Now that Henry is 6 months old, I figured I’d post this LENGTHY post I started two months ago… I had asked all of you to submit questions and started answering… and then just never finished. Ah sorry!
I wrote out the answers to the “newborn life” right at 4 months, and I’m so glad I did… this already seems like a lifetime ago!
I should say, looking back at everything, overall I’d say we got very lucky with a relatively easy, sweet natured baby. I am not saying that to brag. I get it – it truly is luck. I’ve seen relatives and friends go through much more trying times with infants – especially with colic or there have been health issues. So even though I’m not religious, I will say we were blessed. There’s no knowing what the future holds, but for the first time around, it made it easier.
That’s not to say it was all easy. Having a baby is a HUGE adjustment. Life will never be the same and that honestly took a while to sink in…. and c-section healing made those first two weeks much more difficult than they would have been had I been able to move around faster, wasn’t in awful pain, and wasn’t so exhausted from the healing. It meant Dan was caring for two of us so it really took a toll on him – but he was the best. And made it happen.
Overall Henry’s been a really good sleeper (don’t want to jinx that), SO smiley (I joke I birthed a Christmas elf), and if he is fussing we can pretty much always figure out why save for two times I can recall (one of which I took to stories that I even cried because he cried for like 40 minutes straight once and it was so stressful and I didn’t know what to do… eventually a super loud fan from the microwave and bouncing in a carrier AND a pacifier calmed him). He also LOVES his pacifier which not all babies do. He had no problems w/ a bottle or a nipple. Granted the boy does spit up a lot so having to keep him upright for 30 minutes after feeds was honestly Henry’s most “high maintenance” need. I have that in quotes because… it’s obviously not a big deal at all.
- Walk us through an average day?
- I will answer this pre-returning to work – ie the newborn phase. Henry wakes up anywhere from 5am-7am depending on when he woke up in the middle of the night to eat. We decide whose turn it is depending on who did the middle of the night feed. Change diaper as quickly as possible since he’s hungry. Warm bottle. Feed Henry. Hold Henry upright for 30 minutes after eating to prevent reflux vomit. Sometimes he fell back asleep during feeding, sometimes he’d be up for a bit to “play.” By 60-90 minutes after he woke up to eat, he’s already back down for a nap. IF he gets a good nap in, we both rush to get anything done – laundry, eating, doing dishes, work, walking dogs, etc. Henry slept a ton the first month of life, as most newborns do. But before long, he preferred to be napping ON someone as opposed to in a lounger or swaddled – so that made the getting anything done part tricky. We’d repeat the sleep, feed, awake cycle however mine times until bed time… twice a week he’d get a bath. We’d try and go on stroller walks after his 30-minutes of being upright. Life was simple. Uneventful save for exciting new or cute things Henry did. Routine. Getting the hang of parenthood, little to no sleep, and growing a bond with our little guy. I now see new moms with their babes at grocery stores and I’m like… whoa. That took me… literally 10 weeks to do by myself. And he cried a good chunk of the time when I did. Hah the delay for getting out on my own with him was because of the C-section – I was not supposed to carry the carseat with Henry in it on my own for 8 weeks due to recovery. Dan returned to work as soon as we came home from the hospital (he works from home though), but it was mainly me and H during the day. And after 5pm, Dan would kind of take over and I’d shower or rest up for the nighttime – which was always a crap shoot as to how much sleep we’d get.
- How much did he sleep as a newborn?
- That first month he slept a ton. Would nap anywhere and would nap hard. After a month, naps became shorter, harder to begin, he preferred sleeping on people being held as opposed to laying down.
- Would love to know how you organize Henry’s stuff! What goes in dresser versus closet?
- Right now his closet just has some fall and winter sweaters hanging. His drawers are organized by size… so top drawer is 0-3 w/ nightgowns on left, bottoms in the middle, and onesies on the right. Diapers and changing materials in another top drawer. Larger clothes are in bottom drawers.
- What is Henry’s middle name?
- Thomas – my dad’s name! Henry Thomas Schmieder
- Did you have any help in the first weeks Henry arrived?
- We had a little bit of help, yes. Mine and Dan’s sister came over the afternoon we came home – they both brought food and helped us set up the house since it was not at all ready since Henry was two weeks early and my c-section changed how much I’d be able to get around the house. My mom and her husband came over the first two Sundays we were back and did major meal prep for us, did the dishes, walked the dogs… let us take naps! That helped a ton! That third week when they didn’t come I’m fairly certain we ordered takeout every night. Week four we managed to order groceries to be delivered and actually cooked ourselves that week – game changer. Hah but that’s about it! I was off work and Dan works from home so we kind of figured it out on our own. Oh – we did hire a dog walker to come during the day the first week back since I was basically immobile the first week and everything was on Dan. I went back to work after two months, and Dan’s parents come every Monday to watch Henry. We hired a part-time nanny for the rest of the work week which was a whole process I’ll explain more about later!
- Did you wait to bring him out in public?
- We brought him out in public the first week – we went to the doctors’ offices (mine and his), went for walks around the block… but really that’s it. We probably waited at least a month before going to a public place like a restaurant with him but it was basically empty and we sat outside… maybe he was 5 weeks then. I don’t really remember!
- How did you decide on nanny versus daycare?
- Two major factors: the few places I called only offered full-time infant daycare as opposed to part-time or shorter hours, which made it as expensive as a nanny. So for the sake of germs and us wanting to see him as much as possible, we went with the in-home nanny option – since we both work from home a ton, we can still see him throughout the day. Once he’s older and in need of more activity, we’ll likely switch to daycare or a Montessori school.
- How did you find a nanny?! The criteria, the process and the decision?
- First we used Care.com. It was not a great process. Most people just submit generic applications without reading our needs so it was SO much to weed through – and honestly something we didn’t have a ton of time to do. We did end up finding someone but she only stuck around three weeks… I think she found full-time work elsewhere. At this point we were moving and needed someone fast so we went through Gold Coast Nannies who provided us with several applicants immediately, we met, and hired our current nanny. Henry loves her and it’s going great.
NEW MOM LIFE
- Things that surprised you about motherhood?
- I actually JUST saw an ad on a bus stop that read: “He works two jobs but only gets paid for one” and the messaging was about being a caregiver: how it’s a full-time job with no pay. Hah this is accurate. It is nonstop. It is a lot of work. It is exhausting. It is completely selfless. Your body will ache, your eyes will hurt to stay open at times, your baby will be crying and you’ll be bouncing in your kitchen next to the exhaust fan for what feels like forever and on the verge of tears yourself… hah that is all real motherhood. It’s the farthest thing from easy. Rewarding? Of course. Amazing? To see this little person GROW and develop and get a personality and change? So so wonderful. But definitely difficult. The past month has been easier for sure – and I think it will keep getting easier. We just had a night reminiscent of life pre-Henry, but with Henry in our life… what am I trying to say… hah basically he fell asleep in his crib (because he does that now!) by 8pm, so Dan and I watched a movie in our room and cuddled which we haven’t really been able to do in months. It was so lovely. And just a little peek that it does in fact get easier. You do get the hang of it. You find a rhythm and a routine and learn what your child likes and doesn’t – which is also so so cool. Being HIS person who knows all his needs. Your face makes them smile when they wake up in the morning. It’s a really cool feeling. // update at 6 months: The past month, Henry has been going to bed by 6 or 7 every night and nights are all ours again. So yes… things get much easier!
- “Postpartum body and weightloss – I have anxiety about that!”
- Yes – I hear ya. My tum was never great but is extra soft and rounder around the middle than it was before. Still rocking my maternity jeans proudly because they have partly stretchy waist! It just is what it is… and my boobs. I’m really unhappy with how large they are and feel uncomfortable in most clothes. I really tried not to go crazy indulging during pregnancy because I know myself and knew losing the weight would be very difficult (I like cookies). I really didn’t eat that differently when I was pregnant and actually worked out more to try and avoid gaining too much weight because I knew I’d have a very hard time losing it. I ended up gaining around 20lbs which was my goal… // now, six months later, and I’m still 5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. Which was much higher than I’d like to be anyway. And for some reason, I’ve been indulging a ton. Maybe because I didn’t during pregnancy? Too many cookies. Wine again. No more working out. Ahh. Need. to. get. healthier, Alaina! I’ve worked out ONCE. One run, 2.5 miles. I miss it. But when Henry’s not awake or I’m not working or cooking (new hobby!), I just want to relax. Or sleep.
- Best post-partum underwear?
- Well I had a c-section so anything that hit me below my belly button (think underwear AND pants) hurt like heck for a couple weeks. So I continued wearing these high-rise mesh underwear from the hospital and then purchased more from Amazon. And I could only wear stretchy pants that hit well above my c-section scar for a month.
- Hardest part of being a new mom?
- I really missed my friends. And just socializing in general. And leaving the house was super difficult for a while because of the c-section recovery. Making plans is much harder now – especially if it involves Dan and me as opposed to just me seeing a gal pal. We see our families more than ever because for a while this summer our parents were helping us twice a week and it’s just easier to hang out at someone’s house (like our family does) rather than at a bar or restaurant (like friends typically do).
Alrighty… this was as far as I got before. So now it’s been 6 months but I’m going to try and answer as best as I remember!
- Tell us ALL ABOUT YOUR FORMULA! What brand, how do you make it, do you really have to make one bottle at a time, where can I buy it?
- I breastfed for the first four weeks but started supplementing pretty quickly because H needed way more milk than I was producing. If I’m being honest… I haaaated pumping. It almost gave me anxiety as soon as I’d start. And there was constant pressure to do it so I’d produce more. It was just a never-ending cycle. And the pumping was so time-consuming and took me away from Henry (or getting a few minutes of sleep in or getting anything other than sitting attached to a machine done). I also honestly didn’t even love nursing. Rocking Henry to sleep gave me just as much bonding – probably more, than nursing, since there’s a struggle and a fussiness to it. When Henry was a month, we went to Michigan for a funeral in the family. We were there three days or so, and this is really when I switched to formula full-time.
- We used Holle Pre at the recommendation of Dan’s sister who had premie twins. If you are making formula, you need this formula mixer pitcher. It allows you to make up to 30 ounces at once… we usually did 12, then 20 ounces at a time, kept it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and pour a new bottle every time Henry needed it. We’d never pour milk that had been drank from back into the pitcher, but we would keep uneaten milk in the bottle, and add more to it. It’s not the cheapest formula by any means, so we try not to waste it.
- Can you share about your transition from breastfeeding to bottle? Any tips?
- We used a bottle from the get go – even with pumped breast milk – because I never wanted to be the only one solely responsible for feeding Henry. It is a special bonding time – but also very time-consuming – so Dan was able to do a lot of the feedings, which really helped at night. I really didn’t want nipple confusion either so H got used to the boob and the bottle right off the bat.
- Any tips for pumping?
- Like I said, this was my least favorite part. A tubeless pump like Willow that fits into your bra is amazing if it’s in your budget. If it’s not – I recommend getting a pump for free through insurance. I went through Ashland Health – and I recommend one that can be charged and run on batteries so you can move it around the house.
- Favorite bottles?
- We used Dr. Brown’s bottles for the first month or so… complete with all the parts and a drying rack. But Henry was spitting up regardless, and we eventually switched to Comotomo slow flow bottles and became a 2 bottle household. It’s amazing. No more drying rack either.
- ALL THE SLEEP TRAINING ADVICE! What did you do, when to start, how long until he slept through the night?
- We used Taking Cara Babies infant sleep course and it worked like. a. charm. Henry’s been a pretty great sleeper thanks to Cara’s tips. You start it at 4 weeks, but I recommend reading before baby is born since you’ll have a harder time finding time with that new bundle of love.
- Tell us about napping – when, where, in what? Scheduled?
- I kind of addressed this earlier… he was a classic newborn: napping everywhere always. Then it got a bit more difficult where he wanted to sleep on people. Cara goes over all of this sleep schedule though that you can start after the babe is 4 weeks old. Take the course. Stick to the schedule as best as possible. It’s awesome. We still follow the rules of her second course!
- Did Henry have a dreaded witching hour? If so, when did it end?
- Ahh I don’t remember. How bad is that. I think for a short time he did… how helpful am I?
- What swaddle(s) does Henry sleep in?
- The first couple of weeks when he was itty bitty we used the hospital swaddles! Then we got this Happiest Baby 5-second swaddle and LOVED it. Used it every single night. The mesh kept it from getting too hot. I actually recommend getting two in case they pee through their clothes and you need to wash it and they need to sleep.
- Do you prefer Ollie or Happiest baby swaddle?
- Happiest Baby. We got the Ollie – but Henry did the best in the Happiest Baby. He eventually started outgrowing it and we used the Ollie for a bit – but it wasn’t long before he started busting out and we put him in the crib in his Merlin Suit.
- Is the Merlin Suit super warm? Does he wear a sleeper under it?
- It definitely seemed warm – we had the cotton one – so we were sure to keep the room cool – 68/69 degrees and kept him in a pantless onesie. He was only in this for about 3 weeks and it was amazing for his crib transition. The only reason we started the Merlin suit and crib was because he was busting out of his swaddle so easily. This happened a bit before 4 months. He’s been sleeping MUCH better since he’s been in a crib – and so have we!
- #1 product to help with sleep?
- Swaddle and Merlin suit + sound machine (which is advised in Cara’s newborn sleep class – it’s not to block out sound, it’s to mimic the swooshing sound of the womb). He still sleeps with it in, and now it does block out sound which is great (ie when we have people over and it’s a bit loud).
- How did you handle your baby’s earlier-than-yours bedtime?
- We basically went to bed when he did – which was usually between 8-10pm. There was no way of knowing how the night would go and how many times we’d be up, so we’d just go to sleep then too.
- Did taking turns at night end up being the best solution?
- Yes. x10000. I know myself and my need for sleep to function so there was no other option + it gave Dan great bonding time too. He’s just the best dad.
- When you say he “slept through the night,” is that like 8pm-8am with no feedings?
- Ooo trying to remember. The first month he was up at least twice a night to eat. Then I think after he was a month or so, he’d go down at 8-ish, we’d then do a “Dream feed” at 10 or 11, and he’d hopefully sleep until 4 or 5. We considered that through the night! We’d take turns with that dream feed and early feed so one of us would go to bed early and get up early, while the other did the late feed and sleep in a bit longer.
- Now that you’re back at work, are you tempted to push bedtime for more time with him?
- No… his sleep matters more. Actually, I can say now that he’s 6 months, it’s really hard because on work days I only see him for like an hour and a half in the morning and an hour before he goes to bed after work. It really sucks. 🙁 And I’m super lucky because twice a week I get to work from home and see him throughout the day which most working moms don’t. It’s a balance I’m happy with.
- What is your bedtime routine?
- Jammies, dim lighting, turn on the sound machine, I sing Henry a few of the same songs (usually Feed the Birds and Over the Rainbow), we’ll try and read him a book. Rock him with a bottle. He goes to bed.
- How old was Henry when you decided to let him start sleeping in the crib / room alone?
- This happened all of a sudden one day – he was around 3.5/4 months old and was super easy. He sleeps much better in his crib and loves it. We have this organic mattress and it’s super soft!
THE GEAR & OTHER STUFF
- Is the Moses basket worth it? So cute but not sure how much I’d use it.
- Ehh no. It’s not. We used it some… I thought he’d sleep in it at night. But ultimately he slept in the bassinet part of his pack-n-play in our room for the first two weeks or so, and then he slept in the bassinet that came with his Uppababy Vista stroller. We will likely get the Uppababy stand and use this for the next babe, as well, so it can fit right next to our bed.
- How long did you use the SnuggleMeOrganic for?
- Henry loved this immediately and slept in it for the 1-2 months during the day. And it allowed me to take a nap next to him which was honestly so special. But then one day he decided to be picky about where he napped, so like everything with babies, it’s a short-term item. I wish it worked longer because it was cozy and easy to move around the house. He could sleep in it on the dining table next to us while we worked.
- What is one product that you didn’t think you would need but love now?
- The bottle warmer! I figured “not necessary – we can just boil water the old fashioned way and stick the bottle in it.” Which is what we did for at least a month or two. Finally we got this warmer. And we still use it. My brother recommended this one (they had their third babe four months before Henry) and it’s amazing. You don’t have to measure out a specific amount of water each time – you just tell it how many ounces are in the bottle and it knows. We still use it and actually bring it with us when we stay overnight at the grandparents.
- What apps did you use for pregnancy and what are you using now?
- We mainly use the Glow Baby app once Henry was born to track feedings, poop, and sleep – more experienced parents laughed when I told them… but we were diligent for at least the first two months – maybe three. Now we write down his feeds in ounces and track his naps just on a pad of paper that our nanny also uses. We want to make sure he’s eating enough before bed time (at least 30 ounces as of 5 months) – that way we know he doesn’t need night time feeds. Now I use Glow baby to track his height and weight along the curve.
- As for pregnancy… ah I think I used The Bump app the most!
- What registry items are still “must haves?” Any items you didn’t use at all?
- We love our Uppababy Vista stroller. Love Mori clothes. Love the Loveverybaby Playmat. 4Moms Mamaroo. Aden & Anais Muslin swaddles. SO MANY BURP CLOTHS.
- Is the Uppababy Vista heavy to close or load in the car?
- It was heavy for me at first and now it doesn’t seem it at all. Hah holding a baby all day every day will really strengthen your arms! Hah
- How is the Loic (white) color on your Vista holding up dirt-wise?
- 6 months later, so far so good! 🙂
- Do you really need bouncers? Did you like the Coco Bloom or just the Rock N Play?
- Alrighty! The verdict I was just relaying to my employee who is due with a boy next month… I’d get a Mamaroo or the Rock-n-Play, something that moves that the babe could possibly nap in. The Rock-n-Play folds up and is easy to travel with (we had both… long story)! So I’d get one of those, and then if you have a two-story house, I’d also get an easy-to-move around bouncer like the Coco Bloom or the Bjorn. We keep that one upstairs and it’s a great looking docking station for Henry when I’m getting dressed, showering, doing make-up, making the bed, anything. I can lift it easily with one hand and move it around upstairs.
- What baby wash and products do you use on Henry?
- We only use the Mustela soap collection so far but open to trying others! We got two of these sets at the showers and are still only on the first kit! (You can only bathe a newborn like twice a week so you don’t use a ton!)
- When Henry had his first cold, what health products did you use?
- Oh gosh, Zanni’s or something available at Target? None of it helped. 🙁 He had two colds before 6 months old and you really can’t do anything to make it better. We used the NoseFrida, Zanni’s infant chest rub, saline drops, he slept with a humidifier, and BoogyWipes.
- Favorite clothing brands for newborns?
- Mori zip-up sleepsuits are our favorite. Also loooove the BoodyBaby organic onesie because it’s lightweight and the zipper goes both ways which helps w/ diaper changes. Henry wore this for like three weeks straight. But for itty bitty newborns (month 1 definitely), I just recommend gowns for nighttime sleep since it makes the changes MUCH easier with their little bodies.
- What diaper bag do you recommend?
- We use the Herschel diaper bag and it’s fine! Not sure what we’d need differently. Love that it has a long strap and looks great for Dan or me to carry.
- Top three products you REALLY used that I should put on me registry?
- Mamaroo (we jokingly called this the morning babysitter) since he’d fall asleep in it for at least an hour or so… we actually didn’t register for this and bought it a couple weeks into him being home. Keep in mind I’ve heard some babies don’t like this so there’s truly no way to know! If you have someone you can borrow it from, go that route! This stuff gets expensvie.
- Aden and Anais swaddles –> we use these muslin blankets for everything, blanket, swaddles, cleaning up spit-up, stroller cover, carseat cover… we always have one on hand
- Lovevery Baby playmat and toy subscription services! They’re the only toys H uses.
So that’s that! I CANNOT believe how long ago this feels now. Life got SO much easier this past month. Month 4 was really rough with the sleep regression, the move, and Henry getting sick for two weeks… but month 2-3 with Cara’s tips was really great, and this last month has been awesome where he sleeps 10-12 hours at night.
For any new or expecting moms reading this, just know – the newborn phase is over in the blink of an eye. So when it seems like you’ll never sleep again or the baby won’t stop crying, know how precious and rare those cuddles are… they’re over before you know it. Henry is already SO much less cuddly. He just wants to move! He loves being held but it’s so he can look around at the world. 🙂
Also – I CANNOT RECOMMEND TAKING CARA’S COURSE ENOUGH! It truly made life so much easier for us.
You can see our full baby registry here! The only thing we truly didn’t use was the wipe warmer. Well, we used it for a couple weeks… but ultimately you do not need it. And we stopped using the bottle drying rack after the first month because we went to two bottles and just didn’t need it.
I hope this helps!