Before my first daughter was born, I read the baby books and felt somewhat prepared for what was ahead in motherhood. I believe I was more prepared than I would have been had I not read the books, and having the knowledge about what to expect made me feel reassured and less anxious. But I do not think you are truly ever fully prepared until the day that baby lays in your arms and it all begins.
One thing that surprised me from the start was how much information I would be recording, not only in my head, but on paper too. Which side did I last feed on? How long was the feed? How many wet and dirty diapers each day? All these things were important for understanding my baby. Not only that, I had some feeding difficulties with my first that made it extremely important to know these details.
I spent the first six months of my daughter’s life keeping track of everything she did. It might seem a little extreme, but it was extremely helpful for a lot of reasons. It allowed me to see her patterns, so that we could eventually get on a schedule. Babies do well with routine, and my daughter was sleeping through the night by 3 months old. In my opinion, that will happen quicker when you establish a routine.
In the early days my daughter didn’t latch well and therefore had slow weight gain. Eventually, we realized there was a bigger problem, because there were days that she spit up 20 or more times. We found out that it was GERD (acid reflux), and started to get that under control with medication. Besides the amount of laundry we were going through, she was in pain. Just when we thought we had things figured out, things seemingly got worse. She was refusing to nurse. I was worried and upset and needed to find out what was wrong. Through my own research and working with the doctors (pediatrician and gastroenterologist), we realized that she also had dairy and soy allergies.
Keeping track of her behaviors and symptoms helped me see when something was going right or when something was going wrong. It also helped me when I needed to talk with the doctor. I always have a thousand thoughts in my head, but for some reason, when I get to the doctor’s office, they all slip my mind. Does that ever happen to you?
After all that we had been through, we finally had things under control. I was on a strict diet, nursing was going well, my daughter’s weight gain was finally steady, and best of all, she was happy again! I knew that keeping track of her day had helped us through this difficult time.
Before I knew it, it was Christmastime, and I was overjoyed. We were all happy and healthy, and it was our first Christmas with our sweet girl. Besides the gifts for her, my husband handed me a small box with the sweetest gift ever.
With this sweet note:
Of course, I cried tears of joy. It was the best gift I received that year. It was all that I needed to feel that my efforts in the previous months were validated. And yes, the box now has dust and the note is crinkled, because I carry it with me in my purse. Whenever I need a smile, it’s always there!
I’ve attached the journal below that I used to keep track of my baby’s day for free! I know that there are lots of apps available to record your baby’s day, and I’ve used some of them. But I always come back to the pencil and paper method, because I like the visual of everything in one place. Hope you find it as helpful as I do!