeding was pretty simple for us so far. I enjoy nursing, but I do not enjoy pumping.  My pumping output went down when she started sleeping longer at night, but I’m very reluctant to pump in the middle of the night or to wake her. I do encourage her ~4-5am waking by picking her up as soon as she wakes.   At any rate, between pumping, nursing and my freezer stash, I’m confident we can make it to 6 months EBF.  We’ll have to see from there.

She hasn’t shown the signs of readiness for solids that my pediatrician told us to look out for, but it isn’t so far away.  In many ways, it is simpler not to have to deal with that yet.  At the same time, I’m excited to introduce real food to her!

Co-parenting

I feel like I’m the default parent, which is mostly due to breastfeeding.  Even when T is primarily caring for her for a significant amount of time, I still have to feed her every 2-3 hours.  Even if we do a bottle, I still have to pump for her. Other than that, we share responsibility for the most part.  The dog also still needs attention and weekend hikes, and T is often the default dog parent.  This leaves me to spend more time with the baby on the weekends.  I don’t mind this at all, but it does further reinforce my role as default parent. This is fine for the early baby stages, but we’ll have to navigate co-parenting as we get further in the parenting journey.

Parenthood: 3 months

January 20, 2019

Sleep:

The early part of the 3rd month was worse than the second month. She woke up 2-3 times a night to poop (and all throughout the day).  Once that stomach bug passed, night sleep started improving greatly.  On good nights, she wakes zero to one times between bedtime (8:30ish) and early morning (5:30).  This isn’t every night, but it happens. (Yes, I know about the four month sleep regression looming, and we’ll deal with that when it is here.) Getting her to bed at night can be a struggle. She has not yet mastered falling asleep independently, despite our efforts to encourage it.

Naps are terrible, with them suddenly shrinking to 40-45 minutes (or less!) when she was about 2 and half months old. She had a phase where EVERY nap was preceded by a meltdown. Now, just some (many) naps have a meltdown first, others just mild fussing. Since naps are so short, she needs many each day.  A day is easily consumed by trying to get her to nap.  It’s kind of a nightmare, honestly.  This is my biggest source of frustration at the moment. It is exhausting to be screamed at multiple times a day, only to get her to take a piddly 20-30 minute nap.  I worry about sending her to childcare without it being any better. (I also look forward to sending her to childcare since it can be someone else’s problem for a bit.) We can get longer naps if we wear her in a baby carrier, but even that is getting less foolproof. It requires active soothing around the 40 minute mark to get her to the next sleep cycle.  I keep reminding myself this can’t last forever. We will likely be doing sleep training when she’s older, because I can’t see this resolving on its own.

Growth and milestones:  

Her growth continues to be awesome!  She was probably about 11 pounds by the time she hit 3 months. She is so much bigger and stronger than the little peanut we brought home from the hospital! Her head and length are also on track.

Her smiles are more frequent, and we have cooing and other vocalizing – but still no laughs.  She discovered her hands and spent a lot of time staring at them and controlling them.  She’s started to interact with toys a little bit.  No signs of rolling over yet, but her neck control has gotten a lot better.

Personality:  

In her third month, we started to see a bit of her sweet personality – coos and smiles! This  makes playing with her a lot more fun.  She usually wakes, eats, and then has ~30-45 minutes of interaction before she starts to get tired for a nap.

She’s kind of a difficult baby – not incredibly difficult, but not easygoing or chill. She was frequently fussy, and total meltdowns are regular occurrences. This could be related to being overtired from her crappy nap pattern. As she hit her third month, the only really reliable soothing method remaining remaining was nursing.  Our swaddle and bounce and shush technique work sometimes – but are way less foolproof. Pacifiers still won’t work (despite both of her grandmas suggesting them, as if we hadn’t considered how much easier they’d make our life right now). She seems pretty sensitive – easily overstimulated by noise and visitors, and much more content and happy with calm interactions. Some of this is probably because she’s still young and new to the world. I’m trying to have patience, but the meltdowns really wear on me.

Money/Spending:

We didn’t buy a whole lot for her this month.  We had a stash of size 1 diapers that we got before she was born, and we are working through those.  I bought more footed pants, since I hate socks and occasionally want to dress her in something other than sleepers. She’s still breastfeeding well, so no need for formula at this point. She doesn’t need much!

Co-parenting:  

Things are still going well here, and  we are sharing the responsibilities as fairly as we can.

Feeding has become a smaller percentage of her care. She still eats many times a day, but she is more efficient, so it usually takes less time. Plus, she now needs more than just to be fed – there is more work to go around! I’m still doing bedtime and nights, with T taking over around 4a or 5a or whenever needed. We alternate nap duty (ugh) and playing with her during the day, and do baths together.

