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Two weeks: Sabine the Drama Queen

07/16/2013

Belle

10 days old and sleeping in her new rocker.

10 days old and sleeping in her new rocker.

The day Sabine was born the Professor stood next to my bed with Sabine in the bassinet and a clean diaper in one hand looking vexed. “Umm, I don’t actually know what to do here,” he said.

“I think this is supposed to come naturally….” I said in my drugged up state.

After a little more puzzling and watching our sweet child turn beat read from all the screaming we opted for Plan B and paged a nurse.

“Hey,” I said shyly. “First time parents and we clearly know nothing… how do we change this diaper full of gross black tar?”

I’m pleased to say that today we are diapering champions and I can whip a funky one off, wipe my screaming daughter’s behind and slap another on faster than you can dish up wet food for our cats. While diapering might be easy, the rest of the newborn care is stressful, foreign and a constant struggle. As soon as we figure one thing out, she changes her mind and we need to decode round 550 of red-faced screaming.

July 15 - Sabine and Gray Kitty

Sabine and her new kitty from Cousin Faith. Kitty is as long as baby!

During the past two weeks Sabine has earned herself three nicknames: Jelly Bean for the rare and elusive happy baby moments, Sabine the Dancing Queen for the ten times a day when she is squirming around making poops and toots and Sabine the Drama Queen for the rest of the time. I’ve learned a lot about our daughter’s likes and dislikes during these challenging first weeks.

Our afternoon routine: skin-to-skin napping while I read on my Kindle. Occasionally a cat or three will join us.

Our afternoon routine: skin-to-skin napping while I read on my Kindle. Occasionally a cat or three will join us.

Likes:

  • Being held by mama
  • Having a boob in her mouth
  • Enjoying “snuggly baby” (she will release the boob, snuggle up as close to my body as she can get and nap)
  • Taking walks in the stroller
  • Looking at the closet doors (something about the texture fascinates her)
  • Peering around my arm during feeds to peek outside
  • Skin-to-skin nap sessions
  • Nursing while mama takes a poop (really kid? between you and the cats it’s like a party in the bathroom 24-7)
I see a lot of this during the day. Sabine loves da'boob.

I see a lot of this during the day. Sabine loves da’boob.

Dislikes:

  • Her co-sleeper
  • The spiffy little rocker we bought for her one sleepless night (she loved it for exactly three days and now it is REJECTED)
  • Being burped
  • Being changed
  • The baby K’tan
  • Cold wipes (I am eating my words after making fun of people and their wipes warmers. This kid screams bloody murder as soon as a cold wipe touches her bum.)
  • Having the boob removed from her mouth
  • Being handed to daddy (poor, poor Professor)
  • Having to wait five minutes for snuggly baby time so mama can make some lunch
  • Being dressed
  • Being undressed
  • Being strapped into her car seat
  • The Snugglider (this was a big love of hers for the first week and a half. The last few days, though, and it is hell hell hell.)
  • Having the massive amounts of eye crud and milk crusties wiped from her face.
  • Baths – Our child hates being bathed so much that we went… are you ready for this…. a full week before we tried to bathe her ourselves. We were planning to wait four days for her next bath but she had the worlds hugest spit up IN THE MIDDLE OF BABIES R US and we had NO diaper bag or wipes to clean it up. Instead I used my shirt and skirt to clean her face and we rushed home worrying that Child Services might be waiting on our doorstep when we arrived. A bath was then a necessity. As was a lot of screaming from her and crying from me.

You can tell our list of dislikes is growing faster than our list of likes. It should not surprise us that two very opinionated and stubborn people have produced an opinionated and stubborn child. But it does. I had convinced myself that we’d have a very laid back child who would leave us wondering for all the years if our embryo had been switched with the embryo of some chill couple from the coast. In my imagination Sabine would grow up exasperated saying, “My mom is such a spaz and her OCD is out of this world. You should see her scrub the grout. And my dad? Wow, his ADD is so out of control he can’t focus on a project for more than five minutes. I honestly don’t know where I came from…”

I'm also learning that parenthood will make me do all kinds of shit I swore I'd never do. Like put fluffy things on my daughter's head. I just can't get enough of the head ornaments. I actually woke up last night for a feeding thinking about running out to buy some more head ornaments this afternoon. GAH! If infertile Belle could see me now she would DIE! :)

