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How in the world has the human race survived this long? I mean, you barely recover from giving birth soon enough to deal with sleep deprivation and sore nipples and just when the baby starts getting all cute and mobile and human-like, TEETHING STARTS. You want to prevent teen pregnancy? SEND ‘EM THIS WAY. I guarantee an hour with my baby and any teen’s knees with slam together so hard they’ll be limping for a month. I have no job, no pressing responsibilities (beyond keeping my child alive), no other kids to care for, no neighbors close enough to disturb if the baby screams and I am almost at the end of my rope. I cannot imagine what dealing with a teething baby would be like in a mud hut or a covered wagon or an 800 square foot apartment. If you have teeth, go kiss your mama right now.
By the time E got home from work yesterday I was lying on the floor of the nursery begging the baby to take a nap. I know E was secretly thinking “Geez woman pull yourself together, he’s not that bad” – until Baby started screaming his head off because someone smiled at him the wrong way or said his mama was funny looking. I wouldn’t blame E if he suddenly had to start “working late” so he would miss the afternoon meltdown. I would totally kill him, but I wouldn’t BLAME him.
The real problem is the child cannot make up his mind. Cutting just one tiny tooth has thrown any semblance of a schedule out the window. Two nights ago I was totally ready to throw in the co-sleeping towel because Baby Evan thrashed and tossed and nursed ALL NIGHT and I can’t deal with a cranky baby during the day without at least five hours of sleep. But then last night he slept from 9pm – 2am, nursed, and then went back to sleep until 5:30 am, still and quiet as a mouse. Unfortunately, GETTING him to sleep was a nightmare. I don’t think it counts as cry-it-out if E is holding him and rocking him and shushing him in the nursery…but the baby cried himself to sleep anyway. During the day he’s just as unpredictable. One minute Baby Evan wants to nurse non-stop and the next he thrashed and screams if I put him anywhere near a boob. I was not expecting engorgement to be a problem anymore but yeah, it is, AGAIN. One second he’s playing in his exersaucer happily and the next he’s screaming bloody murder. One minute the teether toy is his favorite thing ever until he sees me holding the remote and then he wants THAT RIGHT NOW INHISMOUTH GUMGUMGUMDROOOOOOOOL.
I wish there was a definitive answer as to how long teething lasts. It would really help me deal with this if I knew “OK, he’s horrible now but I only have two more weeks (or months) to go”. But the internet has very little to say on the subject, except that he has 20 teeth to get through and that the molars can be worse. WORSE. My heart actually stopped beating for a second.
I got my first blog topic request – which is super timely as I am facing a total lack of interesting things to say this week. Finally getting all the junk off my kitchen counters is just not that inspiring. So today I’m going to talk about sleep for Shannon in PA. She has a 4 month old and is currently obsessed with sleep. This happens a lot when you have a new baby – you wonder if you have the only child in the whole world who (fill in the blank – doesn’t sleep, nurses 10 hours a day, poops neon green, farts like a fat man at a German food festival)(The answer is no). I know Shannon is hoping I will tell her the answer to all her infant sleep problems is just a few weeks away. So here you go: Shannon, I promise you that in six more weeks your baby will be sleeping 13 hours a night. Ok, now stop reading Shannon. Stop and go look at pictures of unicorns or something. Now that Shannon’s gone, I’ll tell the rest of you how Baby Evan’s sleep schedule works.
Since he was born, Baby Evan has slept on almost every surface imaginable…except for in his crib. When we first brought him home he slept exclusively in his vibrating seat or his swing (both by Fisher Price in case you’re keeping track of what products I recommend). After a while we started putting him down in the cradle my father-in-law built so he would get used to sleeping on a flat surface. Around 6 weeks E and I stopped sleeping in shifts on the couch and moved the baby upstairs to our bedroom where he now sleeps in a co-sleeper. Naps are still usually in the swing or in the infant carrier after a ride in the car. But when he’s really tired during the day, he’ll sleep almost anywhere, including that one time he slept on a table, especially if he falls asleep while nursing.
There is a LOT of advice out there on how to get your newborn or infant to sleep. Cry it out (abbreviated CIO on mommy message boards) is one of the most common methods, popularized by Dr. Ferber (hence using it is called Ferberizing your baby – which sounds more like turning your baby into a creepy talking doll with a beak than a sleep training method to me but whatevs)(I’m feeling very linky today)(And also full of parentheses). Dr. Ferber is a fancy doctor of sleep in Boston or something. I don’t own his book so I don’t know exactly how it works but I’m told it involves letting the baby cry for gradually longer amount of time until he eventually learns not to cry at all. Now, no offence to people who have used this method, but it sounds to me like using CIO is just teaching your baby that you don’t care if he’s crying. I also doubt my ability to ignore Baby Evan’s cries for long enough for this to be effective – I think my record is 20 seconds before I ran out of the bathroom with my pants unbuttoned to comfort him. And how is listening to a baby crying supposed to help ME get any extra sleep anyways?
What I’m trying to say is we haven’t done any real sleep training. We’ve sort of mashed together several different schools of thought to figure out what works best for us, but it’s pretty much Dr. Sears attachment parenting with a couple of Dr. Karp’s five S’s thrown in. But this only works for us because we have a pretty easy going baby and I don’t have a job – if you’re a working mom with a high maintenance baby I recommend not reading this since it will only make you want to punch me in the face.
At five months our schedule looks like this: 8 pm Baby Evan gets a bath in the sink, mostly to get as much dog hair off him as possible. After the bath he gets his last meal of the night, somewhere between 8:15 and 8:45 depending on when his previous snack was. All his meals still come directly from the boob so we get a little cuddle time in too. Usually around 8:30 we go upstairs and rock in the glider while I read him a book (last night was Make Way for Ducklings, the night before we did There’s A Monster At The End Of This Book and That’s Not My Reindeer).
After the books I wrap him up in a swaddle (THIS IS THE SECRET TO SLEEP. SWADDLE. SERIOUSLY, DO IT. We had to buy a bigger size a month ago and he breaks his arms out of it around midnight but it keeps him asleep through his 10pm and 11pm REM cycles, which means I avoid at least one extra feeding. I’m probably the only person whose baby is still swaddled at 5 months but I have no intentions of quitting). Once he’s all wrapped up I turn off the lights in the nursery and sing Baby Evan a song while I rock him to sleep. It usually takes one time through “The Book Of Love” (my baby loves Peter Gabriel) and about thirty seconds of shushing before he’s totally out. By now it’s somewhere between 8:45 and 9:00 pm. I put him in the co-sleeper in our bedroom, turn on the monitor and then go back downstairs for some baby-free time until I go to bed at 10.
When Baby Evan wakes up around 2:30 am for a snack I roll him into bed with me where he stays until he wakes up for breakfast. Mornings are the most unpredictable – some days he needs to be fed again at 4 and goes back to sleep, sometimes he makes it until 6:30, but he’s usually up for the day before 7. I’d say this nighttime schedule has been the same for about a month now, with no signs of changing in the foreseeable future. I’m totally ok with the current bed-sharing situation and cannot imagine trying to breastfeed in the middle of the night if I insisted on going into the nursery every time. I’m usually sound asleep again before he’s even done and almost never remember bringing him to bed at all. E is also ok with it since it means he never has to handle any night feedings. (His current work schedule is crap and involves him being gone for bedtime but when he was home he did that whole nighttime routine himself EVERY NIGHT so no accusations of slacking off on his part.) Once Baby Evan outgrows his co-sleeper we’re going to have to rearrange a little bit – maybe use the crib, maybe just go to full-time co-sleeping, maybe try to end the middle-of-the-night feedings. We’ll just wait and see how it goes, since the only certain thing when it comes to babies is EVERYTHING CHANGES. As soon as you have a routine or a schedule or a plan, it changes.
If you’ve made it this far and you are NOT Shannon, I am really impressed. If you are Shannon, go buy a swaddle and good luck with everything. And thanks for the request!
*This is the made up song I sing when the baby won’t calm down. It goes “sleepy baby go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. Sleepy baby go to sleep so mom can get some rest” and it works almost every time. I think it’s the ultra-soothing hypnotic tone of voice I sing it in that helps – although maybe he’s just impressed into silence by my musical genius.
It is amazing how being a parent changes the way you look at something as simple as walking.