Looking ahead:

T is going out of town for a few days later this month, and I’m terrified. We are sending the dog to stay with friends, but it is going to be the first time I’m alone with the baby overnight – and it will be for multiple days. I’m sure we’ll survive, but I’m really NOT looking forward to it.  When he booked the trip, we naively thought she’d be easier by now… It is now too late to change plans, so I have no choice but to survive.

We have our first plane ride planned, tagging a visit to family with another work trip for T.  I’m a little less worried about this one, since I’ll have some help.  My mom is then coming back for another week to help out.  I’m so grateful!

I’m starting work in just a few weeks, part time. We have tentatively lined up a nanny share starting in late February, but need to finalize everything. The current plan is for me to be part time for just a few weeks, since this particular nanny share wanted to start ASAP.  If the share falls through for any reason, we’ll juggle childcare and both stay part-time until we arrange a different one.  I don’t think I can handle juggling this until she is (potentially) eligible for our preferred daycare in August – but we’ll see.  The plan is to keep her in the nanny share until she’s 2 if possible, but again, we’ll see.

Life with a baby: 2 months

January 1, 2019

Sleep:

This comes first, because it shapes the whole experience of having a newborn! If she doesn’t sleep, we don’t sleep, and it is miserable.  The second month of being a parent was much easier than the first, and the only reason is that I’m getting more sleep.

Despite her becoming more alert and having more awake time overall, she’s not eating so frequently or taking so long to eat.  Feeding her every 2 hours around the clock was exhausting! Getting more than 30-90 minutes of consecutive sleep has been a game changer in my quality of life. I’m reliably getting 4 hours in a row most nights – and sometimes more. On the best nights, she’ll go to sleep around 8:30p or 9p and sleep until 3a or 4a.  These aren’t the norm, but they are wonderful.

Naps are unpredictable and ever changing.  We strive for an eat-activity-sleep routine, but are flexible since newborns are a bit flighty when you try to suggest a schedule to them. Sometimes she’ll nap for a short amount of time (15-40 minutes) and won’t be hungry when she wakes up. We’ve had almost exclusively short naps lately – unless we wear her or hold her. This is all developmentally normal for her age, but still isn’t great.

Growth and milestones:  

She’s is growing at an above average rate, going from the 0.1 percentile at birth to the 5th percentile at her 2 month check up. She’s catching up!  She has social smiles, but is pretty frugal with them and hasn’t started laughing.  She’s rolled from stomach to back a couple of times – mostly just by accident of throwing her head in the right direction. Her neck control is improving – she can hold it up during tummy time and holds it in the center when on her back – but we still need to support it most of the time.

Personality:  

She’s still mostly a lovable potato without a lot of personality showing.  She’s an average baby when it comes to fussiness, although I haven’t been around a lot of babies to be able to calibrate. She certainly isn’t an easygoing happy newborn (do those exist?) who rarely cries. On the other hand, she is generally consolable when she cries.

After her 2 month vaccinations, she came down a stomach bug and was miserable for 10 days and was extremely fussy.  There was 10 days where she had almost no time where she was awake and content. That has finally passed, and we’re back to having our average baby.  (The doctor was unconcerned and said maybe it was colic. I think is a silly “diagnosis” and it didn’t fit the pattern of what we saw.  But, there was still nothing we could do for her besides monitor and wait.)

She won’t take a pacifier – it seems like it would be super useful for consoling her, but we can’t make it happen. We haven’t brought her out much yet, because we don’t need to, and it is easier to keep her happy at home.  She did go to two holiday parties! One was just down the street so we could make an easy exit if needed.  The other we got lucky, and she slept a lot and didn’t scream.

Money/Spending:

I had a dream of carefully logging the baby purchases, but that didn’t happen.  Her main cost right now is diapers. We’re using disposable, but I don’t know how much we’ve spent. We haven’t settled firmly on a brand or location to purchase them to get the best value, since she just moved out of newborn sizes. I’m leaning towards Costco, but need to do more research.

Our grocery spending is probably up too. In theory, I should be eating an extra 500 calories a day to cover feeding her. I also am on a low-dairy diet as an experiment, but I don’t expect this will be necessary long term.

Co-parenting:  

With breastfeeding, things are tipped towards me being the primary parent at this stage. Now that her eating is less constant, things are more shared. We introduced a daily bottle so she’ll be ready for child care, and to give me a break – even though it means I have to pump anyway. Lately, I feed her between 4am and 7 am (depending on when she wakes), then T takes over and gives her a bottle for the next meal while I attempt to recover the sleep I lost being up with her. During the day, I always feed her, and I usually take the bedtime shift and call in reinforcements only if needed. We trade off the play time and the soothing. Often he does more of this (since I feed her), but sometimes I do. It depends on who is the most tired, and if we are both tired, we take turns.  T almost always lets me choose if I’d rather walk the dog or calm the crying baby – and I usually choose the dog.

