Surviving the First 8 Weeks with Rory
Last week, I shared Rory’s birth story ending with us heading home from the hospital. Well, that’s when the real fun began. Here we were, two people who had never ever taken care of a newborn and we had to figure out how to keep this little lady happy and healthy.
That first night was a doozy. Neither of us slept a wink. Instead, we took turns watching her sleep making sure her little torso was moving up and down. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “Who is that woman staring back at me?” I had huuuuge dark circles under my eyes, yet I was somehow awake and functioning. Luckily, things got better week by week and now that Rory is two months old we have a better handle on how to take care of this little lady.
My Newborn Survival Guide
Now, I’m calling this post my newborn survival guide, but in reality, we don’t have all the tips in the world. Instead, these are just things that have worked for us with Rory. The truth is, once we think we have her “figured out”, she goes and changes completely.
Finn said that it’s kinda like her instruction manual comes two weeks too late, plus the directions are out of order. Oh, and it’s also written in Mandarin. Yep, that’s kinda how we feel when it comes to figuring out Miss Rory.
Surviving Week One
As I mentioned, the first week was by far the toughest. My breast milk still hadn’t come in, so we had to supplement with formula for a few days. Because Rory was early (weighing only 5lbs 14oz), it was super important for her to gain weight as soon as possible. We also didn’t have any diapers or clothes that fit our tiny baby (we figured she would at least fit newborn, but she was swimming in those!). Finn overnighted tons of preemie supplies, so by mid-week we at least had that piece of the puzzle figured out.
We also had trouble figuring out the best bottle for Rory. Instead of buying multiples of the same kind of bottle, all of my mom friends recommended buying a variety of bottles to try out, because you never know what your baby will like. I got this variety pack and it was super helpful. We tried out every bottle in it and ended up liking these Dr. Brown’s bottles with preemie nipples, so the flow was super slow. Once we figured out which bottle worked, we went ahead and ordered lots of them.
On top of that, Rory had a bit of jaundice going on so we had to head to the pediatrician every two days that first week. Three trips out of the house felt impossible, yet somehow we managed. It’s funny because when Rory was born, we remarked about her “base tan”, not knowing that it was the jaundice making her look tan and little yellow. Our pediatrician got a kick out of that. Luckily, the jaundice went away on its own after about a week.
Grama to the Rescue
I’m so lucky that my mom lived with us for the first month of Rory’s life. Having her around was such a lifesaver. While she was still working from home (but at our house), she was able to help out so much all day long. Plus, she would wake up at 3am to take the morning shift of feeding! I don’t know what I would have done without her. It was also nice to have a buddy and a “professional” who has done this so many times before. We went on daily walks, had wine on the couch at night, and she even cooked us dinner a few nights a week. We are so blessed. She is now back home but comes over just about every day.
Unfortunately, no one else has been able to officially meet Rory because of COVID-19. We’ve done lots of Facetiming with friends and family and even had my family over to social distance in the yard. I’m really looking forward to the day when all of our loved ones can hold and snuggle our baby, but we have to wait until things are a bit safer. Oh, what a time to bring a child into this world!
Breastfeeding So Far
From the start, I had zero expectations when it came to breastfeeding. I had lots of friends who struggled with breastfeeding and then felt immense guilt when they switched to formula. I vowed that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself and I would hope for the best. If breastfeeding didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be depressed about it. A fed baby is best.
It took a few days for my milk to come in, but once it did, Rory latched easily and our breastfeeding journey had begun! Because she was so tiny, she wasn’t eating tons those first two weeks so I found myself pumping a lot. By the end of week one, we already had lots of breast milk frozen and plenty in the freezer for Finn and my mom to help with feedings.
I’ll have to do an entire post about breastfeeding because there is so much to share, but now I’m almost exclusively pumping and my mom, Finn, and I take turns feeding her with a bottle. Best of all, Rory is gaining weight like a champ and is a very hungry girl all the time!
Here are some of the supplies that have helped with my breastfeeding journey thus far…
- Boppy Pillow: I use this pillow when breastfeeding to prop her up.
- Haaka: This is great to put on the breast that you’re not feeding from to catch any milk. I was dripping all over the place before I got this and it’s nice to be able to collect every last drop.
- Spectra Pump: I ended up going with this pump through our insurance and love it. It’s battery-operated and I just charge it about once a day. I also purchased extra bottles and parts so we don’t have to wash everything immediately.
- Bottles and Bottle Warmer: As I mentioned, these are the bottles we like and we use this bottle warmer.
- Sterilizer: Once a week, we throw all of the bottles, my pumping parts, and her pacifiers in this sterilizer for a good clean.
- Nursing Tanks: I bought this nursing tank in every color and wear it every single day (changing up the sweater or jacket I have over it). It’s super comfy and is great for nursing and pumping.
- Pumping Bra: If you’re planning to pump, be sure to get a pumping bra so you can do it hands-free! This is a must and I ended up getting two so one is always clean and ready to use.
- Burp Rags: We use these burp rags and have them all over the house for spit-up and feedings.
I actually just purchased a new pump called, The Willow. You can put it directly in your bra so you can pump and walk around without the machine or cords. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!
