Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby Essley: The First Month


Baby Essley: The First Month // Bubby and Bean

Today is Essley's one month birthday.  It's been a few weeks since I last checked in with an update about what's been going on 'behind the scenes' around these parts, so today seemed like the perfect time. Although this little girl is admittedly pretty much my whole life these days (and I'm grateful for that!), I've been mindful about not bombarding you with baby pictures and stories. (Those of you who follow me on Instagram get enough of that as it is!)  I do want to share occasional updates though, because having a new baby affects every area of your life and work, and the blog wouldn't be genuine if I completely left this stuff out.  Plus I just love her so much that I want to scream it out to the whole world every second of the day.  So there's that too.

First, let's get the not-so-amazing stuff out of the way.  It's easy to sugar coat the experience of a new parent with adorable baby pictures and tales of unconditional love.  And I fully understand why many choose to only share those bits and pieces.  But the reality is that it's really freaking hard sometimes.  Sleep deprivation is no joke, and when you're faced with it for days or weeks, it can really put a damper on the joy that a new babe brings.  Essley cries a lot at night, which is common for newborns, but sometimes nothing but nursing will console her (and trust me, we've tried every trick in the box).  I won't get into Baby 101, but you can't spoil a newborn, and you're supposed to quickly respond to their needs - which are expressed through crying. But sometimes you can't figure out what those needs are, and constant attempts to do so without results (with a baby incessantly screaming in your ear) can make you a feel a little insane.


I've always been a night owl and an insomniac, so the late nights and broken sleep didn't bother me that much - until Essley was two and a half weeks old and Robbie left town for work for the first time since before her birth.  We had a pretty good system set up for the nights, where I'd nurse and he'd change diapers, and we'd take turns with her during the crying fits.  I had no idea what I was in for when he was gone, but let's just say that I now have a profound respect for single moms.  In additional to having to do all of the feeding, burping, changing, and consoling during the nights, I also found it very difficult to fully fall asleep.  Essley sleeps in a co-sleeper attached to the side of our bed, and with two of us here, there is a subtle reassurance that at least one of us will hear her crying or spitting up or coughing in the night.  I felt so much added pressure with Robbie away and was subconsciously terrified that if I fell into a deep sleep, I wouldn't hear her if she really needed me.  The most I slept in a night was two hours, and I was delirious and feeling pretty depressed.  He was only gone for four days on that run, but by the end of it, I'd hit a wall.  I'd also only taken a two week maternity leave (gotta pay the bills!), and I'd started working again that week, so I needed to stay awake and work during the days while Essley was asleep.  Even if I hadn't had to stay awake, I am physically unable to sleep during the day, regardless of level of exhaustion (I haven't been able to take a nap since college).  So the 'sleep when the baby sleeps' advice wasn't an option for me.  I was a train wreck by the end of those four days guys.  Truly.  Thankfully, the first period of time with daddy away came and went, and we survived.  We're into the second one now and my fingers are crossed it's a little easier this time.

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There have been other little challenges too that are just par for the course with a newborn.  Essley came down with a bad case of Thrush when she was about a week old and went through a short period where she had trouble nursing.  At her two week doctor visit, she still hadn't gained any weight since we left the hospital, and was still a full pound under her birth weight.  With patience and medication, we were able to win that battle, and now she's at a healthy weight and is a champion nurser.  It's also been difficult to get out of the house much (especially when Robbie is gone), thanks to Chicago's hellishly cold winter this year.  I am yearning for the days when I can finally take this little bean for a walk in her stroller or be able to run errands with her without having to warm up the car, bundle her up in an excessive amount of layers, cover her car seat, etc.  (The post office is a half mile from our house, and dropping off packages has gone from a two minute process to a twenty minute one.)  Working is a whole new world too.  Aside from getting through the crazy nights, figuring out a schedule to continue to work full time is probably my greatest challenge.  I'm learning as I go though and hope that a healthy balance eventually falls into place.


And now that I've rambled on and on about the hard stuff, onto the good!  I could honestly fill dozens of posts with stories of the endless joy that this little girl has brought to our lives.  It's cliche but it's 100% truth.  She's at a point now where she is so much more alert and interested in the world around her.  When you have a kid, suddenly everything becomes more interesting to you as well.  Essley reminds me to notice tiny things that I normally just skip over: the way the light or a shadow delicately hits the corner of a room, the way a person's eyes look when you're locked into a mutually smitten gaze (hers are so bright and shiny and the deepest shade of blue), and the details, shapes, and patterns of the most mundane objects.  I absolutely love breastfeeding too, and the bond that accompanies it.  It's the coolest thing you guys.  Watching her grow is pretty incredible too.  I see her so much that I'm not aware of the changes that are occurring physically, but I've noticed how certain outfits are suddenly too snug, and how the next size up in diapers is starting to fit her better.  People tell you that they grow so fast, but I didn't realize how true this was until I saw it for myself.  It's beautiful and bittersweet and a little intense.

Despite the crappy subarctic weather we've been having and extra work involved in loading up a baby in zero degree temps, taking Essley places has added a whole new element of fun to everything as well.  Simple errands feel more like adventures - even a quick trip to the grocery store.  Her doctor visits are even fun.  Who knew that finding out your baby's weight each week could be so exciting?  We've also taken her out to my mom's house twice so that we could go on quick dates.  You receive all kinds of advice when you're a new parent, but one of the best pieces we've gotten was to make time for each other now and then.  I can't tell you how much more you appreciate going to see a movie or grabbing a bite to eat with your partner when it doesn't come easy anymore.  And when the date is over, you get to come back to your sweet baby, which just makes the whole experience that much more awesome.


