Fourth Trimester Survival Kit

I really can’t believe we are now in our 9th week of quarantine. It’s May and we just witnessed a bit of snow on Monday. 2020 has certainly been a very strange year so far. Like everyone else, my husband, Baby E and I have spent the last 8 weeks in isolation but this means that 25% of my maternity leave is done. I’m hopeful that I can start enjoying maternity leave soon under the new norm. 😉 Although things are starting to slowly reopen, I can only hope that it goes in the right direction because if we have to go into lockdown again, I’m not sure how I will mentally be able to handle this. Zoom, Houseparty and video chats are helpful but nothing beats the real physical interaction with human touch.

It is with mixed feelings as I realize Baby E is soon graduating from being a newborn to an infant. She just turned 11 weeks which means she has one more week to go before she officially begins an infant. I am sad at how fast time has flown but very excited as I continue to see baby E develop and do new things each and everyday.

Baby E (May 12, 2020)
Here is Baby E at 11 weeks.

With that being said, what has helped me get through this “survival” stage? Here are the top 5 tips I found most helpful:

  1. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. If you are the type of person who needs the concepts to be repeated over and over again in order to help drive the concept into your brain, this is the book for you. To be honest, you could read the first 20 pages and get the big picture but if you decide to stick it out to the end, I am sure you are going to have the 5 S’s memorized and engrained in your head. Having the 5 S’s in your mind will you cope better when you have a fussy newborn.
  2. Sleep is a huge topic of discussion for both the new parents and the newborn.
    1. With regards to managing naps and bedtime for the newborn, I suggest tracking nap times and bedtime through the Huckleberry app. Once your newborn is at least 2 months of age, Huckleberry will generate a “sweet spot” aka a suggested nap time for your baby. At the end of the day, it is most important to watch your baby for sleep cues and to be mindful of their wake windows but the sweet spot provided by Huckleberry is a good guide to help you develop a routine (as much as you possibly can).
        1. You will be tracking all sorts of things (time of feedings, length of feeding on each breast, number of dirty diapers (urine vs. stool as well as nap times and bed times). Truth be told, if  you are technologically savvy, Huckleberry allows you to track everything in the app but I am old school and like pen and paper. I track everything else by hand. Initially, I also tracked sleep patterns by hand and manually added the hours of sleep up but the Huckleberry app made life a smidge easier as it totals it for you automatically.
      1. To help develop good sleeping patterns for your newborn which will ultimately help you (as the parent) to get some sleep again, consider the Taking Cara Babies course (s). I’ll admit that I did not purchase it from day 1 as I thought being mindful of wake windows and watching for sleepy cues is enough but after reading through the Newborn course, I was able to pick up a few more tips and be more conscious of some things I need to work on as I prepare for the 4 month regression. To prepare for the 4 month regression, I also have been starting to read “How to Navigate Months 3 & 4” through Taking Cara Babies.
  3. Download the Wonder Weeks app (I also bought the book as well for more in depth explanations) but this is a great app to let you know of when to expect periods of crying, clinginess and crankiness as the baby is preparing for his/her next leap.
  4. As a first time parent and someone who has a Type A personality (i.e.I like to check things off a list), download BabySparks (the app) as it will help ensure that you are giving your baby enough variety of activities to help meet key milestones. On a daily basis, you need to have a wide array of activities focused on developing motor skills, cognitive development, speech, sensory and social (emotional).  Unfortunately, the social (emotional) aspect of things is limited currently as we are all on lockdown due to the pandemic. Believe me- I would have loved to be out and about with Baby E and get her well adapted to the outside world and to meet everyone who would like to meet her by now.
  5. Most importantly, you can prepare all you want with the above mentioned apps and/or books but pay attention to your baby. Every baby is different; there is no one size fits all. Take the tips you have learned from the above resources and see how those tips can work into your current situation. An interesting point I have learned along the way is that no matter in the Taking Cara Babies course or in the Wonder Weeks app, it emphasizes that development should always be based off of the baby’s due date. Baby E was due 3 weeks early at 37 weeks (this means that Baby E is technically 8 weeks in terms of sleep development and in overall skills development) but based on the Wonder Week app, I find that Baby E is moving closer to the milestone developments for a 12 week old as opposed to an 8 week old.  She is cooing and babbling lots. She is beginning to discover her hands and feet but I am consistently working hard at making sure that Baby E is stimulated to help her learn that she can grab and/or swipe at things. She has shown that she is capable to roll from side to back so I’m also working hard with Baby E to help her learn how to roll over. I also find that Baby E is moving towards the sleeping habits of a 12 week old as opposed to an 8 week old. Baby E is able to sleep for a longer stretch at one time overnight BUT the duration of the stretch is still not consistent. I’m still trying to figure out why there is inconsistency. I’ll have to analyze the sleep logs more carefully. 😉

Additional Tips:

  1. Before giving birth to Baby E, I have heard of the witching hour but I believed it was only a certain hour of the day (i.e. 5 PM) where babies would be extra fussy. I was in for a rude awakening as witching hour can span between 5-11 PM. In my experience as a first time mom, Baby E does tend to be a bit fussier during these periods of time when going through a leap. She’s generally very manageable during the day but as soon as 5 PM rolls around, unpredictable behaviours can emerge.
  2. Cluster feeding is a real thing. My husband believes I am consistently making up new terms as he jokes that he needs to “cluster feed” every night to make sure he doesn’t go hungry every night. If you don’t know what cluster feeding means, it means frequent feedings over a shorter period of time. In my case, as Baby E was hitting 8 weeks (Leap #1), Baby E was feeding on the hour every hour between 5-11 PM. As Baby E was transitioning from 10 weeks to 11 weeks, I experienced 3 days where Baby E fed every 20 minutes between 6 PM – 9:30 PM. Needless to say, she didn’t get very much sleep during this time but she certainly needed her calories. Week #12 represents Leap #2 so let’s see how the next week goes.
  3. Learn your lullabies and refresh your memory for kid friendly songs. I’m not a great singer but Baby E loves music time. 🙂

 

Food For Thought: As much as I am trying to establish routine (which I believe we currently are doing as much as we can), realize that there is no such thing as a fixed schedule with a newborn. Baby E is still feeding every 2 hours during the day. I’m trying to stretch the feeding frequency out but it sometimes works, it sometimes doesn’t. Bedtime routine has been established but the actual bedtime is closer to 9-10 PM currently when in reality, I’d like the goal for bedtime to be around 7-8 PM. You have to go with the flow some days. Pay attention to the wake windows and sleepy cues. You can try to stretch the wake windows by 5 minutes but be aware that it is always harder to put a cranky baby to sleep.

Under different circumstances, I would have taken a much different approach to help develop Baby E’s emotional/social aspect of development. I can only hope/wish that the zoom and/or video chats are enough for Baby E to help recognize voices of other individuals for now. I can only hope that Baby E will be a happy and jolly baby when meeting “strangers” for the first time.

As a first time parent, what were some of your essential “tools” in your survival kit?

2 thoughts on “Fourth Trimester Survival Kit

  1. This is awesome Rowena, thanks! I’m grateful that you are a few months ahead of me with Baby E… 🙂 I can learn from your thorough research and experience!

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