Molly at one month was not a very happy camper, and in fact, the one month mark came and went without me being able to take pictures, because every time I put her down, she cried. Not just fussed, but really cried and quickly escalated to all-out screaming. So I held her constantly and we all muddled through some difficult days, as I wrote about in my last post.
But when she was about five and a half weeks old, she had a good calmer bit of an afternoon one day, and I put that little lady in a white onesie for a good old-fashioned baby photo shoot, as I've done with my other girls to document their early months of life. And now here I am, finally finding a quiet moment to write some memories of Molly at one month -- even though she's now two months old! The belatedness of putting pictures and thoughts to 'paper' here is perhaps one of the best indications of how challenging the early months of Molly's life have been for our family.
Molly reminds me so much of Nell as a baby that I get nearly daily doses of deja vu! (Even the way her dark hair shows up in photos looking lighter and more reddish, as Nell's always did in sunlit photos, too.)
Lest we look back at pictures someday and think all was sunshine and smiles, Molly obliged with some images of what most of our real life looked like:
Oh, wait, that's not it... that's just a slightly disconcerted face. Here we go:
Yes, yes, that was the face I saw any time I tried to put Molly down for even five seconds. She could escalate from quietly sleeping to terrible screams in no time at all. It made it a bit tricky for me to take a shower, or even use the bathroom or brush my teeth! I just held her all the time, in the first week or two just in my arms, and then, when it was time for real life to regrettably resume, in my ring sling. The ring sling was her happy place, with her feet all drawn up inside the sling and her tummy against me, her head resting on my chest. At one month old, it was her favorite place to snuggle and her favorite place to sleep.
Ahh, sleep. That elusive, sought-after commodity of the early months.
From some of her earliest days, Molly catnapped or dozed fitfully, the way I remember Ree being. Ahh, she's asleep! No, she's awake! Asleep at last! But her eyes just opened again! A lot of the time she napped in the ring sling during the day, or sometimes on my chest if I could be lying down or resting myself. She resisted being transferred, resisted sleeping on her back, and resisted even elevated attempts at sleep in a rock 'n play.
I kept muddling through with the constant baby wearing and cosleeping, but also kept trying for a little more independence wherever I could get it. Is it worth repeatedly trying to transfer a baby on the slim hope that she'll remain asleep in her own bed, or is it better to leave one in the sling for a predictably nice long nap? It all depends on how much one's lower back is hurting in the moment, I suppose!
We spent $15 on a secondhand fancy AngelCare monitor and promptly began to let Molly try sleeping on her tummy, and all with no side effect of parental guilt whatsoever. The swaddle and back sleeping just was not working for this little lady, and while the tummy sleeping wasn't a guaranteed success either, it did buy me one or two reasonable not-in-the-sling naps a week, and the occasional shower or time for a load of laundry.
Fortunately, for all the difficulty of her days, she slept pretty well at night, as long as I didn't attempt to transfer her to the cosleeper or move her away from my own body. In the crook of my arm, she'd sleep 2-3 or even 3-4 hour stretches at night. Many nights we'd both fall asleep first with me leaning against my big blue 'husband' pillow, holding Molly upright against my chest, and then once she had been solidly asleep for a while, I could inch my way down to sleeping horizontally and roll on to my side with Molly beside me.
I would probably be dead of sleep deprivation if it weren't for cosleeping. I know it's not for everyone, but then again, not everyone has babies who scream like this one did every moment when she wasn't in bodily contact with me.
Yes, you, kiddo.
Hey! It's a hint of a smile! And in fact, Molly first smiled at just four days old. Which is sort of ironic, because she subsequently turned into the saddest and most inconsolable of my three babies, but it's true. At four days old she looked right into Nell's face and smiled a decidedly social and beautiful smile. And a couple of days after that, she bestowed one on me, too.
So, Molly's first month of life in a nutshell. Her happy place was in the ring sling, with the Ergo as an occasionally acceptable substitute if she needed to be with Daddy. In the early weeks she could also sleep snuggled up against my shoulder, held upright. I remember walking around a lot with her cozied up on my left shoulder, holding her with my left arm, my right arm free for a few menial tasks and chores here and there. Molly's love language was frequent and nearly constant back-patting. She hated diaper changes, outfit changes, baths, and especially hated car rides with a screaming passion. She didn't spit up in small, burp-cloth-sized amounts, but did sometimes erupt like a volcano with an entire feeding coming out her mouth and nose simultaneously. Her little smiles were beautiful and heart-melting. She received many compliments on her alertness, her bright and curious eyes, and her magnificent, unparalleled head control. She seemed perplexed as to why the fingernails attached to her own hands kept scratching up her perfect little face. And she weighed nine pounds and something-or-other ounces, a detail I'd no doubt remember if my brain hadn't melted from sleep deprivation, stress, and worry.
And yet, not surprisingly, I wouldn't have wanted any other baby than this one.
When Molly was just a few days old, Ree said, "Isn't our baby the best baby in the whole world?" And Nell said, "She's just the baby I always wanted." And I couldn't possibly agree with those sentiments more. We are completely head-over-heels about this little girl.
And finally... the three sisters together! (Because everyone knows that if you're taking pictures of one child, the others will soon feel left out and want to join in on the fun. Even if Molly didn't think it was fun.)
Previously on the blog:
Ree at one month (who also insisted on being held all. the. time.!!!)
Nell at one month (who I'm told also needed to be held constantly, but I can't remember and if so I was probably largely unaware of it at the time, as she was my first and I didn't have as much else to do anyway!)
Yes, I'm told that magical babies who sleep in their own beds and doze off in swings or nap happily in bassinets or even lay on blankets gazing at their surroundings happily exist, but those kinds of babies have not been born into our family, at least not for their early months of life!
If I resolved anything in Molly's first month of life, it was that if there are any more babies in my future, I will choose to stand much firmer in my resolve not to receive IV antibiotics in labor. I went to the hospital prepared to decline the antibiotics even though I was GBS positive, but under pressure from the midwife (who was in all other respects quite lovely and wonderful) I agreed to have them. Obviously I can't say for certain that the antibiotics wiped out my digestive tract and Molly's and also affected both our immune systems for the worse, adding to the difficulty of her first month of life, but I am personally pretty convinced it played a part. Yes, one can live through a cold and even a two-week miserable sinus infection, and even a baby can live through slight case of the sniffles. But the miserable gassiness and painful wet burps and reflux, the periodic projectile vomiting episodes (burp cloth? who needs a burp cloth? we need a bath towel, changes of clothes for everyone in the vicinity, and a change of bedsheets!)... I cannot help wondering if this little lady's GI tract could have gotten off to a much better start without those antibiotics.