Here he is. My little boy. My sweet son. Rafael is two months old already!
He is such a wonderful baby. He smiles so much, and makes me warm inside just by looking at me. We talk to each other without words, and I can tell, he likes me too. He lets me know with giggles and gurgles, and by showing me how much he needs me near.
When he takes a nap, at first I'm happy, because I can eat something, refill my water glass, do a load of laundry, and blog a little. But after a while I start to miss him. REALLY miss him. I let him continue sleeping, but when he finally stirs, I go to his crib, lean over, say hello, and he looks into my eyes, and then gives me the biggest, sunniest grin. We both laugh a little, and I help him stretch his arms and legs, and give him a nice tummy rub, all the while smiling and laughing with him. And then, after a little while, he lets me know it's enough, and that it's time for him to eat. With that first little whine in his voice, my mother-heart leaps, knowing I am needed, and knowing I can give him what he needs.
He likes to lie on his changing table, looking up at the little fat butterfly that hangs there. He thinks that butterfly is so hilarious. He'll just grin up at it and start cracking up. If he gets really fussy I bring him there and he'll stop crying right away. And if I need to brush my teeth and get dressed, his Papa stands there with him and they have a good laugh together.
Raffi loves bath time. When I place him in the water, first he stares at me with wide eyes and is very still. Then, suddenly, he smiles, and starts kicking his feet around wildly and making an 'O' with his mouth. He doesn't, however, like being taken out of the bath. But I wrap him up warm, put a fresh diaper on him, and nurse him right away, breathing in the lovely scent of fresh clean baby boy.
He's a great sleeper. He usually sleeps from 11 until 4 or 5 in the morning straight through, pressed up against my body. His favorite position is with his head buried between my arm and chest. I can't imagine him sleeping somewhere else...our night cuddles are the best!
When he gets fussy because he's hungry, he turns red and looks so poor. But as soon as I sit cross-legged with the nursing pillow on my lap, and start to take out my breast, he looks at me with pursed lips and kicks his legs around; he knows what's coming.
He weighs 5 kilos now, and is healthy as can be.
Here are 10 things I have learned thus far:
1. Don't get attached to any sort of eating and sleeping schedule. Even if it holds for a few days or weeks, it can suddenly change. Be flexible!
2. Instead of constantly trying to locate a cloth diaper for burping and spit up, have baby wear a bib around his neck. It sounds obvious, but I always considered bibs to be for older babies who are already on solids. I'm so glad I discovered how handy they can be for nursing/bottle fed babes!
3. Watch for the first subtle signals of hunger or boredom; knowing these and acting quickly will save you from a 'screaming baby situation.'
4. Learn quickly who to talk to about what. While it's nice to exchange words with other mothers, or doctors, midwives, and parents, it can get confusing and overwhelming, because everyone seems to have conflicting opinions on things. I've learned now that, when most people ask how Rafael or I am doing, I should just answer that everything is going great (which is true). I only get into the little details of small challenges or problems with people I can trust to not be upset if I don't take their advice, and who are open to opinions other than their own.
5. Don't get stressed about picking up the phone when it rings, answering emails right away, or getting to an appointment on time. People will understand. And if they don't, that's their problem. I've realized that being in a hurry is a choice.
6. Take a lot of photographs and home videos. People aren't kidding when they say 'They grow up so fast!' Also, put the age of the baby in the title of the picture or video.
7. Prioritize. I had all these ideas in my head before Rafael was born: him in an adorable costume for his first Halloween, a family photo shoot for Christmas cards, and being a well-dressed, well-groomed, skinny Mom. None of these things has happened, and I'm OK with that. Those things aren't priorities right now; eating and drinking enough for my energy and milk supply, getting lots of body and eye contact with Raffi, giving the dogs attention when I can, and spending time talking and laughing with my husband....those are my real priorities.
8. Sometimes when your baby is fussing, the solution is so simple. Change his position, hold him, or just smile at him and talk to him. For some reason I am still always surprised when it becomes clear that all that he was missing in that moment was love and attention. Your baby needs more than just nourishment. Bonding and connecting with your baby is really important, too.
9. That having been said, giving your baby space and time to just explore his surroundings with his eyes and to just be is also important. I try to let him sit quietly and observe for as long as he wants to. He lets me know when he wants company again.
10. Find the right balance between 'Humble First Time Mom' and 'Lion Mama.' The humility part comes in when you have to admit that the way you've been doing something is not right and needs to be changed. When you need to listen to advice and realize that other people may know better than you about certain things, because they have more experience. Listen to their advice and take it as help, not as criticism towards you as a mother. Lion Mama comes in when you need to listen to your gut and stick to your guns. FINDING THIS BALANCE IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING FOR ME and I will probably be working on it for a while.
It has been such an amazing time so far. And I keep thinking about the many things ahead, all the growth and changes, for both Raffi and us, and just feel so incredibly blessed.
I am so grateful for Rafael's life, for his health, and for his happiness!