Looking forward to the New Year with my Savinababy

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~This shot was taken today. Savina is 10 weeks and 6 days old~

It’s been a wild month with many challenges.

First, Savina had her two months well-visit at the doctor’s on December 17th, and we found out that she’d grown 1.5 inches in length, within the four weeks prior, but only 8 oz in weight, two of them within the two weeks prior to the well-visit. That got me a bit concerned, maybe more so than the doctor. He said it may have just been a growth spurt, but he’d want to see her again in a month to weigh her. Ever since then it’s been quite a ride for me trying to help Savina gain weight appropriately. And I’ve had so much help from so many very nice people. Making a long story short, Savina weighed over 9 pounds this morning (she’d struggled at 8 pounds). I think this is largely because we are finally getting a better latch every day without nipple shields! In fact I’ve not used them at all, except for night feedings, for several days now. I’m so proud of myself! Yes, my breasts are miserable and sore, but it’s much better than it was!

Also at her two months well-visit, Savina got her first set of vaccines: three shots into the thigh muscles and one drinkable vaccine. I nursed Savina before the shots and right afterwards to calm her down and offer her comfort. As a Mommy who can tell pain cries apart from other cries, it was heartbreaking hearing Savina cry so hard with so much pain when receiving the shots. I think next time I’ll try to nurse her during them. The moment I took her in my arms afterwards and nursing her she calmed down. She was okay after that.

IMG_1599However, when she gets her next set of shots, I may ask for a different nurse, as I was unhappy with the one who did it last time. She shot two vaccines into Savina’s left thigh and one into her right. I noticed it swelling a little bit on her left thigh and asked the nurse if that’s supposed to happen, if that’s normal. She completely ignored me! So when she was done with the right thigh (she did the left first), I asked her again. She tiptoed around an answer, so I left it at that. At our next visit I will let the doctor know about that. I’m fairly sure I remember the nurse’s name correctly, too. A couple days later I took the bandaids off and noticed a hard lumpy spot on her left thigh. I called the doctor’s office and asked about that. I was told it’s common and nothing to worry about, and it may take several months to disappear. Wow! Coincidentally it’s the side I’d noticed the swelling… well…

Another challenge this month was/is Savina’s 8-weeks leap. If you’ve read “The Wonder Weeks,” you know what I’m talking about. In case you haven’t, let me enlighten you:

According to Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D. and Frans Plooij, Ph.D. babies go through ten major developmental leaps in their mental development within the first twenty months of their lives. Counting from the due date, not the actual birth date, the first leap occurs at 5 weeks and the second at 8 weeks. In their book, Rijt and Plooij describe what to expect, when to expect it, and what happens when the baby has made the leap. They list signs that baby is ready to discover a new world and the results afterwards.

At Savina’s 8 weeks leap she discovers patterns, as the authors of “The Wonder Weeks” call it, with all of her senses. Among other things, she’ll find her hands. They say the signs this leap is approaching are extra clinging, a little shyness, demanding more attention, loss of appetite, poor sleep (having a hard time falling and staying asleep), and lots of crying. Babies get scared because this whole new world suddenly opens up to them as they discover it all anew. If it was up to the baby, s/he would crawl right back into Mommy’s womb.

IMG_1706Savina displayed, believe it or not, all of these signs. Especially on the Wednesday on which she would have turned 8 weeks if she’d been born on her due date. She was 9 weeks and 1 day old and had the worst day ever! She was extra cranky, extra clingy, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t eat, and constantly wanted to be entertained. She cried and cried so much, and there was nothing I could do, it seemed. I changed her diaper, fed her (though she wouldn’t eat much), and tried to help her fall asleep for a nap. I rocked her, tried to entertain her, nothing would work. I was getting so frustrated, I burst into tears myself. Oddly, Savina calmed down a little when I started to cry, as if to say, I’m sorry Mommy, I didn’t mean to make you sad. My eyes then spotted the book my wonderful midwife had lent us: “The Wonder Weeks.” And I remembered what I’d read. I grabbed the book again and looked at their developmental leap timetable. They were spot-on in their prediction of this fussy phase, and that made me feel so much better, because now I knew what was going on, and I knew what I could do to help Savina.

