Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Unsolicited advice to any future first-time mothers…  1

Posted on August 22nd, 2007. About Baby Dodds, Ramblings.

Since Gabriel’s birth on July 14th, I have had the chance to learn quite a bit through trial and error. I’ll share here some of the tidbits I’ve picked up, in hopes that I may save some other woman the trouble.

  • Breastfeeding is not necessarily easy, despite being “nature’s way to feed your baby.” In fact, it is downright frustrating the first week – neither baby nor mother knows what they’re doing, and this, combined with sleep deprivation and the fact that a mother doesn’t produce milk for 3–5 days after birth, makes for quite an ordeal.
  • This brings me to my next point – everyone will reassure a new mother that colostrum (pre-milk substance – thick, present in small amounts, high in antibodies, and present until milk arrives) is all the baby physiologically needs until milk arrives. These same people will assure a new mother that her baby will not “starve.” However, this does not mean the baby will not feel hunger, particularly if he/she needs a few days to get the hang of breastfeeding. If a newborn is inconsolably fussy the first night home from the hospital, and after three-plus hours of non-stop screaming – and the diaper isn’t dirty/wet, I was assured by a pediatrician that breastfeeding, followed by formula supplementation, for the first few days would not jeopardize breastfeeding capabilities down the road. This turned out to be correct.
  • If the baby is fussy, and has an elevated temperature when measured with a thermometer, make sure he/she isn’t over-swaddled or overdressed. Place him/her in only a diaper and a onesie, wait a few minutes, and recheck it.
  • For parents of baby boys – cover their areas when diaper changing until you get fast at this chore, or else consider yourself (and the baby’s cute outfit you’ve just placed him in) wet.
  • For a full-term newborn baby, I think Pampers Swaddlers are the way to go when the baby first comes home. We tried another brand of newborn diapers too, but with leakage – the Swaddlers didn’t leak, but they were a little more expensive.
  • The BabyBjorn is an awesome creation – have one handy before the baby arrives home from the hospital. You will value the ability to have a happy infant close to you while simultaneously having your hands free to cook and do laundry.
  • If your mother offers to come and assist around the house during that first week, by all means take her up on it. This is not a moment for pride.
  • Know that infants have a fussy period during a certain time of the day – Gabriel’s is in the evening. He’s not hungry, doesn’t need a diaper change, isn’t too hot or too cold – just fussy sometimes. We have started giving him his bath in the evening rather than in the morning, and it calms him down tremendously. I think he now associates the bath with feeding afterwards and then falling asleep.
  • Mothers – indulge, and buy a rocking chair. You will love rocking your baby in it!
  • Be grateful if your husband/significant other is as crazy about the baby as you are. I’m fortunate that Evan loves Gabriel so much and that he has been so supportive during midnight diaper changes and in taking him in the evenings when the fussiness starts (perhaps it’s parental bias, but G is adorable even when fussing!). Here’s to excellent fathers!
  • Your engagement ring will likely not fit after the baby is born. Find a good jeweller and know you aren’t alone.
  • The adage about sleeping while the baby is sleeping is true.
  • Don’t feel silly spending countless moments staring in awe at your baby. Mine truly amazes me, and at times, when I might have a free moment to clean for five minutes, I find myself instead kissing the top of his head or enjoying his small fingers wrapping themselves around my pinky. He is already growing so quickly, and I know how much I will miss (and treasure) this time. 

An eventful week  0

Posted on August 21st, 2007. About Baby Dodds, Ramblings.

Okay, so Gabriel is only five-plus weeks old, but it seems like he is growing so quickly. Last week we took him to the pediatrician for his one-month well child visit, and he weighed 11 lbs 1.5 oz (up from 8 lbs 10 oz at birth) and is 22.75 inches long – 90th percentile for both, and height-weight proportional. Amazing! We took this photograph while he was in the exam room – I caught him starting to coo.

