Can’t believe it’s been a whole month with this guy and in true second child fashion this post is going up 2 weeks after these photos were taken. This first month has been wonderful, Johnathan got to meet both sets of grandparents & William has fully embraced big brother duties. Johnathan also moved out of our room & into his own, but he’s still snoozing in his bassinet. Per usual time is flyyyying by, but we’re over the moon with our littlest man.
Johnathan Wade’s Newborn Photos & Tips for Taking Your Own!
Yesterday my bestfriend came over & we shot Johnathan’s newborn photos. We did this when William was a newborn too. Newborn photography can be costly & intimidating but they don’t have to be! These photos took about an hour all in all to shoot. Ideally you want to take photos in the first week or two when babies are the squishiest & easiest to pose & they tend to stay asleep through different positions. Below I’ll share tips for taking your own photos & the set up we used.
The Set Up
- Boppy Pillow
- Heating Pad – Be VERY careful with a heating pad. I placed it under a thick plush blanket & set it on the lowest setting, checking frequently to make sure it wasn’t too hot, I ended up turning it off completely.
- Plush Blanket – something with texture is nice
- Somewhere near a window with lots of light!
I put the heating pad over the boppy pillow, followed by the plush blanket I wanted to use. This blanket is extra special because my late aunt sent it to us shortly before she lost her battle to cancer one day after our son was born.
I positioned the boppy / blanket set up on our bed near a window that got plenty of afternoon light. But when I took William’s newborn photos the set up was on his rocking chair, near a window. The key is finding an area of your home that gets good natural light.
The heating pad helps keep baby nice & cozy & asleep. I use it when I’m taking photos when baby isn’t wearing anything but a diaper. As I mentioned previously, exercise extreme caution when use the heating pad, don’t use it above the first setting and check frequently the temperature!
Next up: Angles! I go by one simple rule: if you can see up the baby’s nostrils it’s not the best angle. You want to shoot the opposite way. Granted you’ll notice not all of the photos live by that rule but it’s a good thing to keep in mind while you’re taking photos.
Editing: Most photo editing apps have a lot of free features you can adjust. For newborn photos I usually follow these basic steps: Straighten the photo, increase exposure, decrease shadows, decrease texture & clarity. I use light room to edit all my photos so I’m also able to fiddle if I want to decrease any hues of certain colors. You’d be amazed at how much better a photo can look just by simply straightening it & adjusting the exposure.
If you’re on a budget, don’t want strangers in your home taking photos during a pandemic or are like me and can’t stomach paying hundreds of dollars for photos you can take yourself try out these tips!
I said I’d never; but I already have…
As a new mom this phrase, I said I’d never but, I already have, speaks to me. I’ve just barely dipped my toes in this motherhood journey & I’ve already quickly realized that you can have all these grandiose ideas about parenthood & how you plan to raise your babies & sometimes you have to throw things out the window.
“I said I’d never but I already have” pretty much encompasses how our first week of parenting went. We never planned to formula feed. We had mixed feelings on introducing pacifiers, we certainly never anticipated spending time in the NICU . In some ways I’m thankful that our journey forced us to toss our plans out the window & just move forward.
One of my biggest I said I never woulds – the Google machine. As an ER nurse I know googling random medical questions is a cardinal NO NO. In fact it’s one of the fastest ways to get an eyeroll in an emergency room. As a new mom I found myself struggling to fall back asleep after Will’s 5am feeding, knowing he’d be awake again in 90 minutes. So, I unhealthily spent most of that early morning time on Google: wondering if his baby acne was something more, if his head looked too flat, if I should worry that he favors looking to one side and on and on. Every nurse bone in my body would yell at me to stop! Usually by day break I would have talked myself down… Once William started sleeping through the night I found myself not doing it quite as much but every once and awhile I’ll find myself scrolling through a mom forum discussing things that I know I don’t need to worry about it typing something absurd into Google!
I think motherhood is all about walking this line of sticking to your guns but also making concessions on things when it’s what is needed. We weren’t super into the idea of pacifiers, but in the NICU they use them all the time for the babies, especially during procedures. I wasn’t about to sent him some of that comfort because of what I’d been told in a breastfeeding class. So our “no pacifiers” went straight out the window. And guess what? Life moved on. He continued to breastfeed without issue despite what lactation consultants would tell us and ironically at nearly 7 months William has little to no interest in pacifiers
What are some concessions you had made early on in motherhood? What are other things that you don’t budge on?