IMG_1609I had stopped using white noise because Savina had stopped responding to it–I thought she’d grown out of it. I was wrong: she simply didn’t need it the times I tried. That day, at 9w1d old (8weeks from the DD), she responded to it again. I shushed to her and she calmed and fell right asleep. All she’d wanted was to crawl right back inside me, where she knew it was safe. This big new world was scaring her, and she was looking for safety. The white noise has been working again for her ever since. Now, she is slowly mastering her new skills and getting past the 8-weeks leap phase. The last couple of days she’s been happier, and since yesterday she’s finally been sleeping better again. We’ll be getting a 1-2 weeks break and then there is the next leap to look forward to: at around 12 weeks (from the due date).

Apart from these challenges, we’ve of course had some really awesome times as well. One of them being Savina’s very first laugh! On December 23rd she burst out laughing while in the tub with Mommy, taking a bath. Savina was looking at Daddy as he poured some soap onto a washcloth for his baby girl. My sweet Savinababy looked at her Daddy and laughed out loud for the very first time! Consciously and deliberately. I totally melted away–it was so heartwarming after a hard fussy-time. She hasn’t laughed since, but has made several attempts.

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Of course we would be approaching Christmas during her fussy phase, and so, as you can imagine, she was not the happiest baby most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Oh well, she got spoiled regardless. My little cutiepie got many gifts all around. Toys, clothes, and a jumperoo.

One last thing for today: Infant massage! My midwife, Becca, had first introduced us to this wonderful bonding “tool.” Savina was still too little though to appreciate it, and often she was too cranky to want anything to do with it. Later, I met Susannah, a birth and postpartum doula, who offered us her doula services as part of her training. She showed us some more infant massage, and Savina has been growing into it since. She now has times she loves it, and one time she actually enjoyed it so much that she smiled throughout the whole thing! Lately, unfortunately, she’s been too fussy to want a massage. I’ve only managed to give her one twice in the last week or so, while I’m trying to make it a bedtime routine. By the way, if you have any tips for bedtime routines, including times and routine management, please do comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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Exhausting times

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Here I thought the colic was getting better, and we got the gas and reflux under control. Savina was beginning to smile more often, smile back at me, and smile when I make funny faces or sounds. She just discovered moving objects and is fascinated by them. I feel like I can finally entertain her well. She also finally starts responding to her infant massage and seems to love it. Last night she had a great time bathing with Daddy and then actually slept in his arms for about an hour after her massage, which I gave her after her bath. I was so happy to see that.

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But then… well then she woke up and cried really hard. I thought she might be hungry so I fed her, and boy did she eat–as if I hadn’t fed her all day! I’ve never seen her eat like that before. (I’d fed her just before her bath about 1.5-2 hours earlier). After her feeding and some spit (she most likely overate) she was good for a little while. However, then she got into another crying fit–one I’ve never heard from her before. I really thought she couldn’t cry any harder, but she proved me wrong. She sounded like she was dying. I didn’t even know babies can cry that badly. I’ve never heard a baby cry like that!

IMG_1472I gave her gripe water, we diapered her and fed her again, I swaddled her and then helped her fall asleep. She slept well, for about 5 hours. This morning she was ready to continue where she left off. Since then it’s been an on and off thing with her discomfort and her crying. She’s definitely not gassy this morning, but still appears to be in pain and definitely wants to nurse nonstop for comfort.

And here I thought she was finally getting better. She’s having many fun wake times in the last couple days where she just loves staring at her moving bears in her bassinet. She gets chatty with them too.

Today it’s beginning to dawn on me… Savina may in fact be teething already!

When examining Savina at her two weeks well visit, the doctor said it’s rare but he can already see her teeth. He showed me, right there under the lower gum. And he was right–I could/can see it too! Two little teeth imprints. The doctor said they aren’t moving but they’re definitely there.

