0-3 month recap

How is Navy 5 months old?! The past 5 months have flown by (even in quarantine). Before I forget the ins and outs of the first few months, I figured I'd do a recap and provide some useful information. We all know that the first few months are filled with sleepless nights, healing, figuring shit out, and the occasional meltdown. But more importantly, it's the most magical time.

The greatest advice I got

  • Enjoy every moment, even the sleepless nights, because it goes by so fast- This couldn't be more true. Navy is almost 5 months old as I write this, and I can't get over how fast time is going. I actually have moments where I feel sad. I miss her delivery (I know, I'm one of very few), I miss the few days in the hospital (pre-Covid 19), I miss the first week home where it was just Navy, Ray, Luca and I getting to know her and I miss when our families came to meet her (and sadly haven't seen her since because of Covid 19). Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited for all of the milestones that are to come. But the newborn phase was so incredible, I can't believe how quickly it flew by. 
  • Your priorities will change the day she is born- Wow. This also couldn't be more true. Before we had Navy, I had a really hard time deciding if I was ready. How was I going to balance work and motherhood? I was so dedicated to my job, I couldn't imagine having the time to raise a baby. What if I can't bill as much? Or be as readily available for clients? I remember my people telling me that, while I can't imagine it now, when Navy is here my priorities will change. I really didn't understand that, until she was born. 
  • Everyone will have their own opinion (and let it be known)- If you don't want to hear it, just ignore it. Some advice will be really helpful, and others just won't resonate or apply to you. Know how to filter the good from the bad. 
  • Listen to your mom instincts- I love this one. I had zero idea how to take care of a baby before Navy was born. After all, I had never even changed a baby's diaper on my own or spent a few hours alone with one. But the second Navy was born, it all came so naturally. It's the weirdest thing- you go from having no idea what you're doing to feeling like you know better than anyone. 
What I learned 

  • You really don't know what it's going to be like until you're in it- The best example I can give is with breastfeeding. Before Navy was born, I really didn't care whether I breastfed or used formula. Fed is best. I, of course, still strongly believe that. But I was surprised at how attached to breastfeeding I became. I was lucky to have a great supply and for it to come relatively easy for Navy and I. Unfortunately, I had to stop pretty abruptly when she was 3 months old. In a million years I never thought I would be so upset switching to bottle-feeding.
  • Never say never- Going back to breastfeeding, I always said that once I was exclusively bottle-feeding, I would just stop pumping. I really didn't like to pump and so I figured at that point, I'd just switch to formula (and use up any milk I had stored, which was quite a bit). Wrong. For whatever reason, I cannot stop pumping. I've been doing it exclusively for 2 months. Let's see how long I do it for. 
  • Don't rush sleep training- When Navy turned 3 1/2 months, she outgrew the Snoo. I decided that once I was moving her to the crib, I would start sleeping training her (for nighttime and naps). The nighttimes weren't terrible, but the naps were a nightmare. After an incredibly challenging week, I decided Navy simply wasn't ready to start sleep training (especially for naps). After all, they say that you can't really train them for naps until 5 months. But I was so eager to start, I figured she could do it. Thankfully I hadn't yet returned the Snoo, so for the following two weeks, I had her nap in the Snoo (which was a dream). At 4 months I switched her back to the crib. But I'm now way more relaxed. Even she's having difficulty napping (normally her 3rd and 4th nap of the day), I let her sleep in the stroller or on me. When they're developmentally ready, it's so much easier. At 4 months and 1 day, Navy decided she no longer wanted the dream feed. She started sleeping through the night (most nights), and it was just so much easier than trying to force it earlier. 
  • You can't do it all- For a few months, I was doing the morning shift every morning. And not surprisingly, I burnt out. There is only so long you can go with such little sleep. Ray and I started alternating morning shifts and it made an incredible difference. Even if I wake up early on my off days, I'm able to get a workout in and do something for me. 
Things I think you need

Things you can live without
  • So many swaddles- 2 is enough in my opinion
  • More than a couple of outfits- Navy lived in footies until 4 months. It's just SO much easier. They stay nice and cozy. Plus she spits up so much I have to change her all of the time (with outfits that would have been a nightmare). 
  • I did this post about things you don't need in your hospital bag
  • Pretty muslin swaddles- I got 5 and barely used them. I use the burp cloths I took from the hospital. 

