Though we are deep in the newborn trenches, we managed a really nice Thanksgiving dinner over here with Polar Bear’s family, followed by board games (and this mom took a nap while there were so many people here to watch kids and babies..). We’ve also had two relief care foster placements, which have been very eye opening… more on that next week.
Little Girl is 1 month old, and starting to get a little chubbier. Her newborn onsies are suddenly starting to get tight. I was a bit of a worried mom at her one month doctor appointment because she put on weight so slowly during her first 3 weeks. I had expected her to put on a lot of weight really quickly like her bio brothers (Big Son was 8lbs 1 oz at birth, but 10 lbs 12 oz by 4 weeks, and then 12 lbs 9 oz by 6 weeks!!). But she didn’t. I started to fuss about it after a while, but I guess she caught up real quick over the last 10 days (since her last weigh in) because suddenly she is 9 lbs.
She is a little fussy in the late afternoons/evenings with gas, and I am on high alert for further sings of developing colic, but so far it’s been manageable with tummy massage and a good baby carrier.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about feeding her. Actually that is the most common adoption question I receive! From you guys, and from curious people in the neighborhood. In my opinion she has had a pretty ideal feeding situation considering she came to us through adoption rather than pregnancy. First off, no, I did not induce lactation, although that seems to be getting super popular — people ask me about it all the time! The ability to induce lactation without being pregnant is an incredible feat of the female body, and it is such an amazing gift for some mothers. But for us it seemed quite stressful — the hormones I would have to take for a long time to prepare, the pumping before and during — and all for a (likely) small amount of milk production that needs substantial supplementation. I already have issues with maintaining good hormone balance as it is, so taking any hormones to assist with either fertility or breastfeeding really worried me, and did not feel right for us.
Actually, funnily enough, when we decided to adopt I was able to get over the loss of breastfeeding pretty quickly and easily. I was much more upset about facing the alternative: I find formula to be so unnatural, so much like… well, food made in a science lab. I am so concerned with feeding my family natural, local, organic, non-gmo food that feeding our new baby formula was a bit of a stretch for me. Then I did some research and decided to go with Holle formula from Germany, which (while pricey) is awesome. It’s truly organic and non-GMO, made from happy healthy cows and goats. The ingredients are much better than the best North American options in my opinion. And, parents report that Holle-fed babies’ poop looks remarkably like breastfed babes’ poop, a fact I can now attest to myself. So anyway, she is doing great on this formula, and perhaps most importantly her parents feel confident about it.
Additionally, we got the most incredible gift from a good friend and neighbour, which I have referenced on the blog briefly before: donated breast milk! This was so awesome. Little Girl was able to have breast milk exclusively for her first week (first she got her colostrum from breast feeding with birth mom for the first couple days, and then she moved onto our donated frozen breast milk for a week). After that, she started half and half breastmilk and formula: breast milk during the day and formula over night (making night bottles much easier for us to prepare as we didn’t have to go downstairs to the fridge for milk). She will continue this until we run out of breast milk at 6 weeks, and then move onto formula exclusively.
As for sleeping, she is doing good. Now, I’m not saying we’re not tired. She is over 4 weeks now so that’s one month of not sleeping a full night, and eventually the interest on that starts to accrue no matter how well things are going. But for 4 weeks she is doing really good. Personally I attribute this to a combination of luck, good genetics, our straight jacket swaddle technique, not overheating her, nightly oil massages, bottle feeding, and our relentless determination that she be awake during the day as much as she can possibly handle without getting overtired.
Our basic strategy is to never wake a sleeping baby at night, and to often wake a sleeping baby during the day. (Lol no matter how many visiting relatives look at us aghast when we wake her, and no matter how many other moms sound concerned about how many hours she goes at night without feeding. You know, you do you. Deep breaths and confidence.) Our secondary strategy is to encourage, as much as we can, long sleep and big feedings, over “micro naps” and snacking.
So at night she usually does something like 3-5 hours sleep then a feed + 3-4 hours sleep then a feed + 2 hours sleep. The rest of the daytime she takes big feeds every 3 hours or so. And we let her nap max 1.5 to 2 hours at a time during the day before waking her for feeding and playing. When she can’t stay asleep more than a few minutes during the day we just put her in her baby carrier (in which she is powerless to fight sleep) to encourage her to nap for at least an hour at a time. The same routine worked well with our last foster infant as well — she had a very easy temperament and was a great sleeper on this routine.
During the night, we give her an oil massage, swaddle her tightly (with a strip of fabric to first secure her arms down, straight jacket style), jiggle her to almost-asleep (or sometimes full alseep if she’s fussy), and put her down in her moses basket very close to us (either right on our bed, or on the stand right beside it). Then we just try to be as relaxed as possible and leave her alone about any little wake ups, fussing, or funny sounds she makes all night. We get her up for a feed only when she clearly and persistently fusses for a long time without falling back to sleep, or when she’s really and truly crying. She’s not the easiest baby we’ve ever cared for, but she does have a fairly easy temperament.
We’ll see how things progress! I know lots of people adore the tiny baby stage, but frankly I so much love to watch my kids grow up and gain more skills and abilities. I am so looking forward to her getting out of the newborn stage and on to the infant stage and seeing what she can do… Meanwhile, she has an awesome tummy time support team…