On Charlie: a hand-knit sweater from my cousin
I was going to start putting together another Little Life Chats post for you guys but all of my questions I received were around the same topic: Baby. So I decided it would be helpful to write a post about everything that we’re doing with Charlie right now! I know from personal experience, I just want to understand how people handle different milestones and developmental changes with their child. This ‘4th trimester’ and so on of life with a baby can be super confusing. I have texted numerous friends question about how they handled certain phases, regressions, etc- and it was SO helpful receiving advice from them (especially since I asked!). So here is a run down of life with Charlie and my postpartum journey!
Charlie is four and a half months old. I remember feeling like the fog lifted at 8 weeks, the fun began at 3 months (consistent smiles) and now I feel like every day gets better. We have established *somewhat* of a routine and it has made life so much easier. I’m someone who thrives on routine. Charlie was routine resistant for a while but one freezing winter day a few weeks ago, I decided I would put every effort into creating a schedule for us. A few of you asked if I used any specific resources for creating this nap schedule and the best advice I received was following the wake, eat, play routine. I believe it was a combo of friends’ advice and Baby Wise.
You may have seen on Instagram that I really struggled with the 3 month sleep regression and ended up consulting a lactation specialist. You guys, nursing is HARD! I always thought it would be an awkward experience… because, you know… boobs. But I didn’t realize it would be so personal. Or that after a successful pumping session of creating more than a few ounces, I would feel SO PROUD of myself. Or that when Charlie was going through a growth spurt and I could pump no extra milk, I’d be down. It’s crazy to be mad at your body when it doesn’t do what you want it to, right? But I was suffering from a bit of postpartum anxiety too, and I’ll get into that in a second.
Let’s start with some of your questions:
What do you do for your hair these days? Mine is falling out and I stopped nursing a while ago.
I’ll be perfectly honest- I have no idea what to do about my hair. I noticed a few weeks after Charlie was born that my hair was breaking off around my face. I have bangs now that I never cut. And just recently, clumps of my hair have started falling out. And I am still nursing. I’m not sure if they are even related. But we’ve got a lot of hormones running through us, right? I still take my prenatal vitamins and also have added biotin to my daily regime. I wash my hair every other day (or sometimes on the third!) and always let it air dry. I wear it down when it dries and then often in a loose pony or ‘mom bun’… But I just figure this is a stage of postpartum that I can’t really do much about! So I just live with my new hair!
How did you get Charlie to nap?
For a long time, I wondered how moms got their babies to nap. I heard about the wake, eat, play routine and followed it to the best of my ability. But Charlie would fall asleep sometimes and then wake up before that 3 hour mark for feeding. And I would be so thrown off- is it worth feeding him earlier? If he eats and then falls asleep, will he not sleep at night? It felt impossible to get on a schedule. But a few weeks ago, I started noticing signs he was ready. He would be super alert for about an hour and a half after he ate and as soon as he started fussing, I realized I should try and get him to nap. So I got in bed with Charlie, laid him on my chest, patted his butt, and put on the sound machine while I sang The Wheels on the Bus. He fell asleep on me for an hour and I read my book. I got excited about the fact that he would sleep! Anytime he fell asleep and I would lay him in his rock n’ play or swing, he would wake right back up. I didn’t think of having him sleep on his belly for obvious reasons: he is still so little and pediatricians say no! But I felt safe with him on me while I read… Anyway, this is so long-winded. I’m sorry! But it was such a struggle for a long time! For the last month, Charlie has been sleeping on me, but yesterday, I decided to do what I’m doing with sleep training and let him cry it out for naps. I popped him in his crib in his merlin and he only fussed for a few minutes before falling sleep! He got a good 45 minute nap in. Honestly, if I tried that a week or two ago, I’m not sure it would have worked. One day at a time…
What does your nursing schedule look like? How do you feed Charlie before bedtime?
Charlie generally wakes up between 7:30 and 8:30 and I feed him right when he gets up. I pump after I feed him and the amount I pump totally varies based on how long he slept. Then I feed him every 3 hours after that until his last nap. So it usually ends up being 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm… there are always moments I have to adjust based on my schedule. I like to work out in the morning and he goes with me. Sometimes I do an errand in the afternoon. So we just make it work! After that 5pm feeding, I get a bottle ready for 6:30/7pm. I’m currently feeding him 6oz so he has a huge feeding before bed! (He’s a small guy, so that’s a lot for him right now!)
What does your bedtime routine look like? And what does Charlie sleep in at night?