I’m also learning that parenthood will make me do all kinds of shit I swore I’d never do. Like put fluffy things on my daughter’s head. I just can’t get enough of the head ornaments. I actually woke up last night for a feeding thinking about running out to buy some more head ornaments this afternoon. GAH! If infertile Belle could see me now she would DIE! 🙂

But we are learning. I’m learning that the only way she and I will get some sleep is if she sleeps on me. I go to bed at 8 p.m. each night and get three hours of baby-free sleep while the Professor watches bad TV with his screaming girl. I wake up at 11 for a feed and to relieve him of baby duty. Sabine spends the rest of the night camped out on my chest in the guest room while the Professor sleeps upstairs. I worry constantly about the safety of this sleeping arrangement, but my doula and several more experienced mamas have said it really is ok if you take proper precautions. So far our bed sharing is working pretty well and I’m starting to love having my child with me at all times. I love waking up to check on her and kissing her sweet (and often dirty) face.

Two weeks old and napping after a rough day of crying and cluster feeding. I'm learning that not all days are going to be perfect.

Two weeks old and napping after a rough day of crying and cluster feeding. I’m learning that not all days are going to be perfect.

I’ve learned how to use the Boppy pillow for her to nap on while I type. I strap her down to it with a muslin blanket wrapped around her and pinned under the Boppy. It gives me a few minutes a day to read emails and write blog posts (of which I have four started and zero completed). I’ve learned how to make oatmeal one-handed. I’ve learned how to pet and play with cats while nursing. I’ve learned how to swaddle… sort of. I’ve learned to recognize my breaking point and when to hand her off. I’ve learned that the first weeks of parenthood are lonely, smelly and feel more like a stinky version of Ground Hog Day with the added bonus of chapped nipples. I’ve learned that sometimes babies just have to cry and that sometimes mamas have to cry, too.

Sabine the Jelly Bean playing in the bed with Mama. I'm so excited to see my baby girl growing a little milk belly! This is also the day she lost her umbilical cord (which I cried over and then saved like some crazy lady).

Sabine the Jelly Bean playing in the bed with Mama. I’m so excited to see my baby girl growing a little milk belly! This is also the day she lost her umbilical cord (which I cried over and then saved like some crazy lady).

In return, Sabine is learning a lot, and it gives me great hope for our future together. I’ve watched her vision improve daily. Googly Eyes are nearly a thing of the past and now her sweet baby blues work together and focus in on my face, the cats and the windows. She has learned how to hold my finger during feeds. She has learned how to nurse while hiccuping, which is both adorable and hilarious. She has learned how to move her arms more deliberately and has recently started putting her hands in her mouth and sucking on them. I see her gaining strength and coordination each day and it makes me so proud that I want to shout from the rooftops, “MY KID JUST TOOK A DUMP WHILE NURSING AND DID NOT HAVE TO STOP!” But I realize no one really cares about this! 🙂

As hard as these past two weeks have been, and as hard as I’m sure the coming weeks will be, I am genuinely happy to be a Mama. I still can’t believe that she is here and that she is mine to keep.

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35 Comments

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  1. July 16, 2013

    Beautiful post 🙂 I definitely teared up. She’s beautiful and you’re looking great momma! I found that D changed his likes and dislikes daily when he was little. Loved the vibrating chair, hated it. Loved the swing, hated it. You sound like despite all the dislikes you’re doing well 🙂 xoxo

  2. July 16, 2013

    Congratulations! She is so beautiful. It has been great to follow along with your journey – thank you for your honesty and candor. I look forward to continuing to read about your new and exciting life as parents in The Big City as well! Much love to you and your precious family. xo.

  3. July 16, 2013

    Yay she is able to poop and not stop nursing! That is a skill for sure. 🙂

  4. July 16, 2013

    Im glad you are so in love despite the struggles, I’m glad it came even though you worried it wouldn’t. Isn’t it crazy to finally hold in your arms everything you have asked for for the past couple years?

    Now….a few things I can (hopefully) help with!

    – make the bath warmer than they say….yes not the “ideal” baby temperature but WARM, nearing hot! I got this advice and low and behold baths became a dream.

    – all baby clothes can go on over the bum instead of the head. It is WAY easier and keeps baby so much happier.

