Ok, not quite. At two weeks old, Owen is eating every two hours. Each time, he nurses for about 45 minutes to an hour. With burping and diaper changing, that means that we are “on” for an hour and “off” for an hour. All day (and night) long. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for gallavanting around town going out to eat or taking long walks or running errands. I can barely fit a bathroom break and a snack in there sometimes! I finally realize why new moms say they don’t even have time for a shower. Although I’ve gotten a shower almost every day since Owen was born, I have sacrificed naptimes (for me), tv time (with Benjamin), and certainly computer/telephone time to do so.
So to all the friends and family who I have been ignoring, please don’t take it personally. I am spending every waking minute focused on my baby. Instead of returning emails, I am marveling at how Owen’s dark hair curls around his ear and how his delicate fingers lay against my skin when he’s nursing. Instead of making phone calls, I am preserving my sanity and my health by snuggling my baby so our heart rates slow and he can breathe in my smell and my breath and bond with me, even in his sleep. Instead of getting on Facebook, I am carefully tracking Owen’s eating and sleeping so that I can make sure he is getting enough of both.
It is beyond a full-time job to care for a newborn. And since Owen and I are both still learning about each other, everything else has fallen to the wayside. I’m not apologizing. This is exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in these first few, precious weeks together.
I have learned that, just like his mother, Owen loves routine. He loves schedules. It’s like he has an alarm clock inside of him — at 2 hours exactly, he stirs from his sleep and begins to stretch his arms and legs. He makes little grunting noises as he wakes up. If he’s not latched on to my nipple within 10 minutes, he lets me know it’s time to eat. After almost every feeding, he likes to be swaddled (tightly at night, in one of those swaddles with the velcro; loosely during the day, with a light blanket) and laid down to rest. Once or twice each day his dark blue eyes will pop open and he will let me know that he wants to be awake for that particular one hour stretch… but almost every other time he drifts right off to sleep.
When it’s just the two of us at home, things are dreamy. He eats calmly, he sleeps soundly, and he has quiet, awake, alert time while we gaze into each others’ eyes. However, when people come over to visit him or I dare to switch up the schedule by taking him for a walk or a quick errand, that dreamy little baby gets off his “schedule” and generally is NOT happy about it. He gets overstimulated easily and if he’s awake for two back-to-back stretches, he gets terribly fussy. And you know who has to spend hours consoling him and rocking him to sleep and dealing with a cranky baby who won’t nurse? Me. That, my friends, is why I prefer to stay home with my sweet little baby and not rock the boat.
That said, it’s nice to see the sunshine once in awhile. Benjamin especially has felt very frustrated by spending so much time in the house. So this weekend, we ventured out into the world (despite my preference to stay home and stick to the schedule!).
One of my dear friends is getting married in February and I am one of her bridesmaids. She was picking out bridesmaid dresses on Saturday and asked if I could come along and give my opinion. We seized the opportunity to get the baby out of the house AND try nursing in “public” for the first time. I say “public” because it wasn’t exactly out in the open… the nice store owners gave me a dressing room with a couch where I set up shop and nursed very privately while the girls came in and out showing me dresses. I even used my hooter hider in an effort to practice nursing discreetly. It was still a two-man job (thankfully Benjamin was there on baby duty with me!), but Owen did great.
Then this morning we even went out to breakfast with a friend who was in town for a few days. Although Owen got a little squirmy near the end of the meal, he was such a trooper and napped in his car seat for about an hour while we ate.
So, I’m learning. I’m learning to balance the schedule my baby needs with the life I need to remember to have. But still, Owen’s needs come first, before anyone else. And for now that may mean some compromises for Benjamin and I, and a lot of unreturned phone calls. But honestly I wouldn’t want it any other way.