My mall is the worst designed mall in the entire world. Instead of flattening out the land before construction they just built the whole thing uphill so every 40 feet there are 2-3 steps. On both floors. I never noticed what a stupid design this actually was until I tried to walk it pushing a stroller. To accommodate the pushers – and probably to comply with the handicap-accessibility laws – the kind mall designers built one single ramp for each set of stairs (actually, four sets of stairs, two on each side of the mall).
In theory, this system works fine. The ramp is wide enough that two normal-sized strollers can pass, so even on a busy day you aren’t stuck waiting and can get from the As Seen on TV Store to the sketchy Asian import/”relaxation” store*as fast as your tacky crap buying heart desires.
But in practice, people are idiots. Lazy idiots who see the ramps as the best way to avoid walking up steps instead of a necessity for people who can’t navigate the stairs. Lazy fat idiots who walk two across so you end up standing in line for your turn to push the stroller down the ramp. Lazy fat deaf blind idiots who move at a glacial pace and don’t even notice the moms glaring and sighing in frustration. I tried just running them over with the stroller but that was about as effective as trying to move a tree out of the way with your car. I commented to the girl with the stroller waiting in front of me how rude I thought this was, and she said “It’s even worse for me since all the old women use the opportunity to scold me for being a teen mother. This isn’t even my kid – she’s my sister!”
It took becoming a mother for me to realize that while children can be inconvenient, they aren’t intentionally difficult or rude. I always thought little kids were the most annoying part of parenting but it turns out it’s other adults that are the real pain in the ass. Where can I go for good old fashioned hold-the-door, mind-your-own-beeswax, take-the-stairs, smile-at-your-neighbor living?
*The mall also sucks as a mall, with about half the store fronts empty or containing temporary displays. Unfortunately it’s where our Old Navy and H&M are so I can’t avoid it entirely. Plus, again, AIR CONDITIONING.
Things I have not had time to do yet today:
2. My 18 minute work-out video
3. Take a nap to make up for that 3 am feeding
4. Bring in the trash cans
6. Put on a shirt not covered in spit-up
7. Make the bed
8. Take a shower
Things I DID do:
1. Change the baby
2. Feed the baby
3. Change the baby
4. Feed the baby
5. You get the idea
6. Call my doctor for a Diflucan prescription that I will probably won’t get to pick up until some time tomorrow since today is turning out to be an endless cycle of baby care.
So really, darling husband, when you announce you are “coming home for lunch” don’t be surprised when my response is more “Great, hold this kid while I pee” and less “I’ll be waiting for you, stud”.
I realized over the past three months I’ve had almost NOTHING positive to say about breastfeeding. Which is easy to understand considering I’ve gone through latch problems, bruised nipples, huge swollen porn star boobs, nipple shields, refusing a bottle, endless night feedings, plugged ducts and now thrush. I’ve made breastfeeding sound about as much fun as a drug-free root canal. But I am determined to do this. I am steadfast in my decision that breast is best for me and no matter how difficult my body and my baby make it, this is something I CAN DO.
I can’t give up. I won’t. I am convinced it will only take me one more week (just one more…) and then all this pain and frustration will pay off. I’ve seen little glimpses of what my breastfeeding relationship with the baby can be like. Days when things are going well and he’s the happy, smiley baby who loves to cuddle and is growing like a champ. And I feel like the milk he’s gotten so far has done all the magical things breastmilk is supposed to do. He hasn’t been sick, despite spending the first few weeks of his life in hospital waiting rooms. He’s never had an ear infection. You could almost set your watch by his poop. He wasn’t colicky. He’s hitting all his developmental milestones like clockwork. I couldn’t ask for a healthier baby.
Of course, those things could have nothing at all to do with the breastfeeding. I can’t prove anything. Scientists (and mommy bloggers) can argue themselves red in the face about the health benefits versus exaggerations versus the boob Nazis versus exhausted, frustrated mothers versus pushy, overbearing formula companies. I don’t want to be part of the debate. I have no comments and no contempt for anyone who uses formula. I don’t care what you feed your children. I care what I feed MY child, and my child is breastfed. Painfully, exhaustively, happily, exclusively, proudly, hourly, lovingly breastfed. And it is, actually, awesome.