Finally, a bedtime routine! I started with a very simple one: change diaper, put him in his pajamas, read a book, turn on sound machine, lay in crib, say ‘ I love you’ and leave. I usually do this about an hour after his last feed so he his full but didn’t eat right before he goes down. I was anxious to get him to fall asleep on his own without associating nursing! Now he does it like a champ. I have added a bath + rub down in lotion to his routine. He is finally enjoying bath time! Charlie currently sleeps in a Merlin sleepsuit but I’m going to transition him out of it in the next few weeks so can move his arms and practice rolling, if need be (another pediatrician recommendation).
We just started using this monitor and I LOVE it.
I saw that you are sleep training! Are you using any program?
I am not using a program! Just the helpful advice from friends. Honestly, I think Charlie is a decent sleeper. On average, he’ll sleep 8 hours straight and wake up for a feed in the early morning around 4. I don’t mind that. I mind the nights when he wakes up at 11 and then 1:30 or 2:30 and I lose it. So I decided it was time to start training him to get back to sleep on his own and stop getting up at those times. Ironically, since we started last week, we haven’t really had to use it. My plan was let him cry if he woke up before 4am, but go feed him if he woke up after. He got up the first night at 4. Since then, he hasn’t gotten up. We put him down at 8 and he’ll get up at 7. I know, we’re super lucky! We’re also fortunate because our guest room is 2 stories below our bedroom, so when he does cry, we can’t hear it except with the monitor. So I can turn off the monitor and set an alarm to check and see if he is still crying later. ANYWAY, I know we’re due for a growth spurt or regression and we’ll have to get up at some point. Every time I think I have something down, it changes! But I thought I’d tell you our plan and how we were going about it.
Here are a few other topics I wanted to touch on that I didn’t get specific questions about but that I’m going to share anyway ;)
FREE (ME) TIME:
I believe that one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a parent is give yourself a break. You work hard. Parenthood isn’t a 9-5 job. It’s 24/7. Eric and I switch off giving each other a break. We get a babysitter regularly so we can go on date nights. And when there are things I want to do like work out, I find a class that offers childcare so Charlie can come with me. I have to get out of the house every single day. There have been a couple days this winter where the weather said, sorry- not today. But for the most part, Texas winters have been such a blessing for my little family. The fresh air keeps me sane!
I am thankful our generation is so much better at communicating than generations before us. At least when it comes to asking for help. I am not new to the signs and struggles of depression and anxiety. I have had my own struggles for years. When I got pregnant with Charlie, I stopped taking my anxiety medication because I was afraid of how it would affect my baby. I never consulted a doctor about it, which I should have. But I felt normal through pregnancy and even after Charlie was born. There were so many amazing distractions! Fall. Beautiful weather. A plethora of visitors. The Holidays… We had such great momentum going into the end of the year. It was when we returned to Austin after the Holidays that I started feeling those blues again. Part of it definitely was due to the 3 month sleep regression. I cannot function without sleep. And part of it was feeling totally overwhelmed. Even when Charlie was sleeping at night, I would lie awake with a tight chest, unsure of how I could get through the next weeks. I was restless. I felt panicked. And every little task felt like a challenge. I had consulted the lactation specialist thinking I had a problem with nursing, but my problem wasn’t with nursing- it was my anxiety. I went back to my doctor, got on my medication, and talked through it with family and friends. I got back into the habit of going to mom’s group. Mamas- it is so important to communicate! You don’t need to be crying all day to have postpartum blues. Talk to your loved ones. And don’t be embarrassed. You are NOT alone.
TUMMY TIME AND MILESTONES:
Charlie hated tummy time until a couple of weeks ago when he started napping on his tummy. Since we started that, he doesn’t mind being on his belly! He can lift his head and turn it, and has gotten so strong! Just yesterday, he rolled over for the first time! I’ve been trying to get him to do it again and have my video ready to rock but he’s not feeling it, ha. We’ll just keep at it! Anyway, I’ve enjoyed taking the monthly milestone pictures and seeing how much he has changed since birth. I’m looking forward to more regular giggles!
It has been quite the week for us! In addition to sleeping & rolling over, Charlie tried his first solid on Sunday: banana! I thought he would hate it. I was ready to push it back a week. But he loved it. I just pureed it and fed him a spoonful after a feeding. He got to wear his first bib and practice swirling the food around on his tongue. It was so cute to watch.
I’m sure there are parts of our day I missed, but I think I shared the most important pieces. Right now I’m focusing on enjoying these moments and taking as many pictures as I can. I’ve realized that if I take this stage of life day-by-day, I can roll with the punches and enjoy the little things much more. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or email me!
I hope this post was helpful for you! Thank you so much for reading.
*photos by Brandon Hill