The first few days with Isobel reminded me so much of the early days with my eldest. The house was calm, quiet and filled with a sense of wonder, almost. At the risk of sounding really cheesy, we all totally fell in love with her. Well, almost all- Luka took a little longer to get used to her, but I suppose at two years old that’s to be expected. It was hard for him to see his daddy holding her or changing her nappy, but we made sure we reassured him as much as we could. It’s amazing how much one tiny person can completely change the lives of so many!
During her first night in the hospital, Isobel slept and slept and slept- in contrast to her brother’s first night which was a fraught affair filled with screaming and plenty of motherly tears. I honestly felt blessed and could barely sleep for watching her little chest rise and fall, rise and fall. The next morning, I tried to wake her for a feed but she was still so dozy. With the promise of being able to take her home that afternoon, I agreed to a syringe feed and let her drift back to sleep again. So you can see why I was practically skipping (metaphorically of course, having had a c-section) up to bed the next night, ready for another blissful night’s sleep. I guess that was my first lesson learned- never assume you know a baby, especially one who is just a day old.
Isobel did not sleep well that first night. She exposed me as a rooky parent at a time when I honestly believed I knew it all. She soon brought me back to earth and I prepared her bedside a lot better after that. We have a co-sleeper cot and it needed adjusting so that everything I needed was right next to me, including pain killers and pillows to prop her on during the feeds.
We settled into a night time routine which became easier and easier. Isobel proved herself to be a fairly relaxed baby, mostly only waking for a brief period to feed and then settle back in her bed. She hardly suffered with wind, fed every two hours and needed a few nappy changes at night. We were getting on well!
By the end of the first month, Isobel and I had started to get to know each other better and the old tried and tested baby strategies began to come back to me. She liked to be swaddled for her sleeps and occasionally needed a dummy to help her settle back again. There were no real surprises. The Babybay bedside cot worked so well that nobody else woke up when she did, which was a major concern given how terribly Luka sleeps. All in all, our first month passed us by so quickly and with no major issues at all!
Of course, it wasn’t all complete plain sailing. I know by now that babies are demanding creatures and there were a few days which felt a little harder than others. One day trip to the Imperial War Museum ended in tension because Isobel wanted to feed pretty much the whole time we were there, but luckily there are plenty of discreet corners for that. I found that wearing her in the Moby wrap was one of the best ways to settle her quickly and it really helped with the bonding too. Another such occasion came when we were trying to entertain all the children in the house on a rainy day and it became a bit of a battle ground with the toddler. I have to admit that this was the first time I allowed myself to go back to my son’s birth and relive a little of the terrific stress that followed. I ended up putting the rain cover on the pram and taking the older ones out to splash in puddles for a while. It worked a treat.
Isobel’s frst month saw a lot of changes for us. Luka’s behaviour became a bit of an issue and sleep deprivation did start to take its toll on me. Physically, Isobel made huge leaps. She was born at 5lb 15oz and dropped to 5lb 13oz after birth. Despite her tiny stature, her next weigh in at ten days old was 6lb 8oz! She has continued to gain weight really well, ending the month at a whopping 8lb! I think that Isobel’s easy birth and calm nature did so much for my own emotional strength during this month. I was able to really think about my issues surrounding my son’s birth and truly felt so lucky for a second chance to get it right. But with that came my own guilt at the ways in which I struggled two years ago with a tiny baby. Left over pregnancy hormones appear to still be raging through my body even one month after the birth!