I saw one of our church’s pastors yesterday, and as she gave me a congratulatory hug, she asked if Shane and I are thriving or surviving in this early phase of parenthood.  No doubt, we felt like we were in survival-mode those first couple weeks, doing whatever we could to maximize sleep and minimize tears, for Jules and for us.  But the tides seem to have turned this week, as we’ve enjoyed several days of thriving as an active, (relatively) well-rested family.

It helped that my parents were here to lend a hand with all things house and baby.  Delicious home-cooked meals every night, a spic-and-span kitchen, and obliging backup every time Juliette needed changing or soothing – Shane and I were livin’ large during their visit.  And it was such a blessing to watch grandma and grandpa fall in love with their granddaughter, to listen to my dad sing his off-key nursery rhymes while he bounced her on the exercise ball, to watch my mom’s face light up when I put Juliette in her arms each morning.

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My dad headed back to Oregon last Sunday, but my mom stayed on to help out while Shane returned to work for a week.  We ventured out each day to run a couple of errands or enjoy a little fresh air, patting ourselves on the back during those meltdown-free outings and taking turns with any jiggling or shushing on those one or two occasions when Juliette fell to pieces.  I’m training my daughter early in the fine art of cafe dwelling – she dozed through our coffee dates at the Columbia City Bakery and the Essential Baking Company, soothed by the whoosh of the milk steamer.

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My mom left this morning and I shed a few tears as we said our good-byes.  We grew closer these past few days, as we now share this common ground of motherhood and this common love for Juliette.  Plus, I’m really, really going to miss her cooking.

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And now it’s on Shane and I to keep this boat afloat.  Thankfully, we seem to be on our way to finding a rhythm.  We’ve made great progress in the sleep department lately – our first couple of nights at home with the baby, we were taking turns sleeping with her on the couch in one-hour shifts, as she fussed each time we put her down.  We quickly became zombies under this routine, so we moved her into our bed, but stopped swaddling her, as we thought she was waking herself up as she tried to fight her way out of the blanket.  A week ago, we brought back the swaddle with more success, and on Wednesday, despite my skepticism, Shane moved her into the previously unpopular pack ‘n play next to our bed. And dang it all, I guess father knows best, because that girl logged five straight hours of Z’s that night, went right back down after I fed her, and then snoozed until 7 am!  Despite the unsettling dreams I had that night that someone had kidnapped our baby (I suppose my subconscious was trying to make sense of this long stretch of silence), I felt fabulous on Thursday morning.  We have yet to recreate that blissful five-hour stretch, but she’s been sleeping in three-hour chunks since then, and getting up around 1 am and 5 am feels doable for now.

We’ve heard that newborn sleeping and eating patterns can turn on a dime, so we’re far from believing that we have it all figured out – I suspect I haven’t experienced my last new-mama breakdown.  But for now, we’re soaking in the sweetness of this sleepy little face.

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