    And I am totally jealous. Yesterday I was all teary eyed wishing I could have just one more afternoon of my baby sleeping on my chest. Instead of scrambling like a monkey trying to move on and play.

  5. July 16, 2013

    She is gorgeous! She looks very wise already – old soul. 🙂

    we’re struggling with the same things…. Oh the hate for sleeping anywhere but on/with mama!

  6. Amy #
    July 16, 2013

    She is so CUTE!! Try to relish that stinky milk neck. It seems so gross now, I know, but before you know it she’ll have unbelievable head control and be so much less dribbly – you will miss it when it’s become a thing of the past, as weird as that seems now. I am so glad slash jealous that you are taking pics of her while nursing. I for some reason never really thought to do this when Ike was tiny, and now he is so active and interested in ALL THE THINGS he’d never keep latched long enough to snap a shot once he noticed the phone/camera/whatever. Ahh, the kind of bittersweet regret I once never knew could even exist, and if I had, thought I’d never have the luxury of knowing. So very happy for you. Hoping that the hard moments or hours or days are far outweighed by the joy of the content and peaceful ones.

  7. July 16, 2013

    She’s simply gorgeous!!!

  8. Mel #
    July 16, 2013

    Sabine is absolutely beautiful and you look so amazingly happy. Congrats 🙂

  9. Arbrefleur #
    July 16, 2013

    She is. SO. Beautiful!

  10. nonsequiturchica #
    July 16, 2013

    But she looks so peaceful in the first picture…. 😉

  11. July 16, 2013

    Isn’t is just the craziest, most frustrating, joyful time you could ever imagine? I’m just so happy for you reading this post. I’m also already nastalgic for the newborn days, it seriously goes by SO fast. Bask in the moment and soak up all her sweetness. You’re already such an incredible mama. I thinking eating our words on all kinds of things is their first lesson in teaching us we have no idea and that they’re in charge 😛

    Keep trying to wrap her to you for the screaming fits. Archie hated it when he first got in the wrap but eventually it became the only thing to calm him down while I was figuring out his gluten intolerance. I’d wrap him to me and bounce on the exercise ball and eventually his painful screams would turn to whimpers and then sleep. Don’t know how we would have gotten through that time without the wrap and ball.

    I think of you guys often and hope you’re doing we’ll. xoxo

  12. faith #
    July 16, 2013

    O.M.G.!! She is a perfect mix of you and the Professor! Seriously..one pic I see you and the next him. She is DEFINITELY your kid!
    I wouldn’t worry so much about co-sleeping..now napping with that stuffed cat a crazy cousin sent you..maybe! Damn..that’s the biggest stuffed cat I have ever seen! hahaha PERFECT for your family, for sure 🙂 You are doing such a wonderful job…and by the looks of your blissed out smile you are loving being a Mother. It is love indescribable. I am so happy for your entire family. You all worked hard for this little angel. Blessings and LOVE!

  13. July 16, 2013

    Gorgeous, Belle. You have a daughter!

  14. July 16, 2013

    Noooo!! You succumbed to the frilly headband?!?? I am shocked and dismayed. 🙂

    Of course, Sabine somehow managed to pull it off, because she is just that adorable. Also love the pic of her nomming on that boob like a champ — so funny! Fascinating to hear about all the likes/dislikes, as I’m sure many of them are coming as a surprise (it’s so frustrating when babies can’t appreciate objects that we’ve spent a lot of money on… like, hello baby, work on your sense of good design!). And the warmed baby wipes; who knew that really made a difference?

    I’m sure bath time and diaper-changing time and even being-held-by-the-Professor time will get easier in the days to come, even if she did inherit your ADD/OCD tendencies. Persevere! 🙂

  15. July 16, 2013

    beautiful post!! beautiful pictures!
    Enjoy these first few weeks, even though you are exhausted. Sabine will change and grow before you know it.

  16. July 16, 2013

    Two things, have you tried taking a bath with her? Jett and I used to take a bath together every night, he LOVED it, I never did try to put him in a tiny newborn bath in the sink…too complicated! And do you have a Moby or some other baby carrier? It might be hard because of the C-section, but if you can strap that baby on your chest while she sleeps all day you’ll have hands free to do whatever you need to do! It’s also a great way to calm a fussy baby, just strap her in a Moby and take a walk =) Good luck, those first few weeks are hard but it gets better and easier!