Book Recommendations for Babies

One day I was on the phone with my best friend Fallon (who is my go-to for all of my mom advice) and we were discussing activities to do with Navy during her awake time. I told her how I love books like Olivia, Llama Llama Red Pajama and On The Night You Were Born. Fallon, a speech therapist, said those books were wonderful to read to her at night, but that I should be reading Navy books that will help encourage her speech and language development (i.e. ones with way fewer words) throughout the day. She gave me a good example: If you are learning a new language, you start by learning one word at a time. What is blue in Spanish?  How do you say dog in French? You don't learn by hearing paragraphs at a time. So she recommended some amazing books. A few of them I actually had already, while others I purchased that day. She also provided this link, which is really helpful if you want more options. She suggests reading these books over and over again, because babies learn through repetition (we may find it boring but they don't!)

Here are my favorite shorter ones:

1. Dear Zoo
2. Your First Word Will Be Dada
3. Everything is Mama
4. Snuggle Puppy
5. Pajama Time
6. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
7. I Love You Through and Through
9. Moo Baa La La La!
10. The Going To Bed Book
11. Opposites
12. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
13. Are You My Mother?
14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
15. Open the Barn Door

Here are my favorite ones that may better for Navy when she's older, but we still read them to her at night:

1. Olivia
2. Llama Llama Red Pajama
3. On The Night You Were Born
4. I Love You Stinky Face

Navy's 3-4 Month Schedule

Before I had Navy, I truly didn't understand the importance of a set schedule. I figured the moms I knew were just Type A and liked being organized. Boy, was I wrong. A schedule (for Navy at least) is necessary for both her and my well-being. If she gets too hungry, or too overtired, it's not pretty. But when we follow a schedule, things flow so much more smoothly.

We've been using the Taking Cara Babies method. Her instructions follow the eat, awake (play), sleep routine. The biggest lesson I learned from her material is that not one day (ever) will you actually follow the schedule. So what's the point of one? A schedule is more of a guide to follow. But your baby will never actually follow it to T.

The following schedule is what we've done (or try to do) for Navy over the past 2 months or so.

Navy's Schedule:

7:00 am- Wake Up. 5 minutes of tummy time. Eat (6 ounces).
7:30 am- Playtime
8:00 am- 10:00 am- Nap
10:00 am- Wake Up. 5 minutes of tummy time. Eat (6 ounces).
10:30 am- Playtime
11:00 am- 1:00 pm- Nap
1:00 pm- Wake Up. 5 minutes of tummy time. Eat (6 ounces).
1:30 pm- 2:00 pm- Playtime
2:00 pm- 4:00 am- Nap
4:00 pm- Wake Up. 5 minutes of tummy time. Eat (6 ounces).
4:30 pm-5:30 pm- Playtime
5:30 pm - 6:45 pm - Nap (generally in the stroller during a family walk)
6:45 pm - bath time
7:00 pm- Body lotion and jammies. Eat (6 ounces). I feed her while Ray reads her a book. Rock her to bed.
10:00 pm- Wake her for the dream feed. Eat (3-4 ounces). Change her diaper. Back to Bed.

Three Tips for Tummy Time

Whenever someone would ask how much tummy time Navy would get, I would lie (just a little!). I mean, the poor girl hated it! Within two seconds of placing her on her belly, she would scream like crazy. It wasn't fun for her or for me. But yes I know, it is extremely important. Recently she started doing a lot better with it. I'm not sure if it's because she's a bit older (16 weeks), or because of the tips I share below. Either way, I'm very glad she no longer notifies our entire apartment building of her dislike for tummy time with the sound of her screams (jk..but not really).

- Practice tummy time right after her naps before her feeds.  I follow the following schedule: feed, awake time, nap and repeat. Up until recently, I assumed tummy time should fall within the awake category. So I would feed her, burp her, place her on the mat, play with her for a bit and then put her on her tummy. If I was lucky and made it a minute on her tummy, she would always end up puking. So I decided that right after she wakes up from her nap, we would do tummy time. After 5 minutes or so I feed her (if you're giving a bottle make sure it's ready because she gets a bit fussy at this point). But she seems so much more comfortable doing tummy time this way.

- Place the baby on the mat and then roll them over, rather than placing them directly on their belly.  I learned this tip in my mommy and me class and it's really helped. I say to her "Navy, I'm going to roll you on to your belly" and then do it gently. Another tip I learned in the class is to gently push down on their bum with your hand, which helps them to lift their head higher.

- Get a toy that distracts them.  This bee makes all of the difference. The sounds, the lights and the movement totally distract Navy so she doesn't even realize she's on her belly. She follows it with her eyes and could stay in the position so much longer than she used to without it.

