One of the most difficult consequences of a c-section - at least for me - is the weight restriction. Upon checking out of the hospital, I was firmly told that I wasn't to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds, including the carseat carrier with Nico in it, for six weeks. At first the most annoying thing about the restriction was having to ask for help with the laundry. Even after I felt fit enough to risk a few extra trips up and down stairs, I had to get someone else to carry the baskets of clothes to the basement for me.
Of course, the restriction also means I can't go out with Nico unless another person is present to carry his seat. MB has been great about taking us out on errands once or twice a week, but not being able to run out and pick up a gallon of milk or a library book without complex strategizing has been an adjustment. I suppose I could carry Nico's empty seat out to the car, then carry Nico out separately, but that just seems like a lot of work when I don't really have anywhere pressing to be most of the time. Plus, upon arriving at my destination, getting the stroller in and out of the car would definitely break the ten-pound rule. I'm very lucky to have parents who live nearby and are happy to help. Dad has driven over several times to pick up Indy for playdates with their dogs, and Mom is going with us to a babywearing class on Thursday and my six-week followup appointment with my OBGYN on Friday. And at that appointment, I'm hoping the doctor will lift the weight restriction so that all of this finagling is behind us.
The first week or two after Nico was born, I was too sore to be interested in going out much. Besides, he was eating every hour and a half, so we didn't really have much time. Once I started feeling better, the weather turned snowy and inhospitably cold, so that kept me from wanting to go out for another week or two. Lately, though, the cabin fever has started to set in, in a big way. Last Monday, my work friend Julia sprang us for lunch, which was awesome since I love Christopher Walken as much as the next girl, but I need a lot more than cowbell for this fever. Then yesterday my friend S came by and met us for another lunch out. Woohoo! Of course, each time I had my lunch date carry Nico out in his carseat. S and I went out the back door, and I guess it was the first time Indy had seen anyone other than MB carrying Nico in his seat. He was absolutely beside himself. Usually once he knows I'm leaving, he'll wait at the top of the back steps and watch me go. But when S stepped out the back door with Nico, Indy darted past me and placed himself in front of her on the sidewalk. He hovered there, shifting from foot to foot, whining and looking from me to the carseat, me to the carseat, like, Dude. Are you just going to let her walk away? ALERT, ALERT, SHE IS TAKING THE BABY! I finally convinced him to go back inside so we could leave, but I tell you what. You have NEVER seen a dog as relieved as Indy was when we came back from lunch and S returned Nico. He was all, Oh, thank God. I won't have to tell MB that I lost the kid. My house dog privileges won't be revoked!
Nico is a month old now, a fact that catches me off guard at times and scrambles my brain a bit. Not too long ago he was still inside my belly, and before I had the chance to get completely used to the idea that he was out and a newborn, he wasn't a newborn anymore. Each day seems a mirror of all the days that came before as we move through the rhythm of the hours -- feeding, use the breastpump, change a diaper, fit in a chore or two or eat a sandwich while Nico naps, then start over with another feeding. But when I look back on the days that are gone, I can see how fast he's changing, and it both thrills me and makes me feel like crying.
Nursing was not easy for us at the beginning. My milk was very late and Nico lost too much weight while we were still in the hospital. He was so frustrated that he would scream and scream and refuse to latch. We've come a long, long way since then. It's not always easy, but it's so much easier than it was. At a month old, Nico mostly nurses well, a relief and a blessing. We started taking him out on errands right away; I think he made his first trip to Target at nine days old. He only tolerates his carseat when it's in a moving car or stroller, but usually the drive to the store is long enough to put him to sleep for the duration of the errand. He is not a fan of tummy time, not remotely. I still make him do it, though probably not as often as I should. This week we got out his giant playmat, and he seems to like it. He is also learning to like his swing, after weeks of hating it, and sometimes lets me put him in his bouncy chair long enough to eat a snack or wash the dishes. Soon he'll be grabbing at toys and trying to roll over.
Because he lost so much weight at the hospital -- he was born at 8 lbs 9.5 oz and discharged at 7 lbs 7 oz -- getting him to gain weight has been at the forefront since we brought him home. Luckily, I was able to focus on making sure he was getting good feedings rather than worrying too much about the numbers. I think this kept me from noticing how much he was growing week to week. I watched his cheeks and skinny thighs for signs of plumping, but didn't realize just how much he'd changed until I compared these two photos:
6 days old
29 days old
He's still so, so small, but day to day things happen. The socks that were a bit too big when my mom knitted them for him are now a perfect fit. The sleeves of one of my favorite onesies are getting too short. When I sit him upright on my lap, he holds his head up for longer stretches of time. And just last night, I discovered he's grown too long for his two cutest newborn-sized pairs of jammies. But he's still so, so small. At the end of each day, I carry Nico up the stairs to our bedroom. If I'm lucky I get to brush my teeth and wash my face, and then I swaddle him in a soft flannel blanket and lay him across the Boppy pillow on my lap. Head toward one hip and feet toward the other, he nurses in nearly the same position he was in on the inside just before he was born. He's allowed 20 minutes on each side, and at the end he usually slips to sleep, lying limp and heavy in my arms. I might hold him forever if I could, or at least freeze time for a little while, so that he'd stay small and sweet-smelling and serene for just a bit longer.
I have so much to say, but every time I think about writing, the kid does this:
Luckily he also does quite a bit of this, so I'm sure I'll find some balance soon:
I feel like I spend half my time feeding him and maybe a quarter of the time snuggling him while he sleeps, changing him, and smelling his fuzzy head. He's pretty irresistible, really. And apparently I'm still supposed to devote some time to boring stuff like eating, showering, and washing the dishes...what's up with that?
MB decided he wants to keep the baby anonymous online, and I think he's right. There are already enough markers on this blog that someone who was really looking could find me and recognize me, and I don't want to make it worse. I love the name we chose for him and I hate not sharing it, but safety first. Of course, this leaves me with a dilemma of what to call him when I talk about him. "The baby" doesn't seem right, and while "the brachiopod" was a fabulous nickname for him while he was in utero, I don't feel like it'll grow well with him. I thought about using one of the names from our shortlist that we rejected, but that doesn't feel right either since those names are not him. In the end, I think I've decided to call him Nico. It has one of his initials in it, which I like, so we'll see if it sticks.
Nico is a real boy now, with a real belly button and everything. I'm looking forward to his first real bath in the baby tub.
I have a lot of things to say about breastfeeding, but that's going to need an entire post of its own. For now, I'll just say that the entire process of feeding my baby is both wonderful and really goddamn hard.
Thus far, Indy / Nico relations are going well. Indy is sweetly curious about the baby without being too pushy. If Nico gets too screamy, Indy will go and ring his bell to be let outside, but other than that he doesn't seem too perturbed about the baby's presence. I feel pretty guilty that the weather plus my c-section restrictions have prevented Indy from getting any walks, though. Poor pooch.
Nico hasn't managed to pee on his own head yet, though I hear that's inevitable. He did, however, manage to pee on the nursery wall twice on the day he turned a week old, and he pooped out of his diaper for the first time yesterday. Where's the spot in the baby book for those milestones?
Here he is last Friday, two weeks old:
Here he is yesterday, either deep in contemplation or trying to tell me that I stink:
Here he is looking really goofy (definitely my child):
And wearing what MB mockingly calls his "manpris," a newborn outfit I couldn't resist putting on him one more time even though he's clearly too lanky to wear it now: