Look Ma, No Hands (and Other Learnings from Month One)

As I type this, I have one hand holding our babe and one hunting and pecking her way through the QWERTY-verse. Coming from a Mavis Beacon graduate (where my elder Millennials at?!) this is a sorry excuse for the flying fingers I’d unleash upon the keyboard just 30 days ago. Still, it’s a drastic improvement from my previous postpartum post. In this last month, I’ve come to learn about this little human I’ve spent the better part of a year growing as well as a few other lessons like…

Lesson #1: Look Ma, No Hands:
As I illustrated already…two hands are hard to come by. I could not fathom why every friend and every site told me to create nursing stations (essentially little baskets filled with all your must-haves like snacks, water, burp cloths, phone + charger, book, etc.). Surely nursing couldn’t be THAT paralyzing…?

Indeed it can.

All hands (and hearts) on deck! Thanks for the beautiful blanket, Gigi!

The fact that I have my computer (open!) and one hand to spare required an hour of prep. Nursing, burping, rinse and repeat and the constant uttering of “Could you grab me my {insert item here}” got us here. I never realized how incredibly grateful I am for two available hands until I spent most of my days with them fully commandeered for Ollie activity and only available for my needs in bursts to chug water and return to their posts. So yes, you need stocked-to-the-brim baskets (WITHIN arm’s reach) plus all the help you can get to grab what you forget.

Lesson #2: Variations on Normal:
Our birth doula aka the person who helped us not have a baby on our friend’s bathroom floor and got us to the midwifery just in time for a beautiful water birth instead gave us this gem: “Variations on Normal” and it’s been on my mind ever since. When Ollie wasn’t following the prescribed schedule of wet diapers but was instead soaking a few a day she called it his Variation on Normal. Was he a textbook baby based on his output (a daintier way to say poops and pees per day)? Nope. Was she or our midwives or pediatrician concerned? Nope again. He was healthy and following his body’s rhythm to get to the same output end result, just on his own schedule.

A few hours old…three days “late” and right on time

These days, there is SO much info when it comes to babes and for most of it I say “Thank goodness!”. We’ve come so far in understanding patterns and what to expect when we’re expecting and beyond but sometimes…it takes us away from ourselves, our babes right in front of us, and our innate understanding. Which leads me to…

Lesson #3: Trust Your Gut:
When we got home from the birthing center at 5 am, we both realized we hadn’t swaddled a baby in for me, 10 years, and for The Chief, ever. Perfect! YouTube to the rescue. After being up all night birthing a babe, you would think the first long sleep infants grant you would be welcome but I was anything but welcoming of the stillness. “Is he still breathing?” I worried to myself, in and out of sleep. I’d startle awake and watch his chest rise and fall in the bassinet beside me. I slept poorly like that for a couple hours and then resigned to being awake, which, with all that Oxytocin coursing through my veins, was a welcome resolve. I could watch our babe now, like a hawk. When I returned from making a cup of tea, I arrived to an unsettling scene. The baby had spit up what looked like old blood that lay in a puddle next to him. Immediately, I knew it was 1. OK and 2. that I would be calling our midwives. It turns out my instincts were correct. The substance was indeed blood but it was mine, not his, that he’d ingested on his way into the world. Intuitively I knew it was OK and also that I needed reassurance and I got it.

Trust your gut. You know more than you think you do and you also know when you need to hear someone tell you just that. When Oliver’s nose began to get stuffy, I knew to bring him into the bathroom while I showered. When he cried, I knew which was for food and which was for gas. I’ve also gotten plenty wrong – it turns out when it looks like a baby might pee again, they definitely will, most likely right as you put the clean diaper on – but when I’ve really tuned into my instinct, I’ve realized that I’m just that: tuned in. You are too. Trust yourself.

…But never trust the ween! Cover it up, lest you get peed at! And make sure not to confuse your ArmorAll wipes with your baby wipes in your back of the car diaper changes 😉

Lesson #4: Partners Have Hormones Too:
The first week of baby, for me, was Cloud Nine all the time. I knew I was tired but it didn’t really phase me. Ollie was calm and rarely cried and slept soundly. Or maybe that’s just the hormones talking. Whether veneer or true memory, all I know is that on Day 7, it started to crack, and not just for me. As we rounded out our first week as parents, a shift occurred and suddenly, my teammate and I were feeling a bit estranged. I was weepy and needed extra loving. The Chief was starting to feel overwhelmed and needed solace. Polar opposites. Not the best combo.

Not every moment is family photo-esque but this one was. First trip to The Toe. Thanks, Auntie Bebe!

There’s so much focus on what happens hormonally for the birthing parent postpartum but there’s little out there to remind us that non-birthing parents too are incredibly connected, and affected. In the Netflix series “Babies” they cover this and it’s truly worth a watch. The hormone shift, both positive and negative is INTENSE. Lucky for us, a walk n’ talk at our favorite lake was just the recipe to bake us back together again and help us remember that it wasn’t personal, it was physiological. Still, it’s not easy. Keep taking your prenatals. Brush your teeth and your hair and enjoy a hot shower. Take a walk or stretch or sing or do anything that helps you feel connected to and cared for by yourself because while this little one in your life is everything, if you’re not good, they won’t be either. Take care of you, make sure your partner does too, and take care of one another. Just a simple “Can I get you anything?” or a kiss before rushing to change the umpteenth diaper of the night makes all the difference. We all have hormones. Nurture them as they shift.

Lesson #5: It’s All About Perseverance:
Another set of wise words from a friend: “It’s all about perseverance.” While TAB said this in reference to breastfeeding (and oh lordy is she right – it’s not all Madonna and Child-esque all the time. Maybe never. Do NOT let Instagram convince you otherwise) it truly applies to all of parenting. When the 7th dinner bell rings via an ungodly wail at 3 am you’ll wonder how in the hell people do this (and how your adorable infant can make such a terrifying noise)…and then you’ll do it. One step at a time. One feeding at a time. One hour at a time.

One contraction at a time…My rock. I love you.

During our first night of parenthood, our birth doula had told us to hand express colostrum for Ollie until she could get there in the morning to help with our latch (see, breastfeeding can be hard!). “Save the nipple!” was our rallying cry as I cried through the pain of improperly expressing all through the night. We didn’t sleep, we forgot to eat, and we worried that our little man wasn’t getting enough either. Yet every hour we made it through was another one closer to help.

When I started getting nervous about giving birth I found this $0.99 wisdom at Goodwill.

Help arrived and our latch thrived and it’s been perfect ever since (read: perfectly imperfect with lots of hiccups and learnings along the way). All we had to do was persevere through each hour, sometimes each minute but we did and you can too. Take little bites out of big problems and celebrate the small wins.

Or big wins…like dinner in the park with a dear friend. Not just any dinner either, SUSHI dinner!!!

You’ll get through. Speaking of which, this whole paragraph was written with TWO hands! Goodbye, hunt and peck! Speed demon on the loose!

Lesson #6: Hello, Stranger:
Despite knowing one another for nearly a year, feeling him move inside me (sometimes even gently!), and learning his habits (10 pm = party hour! Just like his Dad…) little Ollie came out to us as a bit of a stranger. It’s like a baby version of “Love is Blind”. I love you but I don’t actually KNOW you. What does this cry mean? What do you need? What will your temperament be? The good news? All those questions and more will be answered, sometimes more than once. Your baby of yesterday may not resemble your baby of today. It’s constant learning. What worked this morning doesn’t work this afternoon but might this evening. Every day I would marvel at how much more we knew about him, how much we were all learning about one another and as a family. It’s constant and constantly evolving and even one day in you’ll wonder how there ever was a world without your kiddo in it. Hello, Stranger. It’s good to finally meet you.

Everybody cry time

And…that’s it! All there is to babies in 6 lessons.

Just kidding.

Cheers to learning, to loving the new and cherishing the old, and…cheers to one month.

Happy one month, little one. Oh, how we love you so.

Chunking up! Thanks for the awesome blanket, RB

With love,

From Alaska



  1. Beautiful! Today I need a touchstone of goodness and you provided this lovely tribute to family, life changing and hope. This is so well done. Love to you and yours. Gma Patt

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

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