Letter to my little hazelnut: 3 weeks.
November 29, 2012

Dear Evie,

Three weeks ago, you joined our family in a whirlwind.  One minute your sister and I were napping together on the couch and the next minute (or four hours later, whatever) I was squeezing Grandma’s hand pushing you into the world.  In the blink of an eye you were on my chest and I was falling irrevocably in love.

The last two weeks have been magic, darling.  Although you have only been here for half a month, I feel like you have been here forever, as though we have met before.

Because I am still recovering from your birth, I try to make sure that you and I have at least one daytime nap each day.  Invariably I wake up before you do and I steal a few moments to soak you up – to memorize your smell, your sounds, the feel of your skin against mine, the look of your milk-drunk grins.  It is no wonder to me that mothers have been doing this for millennia; there is no greater bliss than being fully present in the moment with a beloved child.

That said, HOO BOY, girlie, has parenting you thrown us for a loop.  More than once your father and I have reached the end of the day, looked at each other exhausted, and commented on how you are simply a higher-needs baby.  Everything that came easily with your sister has been a greater challenge with you.  You have trouble latching to the breast.  You can only be set down for maybe fifteen cumulative minutes in a day – MAYBE – including diaper changes before you start shrieking like a banshee anytime you momentarily leave human contact.  You are exceedingly finicky about sleep, which is to say that you generally only get a nap in if you are tucked snugly in a carrier on my chest while I pace our house endlessly OR lying (preferably skin-to-skin) against me OR have a nipple in your mouth.  You have incredibly sensitive skin and are prone to diaper rash, even using natural detergent and changing your cloth diapers frequently.  Sometimes you cry for seemingly no reason for ten or twenty minutes straight and nothing will comfort you and then you fart and it’s over.

We’re slowly getting better at meeting your needs, though.  I’ve sorted out that some breastfeeding positions (football or upright) are easier for you to latch and nurse in than others (cradling you is almost impossible).  We babywear you almost full time so that you have the constant contact you crave (and so that you can sleep, with or without a nipple in your mouth).  We found an ointment that seems to help you keep diaper rashes at bay and we’ve been trying to focus on having a couple hours of naptime together with you naked so that you have less time with a diaper on at all.

And so it goes.

One day when you are older and you have a chance to read this, I want you to know that you have been a magnificent surprise.  Your father, your sister and I are all absolutely head over heels for you.  We are all enamored by the sounds you make in your sleep and the smiles you throw at us when your belly is full and your diaper is clean.  We love marveling at how tiny your fingers are, the way your left ear folds over just like Grandpa’s, and the look of shock on your face every time you sneeze.

To us, everything about you is perfect.

We love you more than bears love honey, (and everybody knows that’s an awful lot),
Momma and Daddy

** Charlotte is three years and four months old.  Evie is three weeks old.


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  1. By on November 29, 2012

    loved reading this.  Emily’s only comment: “oh!  Charlotte is reading my book with the MARKERS!“

  2. By on November 29, 2012

    TEARS. THANKS A LOT,

  3. By Jill on November 29, 2012

    Ah… beautiful!  And impressive that you squeaked out a blog post!  My daughter was definitely a high needs baby, I was never able to put her down at all, not able to cradle her, she wouldn’t ever sleep without nursing (the whole time).  Some of it was due to reflux.  Exhausting, but how wonderful that your daughter was born to parents who will meet her needs, whatever they are, and love her just as much as they would an “easy” baby!

  4. By on November 29, 2012

    Hi Sarah,

    I recently saw the following article in the NY times, and I thought of you and your new little flower.
    Best,
    -Erica

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/officials-warn-against-baby-sleep-positioners/?smid=pl-share

  5. By on November 29, 2012

    i hear you girl.  my daughter is now 21mo old, but she was a high needs newborn as well!  if i remember correctly didn’t you say you had back labor? i did too and sometimes wonder if that had something to do with it somehow… maybe the incorrect birthing position caused something to just be out of wack for a few months?  it doesn’t seem like it now, but do know that the colic will subside after a few months.  she is lucky to have you and your husband as parents :)

  6. By on November 29, 2012

    Jill, when I started the blog post it was going to be for her turning two weeks!  Yikes! =P

  7. By on November 29, 2012

    Erica - Thansk for the heads up!  Thankfully we don’t use sleep positioners.  To take the pictures above, I set her down in a bouncer for a couple minutes (I just felt soooo guilty that I’d only taken pictures once!  Sigh.)  These are literally the only photos I got before she woke up and fussed, presumably because she wasn’t in physical contact with me lol.

    Kristy - I did have back labor.  I’ve kind of wondered about that too.  The midwife told us not to be surprised if breastfeeding took awhile to click.  She didn’t latch for five hours after birth despite that being basically all I tried to do (gah, I was so tired!) but when she did I thought we were going to be just fine…and then we spent the next week having trouble.  Sigh.  And everything else has been a little trickier for her too.  So it makes sense to me that a bad birthing position could cause stress enough to make things a little rougher for them as a newborn.

    Of course, the easiest baby I know was also sunny side up, so who knows?  LOL.

