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Astrid (the first six weeks)

Tuesday, 05 October, 2010

We've almost come to the end of Astrid's first six weeks of life. I know I said in my last post that I wasn't going to chronicle Astrid's life forever, and I'm not going to in this post. Instead, I want to do two things. Firstly, I want to present a snapshot of what life is like for a mother with a newborn (well, really, what life is like for this mother and her particular newborn, because it will look different for everyone, of course!), because before Astrid, I had no idea what new motherhood is like and how much your life changes in the way that everyone says your life will change, and I figure there will be others out there who also have no idea. And secondly, I want to write down some things that helped me get through this period in the hope that it might help others out there.

So here goes.

Days in the life

No day is typical but if I were to describe generally what happens from day to day, it would look something like this (bearing in mind that newborns don't have routines; it's just that my newborn is fairly predictable, and will feed every three to four hours with impressive regularity):

11:00 pm Last feed (which takes 30-40 minutes, depending on how long Astrid takes on each side, plus a nappy change in the middle).
12:00 am Bedtime for me (and I usually wish I had gone to bed just after the previous feed).
2:00 am Astrid feeds in the same way as above. She's usually pretty sleepy and so will return to slumber pretty quickly. I usually do too when the feed is over as, by this stage, I would only have slept for about two hours.
5:00 am Another feed and change, and another two hours of sleep for me.
8:00 am Another feed and change, and another two hours of sleep for me. Because it's light, Astrid might take a little longer to settle back to sleep. Sometimes if it's sunny, I'll take her out on the balcony so she can get some sun (good for jaundice!)
11:00 am Another feed and change, and another two hours of sleep for me. By this stage, I would have managed to rack up around eight hours of sleep (if I am lucky!) I have found that if I get less than seven, I can't function. So even though I am starting my day later than the rest of the world, it's totally worth it. After putting Astrid back to sleep (or giving her to Ben so he can do it), I'll have my breakfast and a shower (even though it's around lunchtime. Or I'll go straight to lunch). If it is a particularly good day, I'll read my Bible and pray over breakfast. It depends, really; I don't tend to beat myself up if I haven't. A lot of new mums are too tired to do even that.
2:00 pm Another feed and change. In between feeds, I'll put on the laundry. I try to do my and Ben's laundry around once a week (including the bedding). The nappies have to be washed every other day (we use around half of our cloth nappies during this period; this is with Astrid using disposables for three of the night feeds), and they have to go through the wash cycle twice—once on cold and once on hot. On alternate days, the newly dry nappies need to be re-stuffed with their inserts so they're ready to be used. During this feed, we might bathe Astrid (every other day), which means clearing the kitchen counter for the bath and change mat. Ben takes care of the bathing; I do setup and pack up. Sometimes Astrid has soiled various bits of clothing or wraps, so I may do extra small loads of laundry too. Once Astrid is asleep again, I'll have my lunch and perhaps do the dishes. Sometimes we might even go for a walk.
5:00 pm Another feed and change. In between feeds, I might attempt to do a few things like answering my email, reading things online (I favourite things on Twitter that I intend to read later, and sometimes I even get to them), working on The Plan to Take Over the World, uploading photos and short videos of Astrid for the relatives, etc. At around 6 or 7, Ben will get dinner ready, and we might watch some TV and have some fruit for dessert. Then I'll do the dishes.
8:00 pm Another feed and change. If I'm smart, I'll start getting ready for bed. Usually I'm not smart.
11:00 pm Last feed, and it all starts again.

(I wonder sometimes whether I should adjust it—rotate it back by about three hours so that I'm up when the rest of the world is up, and asleep when the rest of the world is asleep. But doing it this way means that I'm more in sync with Ben's timetable, which is a big win in my books.)

Of course, it's often not that regular, and I can't always predict when Astrid will wake up and want to feed (I go by her, not by any pre-conceived “routine”). In addition, sometimes it takes a while to settle her to sleep. I might have to go in and re-settle her two or three times as she will sometimes keep on waking up.

The thing is, it's pretty relentless. Sometimes I've felt trapped by it all—for example, sometimes I feel like I can't go to bed because I'll only be up in an hour or so to feed and change her, and the feeling of waking up from a deep sleep is just awful. (Then sometimes she sleeps for longer and proves me wrong.) It doesn't stop. You can't take a break. You can't have a day off. (Well, you could express milk, but for me, that seems like extra effort in an effort-ful day.) I think, perhaps, something that helps is blocking out days when I take it a bit easier—I don't worry about trying to get stuff done, I try to do things in between feeds that are a bit more relaxing, and I take another two-hour block to sleep, or some such thing.

Helpers

Here are some of the things that helped me—well, us—get through the first six weeks:

I'm sure all this will change in a month or two as Astrid grows and develops. Maybe I will have more to say then. We'll see.

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Other comments

I second the ‘one outing a day’ rule .. Even now I try and make sure I regulate what I do each day to what I can cope with. But I think it’s even more important when you’re not getting a continuous night’s sleep.

No worries about the FD referral! Side note.. I found Woolworths.com.au was slightly cheaper in direct comparison and they also have free delivery for a certain time of the day.

Either way, it sounds like you’re doing great!

I am glad for the things that are helping! Your schedule looks so demanding, it’s so great that Ben is around more than most fathers to be a presence!

Posted by Little on 05 October, 2010 3:51 PM

Well done Karen! This is a great piece and I am amazed that you were even able to find the time to write it! It is exceedingly practical and great advice for first time mums… While you take care to stress that this is about “your” experiences pertaining to Astrid - the little tips and tricks that you are learning along the way and are sharing really have great application for ALL mums! Out of the two of us, now reading this, I kinda wish that you had gone first!!! wink

It’s great that you and Ben are able to be there for each other - that is SO important in helping to fight the PND risks too - in fact, all of your discoveries, INCLUDING the iPhone 4 (although I have yet to find time to decipher and embrace the social medium known as Twitter!), are all great tips on helping to stay emotionally healthy in early motherhood!

Keep at it Karen and well done! On all fronts! Astrid has a great mum!

Thanks Fi! Basically I’m trying to follow in Joanna Murray-Smith’s example—seizing the time when it presents itself. As I said, Evernote helped smile

Also, thanks for the tip, Sarah! I go with Coles because they stock my favourite muesli, but I have ordered with Woolies in the past!



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