I know there will be more. Probably today. We’re leaving this morning for Miami & then tomorrow we’re heading to the Caribbean for a week. Wish us luck.
I thought I would put together a list of a few things that we found ourselves Amazon Priming to our house in the first few weeks of having William home. Even though I thought I was well prepared to have baby come, I found myself realizing we really needed a few things I hadn’t thought of or I had under estimated how many of certain items I needed.
Night light – This is probably my number one recommendation. I LOVE this night light.After our first night home with baby I realized we desperately needed some kind of light, a quick Amazon search led me to this bad boy, with 4.5 stars & 1200 reviews, I had this at my doorstep the next day & have used it ever since. Not only is it wireless, ultra light weight & small, making it completely portable. You control it by merely tapping & when you hold your finger down the light brightens or dims. You are also able to easily toggle between both warm & cool. It’s perfect for late night feedings, providing enough light to change a diaper but not so bright it disturbs your newborn.
Changing pad covers – I had purchased a pack of 3 of these thinking oh that should be enough. No. It wasn’t. I went ahead and order two more packs of 3. In the first week Will had peed on the 3 we had & I realized unless I was doing laundry daily a pack of 3 wasn’t going to cut it. These are realatively inexpensive & you don’t have to feel guilty tossing one if a blowout happens.
Plain Onesies – We learned our son hates being hot. So all those adorable zip up pj’s I had stocked up on, paired with a swaddle made him way too warm at night. So I found myself using just plain long sleeve body suits. We still use them today, nearly 5 months out. They’re plain white or grey so if there’s a blow out I don’t think twice if I feel like I need to toss it. I also keep these in the diaper bag, or the car as a back up outfit.
Gripe Water aka life saver. Whether it’s hiccups that won’t quit, or colicky gas pains this magic liquid is amazing. I think it’s nice to have in your arsenal for days when warm baths, leg exercises, burping just doesn’t cut it.
Finger nail scissors – I was gifted these baby scissors at my shower by another momma. They make the incredibly intimidating task of trimming your babies nails manageable. With a curved design and blunted tip you can feel comfortable that you won’t accidentally cut those tiny fingers or toes.
Head scrubber– This little silicone scrubber is a great way to prevent cradle cap and to clean eczema prone skin! Initially we used a little hairbrush to clean Will’s head but he hated it. I found this handy tool on amazon & swear by it. There’s no more crying when it comes to scrubbing his head.
I think any of these would make for a great addition to a baby shower gift! Let me know what some of your must have items were!!
Happy Friday everyone. Yesterday was the summer solstice & a few friends & I took Will to the San Francisco conservatory of flowers. The conservatory is a ten minute walk from our apartment & a $6 entry so it made for a perfect afternoon adventure.
And last night was Chris & my first date!! We went to our favorite restaurant that does a delicious multi course food and wine pairing.
This weekend we have some friends coming to visit us and the weather is supposed to be AMAZING in San Francisco. Happy summer!
1 Month Old
Will turned a month old on Sunday & I can’t believe it. It feels like so much time has passed & that our week stay in the NICU was lifetimes ago, but then I think how he’s a month old & I can’t recall where that time went!! This month I’ve learned: he absolutely loves to eat, & when he’s starving he’ll angrily grunt while he chugs his bottle. He loves looking at the art we have in our apartment. He loathes being hot. He doesn’t mind bath time so long as his hair isn’t being scrubbed. He’s not at all interested in having his arms swaddled & he’ll gladly partake in morning snuggles.
The past three weeks at home we’ve worked on establishing some kind of routine & I think it’s finally starting to stick & I’m realizing I can kind of anticipate his sleep / wake cycles. He’s both bottle fed & breast fed. After some trial & error we found he’ll sleep longer stretches at night if we give him a bottle, otherwise it’s very hard to keep him awake nursing late at night.
Chris goes back to work this week & it feels oh so bittersweet. It’s been incredible to have him home & for the 3 of us to bond & for myself to have help in order to really feel recovered from birth. Part of me is sad that this precious time has come to a close but like many things in life they’re this sweet because they’re short lived & I’m made even more grateful because I know this special time is limited. I’m excited to start a new phase of being at home with our little guy & getting our own routine & just growing into day to day life. As of now I’m not scheduled to go back to work until the beginning of September so I greatly looking forward to cherishing the summer & making wonderful memories.
