Fourth Trimester Retro Pt 2

Random Observation/Comment #598: Quality over quantity. Time will pass by in a blink, but we’ll have the memories.

While we cover the dress, travel, and play-time aspect of the Fourth Trimester in Part 1, this section will focus on people and relationships – you, each other, family, and friends with the newborn.

Visits

Everyone is probably super excited to see your bundle of joy. We decided to not have visitors until closer to the 3rd/4th week. We were still figuring out the routine and we were too sleep deprived to host anything.

Must-Haves

  • Clear Expectations of Visit – Expect that your visitor(s) will likely only hold the baby while you hang out and catch up with them. Since they’re a guest, you’ll likely still need to do some stuff like offer food and drink.
  • Set Start & End time – Be stern with the baby’s existing schedule and make sure the visitor is there during a less fussy time. Remember to keep visits under 2.5 hours.
  • Hand sanitizer and soap – Remind guests to wash their hands

Refined System

  • Feed Baby 30 Minutes Before Visit – A well-fed baby is better behaved than a hungry one. No one wants to hold a crying baby.
  • Keep Food Simple – Unless you’re super organized and want to schedule a potluck for people to bring you food, I suggest to schedule the visit before or after lunch time. Don’t make a huge mess or else you’ll have to clean it up afterwards. It’s also okay to just order in and focus this time to catch up with friends and tell stories. Ordering bagels for an early morning 1.5 to 2 hour visit is perfect. Keep cooking to a minimum.
  • Avoid the Witching Hour – Evie was a colicky baby so around 4pm-6:30pm was prime time for fussiness. Having visitors around this time was not fun for anyone.

Soothing While Keeping Your Sanity

When your baby is colicky, you’ll get used to loud cries as well as gain ninja-like responses to those cries. Colic and even plain ol’ fussiness tend to peak around week 6 and significantly decline after 3 months. Newborns are born with the Moro reflex, a startle reflex where the baby feels like they’re falling, which is why things like swaddling that mimic life in the womb are so calming. These kinds of soothing techniques (pretty much Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s) plus treating gassiness were the most effective for Evie’s colic.

Must-Haves

  • Swaddle blankets (including Swaddle Sack and Miracle Blanket) – While we know the burrito baby fold, we found that Evie was super strong and broke out of it within minutes. At least with the Halo Swaddle sack and Miracle Blanket, she could move her hands out and still feel tightly held around the chest.
  • Probiotic drops or Gripe water – We’re not really sure if this actually worked, but the placebo effect is enough to make us feel we were doing the most we can
  • Bottles that remove gas – We used Dr. Brown’s. While they can be annoying to clean, they are well worth the trouble.
  • White Noise apps / machines – This could be an app on your phone or YouTube video. We recommend this as a sleep trigger for future sleep training.
  • Patience – Babies cry and you’ll go through your checklist of hungry, diaper, or tired.

Refined System

  • Routines – We established a schedule where at 4pm, around witching hour time, we administered the probiotic drops and at 6pm, we gave her a bath and start bedtime. This also helped get her (and us) on a reliable routine.
  • Diet – As Evie was still breastfeeding, our pediatrician gave Vinessa a list of foods and drinks to avoid, like coffee and chocolate. She’s just now introducing them to her diet and assessing Evie’s reactions.
  • Harvey Karp’s 5s’s – We read the book although others have recommended the video.
  • Playtime – While walking her in the stroller or carrier would calm her at that moment, we noticed that the more she was in them during the day, the fussier she was that evening. Playing and helping her move her body around, helped reduce gas. See special section below.
  • Breaks + Help – Clemens made it a point to be home to put Evie down for bed so Vinessa could make dinner. This was actually a nice mental break for her.  We also hired a wonderful part time nanny/sitter for 2 days a week. Not only was Vinessa able to have time to herself, but we were able to go on date nights.
  • Support – Listening to your baby wail, can be beyond stressful. We relied on our support network. Vinessa regularly talked with her family and friends and joined a new mom’s group.
    • Daddy Tip: Offering unsolicited advice, no matter how well meaning, may only make the recipient feel much worse. If you see a parent is overwhelmed, try asking them how you can help instead of offering suggestions on what to do.  

Self Care

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It’s natural to go above and beyond, but this is an 18-year marathon.

Must-Haves

  • Help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You need people who are basically okay with taking orders from you and you’re comfortable with them caring for your baby as you take a nap or shower.  Remember: More than 1 or 2 people makes it a Visit (and is not help).
  • Food – We prepped a lot of freezer meals as part of the nesting phase. These had been useful for quick meals. Remember to treat yourself to those sushi urges. Keep snacks around the house that you can eat with one hand and don’t require a lot of preparation. Mommy will need this especially if she’s breastfeeding.
  • Sleep – There’s no substitution for sleep, but it’s very unlikely to get any 8-hour uninterrupted deep sleeps. It’s important to sleep when the baby sleeps. Even if you can’t sleep, just rest and close your eyes without any tech distractions.
  • Sunlight and outdoors – Cabin fever is real. You must make time for yourself to take a walk around the park and do something active. This becomes easier after the first 4-6 weeks when everyone’s a little more comfortable with longer travels.

Refined System

  • Routine of Shared Responsibility – Work on “shifts” especially when the parents start working. Clemens had the 6:30pm to midnight shift and Vinessa headed to bed around 8pm. During this time, we created a portable changing station outside of the bedroom so there’s less interruptions of sleep.
  • Free time (at least 2-3 hours per week) – Vinessa could go get mani/pedi and Clemens could go play some table tennis. After the first month, we were more comfortable doing other activities and playdates.
  • Date night (3-4 hours per week) – It’s a good idea to talk to each other like human beings about something other than the baby. It’s difficult to find topics that don’t lead you back to babies, but surely we must still have something else in common. Admittedly, our first date night was watching videos and photos of her at a really nice restaurant.

~See Lemons and Vnessa with an Eye for Naps

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