While eating has been pretty easy for us, sleeping has taken a bit of time to figure out. In the beginning, we started with this bassinet in our bedroom, but Rory never really liked it. She would squirm and wiggle and lean to one side in her swaddle. We felt like she never got a good night’s sleep in it, so out of desperation, we rented the SNOO.
The SNOO is a bassinet that has a built-in white noise machine and it moves automatically when your baby cries. The harder she cries, the faster it sways to calm her. It’s a genius product and you can even control it from your phone. You’re now able to rent the SNOO (instead of buying it, because it’s pricey!) and we figured we would try it out for a month to see if it was better than our bassinet.
We used it for about two to three weeks and Rory really liked it. She liked the movement and the noise and it worked well in our room. However, Rory is a super noisy sleeper (as are many newborns). We found that she was making loud noises and grunting all night long and one of us was constantly awake making sure she was okay (she was always sleeping, just noisily!).
We mentioned this to our pediatrician at our one-month appointment and she said we should try Rory out in her crib to see if we all slept a bit better that way. We did that one night and she has been sleeping in her crib ever since! So while we did like the SNOO and would recommend it, it just wasn’t the best for us, long-term.
Now, we put Rory in her crib all night long and we monitor her using our Owlet monitor on our iPad that we keep on our nightstand. It works out well and if she cries we can quickly get to her.
Here are some other items that have helped with sleep…
- DockATot: Rory takes most naps in her crib, but if she is downstairs hanging with us or in the office with Finn, she sleeps in her DockATot (carefully monitored, of course!). I highly recommend it!
- Hatch Sound Machine: We have this sound machine in her nursery and it’s wonderful. You can control it from your phone and it gets really loud!
- Portable Sound Machine: When she sleeps in her DockaTot or we take her in the car seat somewhere, we use this portable sound machine. You just charge it and it works for hours.
- Ollie Swaddle: We started with this swaddle when she was super teeny, but since upgraded to the Ollie. It’s worth the price, trust me.
- Love to Dream Swaddle: We’ve also used this swaddle where Rory can keep her hands up and she likes it too!
- Owlet Monitor: This is the baby monitor we use and it’s worked well for us. It comes with the owlet sock that monitors her heart rate and oxygen levels, but we don’t use that as much as we thought we would.
- Portable Charger: We use this charger with our iPad so it never loses battery and we can always pull her up on the baby monitor.
- Baby Connect App: If you take anything away from this post (as a new parent), I hope it’s this…download the Baby Connect app! We use it all day long to track diapers, sleeping, feeding…pretty much everything. It’s great because I can check the app to see how long Rory has been asleep, so I have a rough idea of when she will wake up or when she will need to feed again. Plus, there’s so much data and Finn the datahead can’t get enough.
If you guys remember this post, my biggest fear going into parenthood was the sleep deprivation. Before having Rory, I was an eight to ten hour a night kinda girl. Now, that’s definitely not the case. But it’s crazy, I can take a one hour nap and I wake up feeling like I got five hours of sleep!
When Rory was about three weeks old, we started to try to get into a bit of a schedule around here. Basically, we break up the day in three-hour chunks. She feeds for about 30 minutes; we play for fifteen to thirty minutes; and then she naps for two hours. It took a few days to get Rory adjusted, but now she follows the schedule like a champ. We also have a really nice bedtime routine with a bath (she loooooves the bath!), jammies, a book, feeding, and bed. She gets multiple naps in during the day, and at night we’re getting longer and longer stretches of sleep. It’s been awesome! I read about five baby sleep books and used a combo of tips from Moms on Call and Babywise. My main thing is to keep her bedtime and waketime consistent every single day. Here’s what our nights look like right now…
- 8 pm – Rory goes to bed
- 10:30/11:00 pm – Finn feeds Rory
- 2/3 am – I feed Rory
- 6 am – Rory wakes up for the day!
We’re doing our best to have Rory drop that middle of the night feed at 3 am, but she isn’t quite there yet. Having our shifts makes things so much better, as we’re each able to get a good chunk of sleep (although I have to wake up to pump when Finn feeds her).
Okay, now let’s chat about me! Honestly, I’m doing so much better than I thought I would. Because my labor was pretty quick and easy, my recovery wasn’t terrible. I had a Stage 2 tear, so I did have some stitches and that wasn’t super fun. But luckily, I’m all healed now and on the mend.
This postpartum kit was a lifesaver during the first two weeks after labor. Trust me, buy this kit and also be sure to get this squeeze bottle too. Plus, lots of pads. Oh, and stock up on some comfy underwear (I got a pack of these and they worked wonderfully).
From the first week, my mom and I started doing long walks around the neighborhood which has kept me feeling good. Just like when I was pregnant, I’ve found that being active is key to feeling my best. I just got the all-clear from my OB to start working out, so I’m going to start some workouts in the basement and some runs in the neighborhood. If you guys are interested, I may write a 4th trimester recap post to chat alllll about body after baby. I’ve also gotten so many requests for a post about our favorite newborn products. Be on the lookout for that post next month (after we have more time figuring out what we like).
Well, this newborn survival guide is turning into a novel so I’ll wrap it up. There’s just so much to cover when it comes to our precious little girl and we’re learning more every day. Just know that the three of us are doing well and little by little we’re feeling more confident as new parents.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.