So, William's a month old today, and I've not really said anything about how it's all going.
Well. Extremely, incredibly, unbelievably well. I honestly can't believe how easy a baby William is to look after - and how much I'm loving... I was going to say perhaps not *every* minute, but to be honest even when it's the middle of the night or my shirt's smeared with poo or my bra's soaked with vomit or his sad little face is all screwed up in distress, I'm just trying to soak up the experience of him being this tiny and (and this cooperative!).
He's put on over a kilo in his first month of life, which is absolutely brilliant. He attached and ate very well from the beginning, and although at the beginning I kept having to wake him to feed, he's begun making it quite clear when he'd like to be fed, which is... well, a mixed blessing (particularly on days like today where he's presumably having a growth spurt and has essentially decided he wants to be fed constantly - by which I mean I can only obtain any breaks at all where he's not crying by giving him my finger to suck on instead, which pacifies him for maybe 15 minutes before I have to put him back on the breast for another hour - but this is fortunately unusual). As long as I get seven or so feeds in during the day, he only demands one or two night feeds. Nights with two are better, because the only real difference is that he agrees to go back to sleep after the second, so that I can catch an hour or two more sleep and end up with eight hours total. At first we had to spend a few minutes rocking him and singing to him a bit to convince him to go back to sleep again - but now he's figured out the difference between night and day and he's usually asleep the moment we put him back in his bed again. Woot. Seriously.
Oddly enough, even when he demands feeding in the middle of the night, he doesn't actually wake up. He'll squeak a bit, and I'll look at him and he'll be fast asleep. So, I'll go back to sleep. He'll squawk a bit more seriously, but when I look at him again he'll be fast asleep. And so it goes on. Eventually, the squawks get so frequent that I'm getting less sleep waking up every time he makes one than I would just by picking him up and properly waking him for a feed. When I finally decide to draw the line and feed him I'm almost always convinced I'd done that last time he made a noise so I'd already been feeding him but had fallen asleep doing so and so it's time to change sides or put him back to bed (despite the fact that I never feed lying down now that I can sit up, because of the risk of falling back to sleep). It can be a bit distressing, actually, because by the time I'm awake he's fallen silent again, and I start searching for him beside me and he's not there and I worry he's worked his way down under the doona or fallen off the edge of the bed or got wedged between the mattress and the wall... And then I look over into his cot, and he's just there, fast asleep, making no noise, and I feel like an idiot for having fallen for it again. Still, if that mid-nightly ritual is the greatest of my sleep difficulties, I'm definitely a lucky mother.
The last couple of weeks he's been having more difficulty feeding. It's like he's completely forgotten what a nipple is for - he's very happy to hold it in his mouth and lick it or even cuddle it close to his cheek like his very favourite friend, but he seems to have a lot of trouble remembering he's supposed to start sucking. Or even realising that he's obtained his objective. Whether he's calm as anything or absolutely frantic with hunger and shaking his gaping mouth from side to side like a laughing clown on speed and windmilling his crazy arms in the hopes that will help... somehow, it doesn't seem to make much difference to him noticing that it's right there in his mouth, all he has to do is start sucking. This has been heaps better since I realised that I could bait-and-switch by getting him sucking on my finger (which for some reason he's *always* ready to suck - I've got a hickey on my fingertip), then swapping in the nipple when he's got the idea. But because of all the mucking around - and the usual increase in wear and tear on a sensitive part of my anatomy - I've been getting pretty sore, which has been making things even more difficult, because it's not like I can take a couple of days off feeding him to heal. Fortunately, I found some good (if counterintuitive) advice to attempt to feed him more often rather than less so that he'll be calmer and suck more gently, which has made great strides in keeping things from reaching the cracked-and-bleeding stage.
I've been expressing breastmilk the last couple of weeks as well (ever since I started getting really sore, so that if things get really bad I actually *can* take some time off) and it seems I can consistently pump one extra feed per day when I first get up, so I've been building up a bit of a stock of frozen milk to cover me if I want to have a couple of extra drinks every now and then, and to keep at potential babysitters (ie. grandparents) houses as well as, once I've got enough of a buffer to make me comfortable, donate to the Australian breastmilk bank for babies in need who, for whatever reason, can't have their own mother's milk.
I went to see Harry Potter on Sunday, which I enjoyed a great deal, but was perhaps most notable for the fact that it was the first time I'd been out of William's immediate vicinity since he was born. I was away for three and a half hours total which, since he eats approximately every two hours, meant Hubby got to give him a bottle. He accepted that quite happily and seamlessly switched back to the breast afterwards, so essentially that means I'm free to have him babysat or leave him with his dad whenever. Now I just have to work on wanting to be away from him. :)
So that's how he's going for sleeping and eating - I won't go into detail about his other primary function, except to mention that we've just started using our cloth nappies, which are 'modern cloth' - ie, just like a disposable with velcro closures, elastic legs, stay-dry liners, and waterproof covers, only when they're dirty you chuck them in the washing machine. So far, I'm pretty pleased - we'll see if I still feel that way after a few washing days. :)
As for his personality... he's so much more calm and content and easier to settle than I'd expected. He doesn't seem to cry for no readily apparent reason at all. If he's a bit unsettled, it's a short checklist of: hungry? (feed) dirty? (change) wind pain? (sling him over the shoulder in a fireman's carry) tired? (swaddle and rock) just plain sad? (present finger for sucking) And that's essentially it. Of course it's a full time job - I was expecting it to be a full time job. I wasn't expecting to feel calm and in control and almost always able to solve his problems when he's upset.
At this point he has essentially three 'quiet alert' periods every day - one first thing in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one last thing before bed. Each period is one to three hours (depending on whether he has a feed in the middle and keeps going), and during the time (unless he's having a bad wind day) he's just this amazing happy little sponge. He windmills his arms and kicks his legs, lifts and attempts to support his disproportionately sized head on his little pipe-cleaner neck, and grunts and coos like mad. He watches everything - his particular favourites are lights and the security grill above my breastfeeding chair - but he's happily been holding eye contact since he was a couple of weeks old. We think he smiled his first real 'social' smile today, which is a big milestone. We've yet to see when it's repeated. Quiet alert periods are the highlight of my day - I just sit with him cradled on my lap making faces at him, poking my tongue out and cooing back at him, and marvelling that this very small person will one day be full sized.
I can't believe it's already been that long - but I guess as they say, the days are long but the years are short. All in all, I think it's fair to say that so far, I'm loving motherhood. :)