I could easily keep going, but I'll stop for now.  Thank you for reading (if you're still here) and letting me share some of this journey with you.  As I've mentioned before, I'm one of those people who 'waited' to have children after focusing on my career and travels during my twenties and the first half of my thirties, and getting pregnant took some time and patience.  I really think that having to work a little harder to make it happen heightened my appreciation of the whole experience, difficult times and all.  I've only been a mom for a month, but so far, it's absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me.  For real.  I am officially little Essley Morgan's biggest fan.

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29 comments:

  1. I'm really digging her non-traditional wardrobe! She's adorable and still looks like a girl, obviously, but it's not pink/flower/ruffle overload. (Also, how heavy are those baby carriers! Ugh. I picked one up for the first time the other day and they're so terrible.)

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  2. She is absolutely adorable!

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  3. Such adorable photos - she is a cutie! xxx

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  4. Eeeeeek she is so so cute!!!! I can't even imagine how hard it is when your man is gone while she's so little still plus work on top if that but you are doing great and please keep sharing here!! :-)

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  5. 100% wholeheartedly agree with that advice that you should make time for each other! My mom kept reinforcing that the whole time I was pregnant, and ever since our baby was born 3 years ago we have kept that in mind. It has made a significant impact in our relationship, to ensure that we regularly set time apart to focus on ourselves as a couple and has strengthened our bond immensely

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  6. What a cutie! Something about the Week 4 picture cracks me up! What a beautiful family. ♥

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  7. So dear. You are right about growth and change being bittersweet...one of the heavier aspects of parenting. Glad nursing is going well and that you are enjoying it. Good job, new Mama! Be well + stay warm.

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  8. Essley is absolutely beautiful! I can so identify with everything you've written, from the challenges that come with raising and caring for an infant and while running a business, to the awesome bonding experience of breastfeeding and the adventure of leaving the house with a baby.

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  9. Baby Essley has the most wonderful wardrobe! Hope you can squeeze in some hours of sleep soon, I always think of how awesome sleep is, at times when I don't get enough!

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  10. It's refreshing to read about the hard parts and not just the easy ones! People forget that being a mom is a tough job! She is so sweet, and I love her outfits. =)

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  11. This was such an honest post, talking about the good and the bad. Your daughter is beautiful... here's hoping warmer days greet you soon, so you can get out of the house with baby Essley :)

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  12. i didn't know how much of a two person job raising a baby was until i had my son. i don't think i could have done 4 days without my boyfriend when our baby was that young (he's two now and it's still SUCH a two person job!). seriously. go you for making it to the other side! endless props to the single moms...i honestly can't imagine being able to do it alone.

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  13. She is so amazing and you are doing a kick ass job! I can't wait to come see her.

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  14. Such a lil cutie!
    Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the downers of being a new parent, but the good news is that it gets better. =0) Hang in there!
    It's great that you carve out some time for each other. Make sure you have just your YOU time too. Even if it's just 15 minutes. It can help you keep your sanity.

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  15. I HAVE TEARS. THIS IS SO SWEET. She is precious. I am so happy for you guys. I love, and have always loved (since I was a little one) to read stories about pregnancy, newborns, toddlers, and children. Jen and I definitely want one or two little ones of our own some day, and seeing how amazing you and your little girl are just puts a hugeeee smile on my face!

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  16. Very Beautiful! You three look extremely happy, and very special to see my old friend's face leaning in to kiss on his baby girl- warms my heart. Blessings little family, the wee one is so beautiful.

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  17. Your Blog is darling! Follow me at www.hugswishes.blogspot.com I follow back!

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  18. Did I tell you how cute baby essley is? :) I love the crying photo and the ones with the chalkboard. I wish I had done that for my kids. Being a mom and a business owner, I absolutely know how difficult it could be juggling both worlds. Take it easy, one day at a time and enjoy every moment as kids grow up soo fast :) love and hugs

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  19. Baby Essley is beautiful.I love the photos of her, and you and your husband with her.

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  20. Melissa, I can feel your deep love for your daughter vibrating through this post :)
    Even though we don't have children I still enjoy reading about your experience with a newborn and of course seeing the sweet photos! Take care!

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  21. Congratulations, again, on your sweet little Essley! I'm sure you'll figure out your routines for when Rob is out of town. Y'all are so strong. Baby is so lucky. :)

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  22. Thank you so much fit your comments (and emails!). You guys are the best. xo, m

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    1. For, not fit. 2:30 AM nursing session delirium. ;)

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  23. It's great to hear all the real details of being a mom. She's such a cutie and your family picture is so sweet!

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  24. I love the photo where she's screaming in the Star Wars shirt. Maybe she's not a fan? Haha. Cute pics and I'm sure you'll get into a routine soon. The first few weeks are always the hardest. :)

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  25. What a gift Miss Essley is! Thank you for sharing, mama! I'm in love with her and haven't even met this sweet gal yet. You're doing an amazing job, and I promise there will be sleep one day...<3

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  26. oh my what a cutie pie! it's crazy to see how fast they grow even from 1 week to 4!
    Xo

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  27. Your baby girl is so adorable. I hope you get enough sleep soon. You are not alone about sleeping problem. My daughter is 2 and still doesn't sleep though the night.

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