Over the first week or two of being home with the baby all I could think of was the movie Groundhog Day. Funny enough, several friends later on used the same term to describe the days after bringing baby home. I’d say it is a pretty on point term, except for the fact that in the movie he sleeps in between reliving the same day over and over. And in this sequel, sleep is not in the cast. LOL. Except it’s not funny because you’re too tired to laugh.
I’m not sure anyone can really prepare you for what this is like. I’d want to be mad at my friends for not really prepping me, but I don’t think they could have. Obviously all of these things are specific to baby. I’m sure some of them sleep more (JEALOUS), plus there are feeding factors (breast, formula, pumping). But I think many can relate to this groundhog day feeling.
The days just merge and blend together when your baby is eating about every 3 hours. There is no day or night. There is no usual “wake up” routine because that would require actually sleeping. The big question is…if there is no bedtime or morning time, and no meal times but you’re constantly starving then…when do I brush my teeth??? This is a serious question. This has really been stressing me out.
So, my weird blurred days included breastmilk (a post specifically about the wild rollercoaster of breastfeeding is coming next). But, since Liam was a NICU baby, he was a little immature to really take to breastfeeding directly which means I was primarily pumping and then feeding it to him via bottle. But, they also wanted me to do some breastfeeding trials at most feedings so he could get “used to it”. So, this added an additional factor vs those who are exclusively formula feeding or breastfeeding. But still. Here is a sample of what a day in the life looked like (slash mostly still looks like now):
- 5 minute diaper change paying close attention to avoid getting peed on or allowing him to pee on his own face. Only 50% successful on either end of that goal regardless of speed.
- 10 minutes of attempted breastfeeding which is basically just him crying in frustration and starvation while I cry from feeling bad that it didn’t work.
- 25 minutes of infant led bottle feeding (aka holding him sideways on my knee and feeding him with the bottle horizontally. Totally not what I was used to). Meanwhile he aggressively resists burping by screaming like I am throwing him out the window. Don’t you know this will make you feel better, bro!
- 5 minute diaper change because inevitably he decides to take a giant poop whilst he is eating even though I just changed his diaper. Gotta make room, you know.
- 30 Minutes of holding him upright because he has reflux and we are trying to avoid choking in combination with milk shooting out of his nose which is VERY unpleasant for all involved.
- 5 Minutes of swaddling him and putting him down to sleep. This part is actually pretty easy…most of the time.
- 30 Minutes of pumping since he isn’t breastfeeding successfully I need to make sure I get out as much as possible to stash in the fridge.
- 15 minutes of cleaning and sanitizing bottles and pump parts to get ready for the next time.
- 15 minutes collecting diapers, burp cloths, poopy clothes and setting up laundry.
- 15 minutes of staring at him sleeping in disbelief of his extistence and also putting my hand under his nose to make sure he is still breathing
- And that leaves 25 minutes to sleep OR shower.
SAME but also give him his vitamins and iron because #preemielife
Annnnnnnnnnnnd it’s the next day. My friend and former student who had a baby a few weeks after me posted a collage that pretty accurately depicts the line up I just described and she gave me permission to post it here:
How cute is her little nugget?!?! When I saw this on IG I laughed so hard because of the relatability and this post was almost complete so I had to throw it in there.
So, this is not a complaint post, believe it or not. How can I complain when I’ve been waiting to be in this zombie fog for years? But this is a level of walking coma I could have never imagined. I don’t know what day it is. I can’t remember whether I changed my clothes today or yesterday. Taking care of this little miracle is the most amazing, insane, exhausting thing I could ever think of. I’m sure many of my mom/parent/caregiver friends can relate to this and replace some of my things with whatever their own cyclical tasks are.
Thank goodness for getting through those first few weeks where it is 97% trial and error. What is that noise? What does this mean? Should we try this contraption where we suck snot out of his nose using our mouths? The answer is yes, it is so gross in theory but works wonders. And for me I was starting at week two given his NICU stay delayed our “start time” a bit. We also have made some strides in feedings and streamlined the cleaning process which has helped immensely. But, we didn’t even attempt to get the hang of things until about a month in. And by get the hang I mean just being cool with being dirty, tired and confused 80% of the time.
All about milk post coming next!