People told us that the days would be long and the years would be short, but I didn’t know that I would feel that way already at 10 weeks. I look at Jasper now, and she’s already such a different baby from when she was born. She’s smiling, recognizing faces, showing interest in objects and sounds, and has more than doubled in size!
It seems like every week, she does something new, and even though the milestones are minuscule, the novice of every single one is exciting, and reminds us to savour every moment because it’s already going by fast. The so-called “4th trimester” has been an intense shared experience for Sam and I. Some days it feels like there’s barely a moment to breathe and take it all in, so before it becomes a distant memory, I want to document the good, the bad, and the ugly of these early days.
- GRANDPARENTS TO THE RESCUE! In those first few weeks, having our parents around to help out with cooking and cleaning was such a huge factor. Not having to worry about anything other than the baby allowed us to really focus on learning how to take care of her and enjoying those precious first moments. We were even been able to get some pockets of down time and sneak in some date nights and a Coldplay concert! A little bit of extra help went a long way.
- ROCKSTAR DAD. As expected, Sam is a natural. From soothing her to bathing her to putting her to sleep, I marvel at how easily everything comes to him, and the juxtaposition of how clumsily everything comes to me is comical. All while being a full-time dad, he’s even managed to transition into a new job, take on a professional development workshop, and join a basketball league. I can’t imagine doing half the things he does, but seeing him take on the dad role while still managing to have a life outside of it motivates me to keep pushing.
- SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS. I think one of the things that can make the transition to new parenthood even harder is the social isolation on top of the inherent challenges of having a newborn. Instead, our friends have celebrated with us every step of the way, checking in regularly and finding baby-friendly ways to spend time with us. That extra effort has really helped float us and it’s kept our sanity in check.
- A+ BABY. Despite everything else, the biggest positive factor in our experience so far is that Jasper is such an easy baby. As much as I wish all of this was made possible by me and Sam’s amazing parenting, we really just got lucky. Since Day One, she’s fed well, slept well, and taken to everything we throw at her, whether it’s pacifier, bottle, nipple, bassinet, car seat, stroller, you name it! We know that she’ll likely start developing preferences later on in life, so for now, we’re really taking advantage of her easygoing nature and hoping it lasts for as long as possible!
- MAINTAINING OUR LIFESTYLE. One of the most surprising things about new parenthood is how easy it’s been to maintain our pre-baby lifestyle. We’ve been able to take her out everywhere: to friends’ houses, out to eat, out for hikes, and even on a road trip to Montreal a few weeks ago. She’s been so easy to get around with that I’m usually able to go downtown at least once a week to grab lunch and coffee with compadres, which gives me a break from the doldrums of home life.
- LACK OF SLEEP. Those first few weeks of adjusting to the newborn sleeping pattern have completely changed (read: lowered) my standard for a good night’s sleep. Like all new parents, we were beholden to the cycle of waking up every 3 hours to feed, burp, change, and put the baby back down to sleep. Some of those middle-of-the-night sessions were so disorienting, we didn’t know up from down. And even though Jasper had always been pretty easy to put down at night, the accumulation of interrupted sleep really took a toll, especially on Sam, who had to go in to work the next day. Nowadays, Jasper sleeps 6 hours straight and our first wake is sometimes at the crack of dawn instead of middle of the night… and you have no idea how good that feels.
- LOGISTICAL DIFFICULTIES. Since Sam and I are both pretty social, we’re constantly taking Jasper out (friends’ houses, downtown, for hikes, to restaurants, etc.) but going out with a newborn requires a serious amount of organization and planning. There’s a million things to consider, like how we’re going to lug Jasper around, when she’s going to feed, where I’m going to nurse, breastfeed vs bottle, where we can change her, what kind of clothes to pack, and so on. I’m still trying to get the hang of it. The mental load of it all can be draining, but it’s worth it for us to stay social and active and to get Jasper accustomed to being in new environments.
- INTENSE BOREDOM. I’m not gonna lie—mat leave is pretty boring. Outside of keeping the baby healthy and content, my days are filled with attending mommy group activities, running errands, planning fun family activities, and doing as much of the housework as possible so that Sam can come home and spend time with Jasper. At the end of the day, all of this feels like it amounts to nothing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m enjoying my time with Jasper (and honestly there are some days when I don’t get enough sleep that I’m glad I don’t have to go into work) and I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, but this homebody lifestyle is not for me, and I find myself craving more more intellectual and social stimulation all the time.
- BREASTFEEDING. I had heard that breastfeeding would be hard, but I didn’t know that it would be so painful. Even though Jasper had a great latch and I had a strong milk supply (and the lactation consultants that we saw said we were doing great), I was drowning in pain whenever I nursed. With Jasper feeding 8-10 times a day, and the nursing sessions each lasting up to an hour, it felt like my days were just endless breastfeeding. I remember being glued to our couch with suckling bebe sitting atop my U-shaped breastfeeding pillow, giant pools of tears welling up in my eyes and pouring down my cheeks, just counting down the minutes until it’d be over.
- RECOVERING FROM CHILDBIRTH. Even though I had a pretty easy delivery, I ended up with stitches which made the first couple of weeks post-partum pretty painful. I spent my days popping Tylenols and sitting on the couch. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sit, it hurt to move. Everything stung. To make things worse, I kept trying to get up and help with housework because I was so restless, which inevitably delayed my own recovery. Fortunately, recovery only lasted a couple of weeks, and everyone thought I was back to normal in no time, so I guess I should count my lucky stars!
Between recovering from childbirth, breastfeeding woes, lack of sleep, and trying to figure out how to take care of the baby, the first two weeks postpartum were pretty intense. But the fog soon cleared after that, and Sam and I have honestly been having lots of fun with Jasper since.
I’ll say that nothing could’ve prepared us for this outside of going through it ourselves—not a million parenting books, not our parents telling us what to expect, not even seeing our friends go through it with their kids. It’s the understatement of the year to say that we’ve learned a lot these past few weeks. I know that we still have fun times ahead of us like dealing with sleep regression, establishing nap schedules, and transferring her to her nursery, but having gotten through (what people say are) the worst weeks unscathed gives me the confidence that Sam and I can handle it, and I think it allows me to enjoy the moments more than worry about whether I’m doing it right.
Looking forward to all the fun times and wild rides ahead. 🙂