  8. By on November 29, 2012

    I had back labor 8 weeks ago… And I have yet to have more than 10 relaxed minutes with my girl unless she’s nursing or asleep in a baby carrier. I see those professional photoshoots some people get with their newborn in a basket, or in different positions and wonder if my kid is the only one who has to sleep touching me or SHE’LL SCREAM!!!!
    We had endless problems with breastfeeding and she was drinking formula too until a couple days ago… Sigh! I wouldn’t trade her and her neediness for the world but I’m eager to have another kid to see how it feels to have an easier one!

  9. By on November 29, 2012

    Gracia - Did you transition to exclusive nursing?  If so, congratulations momma!!  That’s hard work!!

    Also, I could have totally had a newborn shoot with Charlotte.  Not. So. Much. with this one lol so there’s hope for an easier one in your future =)

  10. By on November 29, 2012

    You know I had challenges with Hayden, my second, and nursing. Unfortunately, she lost so much weight and with her 20 month old sister running around, I never got to an exclusive point. Hang in there!!! No two kids are the same, that was my lesson in delivering Hayden.

    Evie is gorgeous. Congratulations!

  11. By Karen on November 29, 2012

    As the mother of a high needs baby I’ve been there… your post rings so familiar. I don’t know what it is to have an “easy” baby so I would never want to claim that somehow bonding with them is less in any way, but I do know that because of the high needs we waded (and are wading) through together my son and I have an incredible, intense bond that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Your post is beautiful, thank you for sharing it with us. How is Charlotte doing with the amount of time and contact that her baby sister requires? Now that I’m expecting again I wonder how it will be for Eli especially is this new baby is anything like he was.

  12. By Sheila on November 29, 2012

    Have you thought of trying a little EC for the rashes and fussiness?  My younger son gets a lot of gas, and putting him into the EC position (like a sitting position, leaning back against you, with your hands under his thighs) always helps him toot.  And sometimes he fusses when he needs to pee as well.

    I’m also thinking craniosacral therapy might help for the birth trauma, if that’s available to you.

    She is beautiful by the way.  Those high-needs babies are a challenge—my second was also super high needs for his first three months or so.  I feel it was his way of making sure he got the attention and bonding he needed despite being the second child.  If he had been as undemanding as his brother, I might have forgotten him in the chaos of dealing with the toddler.

  13. By on November 29, 2012

    I used just straight coconut oil for ds. Its CD safe and the only thing that works on his uber sensitive skin.

  14. By on November 29, 2012

    Oh my goodness, I am in the exact same boat.  My little one will be 3 weeks old in 2 days.  I also had back labour (for 3 days!)  and my son won’t nap unless being held.  What wrap/carrier are you using?  I have a moby but am scared to use it since he’s so small (scared first time mom!)

  15. By on November 30, 2012

    Congratulations! She is a beautiful little lady, with a gorgeous head of hair! I love your blog and your writings about life and your girls - my husband and I have three of our own!
    I wanted to comment on something you mentioned in this post that reminded me so much of my third baby girl - the diaper rash and fussiness.
    Our third is allergic to dairy. I was breastfeeding and noticed that she would get a bad diaper rash and was very grunty and seemed uncomfortable at times, didn’t want to be put down. EVER. I wore her in the wrap ALL DAY LONG - then I eliminated dairy from my diet and she was a different baby. Stopped grunting, NO more diaper rash, she still loved to be held, but slept better and longer, etc. Dairy takes weeks to get out of both of your systems so it was a long process, but I wonder if your Evie has any allergies that are causing her symptoms? Maybe not dairy but the top five are gluten, soy, corn, dairy and nuts. I hope that’s not what it is, but just wanted to share our experience to maybe help out if that’s what it is - and fyi - when I would slipup and eat dairy with #3, it was 3 days before she had a diaper rash to prove my diet cheat - so it isn’t an immediate response - though some babies I know with similar allergies have eczema, fevers, discomfort, gas, etc.
    Congratulations again! She is BEAUTIFUL :)

  16. By Sarah Christensen on November 30, 2012

    Lisa - We’ve been using a few carriers, predominantly a Didytai or one of our wraps (I personally prefer using the Moby at this age because it’s easiest for me to nurse in and it’s soft, but I also have a couple wovens and she’s really taken to the Storchenwiege we have, which is admittedly just as soft, but I’m not very good at nursing in woven wraps yet lol).  I also keep a rebozo in the car for quick ins & outs (i.e. picking Charlotte up from preschool), but it’s much more likely for me to just keep the Moby tied up on my body and pop her in it, run my quick errand, and pop her back out into the car-seat, then pop her back in the wrap at home.

    You can definitely wrap at three weeks if you’re comfortable - but if your momma instincts feel a little apprehensive, give it some more time.  Wrapping took me a couple weeks to get the hang of; I started when Charlotte was two weeks old and finally had to ask a friend to come over and show me how.  We spent two hours in the living room wrapping stuffed animals before I felt confident enough to try with my daughter.  I also may or may not have wrapped my cat to get a feel for the weight =P With Evelyn, I put her in a modified forward wrap cross carry (you can youtube that or FWCC and find instructional videos) and then I turn her head the direction she wants it and tuck her into one of the parts coming over my shoulder - it holds her head secure so that I know her airways are clear and I don’t have to worry about anything.