At this stage, that is all parenting really is – feeding, interacting with her when she’s happy and awake, and soothing her when she cries.

Looking ahead:

This is a bit late, so we are gradually approaching the end of the “fourth trimester”.  She already is so much bigger than when we brought her home, and so much more interactive. I kind of already miss how tiny she was when we first brought her home, but I’m glad she is growing and healthy.  I definitely miss her tiny newborn cry – much easier to handle than the screams she is now capable of!

I can’t imagine going back to work, but at the same time, I know I’ll be happy to rejoin the adult world. I’m so happy to have this time with her, and to have T also home for so much of it. I’m planning on returning part-time in February, then full time in March.  T is on reduced duties (no teaching) all semester. We have a handful of leads on childcare, but now that the holidays are over, it is time to step up our search and nail something down.

November (and October) Wrap-up

December 21, 2018

October’s wrap-up was skipped since my baby decided to come a bit early and we were in the whirlwind of early parenthood in early November!  I drafted much of this in early December, but didn’t quite manage to finish it until nearly the end of the month.

Net Worth and Income:

I updated my net worth in October, and it was down 2.5% for the month, but still up 15.5% for the year.  The stock market continued to do it’s thing through November, and our net worth was almost flat.  We were up 15.8% for the year on the day I closed the books for November.

My November take home pay was super small.  I used sick leave for part of the month, then disability kicks in for 60% of my salary for about 1.5 or 2 weeks. This is paid separately from my paycheck, so I haven’t seen it yet. I also sent an extra $1000 to federal taxes out of my paycheck, based on my latest tax estimates.

Retirement and college savings:

Due to my maternity leave, my retirement accounts were maxed out early in the year, so I won’t have new investments until January.  This is a bit unfortunate with the market being how it is, but there wasn’t another good option. T’s retirement contributions are wrapping up with his last paycheck.

I did my lump sum backdoor Roth IRA just before the market correction – boo!  T is filling out his paperwork so he can do his backdoor Roth IRA this month before it is too late. As I explained here, I’m planning to use our Roth IRA as college savings accounts for the baby instead of a 529 for now.

Spending:

Is it terrible that I have almost no idea?  I was already behind on tracking spending for the year, and with a baby, it is a lost cause.  I check our accounts frequently to make sure no unexpected transactions appear.  There were a lot of amazon purchases of baby items, since my strategy to buy less was wait until I new I needed something to purchase.  T also purchased some plants, rocks, and labor for the landscaping we are doing this year.

Family:

I wrote a post about the first month with my newborn, so there isn’t a lot more to say! It’s a wild ride.  My quality of life is tied closely to how well my baby sleeps each night.

The most stressing part is that we still don’t have childcare lined up for when I return to work in February.  My plan was part time in February and then full-time in March. We have had no luck finding a nanny share to join so far.  The next step is to attempt to organize one ourselves, or hire a part-time dedicated nanny. There are no infant daycare, and I don’t expect a spot to open up.  Our backup plan is for me to stay part time longer so we can cover it ourselves.  (T has reduced duties for a whole semester, but summer would be very dicey to cover.)  That plan also would be exhausting, with no “breaks” for us.  Me working full-time is more monetarily valuable than not paying for childcare. I don’t love it, but it is an option until we can get her into our daycare of choice in August or figure something else out.

House:

Since I had a fair amount of family visitors in the first month, T  had some time to work on the ongoing landscaping project. However, more significant progress was made because we hired the neighborhood gardener, at my urging. “We need to buy your way out of this project.  I’d rather have you inside helping and there is too much work left to do.” I may do a post breaking down the costs (labor, rocks, plants) later, but the ballpark cost was about $5k. Most of the cost was rocks/mulch gravel.  That was more than I wanted to spend, but also a total bargain for what we ended up with. The plants are all native, so we didn’t need to add irrigation and pay an expensive water bill.  It looks super great!

No other house projects are ongoing, and I expect there won’t be anything major for a while.  We are looking at purchasing a home security/camera system in the near future.

Work:

In October, I left work about 2 weeks before I’d planned.  Maternity leave is going well.

I was just asked if I wanted to go on a trip for 2 weeks at the end of my maternity leave (i.e. ending my leave a little early).  They thought I might be able to make it if they could also pay for my husband to come too, since traveling for 2 weeks with a small nursing baby seems problematic.  It was a nice gesture to keep me included, but I declined.

There is not much else to say here until I go back in February!

One Month with a Newborn

December 1, 2018

I’m going to attempt monthly baby updates, since this is a place for me to capture my life.  She is just over six weeks at the time of writing this.  A November financial wrap-up post will be coming this week, unless it doesn’t!

