Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Although already three months have passed, the day that my son was born feels like it was only moments ago. I would agree with many that this is because it is one of the most exhilarating moments in my life, but I would also say that it is in part due to the ongoing sleep deprivation that my wife and I are continuing to experience!
The time lapse began with five days in the NICU. Additionally, from complications during delivery, my wife was held under observation and was not discharged until the fourth day. During these first days, my time was spent either at our son’s crib side, or with my wife. I slept only a few hours in total. Thankfully, the NICU was only two floors away, on the other end of the building; an appreciated walk to restart my circulation after sitting for extended hours at a time.
The first hours in the NICU were the hardest for me. Upon my son’s arrival, the nurses began hooking him up to various equipment, and then proceeded to insert a needle into his tiny body. I was told it would be best if I left during this part, but my fatherly instinct could not bear to walk away. After five unsuccessful attempts, they managed to obtain proper needle placement. The first attempts had either blown out my son’s veins, or failed to hold their placement in his tiny limbs. Watching this take place, my son screaming in terror with blood dripping from his small hands and wrists, was the most gut-wrenching, heart breaking moment of my life.
Over the next several days, the nursing staff worked diligently with me to ensure that not only was I comfortable holding my son, but that I was well trained to change his diaper, properly feed him, and put him to sleep.What an amazing team of nurses!
Once my wife was allowed to come join us in the NICU, time seemed to start moving faster, and some days later we were finally home.
Weeks 2 – 8:
The next seven weeks at home are hard to differentiate. With my paternity leave and a week of personal time, I was able to be at home for several weeks. Wouldn’t it be great if fathers were given as much time for child bonding as is given to mothers? Perhaps my employer will take note of this example!
Since our son had developed a routine in the NICU, my wife and I were able to continue it at home. Although the nursing staff described his routine as eating every three hours, it surely felt more involved and demanding once we were without their professional assistance.
Example night time cycle:
2:50 AM – groggily wake up to prepare bottle and change diaper;
3:00-3:45 AM – give bottle to son, and keep him upright for 20 minutes in order to avoid excessive spit up;
3:50 AM – get son back in bed (This is an amazing invention that has greatly helped my wife and I put our son to sleep!);
Example day time cycle:
2:50 PM – prepare bottle and change diaper;
3:00-3:45 PM – give bottle to son and keep him upright for 20 minutes in order to avoid excessive spit up;
3:50 PM – hopefully, be able to get son back to sleep (You will be glad you bought this!);
To my amazement, although we set alarms to ensure that we woke up, our son’s cries were, without fail, always on queue, and at times, even a full 30 minutes early. Due to our son being fed with a bottle from the very beginning, he was not willing to latch on my wife to be breastfed, so my wife would use this time to pump her breast milk. Including the time to get the parts together, pump her milk for his next feeding, and then clean up, the time worked out to be fairly equal to the time that I spent performing the outlined cycle. It is worth noting that although my wife was pumping her breast milk, we still heavily relied on formula to supplement our son’s diet.
Although a seemingly simple enough schedule, imagine trying to incorporate showering, using the bathroom, taking care of personal hygiene, preparing meals, washing and sterilizing bottles, going to the grocery store, and handling all of the other aspects of life that fail to take a break just because your child was born. It is staggering the amount of work and diligent effort it takes to get through this initial period, which is all the more reason to be as prepared as possible for this hectic time! (Be on the look out for an upcoming post in which I will outline the most valuable things that we did in preparation for our son’s arrival!)
I do not know how new parents are able to do all of this on their own. Thankfully, the first several weeks my father, mother, and mother in law were happy to offer us assistance. It is amazing the beneficial effects of being able to sleep through a night time cycle in order to sleep four and a half hours instead of just two!
I have read that some babies sleep a long while each night from the time that they are born. How wonderfully delightful for parents so fortunate!
Going Back To Work & Month 3:
When I returned to work, my mother and mother in law continued to step in to help my wife a few days a week. Additionally, near the end of our son’s seventh week, we hired a lactation consultant to assist with teaching my wife and son how to breast feed. By week 9, they had both become regular professionals!
Another benefit that started to take form, once breastfeeding became a reality, was that my wife and I were able to begin alternating night time cycles. Since at this time our son was still on the schedule of eating every three hours, which he is still on now even at 14 weeks, both my wife and I were able to gain another 2 to 2.5 hours of sleep back per night. Granted, we both usually wake up to his nightly cries of hunger, but it is a wonderful relief when you know that it is your turn to roll over and close your eyes. On a side note, an exciting thing that happened this week is that our son slept through his expected feeding time by an hour and a half! Of course I had to throw away the bottle of formula that I had prepared, but I could care less knowing that we may be at a turning point which results in longer night time sleep cycles.
As I mentioned, at the time of writing this article, our son is in his 14th week, which means my wife has now returned to work. To that point, we are still relying on formula to supplement our son’s diet. Additionally, with the demands of returning to work, we are expecting my wife’s milk supply to start declining. Our plan is to give him every milliliter that she is able to produce, but in trying to be a supportive husband, I am intentionally reminding my wife that our son will still grow amazingly well even when continuing to provide him breast milk becomes infeasible. As a part of my efforts to encourage my wife, I often remind her that according to my mother, I was only breast fed for two weeks before I became fully reliant on formula; and look how well I turned out!
In closing, it is hard to comprehend how quickly our son’s first three months of life have gone by. Although these have been the most sleep deprived, and at times, most stressful moments in my life, as the cycles and routine inevitably become easier to manage, I imagine that my wife and I will look back to these early months and wish that we could come back!
P.S. As our son’s finger nails have been hardening, despite our best attempts to trim and file them regularly, at times he has severely scratched himself. In order to prevent this from occurring, we have bought these mittens for him. He is not bothered by them at all, and mom and dad no longer feel guilty for him scratching himself!
P.P.S. The area in which we live is notoriously known for having a lot of mosquitoes. At first, this was not a problem because we rarely had time to venture outside with him. However, now that my wife and I are getting more confident, we wanted a means to be able to protect our son from the vicious creatures without causing him any harm. After during plenty of research, we decided to purchase this product. Not only does it smell great, but we have not seen any of the formidable foes dare to approach his precious skin!