A recap of Navy's First Month

I don't plan on doing a recap of every month of Navy's life, don't worry. That being said, the first month is both incredibly exciting and particularly challenging. As a new mom, it can be helpful to read other people's experiences to have an idea of what is to come. Also, selfishly I want to remember the details of the first month before it feels like years ago.

The Toughest Parts:

1. Lack of sleep, duh- The lack of sleep is pretty unimaginable until you experience it. We constantly say it's like army training (or what I envision army training to be like). Somehow, everyone does it. But that doesn't make it easier. For the first two weeks, the lack of sleep didn't really bother me. I'd be dead by 7:00 PM, but during the day I felt pretty fine. I think I was on a new parent high, and I was always so excited to see her and hold her that I didn't mind waking up every 2 hours. The third week was the most challenging. While I still felt the same excitement at the thought of holding her every few hours throughout the night, the high was quickly being replaced by pure exhaustion. Navy also got a cold and started becoming fussier. It wasn't easy. For the past week, Navy has been sleeping a lot better. I know it will only get easier.

2. Breastfeeding- Breastfeeding actually hasn't been too difficult for me. That being said, there were days at the beginning where I thought I would for sure give it up. When your milk first comes in, it can be painful. Moreover, figuring out your baby's feeding schedule and worrying whether or not she/he is getting enough can be disheartening.

At the hospital, I met with a lactation consultant who suggested that I feed 15 minutes on each side, and burp her in between. The nurses would also monitor when she peed and pood to ensure she was eating enough. When Ray and I got home, we continued the same routine of tracking each feed and diaper. It was so stressful! Navy would fall asleep before the 15 minutes was up. I would constantly try and wake her up to feed more and then would get stressed out since I wasn't sure if she actually ate for a full 15 minutes. It made the process exhausting! Moreover, the lactation consultant suggested I wear a nipple shield because Navy had a bit of a tongue tie and pump after each feed. The nipple shield wasn't easy to use and Navy would get really fussy if she had to wait while she was hungry. It wasn't fun.

When Navy was 6 days old we went to see the lactation consultant at my pediatrician's office. She was already back at her birth weight. She ate for 7 minutes and then the lactation consultant weighed her- she drank 2.5 ounces! The consultant said I had an overproduction of milk and that 7 minutes could be more than enough for Navy to get enough to eat. She said there was no such thing as having to do a full 15 minutes on each side (and that probably would never happen with Navy!). She also said I absolutely did not need the nipple shield or to pump yet and there was no need to track every feed, poo, and pee (so long as she continued to have wet diapers). Her advice made the process so much more relaxing. It was only after that meeting that I actually could start enjoying it, rather than stressing over it.

3. Leaving Navy for the first time- It took me almost 3 weeks to leave Navy for the first time. I went for dinner and left after 1.5 hours, it was just too stressful for me. But each time it got easier. Now I feel okay leaving her right after a feed and getting back before her next one.

4. Getting used to newborn noises- Before I delivered I thought I would be so anxious that I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I assumed I would just sit and stare at her in the bassinet. In reality, I was so overtired that even if I wanted to sit and stare, it wasn't going to happen. The second I put her down I'd fall right asleep. That being said, the noises she would make when she was falling asleep would freak Ray and I out. Nobody mentioned this. Newborns make the weirdest sounds that can totally scare you. But apparently it's normal! Just a heads up :).

5. Recovering from delivery- I was very lucky that I had a relatively easy delivery and therefore a relatively easy recovery. Nonetheless, it's never easy. I continued to take the Motrin prescribed by my doctor for two weeks, which really helped with any discomfort. Going for walks was challenging at first since my body still felt sore. But after two weeks I was pretty much back to normal. I can't wait to get cleared to exercise (and take baths!).

6. Being on a strict schedule- I have to feed Navy every 2.5-3 hours. In reality, this is every 1.5-2 hours, since you start counting from the beginning of one feed until the next feed. So it's really hard to do anything, especially if it involves an activity outside of the house. I'm hoping I'll start feeding her outside of the house soon, so we can actually go places and get things done.

The Best Parts:

1. Getting to know your baby- You spend so much time imagining what he or she will look like and be like and then all of a sudden he or she is here! It's beyond magical. Every time I stare at her, I can't believe she is mine.

