Greetings, Earthlings.

It’s hard to believe almost three weeks has gone by since our martian landed. Where do I begin?

First, a late birth announcement. Meet Milo Minh Chaffin. He decided to come early after all and chose a full moon on 11/11/11. We think it means either he’s very lucky or a werewolf, albeit a tiny one at 6 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 in. long.

Day 13

The delivery

Don’t worry, I won’t go into details, but I will say it was not what we expected. Everyone, the baby books, and classes prepared us for something long and gradual. But my labor was a bit cliche: my water broke a little after midnight, we rushed to the hospital completely unprepared, I was in unimaginable pain, and eight hours later, I was pushing. At some point the labor nurse asked me to hold off any urge to push (which I could because I ended up taking the epidural) because she correctly predicted the baby would come fast and wanted to make sure a doctor would be there for the delivery. It was an epic day at the hospital because of all the c-sections and induced labors scheduled for the auspicious date. My labor was fortunately over very quick and with no complications.

When they told me it was time to push, my emotions were mixed. I started to cry. I told the nurse I don’t even know *how* to push. I was scared that something would go wrong for the baby, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over, or rather, for the baby to be here any second. Fifteen minutes later, at 9:18am, our world would be so different.

All I could worry about was whether he was healthy…alive. When his head came out, the doctor accidentally said “stop breathing” instead of “stop pushing”. I had heard “he stopped breathing”, but Ben reassured me that the baby had let out his first whimper. The APGAR tests were high (8 and 9 out of 10), so all was well.

During the pregnancy, I mostly wondered about what he’d look like. Would my Asian genes win or would he miraculously have Ben’s eyes, or more likely, nose? The birth video from class, which I had mostly watched eyes closed, prepared me for something, well, messy. Surprisingly, he came out quite clean, just blue, but his face was nothing like I imagined. He had (still does) a cone head, his nose was smashed so flat it had a dimple, and his lips were misshapen and unproportionally huge (yeah, yeah). It was fascinating to watch how quickly his face would change over the next few hours, days.

We would change just as fast too. After he lay on my chest for some time, one of the nurses came over to show me how to breastfeed, and so began our adventure into learning to care for our child.

The name Milo

We knew we wouldn’t name him until we met him, though admittedly, the short list coming into the hospital wasn’t very short. Any name sounded weird having used “him”, “baby”, or “Martian” for so long. After playing name survivor and slowly crossing off the top contenders, we decided to try out Milo for an hour. We first heard it on the train during our trip to SF in September, where a very cute boy with wavy long hair named Milo sat across from us. It reminded Ben of a book, The Phantom Toll Booth, a childhood favorite, whose main character is named…Milo! The middle Vietnamese name took longer to choose, but finally, we liked the sound of Milo Minh.

Day 13 - Story time

Day 13 - Ben reads to Milo about Milo.

Parenthood

Sometimes it’s hard to believe this is natural, that anyone can become a parent without a trial run or test. The 2-day stay at the hospital was our crash course into parenting. How to change diapers for boys, give sponge baths, latching techniques, jaundice symptoms. And swaddling! Everyone has their opinion on the right way to swaddle. If just one of those worked for us at the start, we would have saved hours of stress — and sleep.

Still, we managed to get our little Houdini to eat and sleep for the most part and were ready to go home after two days. Milo did have a medium-high level of jaundice so we were instructed to feed every two hours to make sure he gained weight and flushed it out of the system.

Day 7

Day 7 - No matter how frustrating Mr. Houdini can be with his sneaky hands, cuteness always wins.

Our first night as a family, sans nurse staff, was brutal. I slept zero hours; Ben managed to squeeze in a few during the feedings. But that wasn’t the awful part. I felt like a terrible mother who didn’t know how to console her child. We tried feeding, changing diapers, rocking. Our swaddles took too long, only to fail structurally. After singing a repetitive array of soft music — I’m talking Erasure to Somewhere Over the Rainbow — I managed to get him to fall asleep in my arms. But when I put him down, it started up again. I was at a loss and I cried.

The responsibility of caring for something so small, fragile, dependent alone made us lose sleep. Was Milo getting enough to eat to gain weight? Did the jaundice spread (or was that just his Asian skin color)? Was he cold, even though we cranked up the heat, added a space heater to our room, and have him double swaddled? All the warnings about SIDS had us constantly checking if he was breathing, or whether the loose swaddle would eventually cover his air flow. I didn’t care about the sleep deprivation; I just wanted to know what he needed and that it was enough.

Many reassured us that it’d get better. We heard that the third night is the hardest. That babies tend to cluster feed in the night. That he’s only a few days old so there is no schedule. We adjusted our expectations and quickly learned to tag-team. Hey, one of us should be getting sleep.

The first week did give hope. Eat, sleep, change was the routine. I went from zero hours of sleep up to multiple two hour blocks. I started producing milk, which meant he was gaining an ounce a day and the multiple follow-ups tests for his jaundice level looked good.

We’ve continued to learn and experiment as parents. We are refining our bath methods (the first time we forgot the towel, the second we realized it was my mom who gave the bath the first time). We take no shame in our cheater swaddle, nor using the pacifier during nighttime changes. And he even chugged the bottle on the first try (future beer pong player?).

His activity level isn’t exciting – yet worth video-ing every moment — but it has been calm.