We’re off to enjoy a BBQ in Sausalito this afternoon & will be back home to watch the Warriors game.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!!
iPhone upload + 10 things
1. I can’t get over little baby dreams, I posted a little video of Will dreaming after I fed him, & it’s the cutest. He cracks little smiles or peaks one of his eyes open. It’s so funny to me. I could watch it over & over. & in the middle of the night when I’m exhausted feeding him at 4am it still cracks me up.
2. We signed up for Hello Fresh now that Will is here & this week is our first delivery. I normally love to cook homemade meals each night, but with a new baby the idea of meal planning, grocery shopping & actually cooking the meals seemed very daunting! Now that a major portion of my day consists of feeding our son, we decided to split up the duties of making meals, & using a meal service was a far less intimidating approach for my husband who doesn’t cook dinners on the regular.
3. Giving the gift of sleep might be one of the nicest gifts to give your spouse / partner. This past weekend Chris & I alternated Saturday & Sunday letting the other person sleep in. On Saturday morning he took the baby & the dog into the front part of our apartment & let me sleep uninterrupted until 9:30. It was GLORIOUS. & I happily returned the favor the following day. Getting a few hours of good sleep can totally change your mood & I think it’s one of the nicest & totally free gifts you can give your partner. Chris & I have always agreed it’s something we would continue to gift one another with.
4. We are starting to lightweight make plans for the summer that extend beyond our apartment & our little neighborhood. Although the idea of travelling in a car for a few hours with an infant, or sleeping somewhere that isn’t his little crib seems so extreme to me we want to be able to take our son places & not be tethered to our little baby bubble we’ve created. The only way to get comfortable doing these things is… to actually do them.
5. Right before Will was born we bought this laundry hamper & it’s quickly become one of my favorite things. We sort our laundry by: colors, whites, delicates. & this makes life so much easier. I’m no longer dumping out a full laundry hamper on the ground trying to sort clothes! It’s funny how sometimes such little things can make life so much easier.
6. William will be 4 weeks old on Friday & I can not wrap my ahead around it. I’ve always known that people say time moves incredibly fast when you have children & it’s so true. He’s already growing & changing so much, it breaks my heart a little bit! But I’m also so excited to see little bits of his personality pop out.
7. We are going to our first Giants game of the year in two weeks. We’re taking Will & I’m pretty excited!
8. Chris is going back to work next week. I’m so grateful he’s been able to take time off & work from home / only respond to emails the last two weeks. It’s been so great to have him at home & I don’t know what I would have done without him. It’s definitely going to be a major adjustment being on my own with baby & dog but I’m excited for the challenge.
9. I went to acupuncture this week for the first time since birth & it felt SO good; besides getting a 45 minute nap it felt so nice to relax & do something super positive for my body!
10. We’re watching the last few episodes of The Americans. The second to last episode of the series aired last night, we haven’t watched it because I can’t manage to keep my eyes open past 10pm but I’m dying to see how they wrap the series up!!
Lessons from the NICU
When I went in to be induced at 40 weeks & 3 days I was just so excited to meet my baby. Not a single ounce of me thought we wouldn’t take our full term son home for seven days. Instead of leaving the hospital two nights after my delivery, my husband & I would spend the next week sharing a 10×10 hospital room. We would wake every 2.5 hours to walk the 400 steps to the NICU to see our baby boy. After a difficult labor, lasting over 36 hours, our little boy had trouble maintaining his blood sugar levels & would spend the following week in the NICU trying to manage his sugar. This was not the plan. I had spent the previous 40 weeks with an otherwise seamless pregnancy, each scan & blood test giving us reassurance that everything was on track.
Our time spent in the NICU taught me more than I ever realized. During that week, we lived in 3 hour blocks. Just waiting for the next blood sugar check, verifying how his dextrose infusion was being titrated, waiting on critical labs to return. The first few days I was somewhat in denial that this was my reality. The ER nurse in me kept thinking “they’ll stabilize his sugar & he’ll be back in our post partum room & we’ll be right on track to go home”. It soon became clear he was going to be there longer than we had imagined & that we were going to have a NICU baby. We were joining an exclusive club no parent wants to be a member of, a club that puts you on a crash course of endless love & fierce protection for this little life you created. Below is some of what I learned from that week.