IMG_1480Savina has been drooling a bit the last few days and she’s been starting to try chewing on her fist. She’s got that chewing movement down since a few days already. When offering her a pacifier, recently, she much rather seems to want to chew on it than sucking it.

Then I read this in an article about teething today: “If you are nursing, expect baby to possibly nurse more frequently as it feels good on their gums.” Yes, Savina does seem to want to be on the breast all day since yesterday, but especially today.

I’d hoped we’d get a break after the colic. Before she starts teething. But we might not. 😦

The challenges, and things I love about my little lovebug

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So last time I mentioned newborn psychology. It truly is an amazing science, and you may be skeptical about the things I’m going to tell you I learned, but trust me, what’s suggested works, what they found out through research is true as far as I have experienced with my daughter. During my pregnancy I’ve been doing a lot of reading and watching documentaries about everything concerning pregnancy and infants, and I’m so glad that I did. While some might suggest to not overdo it, to not read too much or watch too much, because there is a lot of bullshit (excuse my language) out there, I would strongly suggest against that. You can never educate yourself enough, as long as you keep an open mind, read several different views on a topic and ultimately form your own opinion. I sure am glad I did, because it helped me a lot in dealing with the challenges of early motherhood. Here is why and how:

At our two week well visit at the pediatrician the doctor told us that we may soon experience something called colic (also known as purple crying). He told us that it’s just a time of day when babies are very fussy, and there’s simply nothing you could do. It’s just how it is. He told us, you are not bad parents if you put the crying baby in her crib, close the door, and watch TV for 20 min. (I can’t bring myself to do that!) He said sometimes running the vacuum cleaner will work, or a ride in the car. Now why would he say that? Bear with me.

IMG_1440Yes, we saw a lot of colic. We still do a little bit. But our baby didn’t have it just one time of the day for 20 min. Our baby was fussy most of the day, hardly consolable. We got through that though, without having to let Savina cry her lungs out. Here’s how we were able to consol our baby girl:

Our midwife had lent us a DVD while I was pregnant, called “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” I’m so thankful she did. It has been a real life saver. I would have never figured this out on my own. Dr. Karp, who discovered these techniques, suggests that babies are born three months too early. They are just not quite ready for the world outside. So what do we do to help our babies? We help them feel as if they were still in the womb. Where it is cozy and safe.

The two major techniques to imitate the womb that worked for our baby were the sound and the “confinement.” Babies are very tightly snug in the womb. They don’t have a lot of room to move around. Also, when babies are born, they perceive the world, including their own body, as a whole. One whole universe. They are not aware that they have arms and legs that they can manipulate. As they start figuring that out around 5-6 weeks, they get very scared. I notice that when I take my baby off the breast, and she wakes up (she usually dozes off at the breast), her whole body trembles. She startles. Her arms flail in the air as if she just realized that they are attached to her. As if she had lost hold.

IMG_1446So to imitate the confinement of the womb, we swaddle our babies. They feel safe when swaddled. It’s warm and tight. They can’t move their arms. Again, that makes them feel safe. It’s not torture, it’s relief for them. In the first few weeks, when we swaddled our daughter, she would stop crying right away as if we had switched a button. Now, as she slowly understands her body, the swaddle only consols her 50% of the time anymore.

The other imitation that worked great for us is the sound. What does it sound like in the womb? First of all, Mommy’s heartbeat. Secondly, it’s extremely noisy in there, really loud. Many parents shush their babies, but often they don’t realize that they have to shush really loud for baby to feel safe, for baby to feel like she’s back in the womb. Apart from shushing right in their ear (yes, r i g h t  i n  t h e i r  e a r), you can run an audio file of white noise, or the vaccum cleaner for that matter. I would turn on the vaccum, when she still cried in the swaddle, but she would only quiet down if I held her right next to the vaccum. Yep, that’s really loud. They love it, believe me. We have now found an audio file that has white noise, including a heartbeat. It works like a charm most of the time. When Savina was very little, like 4 or 5 days old, I’d sometimes put her in the snuggle nest (the little cosleeper that’s in our bed) and turn on the heartbeat function on it. When it ran out (it’s on a timer) she’d stir and get a little cranky, but as soon as I turned it back on, she mellowed out.