  17. July 16, 2013

    Thank you so much for continuing to share. I admire you for making the time to write even if it takes a few sessions to get there. I’m so ADD that if I don’t bang out a post all at once it will sit in drafts for the rest of eternity. I love all the photos! She’s so beautiful! There’s no doubt that’s a little girl! I also love the list of likes and dislikes. One month old E has a very similar list and would be happy as a clam to spend all day bouncing on the exercise ball with a boob in his mouth. I look forward to continue hearing about your journey! Take care and good luck with shortening that list of dislikes!

  18. Marcella #
    July 16, 2013

    Per your ‘likes’ list and items 8-11 on your ‘dislikes’ list, our ladies will have endless conversation over birthday wine one day – Perhaps even be traveling mates and really good friends.

    As for Baths, we have found good luck sitting in the shower with baby and bathing skin to skin. Sitting in a full tub of warm water also works, but is slower and requires much more water. Then daddy comes gets her and swaddles in the towel and mommy can steal a few minutes of quiet time while dad diapers and dresses. We have never used a baby tub with either.

  19. karaleen #
    July 16, 2013

    I am loving these post baby posts! They take me back to my own newborn days and I giggle and cringe along with you. Newborns are fickle beasts…but oh so cuddly. However…I never realized how much they smell until I held other people’s babies…..I think when you are the mom and you live with them it is like aclimating to barn smell…but once you step away from it for awhile and come back…it really hits you. She is a beautiful baby and you sound like you are really enjoying being a mama. How are you healing?
    kd

  20. APE #
    July 16, 2013

    Living with a newborn was one of the hardest experiences of my life. It is such a lifestyle change, and for awhile after birth your hormones are still kind of wacky. My son slept in a cosleeper next to my bed while Hubs slept on an air mattress in the living room for the first couple of weeks. Part of the night the babe slept on my chest though. Of course I didn’t sleep well that way for fear of rolling over on him. But a routine starts after awhile, and you and she and Prof will all settle down…sounds like you are already. Mine is 3 now and I know you’ve been told probably many many time, but it is amazingly crazy how fast they grow in just a few months. Good luck girl! You got this!

  21. Infertility Can Suck It #
    July 16, 2013

    She is gorgeous and you are doing a great job!!!! Right there with you on the likes and dislikes. I was convinced that two laid back, giggly parents produced a stink-eye giving scream machine. Luckily, at 7 weeks, he’s totally changed and is now giggly and smiling most of the time and the only cries are for hunger and grunt for toots. Our son has a love-hate-love relationship with pretty much all of his seating. Right now, rock and play is in, car seat is out…last week, the opposite. Hang in there, and it sounds like you are totally getting into your groove!

  22. July 16, 2013

    Beautiful photos of your girl!!

  23. July 16, 2013

    Such a lovely story – you sound so happy and sounds like you’ve taken to motherhood like a duck to water. Sounds like an amazing experience. Congratulations what a beautiful baby!

  24. July 16, 2013

    Quick tip from the hospital nurses! When Matthew was born, we were told to bathe him 2-3 times a week, but to wash his hair and face every day. We did this religiously with M and now with Bryson. It takes literally 3 minutes start to finish and they don’t get bad acne, cradle cap, or stinky. This is why the nurses told us to do it. My babies never smell bad. And this is why! We wash their neck folds when we do it, and it’s wonderful!

    • July 16, 2013

      Awesome! You are full of excellent advice 🙂 do you use soap on their faces and hair each time or just warm water?

      • July 16, 2013

        I use soap, but very gentle, organic soap. I use Shea Mousture Baby Wash sold at target in the baby section. I’ve used it exclusively for 2 years now. Love it. They also sell Mustella baby face wipes for when you’re in a pinch. Nurses said wash hair with soap every day, and I can’t remember about the face. But I wash daily very lightly with soap or face wipe!

  25. July 16, 2013

    It all sounds perfect to me.

  26. July 16, 2013

    Oh belle, no headbands, nooooo!!!! Oh ok then. She’s very very cute. What an old soul.