The calm before…yes, that’s right, the past few days have been the storm. Someone warned Ben that just as soon as you think you have it figured it out, they change it up on you again. After passing his birth weight, he is now going through a growth spurt which means I’m tied to the couch feeding. We haven’t managed to change his nocturnal schedule and I suffered again almost no sleep last night. But tonight, we’re eager to try some tips from the pediatrician, who said from midnight-6am, you can break all the rules. A good friend said that you start to do whatever that works, not thinking far into the future or the consequences. Hand over that yoga ball.

My Baby

For me, motherly bond was not instant. We had asked for him to be put on my chest as soon as he came out, but when they did, I didn’t know what to do. They told me to simply hold him, so I did. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, but it wasn’t until later that I felt this was MY baby.

They say you forget the pain of labor after meeting your baby. I do not. It was very real and unbearable for me. Shocking. The classes focused on the breathing, getting support, all the possible complications, but they never mention the word “pain”. Next time (and no, I’m not thinking that far into the future) I’m hoping to be a little more prepared.

But the moment I pick him up, I do forget any feeling of exhaustion or frustration. I fall in love with his face and small yet precious repertoire of expressions: the stare, the pursed lips, the manic open mouth searching for food, I even videoed his cry. I’m a zombie in the night, yet time goes by watching his closed eyes, stroking that down coat of peach fuzz on his body, smelling his baby skin that is so soft you’re not sure you’re touching it. In the morning before we make our debut downstairs, I cherish my time with him, when his eyes are open and curious about the light. It’s often our skin-to-skin time, and when I hold him up to burp, his curls up on my chest like a turkey on a platter.

Fun milestones

Many have told us to enjoy these precious first weeks because they really do grow up fast. I believe it. Here are some milestones and moments that I already love looking back on:

Day 3

Day 3 - Milo goes home from the hospital in Ben's baby outfit. Not sure if he's crying because it's so 1970's.

Day 8

Day 6 - Ba arrived and she's certainly fattening up mama and Milo.

Day 8

Day 8 - Milo is no longer in his birthday suit! We had been swaddling him all day and naked, because, well, that was what they did at the hospital. Whoops! Here is one of his five outfits.

Day 9

Day 9 - Milo's first social outing: the Portland Farmer's Market. We took our chance and made a surprise showing at a work party later that evening too.

Day 13 (no photo) – Milo slept two 3-hour chunks in the night. That was something for me to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Sadly, it hasn’t become a trend.

Day 12

Day 17 - At the 2-week check-up today, Milo weighed 7 lbs. 1 oz. Granted he's only in the 8th percentile (or 10, adjusted for being early), he's putting on the weight! I'm not surprised because this is the only face I've seen the past few days.

More Photos

Congrats, you made it to the end! If you’re still interested in following the most photographed baby ever, check out his Baby Martian set FlickR. It’s obvious which ones are mine verses Tata Chippy’s.

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10 comments

  1. Really enjoyed reading your blog. You guys are doing awesome. Sleep deprived fog, 2nd guessing yourself, and finding a solution before it all changes again makes me want to give you guys a huge hug but it also makes me smile because I knew Milo would have amazing parents and you guys are. I miss you and thanks for the update.

  2. This was a great recap of the past few weeks of your life with Milo. It’s crazy how many emotions swirl around during those days, but you guys are doing everything you’re supposed to do – and a great job at that! Keep hope…sleep will come. πŸ™‚

  3. hi annie! it’s me, carla francischetti. i found your blog through fbook, i think, and i’ve enjoyed reading. congratulations on your little Milo! i appreciate your very honest look as you delve into the parenting fray. my hubby and i are expecting our first in May–and I alternate between being very excited and very terrified. πŸ™‚ look forward to reading more about life with your little guy!

  4. He’s such a beautiful baby, and he’s lucky to have you guys as parents. Don’t beat yourself up about doing everything perfect — cause no one knows what perfect parenting is anyhow! Just try your best and that will be good enough. Congratulations!

  5. Thanks for the update! I love reading about the first few days and weeks with a new baby. Milo is such a cutie and you guys are doing a great job. Whoever said that things just keep changing is right! Hope to see you guys soon!

  6. Great post! Aimee and I love all the little details. Can’t wait for the next installment, although no pressure πŸ™‚

  7. Great post! Thanks for the update and the details, though I am glad you “remember the pain” because you promised you’d give me the inside scoop on labor. Hopefully that won’t get you in trouble with the “Moms’ Club” for telling a non-mom that it’s not all flowers an rainbows and kittens. πŸ™‚

    I am so happy for you guys and can’t wait to meet Milo! Only a few more weeks until we’re back in Portland! Woot!

  8. Congratulations! Milo is a great name. He sure is cute. My twin girls were born the following day. πŸ™‚ The sleep thing does get better. My oldest never slept and it was brutal. The first 6-8 weeks are the roughest as they are getting your supply going. It sounds like you are both doing really well adjusting to the new little person in your life.

    By the way, you can breastfeed in the Moby and walk around town with no one being the wiser. Lay Milo flat in both “loops” and it makes a little shelf. You can spread the material to cover everything. I figured it out with my second and it made life so much easier. If that only worked with twins…

    Best wishes to all of you. πŸ™‚

  9. Yippee! Loved reading this blog – so glad Milo is gaining weight and passed the jaundice scare, etc. You guys are doing terrific!

  10. congratulations, annie! he’s beautiful. thanks for sharing your story and giving an update of the past few weeks. i’m sure the transition is tough, but it’s awesome that you have family there to help you! πŸ™‚

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