Here is another example of how much babies yearn for the safety they know: the safety of the womb. Savina had a really bad night when she started getting a cold last Sunday. She just couldn’t sleep at all. I finally decided to take a nice warm bath with her in the middle of the night. I’d sit with her in the tub, hold her close to me and let very warm water run in. She quieted down. When there was enough water, I shut it off, and then Savina began to cry again. I turned it back on and she quieted down. Of course we only have so much warm water, so eventually I got out of the tub, sat down next to it, held Savina close to me, and let the water run. She’d still cry. Conclusion: The sound of running water was not enough. She wanted to be right back inside my womb because she felt scared and miserable. Warm water (amniotic fluid) and the sound of running water (blood and other fluids gushing around inside me) together made her feel right back where she knows she’d be safe.

IMG_1439I could go on and on about the development of babies, and how to help them feel safe, as there is a lot more to this and there are other ways, but I think you’re getting the picture. Once again: newborn psychology is quite interesting. I’m fascinated by it, and I’m sooooo very glad I did read so much about it. I’m able to give my baby a feeling of safety and comfort. I’m able to calm my scared, fussy baby down. Only because I read and educated myself.

There is one more thing I want to say about newborn psychology. I’ve been told in person many times, and I’ve been reading it wherever I look: babies that age  c a n n o t  b e  s p o i l e d. It’s a fact, it’s how it is, believe it or not. Right now, what the baby wants and what the baby needs just happen to be the same thing. I could never let her cry because you may think she’s “manipulating” me because she “knows” just what to do to get my attention. She does not. She doesn’t even know what manipulation is. She doesn’t know what “getting attention” means. She’s not there yet in her development. Heck, she’s only just learning that her body is her own and that she can willfully move her limbs! She’s just starting to figure out that sound is a different sense than touch. She’s still got most of her survival reflexes (like rooting and closing her hand around an object) that she will only lose when she learns how to control her body.

So back to the challenges. Yes, our baby having a lot of colic was a challenge, is a challenge, but with the help of all I’ve learned it’s managable, draining but managable. I also have the fortune of being able to distinguish my baby’s cries. That helps a lot. I can usually tell if she cries because she’s in pain, or if she cries because she’s hungry.

Savina also had light reflux, but after giving her Zantac she’s a lot better in that regard. She’s extremely gassy as well, for which we picked up gripe water–it really helps!

What I love about my little girl:

IMG_1429I love it when she tries to sneeze and it won’t come out, she makes the cutest cooing sound, like a disappointed sigh–it’s just too adorable. I love her smile, obviously. I love it when she’s asleep and begins to laugh voicelessly. I love that pout she does just before she starts bawling. I’m trying to catch it on camera, but she just never does it long enough haha. I loved her super-chubby cheeks when they were still super-chubby. I still love them, but they’re not as chubby anymore. I missssss those chubby cheeks. I love it when nothing can consol her and I put her to the breast, she immediately quiets down. I love how she stretches when I take her to burp after she’d fallen asleep on the breast. She’ll wake up and stretch just like a lady. It’s so cute! I’m trying to catch that on camera too, just haven’t gotten around to that one yet. I love her big, beautiful eyes, and I love her super-soft hair. I love feeling her tiny body against mine. I love all the sweet faces she makes when she sleeps. I love it when she stares at me in wonder and purses her lips. I love that sucking motion she continues to make for a few seconds when she’s asleep and I take her off the breast. I love it when she’s milk-drunk. I love how she “rolls” her lower lip when I wipe off excess milk after taking her off the breast. I love it when she responds with a smile to something I say to her. I love so many more things about my baby girl. But most of all, I love that she’s here and that she’s ours. We made a perfect baby. ❤

Thanks for reading!

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