From when Dylan was a newborn - 4 months this was our routine:
Baby wakes up between 4am-8am and needs a diaper change.
She sleeps and then wakes up for the day between 9am-11am and usually needs a new diaper.
Then she's ready to eat and go back to sleep about 30 minutes later.
She'll eat for 10-20 minutes and sleep for 20-30 minutes in my arms.
Baby is awake for 30 minutes to an hour and usually needs a new diaper.
We try to switch it up between the swing, tummy time, laying on back and sitting up to play with toys.
*Repeat eat, sleep & play until 4pm when dad leaves to surf.
Around 4:30pm mom gets to take a 5 minute shower while baby watches from her bounce seat.
(we have a glass shower door so we can see each other the whole time)
Then the baby sleeps for the next hour or so until dad comes home around 6pm.
6pm she eats, sleeps & plays until about 9-10pm when she'd ready to sleep for the night.
Since we sleep together she will nurse during the night a couple times.
*Dylan and I sleep together in the guest room between a body pillow and a bed rail. I am a very light sleeper and make sure she is warm enough without using blankets over her. This sleeping style is what works for us and has helped us both sleep better through the night.
There is not much time to clean, pump my milk for bottles, do anything self-care related or even eat when the baby can't sit up on her own and prefers contact naps.
She hasn't taken to a bottle and pumping has felt like a chore since she nurses every 1.5 - 2 hours.
It's also hard for me to get help watching her to pump multiple times a day.
*future mamas take note that if you plan to use a breast pump, even with a wireless one it's much easier to have someone help you watch the baby for 15 -30 minutes as you pump.
Since it took about 2 weeks for my milk to come in, and my left breast had more supply she got used to nursing one breast at a time (not what a location consultant would suggest / most babies feed one and then the other breast in one session). I can't really leave for more than an hour since she eats so often, and although she would be safe and ok if she was crying, it is hard for me to image her being upset because I was away and she was hungry.
This routine can feel like a lot, it can make me compare myself to other mothers and parenting styles and feel like I've done everything "wrong". I know all of this is temporary, because she will slowly start to eat more solid foods and need my milk less and less. My daughter is healthy and happy, and I care more about that than my own self-care and freedom right now. Being a mother is something I have wanted for most of my life, so to sacrifice my time and energy is worth it to me.
While pregnant I started a list of all the women I knew who were having babies around the same time as me. A couple months after Dylan was born I arranged a mama meet up with most of the women on the list at a local park. It was great to connect and bring these women and their babies together.
Since then I've attended one of my friends mama meet ups that she hosts and tried to build relationships with the other women there. I will say when hanging out with other mamas it can be both a blessing and a burden, because sometimes I feel isolated or lonely afterwards. Many times I don't relate to what the other women lifestyle is with their baby. This particular group of women in my friends group appear to be very anti-vaccine which is fine, but it makes me feel outcasted since I've chosen to get Dylan vaccinated based on the CDC schedule for babies.
When choosing to follow the vaccine schedule I asked many other women what they did (if they delayed or if they had any issues when getting their babies vaccinated). About half the women I heard from said they chose the delayed option, but when I thought about it and talked to my partner we decided it was best to go with the regular schedule. I also talked to my pediatrician who was not rude or and did not make me feel pressured to get them which I appreciated. I personally would never forgive myself if something happened to my baby because I didn't get her the recommended vaccines.
I went back to work when Dylan was 3 months old. Thankfully my job is now remote and I'm able to be home with her. However, when I have a zoom call or even answering my emails can be challenging, since babies need our attention 24/7. We found a babysitter through a facebook group who's been with us since Dylan was 6 weeks old. She helps out a few hours a week and has been such a blessing to our family. Since the baby hasn't taken to a bottle I've only left her for 2 hours with the babysitter and Matt. Imagining her crying is hard for me, so I've decided teaching and taking fitness classes or going to a self-care appointments can wait a few more months. Now that she's 6 months old we've started to introduce water and baby food which makes me feel better that if I was gone she could eat and drink a little bit. I have no desire to ever put her in daycare and feel so fortunate to be able to work from home. I can't imagine having to spend my whole salary on childcare and be away from her 5 days a week. For socialization purposes Dylan will do things like swim classes or music classes until she is about 3 years old. From there I would like to put her in a Montessori program a couple days a week. As tiring and time consuming as it is to be home with her all day every day I still love it and cherish these small moments while they last. One day she'll be in school and I can teach and take classes, get my hair done etc. so to sacrifice them for now is worth it to me.
From when Dylan was a newborn - 5+ months this was our routine:
When I went back to work at 3 months and had to start waking up / getting out of bed earlier she started to wake up between 7:30am - 8:30am. Some days I'm able to get up and let her solo sleep for 15 - 45 mins.
After she wakes up I change her diaper and put her in the swing for 10 -15 mins. Then we play for about an hour before she eats and sleeps again. When she wakes up 20 - 30 minutes later we repeat the loop of play eat sleep.
Around 5 months I realized I felt like I had to constantly engage and entertain her which made me feel extra tired by nighttime. After some research I was reminded that independent play is developed by letting the baby explore and hangout in silence. Of course I am paying attention to her the whole time, but it's helped me better understand her little moans and coo's. She lets me know when she wants me to play with her, and other times she's ok playing alone.
At 6 months I also started adding a 20 minute stroller walk with her seated facing forward with an insert (to prevent her head bobbing around) after her 1st morning nap, and then will feed her baby food around 11am. She continues to go through the loop of play, eat & sleep until around 4:30pm when I put her in the carrier and we go for our evening stroll around the neighborhood. Usually I stay silent for both walks of the day letting her listen to the wind in the trees and birds singing.
I've noticed that everyones 1st question is always "are you getting any sleep?" From family to strangers I encounter on our walks this is the one thing people ask me. I find it funny because we actually do get sleep since we sleep together, and kind of always have. I am also a very light sleeper, so I never truly "get any sleep", but I wonder why other parents don't understand that there are so many other challenges besides sleep. Perhaps it's just a surface level question such as "how's the weather?" or "how are you?" knowing the persons response will probably be GOOD. I will do my best to ask other parents alternative questions, such as "how is your support system?" or "are you getting outside and out of the house every day?". Those two topics I think should be talked about opening because having a support system and getting out of the house every day is SO important for your own sanity.
We'll see how these next 6 months go! We are taking our first trip at the end of this month to visit my family and friends in Arizona. I look forward to spending time with people I love but I am nervous about the long car ride. I will make sure to include those details on my next blog post :)
Want to hear more about the routines we've developed? Need support as a fellow mama? Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org