    Baths: agree with making them warmer. Get a bath seat (like a towelling thing on a wire frame that looks like a lounger)..it frees up your hands and makes them feel more secure. Also, try swishing her up and down slowly through the bath. Baths equal longer sleeps at night (after about 6 weeks old). This is their true function! We use an unperfumed derma body wash thing called QV on pretty much everything.

    Don’t co sleep too much. Try for a one hour routine of feed, play, change swaddle sleep. Swaddle in biiiiiigggggg stretchy wraps ( like thick t shirt material). Soooo much easier to swaddle in. Tuck her arms inside a few inches folded over at the top then cross the wrap over on each side, then bring bottom of wrap up and around as a final layer. Tight. You can cuddle together and co sleep more later if you get the sleeping on your own thing happening pronto. Find the type of wrap that works for you then get lots of them.

    And don’t worry about not feeling prepared for the screaming. Watch she doesn’t have reflux…and get it medicated if she does! It all changes at six weeks old, remember this stage is not forever, and it gets both easier and harder later on ( in different ways).

    You’re both doing great, even if you feel like you’re not. It is so hard to switch from infertile to mum, and nothing I mean NOTHING can prepare you for parenthood. Just roll with it. And get LOTS of very fast snacks on hand for mamma…breastfeeding needs food!!!!

  27. July 17, 2013

    She’s so beautiful, Belle.
    Like others have said, enjoy these moments of tiny babyhood (screaming and all), they go by so quickly! We were just looking back at pictures of the boy from a couple of months ago and already he’s gotten even bigger and bigger!

    For a few hands-free moments, use a carrier. I would put my guy in our carrier to be able to make some food or even just walk him to sleep without having to tired my arms as much. He also slept on me better that way at times.

    My guy hated baths in the beginning. But I did find that having a bath support-thingy helped immensely. Also, as someone else suggested, only bath her a few times a week and wash her face, neck, head and hands daily. I have only used soap a few times, like when the poo is particularly sticky.

    One thing that is done here in Finland that I have come to truly love is the washing of bums. Here, diaper wipes are hardly used. Instead the baby’s bum is rinsed under the bathroom (or kitchen) sink. The water is warm and the process is quick.

    Keep up the good work! What Sabine doesn’t like today, she may like tomorrow. Keep trying things for at least a while.

  28. July 17, 2013

    Lovely to hear that you are figuring it all out and finding routines that works. Baby girl is adorable! so happy for all of you to finally be here, as a family.

  29. July 17, 2013

    try warmer water and holding her closer to your body…its not that easy but once you get the hang of it,it works really well..Ive also started washing Griffin while he is in the water instead of on the towel and its way better now and he loves his baths.We dont rush now to get done and take time to scoop water all over him – considering the blue murder screams of the past,this is heaven! Your doing a fabulous job and your baby girl is beautiful and healthy and thats the main thing.

  30. July 17, 2013

    She’s perfect, Belle:) And her name is beautiful! Congrats! I’m glad to hear things are going relatively smoothly during these always stressful first few weeks. Treasure every moment of this time, despite the exhaustion, uncertainty, frustration, and stink. Sooo worth it, is it not? 🙂

  31. July 18, 2013

    OMG CONGRATS!!!! How beautiful 🙂

  32. jak #
    July 19, 2013

    bha!!!! our baby has basically the same list of likes and dislikes (except for things that dont apply, like baby equipment particular things).

    for bath, our baby hated his stupid plastic baby tub and screamed through his first bath, so now, we just take a bath with him in the grownup tub. he absolutely loves it. it is the happiest (second only to nursing or being passed out on the milk bar) that he ever is. dad gets in the tub, uses shea moisture (same stuff as mentioned above, from target) wash, and they take a bubble bath. his face shows total delight and he is calm and happy afterwards. he likes to be whooshed around in the water, doesnt mind having water on his face, eyes, ears, etc. sucks bubbles off his hands and doesnt mind the taste. he’s totally unafraid and loves everything about it. BIG change from that stupid lonely, scary bath in the ugly plastic baby tub.

    and on the cold wipes… before i even grab a diaper or unsnap a onsie to do a change, i take two cold wipes and put one under each armpit mary katherine gallagher style. when it’s time to wipe, they are plenty warm. they may be a little sweaty, but hell, they are being used to wipe baby shit anyway.

    belle, she is so beautiful. can you believe you are here now? doing this? and that your baby is so sweet and thriving? i am thrilled for you:)

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