2. The first week- The first week after Navy was born, Ray and I were alone with her. We spent all of our time hanging with her in bed, getting to know her, figuring out her "schedule"and learning how to care for a newborn (thank god for Google). We didn't sleep at all and really didn't care. Every new sound was exciting. Every time she woke up we smiled like crazy. We took a million pictures. And we listened to my push playlist on repeat. It was definitely the best week of my entire life.

3. Having family and friends meet her- It was so special having our family in LA over the holidays and getting to meet her. Everyone got so attached (how could you not?!)

4. Slowing down- I've loved spending most of the days just lounging, feeding her, changing her, watching tv, catching up with you guys on IG and just hibernating at home.

4. Starting to feel normal- Right after I delivered I started to feel like my pre-pregnancy self. As the weeks went by, I felt more and more normal. I was able to jump out of bed again and tie my own shoes. I could move without getting out of breath. My clothes started fitting (although they still don't fit like they used to). And I overall just felt like my self, which was a welcome change since I found pregnancy to be really challenging.

5. Getting to dress Navy- This one is pretty self-explanatory!

What to Register For

This is a round-up of my favorite baby products that are on the more expensive side. It's truly incredible how many things such a small baby needs. That being said, does she really need 6 different places she can chill? Probably not. But I have magically convinced myself that I need every option. After all, they all provide a different purpose (so I've convinced myself). The swing will rock her to sleep or distract her when she is fussy, whereas the Bjorn is so portable and the mat is useful for tummy time. See what I did there? I have a feeling you guys get me ;).

1. Stroller- We went with the Bugaboo Fox and I'm obsessed. It's so easy to maneuver and looks tres chic. We customized the colors (black base and white canopy), with a phone holder, cup holder and reflective wheels.

2. Car seat- This one is so light so it was a no-brainer. Plus, the colors match the stroller.

3. Baby monitors- I went a bit overboard with this but oh well. Since I'm going back to work so early, I really wanted to make sure I could watch her while I'm at the office (I probably won't be able to get any work done!). We went with the Nanit with floor stand for on top of her bassinet, which will be moved to the crib once she is sleeping in it. We also went with this pack of 3 Google Nests for around the house.

4. Swing- This is amazing for when she's fussy or overtired and doesn't want to be in the bassinet or Snoo. It's also great to put her in it when I'm working because she gets distracted with the moving objects, sounds and swinging motion. She can stay in there for a while.

5. Baby Bjorn- If you are alone, this is key. It's portable so it's really easy to bring with you around the house.

6. Mattress- This is the mattress we went with and it's the only one I would go with. It's fully breathable and waterproof.

7. Baby Carrier- Not only does this one look cute, it also has a hood that makes it easier for a baby to nap or shield them from the sun (most carriers don't have this).

8. Travel stroller- We actually still need to buy this. It's apparently the only travel stroller to get, since it acts as both a stroller and car seat.

9. Food maker- you won't need this right away but it's good to have.

10. The Snoo- Okay, so you can't register for this. But if someone wants to get you a gift, ask them to rent it for you for a month (or three). It's been a lifesaver for us.

11. Taking Cara Babies- Like the Snoo, I don't believe you can put this on a registry. But it would be a very useful gift. We are currently in the middle of watching the newborn sleep class and it's been so helpful.

12. Playmat- We love this one. It's designed to provide activities for your baby based on their different development stages. Plus it's great for awake time and tummy time.

A Few Tips for a Smooth Delivery

Luck. I know that's annoying to say, but I genuinely think that luck plays a big role in whether or not a delivery goes smoothly. You can plan as much as you want, but ultimately the baby, your body, and your circumstances will dictate how your labor and delivery will go.

I was set to be induced on December 11. A lot of people say that being induced makes your labor a lot more difficult. For personal reasons, I was willing to accept that. And, in the end, my water broke the day before. I spent months researching induction methods, debating the pros and cons, and worrying about how it would go. But little miss Navy had different plans, and because she came early, I got to skip the foley bulb I dreaded and potentially longer labor process. To me, that was pure luck.

That being said, I do think there were several things I did that made my labor and delivery go so smoothly, and end up being such a positive experience. I really wouldn't change anything. Here are my tips for helping you have a smooth labor and delivery:

1. Make sure you have a good OBGYN- This is the most important advice I can offer. When I was trying to get pregnant I was seeing a certain doctor. Upon realizing that ovulation sticks weren't working for me, I called to ask her advice. She had both an annoyed and condescending tone, and the call lasted no more than 2 minutes (I could feel her ready to hang up at any moment). It was stressful, to say the least. Then, every time I went in for an ultrasound to track my ovulation, I would meet with a nurse. The doctor never came in to see an ultrasound or to talk to me. The next step was supposed to be Clomid (which the nurse was going to prescribe, not my doctor). It was far from ideal and I just dreaded the process with her.