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Then, the following day Evan, Gabriel, and I flew to Wisconsin for my sister-in-law’s wedding (Gabriel’s Aunt Martha). The event was very nice, and we enjoyed being present for the big event. It was also a good setting for Gabriel to meet his Dodds grandparents, aunts, and uncles, including his newest uncle (Uncle Adam, Martha’s husband). I was worried about the trip, which involved a flight to Milwaukee, but it went quite smoothly. Given how chronically sleep-deprived we all are, and all of the equipment that travels with an infant (carseat, portable crib, diaper bag, clothes, etc), AND the fear that he would start fussing on the airplane, it went as well as we could have hoped! We borrowed a BabyBjorn for the trip, and Gabriel slept in it through check-in and security, woke up at the gate and fussed as we got on the plane, but then settled down as I fed him during take-off. Then, he slept through the entirety of the three-plus hour flight! He awoke just as descent began, and I fed him again through this. He was delightful. He travelled well through the trip, and even slept through the wedding ceremony. We received many comments about how well-behaved he was.  Our flight home was more challenging – a 10:25AM flight was delayed until we finally left Milwaukee at 2:45PM, but again – all persevered. The flight on the way home was four-plus hours long, and Gabriel was awake for the second half of it, but between feedings and diaper changes he did very well, and again – we were proud parents as other passengers complimented his stellar behavior.

Here is a picture of us at the reception, taken by Evan’s (and Gabriel’s) Uncle John:

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So, a successful trip!

Gabriel at Three Weeks  0

Posted on August 4th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

Today at 5:47AM, Gabriel turned three weeks old! In a way, it has been such a lengthy journey and I can’t believe it has only been three weeks. In quite another, it’s strange that our son is already three weeks old, and in seeing changes in him nearly daily now, it’s sad that it will pass so quickly!

I have had so many wonderful moments with him – just after his bath, when he’s clean, soft, alert, and relaxed, he will feed well, and then drift off to sleep as he fills his small belly. As those lids get droopier and droopier over his huge, beautiful blue eyes, and his tiny baby fingers wrap themselves around my pinky finger, I feel easily overwhelmed by how amazing he is. That being said, when he’s fussy, he has quite the set of lungs! Evan believes he may have a future as an opera singer – let’s hope. I think he may be an artist – we have a painting by my friend, physician and painter Curt Grob, on the wall behind the couch in our living room with very vivid colors. Gabriel will fixate on faces close to him (I’m told babies can focus up to 12 inches away when they are this young), but then he’ll stare off into space, and nine times out of ten he is staring at Curt’s painting. No matter where we are in the living room, he manages to find the painting and gawk at it. My mother believes his future lies in the world of professional golf (how do you predict these things when a person is this young?!).

We experienced the two-week “well-child check-up” on Monday, and he received high marks – he now weighs 9 lbs 9 oz (up from 8 lbs 10 oz at birth, which initially fell to 7 lbs 14 oz after a few large meconium poops!) and is 22 1/4 inches long. Our pediatrician is awesome – to convey a bit of what he is like, he was John Belushi’s roommate in college, and found he medicine after a brief career in stand-up comedy.

Here are some more recent images of our little one:

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We love these little night gowns – they’re warm, but not sweltering, and the ends of the sleeves fold over to keep him from scratching himself. Baby nail care is something I’m still learning. Anyway, he’s just adorable when he’s alert – his eyes deviously take in his surroundings – almost as though he’s up to something.

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Here he is, recharging. When he’s asleep, he looks so much like Evan did as a baby. Actually, when he’s awake he looks a lot like Evan too. It’s hard to say exactly what comes from Evan vs from me – he’s a nice combination of us. I confess to having hoped for a redheaded baby! It may not stay that way forever, but it makes for cute baby pictures.

Many thanks to those of you who have called, visited, sent gifts, brought food – all are greatly appreciated! I’m sure he already feels like a very loved little boy.

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