Look for silver linings anywhere and everywhere: This was huge for us, it kept us floating. Our silver linings were anything from a solid blood sugar reading this hour, to taking advantage of the fact that our little boy was being put on a regimented schedule & was learning to self soothe in the middle of the night since the nurses couldn’t immediately run to him or that he was learning to simultaneously breastfeed & bottle feed. All of these silver linings would be things we’d be thankful later!
Take the help: This is as simple as it sounds. Take people up when they offer to bring you things from the store, clothes from home, keep your dog an extra night (or 5!). One night my best friend & Chris’ brother came over in between feedings & we ordered pizza to our room. People desperately want to help you. Let them. Everyone will feel better.
Sometimes Cuddles Are Enough – One night when we were in the NICU for a feeding & Will wasn’t doing the best at breastfeeding a nurse reminded us that sometimes just holding your baby & being in the moment is plenty. Even though we wanted each feeding to be a great success to help with his blood sugar it realistically wasn’t going to perfect every time. So she encouraged instead of putting pressure on every feeding, to relax & just let him lay with us & know that being on us was just as powerful as any IV infusion. He was gaining comfort & love & security all things he would need to get better.
Feel the warmth: Something that struck me right off the bat being in the NICU was how much warmth there was. As an ER nurse I’d say warmth can be hard to find in an emergency department, however there’s no shortage of it when it comes to the people who dedicate their lives to caring for tiny humans. My recommendation is to let yourself feel it. As someone who doesn’t readily accept hugs from strangers, I found myself gladly taking the hugs from nurses I had just met.
Prepare for setbacks: This lesson sucks. But inevitably you’ll take two steps forward and one step back & it’ll sting. Honestly we weren’t prepared until we had our first major set back & it totally crushed us. A part of me felt guilty for feeling so crushed, when I looked around & saw babies on ventilators, or babies too sick to be held. I felt guilty for feeling so knocked down when our baby wasn’t close to being the sickest one there. Just know set backs will happen & it’s okay to cry, but know that it’ll get better. When we’d walk to the NICU for another feeding we’d talk about potential set backs & prepare ourselves for a low sugar & just talking about it being an option helped.
Think big: This became our motto before every blood sugar check. I’ve always believed in sending out good energy into the universe & as much as we mentally prepared for setbacks I think it’s equally important to be positive & to “think big thoughts”. Even though doctors & nurses are watching over, your baby needs you to believe in them & to be their cheerleader, now more than ever.
Do normal things. Walk outside. Listen to music. Shower. It’s amazing how a hot shower, or a walk around the block helped. It’s important to try to bring some normalcy to a very abnormal situation. There was a Starbucks one block from the hospital so we’d try to go for an afternoon walk & get a coffee. It felt so strange to walk outside & remember there is a whole world outside of the windowless walls of the NICU where our whole world lay in an isolet. I really believe those little pockets of normalcy kept us going, as did the afternoon coffees!
Support Each Other: I would not have been able to make it through this experience without my husband. At various points we each had to be the person to pick the other one up. We knew our son needed us & he needed us to be in a good place. Who ever your support person is, let them support you. And return the favor when they need it. Celebrate the baby steps together, cry when you need to.
Know the NICU isn’t anyone’s first choice. No ones birth plan includes a week long stay in the NICU, ours certainly didn’t. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be & it’s okay to be upset about that. No one will truly understand unless they’ve been through it. The simultaneous urge to fiercely protect your baby paired with the total lack of control over the situation can make even the strongest people weak. For some reason I’ll never know, this was our journey. Having made it out on the other side I’m thankful for the lessons it taught me & how it forever shaped me as a mother. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of getting to dress our baby in his first outfit & walk out those double doors. The bitter-sweetness of being so incredibly thankful for the hearts that took such good care of him that week, but wishing all the babies got to go home.
If you stumbled onto this post because you’re going through a similar journey my heart aches for you. It aches for all the moms & dads that don’t get to walk out those doors with their babies like they planned.
^moments before we walked out of the NICU
At 40weeks & 3 days I was induced after a non stress test showed low amniotic fluid levels. After enduring 36 hours of labor our sweet boy, William Hayes Dorsey, made his debut last Friday 4/27 at 6:34am. We are so in love with our little guy. He was under stress throughout my labor & spent the last week in the NICU, but I am thrilled to report as of Friday we are home with a happy healthy boy!