Random Baby Updates:

She’s gaining weight well, which is so exciting! I could feel every bone in her spine when we brought her home at a hair over 4 pounds.  Now, she looks like an average newborn! She is barely on the growth charts for her age (just made it into the 1%), but she’s doing great.  It is really weird to think that every once of her was built from me.

Is this much sleep normal?  I googled variations of this question so many times in the first few weeks.  Yes, it is normal, especially before her due date.  She’s still sleeping a lot, but has started to have days where she fights daytime naps, at least ones in her bassinet/crib.  Luckily, there have only been a handful of nights where she fights sleep after I feed her. Those are hard.  I don’t mind waking up to feed her, but a wide awake baby at 3 am AFTER feeding for 45 minutes is not fun.

She’s outgrown her preemie clothes!  Zip up sleepers were the winners, but we also did use some of the cute outfits we had. We’re onto newborn sizes!

We had a lot of visitors staying with us in the first 5 weeks. (People who tell you not to have house guests are not realistic. My family literally could not have visited if they had to pay for hotel costs on top of flights and time off work. I wanted them to visit.) My mom was exceedingly helpful, cooking, tidying, and always thrilled to hold the baby while I got some rest. My dad was well-intentioned, as was my sister, but less helpful. If I ever do it again, I’ll attempt to limit visitors who aren’t my mom (or possibly my MIL) to shorter durations. (My dad being here so much was a fluke – he is working in the greater area for a few months and stayed with us temporarily as part of that transition.)

After some initial flailing with a finicky supplemental nursing system to help her get milk in her first days, breastfeeding came relatively easily. I’m so grateful for this, because I was acutely aware that many struggle. The lactation support at the hospital was great. They balanced her need to be fed with getting us breastfeeding successfully. They were ready to supplement with formula if it was needed, but also spent two long sessions with me giving tips on feeding and showed us how to supplement with tubing and syringes. Since she was small, they hooked me up with a prescription for a hospital grade breast pump.  I get to use it free for 6 months, and may rent it after that if the cost is reasonable.  At this point, I’m just using it once a day, and T gives her one bottle each day.  This is both to get her used to bottles and to have T participate in feeding and bonding.

Challenges:

Early on, waking her to feed her every two hours around the clock was extremely tiring. We also had to continually poke and bug her to keep her awake long enough to eat. She still sometimes eats that frequently (or more frequently), but I don’t wake her or force her to eat if she doesn’t show signs of hunger. At night, I’d allow 4-5 hours between eating, or whenever she requests it. We are coming out of the newborn sleepy days, and the longer stretches may not last…. But I’ll take them while they are here!

She has started fussing more. Most often, it seems to be related to difficulty figuring out how to poop effectively. She grunts, kicks, and cries – so distressing to witness!  Her doctor said it is normal, and she should grow out of it. Why is learning to poop so hard?  You can do it baby!  

Naps are getting more difficult for me to execute, now that she is starting to be interested in the world. These baby sleep/schedule books say things like “then put baby down for a nap!” as if it is just this simple thing. Maybe someday…

Having a newborn means setting aside my desire for predicability and schedules. It is sometimes hard for me to just go with the flow and stay in the moment (especially at 2 am!). I’m trying! T is very good at this, and helps remind me.

Baby things we’ve used a lot lately:

  • Halo sleep swaddle. This was the only swaddle I found in a preemie size.  I didn’t master how to use swaddle blankets. Now that she’s grown, other swaddles sacks that we were gifted (SwaddleMe) work fine too.
  • Halo bassinet. It is nice to have her at eye level and very close to me, and to be able to quickly get to her when she is fussing. We usually leave the bedroom to nurse, but if I feel awake enough to know I won’t fall asleep, I sometimes nurse her in bed.
  • Boppy newborn lounger for somewhere to hang on the couch. (This is a poor man’s Dock-a-Tot,  which is essentially a $200 pillow. I don’t get it.)
  • Nursery glider.  This is already worth owning, even if it doesn’t ever transition out of the nursery! I use this all of the time.
  • The changing table / dresser.  So many diapers!  (We are using disposables.)
  • The crib, although mostly as a safe spot to set her down, and a place to lay her when we change her clothes.  She’s taken some naps in it, but she won’t sleep in it at night for awhile.
  • Her baby gym and a mat for tummy time, and a few high contrast picture cards/books.  I also used some printable high contrast items to modify her baby gym and make a simple mobile.
  • Blankets, keeping her warm and cozy!
  • Burp cloths. My MIL made us some really cute ones with cute fabric, so we mostly use those. We also use cloth diapers as burp clothes.

Milestones and Fun:

Her personality is not showing much since she is so little.  I lovingly call her a barnacle (when eating) or an angry potato (when fussing).  Sometimes she is also just a happy angel baby. 🙂

She doesn’t hate tummy time, but she kind of just chills instead of practicing her neck/head control.

T insists she gave a social smile yesterday.  I’m not so sure.