A good friend of mine begged me to have a consultation with her doctor. Since it was a man, I was a bit hesitant (I always thought I only wanted a female doctor). At 6 weeks pregnant, I decided to meet with him. That was the best decision of my entire pregnancy journey. My doctor ended up being one of my favorite people I've ever met, let alone have care for me. He was kind, empathetic, calm and non-alarmist. He was available 24/7 by email (would email me back on a Friday night), and always wrote the kindest emails to ensure I didn't feel embarrassed by my questions. Knowing he was going to delivery Navy truly lessened my anxiety since I knew we were in such good hands. I know for certain my experience would have been drastically different had I not changed doctors.

2. Go with the flow- As exemplified by my situation, there is only so much you can plan. Be open and okay with whatever will happen. Your delivery is in many ways out of your control. You can only plan so much. My delivery went better than I had expected (which I know is not always the case). Nonetheless, if you stick too rigidly to your "birth plan", you can end up very anxious if it goes a different way.

I didn't have a birth plan. My plan was to be induced and get the epidural- that is it. Whatever else was going to happen would happen. I remember people telling me that getting induced would lead to a greater chance of a c-section (which my doctor disagreed with). Ultimately, I would respond that whatever needs to happen to get my baby girl here safe is fine with me. There is always a risk that you can end up in a c-section, and you need to just let go and trust that your doctor will do what is best for you and the baby. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to have a birth plan, but be open to whatever ultimately will happen.

3. Know that it's temporary- You may feel a lot of pain and discomfort, but it won't last long. Just remember that. It is very temporary in the grand scheme of things.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want- I was very upfront that I wanted my epidural done by the chief anesthesiologist and not a resident. Cedars Sinai is a teaching hospital so I had to ask and make sure I didn't have a resident. I have a lot of respect for residents but I didn't want to take any chances when it came to my epidural (I have heard horror stories of people's experiences with epidurals and long-term effects). I'm so glad I asked for the chief anesthesiologist because he was amazing. I felt no pain whatsoever and he even stayed to chat with us for a bit (he was the nicest). Whether it's the anesthesiologist, deciding when to get the epidural etc., don't be afraid to speak up for what you want.

5. Don't fear the epidural (or even contractions, if that's possible)- I read a lot of blog posts before my delivery about how people's anxiety over the epidural made the epidural worse. I won't lie, I really wasn't nervous about that part of my delivery.  For one, I'm less afraid of needles with something getting injected into me than blood draws (blood draws make me queezy). Strange, I know. But also knowing the purpose of the epidural was to reduce my pain put me at ease. Just don't look! My epidural didn't hurt at all. There was a tiny prick with a burning sensation for a few seconds and then nothing. Ray said the needle was really long- again, just don't look!

The epidural did wear out for me twice, so I got two boosters. Again, don't be afraid to ask for what you want. The button didn't work for me so I specifically asked for boosters (which btw they just put into the catheter so you don't get more needles).

I waited around 7 hours before getting the epidural. Before my delivery, I asked my doctor how dilated I should be before getting it.  He always responded that it was entirely up to me. I'm actually surprised I waited 7 hours to get it. My contractions hurt but they were by no means unbearable. They were like a very very painful period cramp, but nothing I couldn't handle. My only request (going back to #3 above), was to get the epidural before I started Pitocin. That is why I opted for the epidural at 12:00 am. Also, let's be honest, I wasn't trying to be a hero. If it could eliminate my pain, why not get it? (Especially since Pitocin would help the contractions progress).

6.  Stay fit during your pregnancy- I think one of the reasons my delivery was so easy was that I stayed active during my pregnancy. I know staying active doesn't necessarily mean your delivery will go smoothly, but it can't hurt. I walked every morning and did prenatal pilates 3 times a week. I honestly can't imagine pushing if I wasn't in good shape.

7. Play good music- When I asked for song requests on Instagram for playlists, people laughed. A lot of people responded that I wouldn't care about music during my delivery. This was far from the truth! While I was pregnant, I created a few playlists. I would listen to my "Push Playlist- Part 1" (the calm one) on my walk every morning. I then played it the entire night I was in labor. It created a relaxing atmosphere. When we got home from the hospital I played the playlist on repeat all week (and I kind of still do).