    If you would like, there’s a Facebook group called Babywearing Love and Support and there’s an online forum called The Babywearer.com - both are excellent resources for carrier and carrying information!  Good luck with your little and the Moby!

    Karen - Charlotte’s been totally fine with it, it’s a complete non-issue to her.  The biggest problem we have is that she wants to smother her with love constantly =)  We did also have about a week-long hiccup where she was terrified to leave our side.  It didn’t make sense to us at first, but then my mom figured it out.  So basically what happened was that on Wednesday, she spent all day with Grandma so that I could rest (and nest).  On Thursday, I went into labor so we unexpectedly ditched her with her grandparents.  They took her to the midwife where I was already in the birthing room and Charlotte came in to visit with us after the birth.  Then, because it was late, and even though she wanted to stay with “her baby,“ we forced her to leave with her grandparents and forced her to stay with them overnight.  And she didn’t come back to us until the following afternoon.  Then she visited for an hour, left to run errands with Grandpa, and we all had dinner together Friday night and she came home with us.

    So from Wednesday morning until Friday evening, Charlotte was not consulted about who she was spending time with - and she realized that every time my parents got involved, they took her away from me and “her baby,“ which she found immensely distressing, the more so because when she’s stressed she likes to nurse and I wasn’t available to nurse her much during those days.  Every time she saw me she wanted to nurse, which I thought was weird, and I denied her in the first couple days postpartum so that I could recover, which I think made things worse.  So for about eight or so days after the baby was born, Charlotte didn’t want to let me out of her sight - she was even a little hesitant about preschool (but managed to buck up and take one for the team lol).  She especially didn’t want to go to her grandparents’ home.

    We handled it by basically hunkering down at our house and telling her over and over again that we were never going to leave her, ever.  Then we made sure we had a bunch of short visits to her grandparents’ house that we immediately came home TOGETHER from - and we made sure not to leave behind any of her books or toys so that she didn’t need to go back to get them.  Once she realized that those days were just an anomaly and everything was back to normal, so was she.

  17. By Sarah Christensen on November 30, 2012

    Sheila - The EC position does seem to help her, but she’s still pretty fussy.  She’s fussy when she pees too.  It actually works out to her benefit in a way because she’s REALLY fussy when her diaper is dirty, but if she fusses beforehand even a little I can generally figure out what’s going on and get her changed as soon as she’s eliminated =)

    Craniosacral therapy isn’t something I’d considered before, honestly.  I’m not that familiar with it, but I’ll poke around and see what I find.  Thanks for the heads up!

    Jessica - My dad would tell your husband it takes a special kind of man to make and raise three girls =)  He has three too.  I think he’s rooting for us to have a third girl eventually just so he has an excuse to use that line on my husband lol.

    The allergy thing is something I’ve just started toying with as a possibility.  Charlotte was pretty sensitive to dairy when she was exclusively nursing.  That seemed reasonable to me at the time because I couldn’t stomach dairy to save my life while I was pregnant (I’m not huge on dairy anyway, though).  Once Char started eating solid foods in meaningful quantities that sensitivity seemed to fade off and now she has no issues whatsoever with it, which sort of surprises me, but whatever.  So I’ve started looking at the possibility that there’s an allergen, but I think that if there is it’s going to take me awhile to isolate it - I have a much more diverse diet this go-around (since I make smoothies to help get a good balance of vitamins for Charlotte and me, it’s tricky to go completely barebones because I don’t want to take out the vitamins I need at the same time).  We’ll see how it goes, though!

  18. By on November 30, 2012

    My first baby was (is) high needs and I had a lot of back labor with her As an infant she needed to be held/rocked all the time and had a hard time sleeping. She has always been my willful/handful child whom I lovingly (usually) describe as difficult sometimes. She is now 8 and yes, she is still my high needs kid. BUT. She is incredibly smart, sensitive and silly. She is willful and strong and independent and good at anything she puts her mind to.  We have had some incredible power struggles - mostly before I figured things out and became a better parent - but i see a bright and loving adulthood for her and I can’t imagine her any other way.

    My second kid (thank goodness my “high needs” on was first) slept and nursed and was a super easy baby. I could put him down! And he would sleep! It was amazing. He is now 6 and loves everything, goes along with most anything and lives his life with a wide open heart.

    my point is, (now that I’ve blabbed on about how awesome my kids are) that even if she continues to be a higher needs kid, your path may be harder but it is equally rewarding and amazing.

  19. By Sarah on December 03, 2012

    Hi Sarah! Fellow Sarah-mommy-blogger here. Love the pictures… little Evie is just precious. Cute blog!

  20. By Jill on December 07, 2012

    Love this…. you are always an inspiration and I love reading your blog.

    Jill

  21. By Late Latino on September 30, 2013

    Beautiful feelings. Thanks for sharing.
    Late Latino


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