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newborn

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Learning Curve

Oh, let’s not talk about the last few nights. Let’s just pretend they never happened. I owe Olive a big apology.

Despite my vow to not research and not schedule, everyone else around me seems to be doing just that. People are sleep training and implementing routines, talking about hours and ounces, setting times and limits, all citing this author or that doctor.

In the face of all of this I started to doubt myself. I thought, well, Olive is three and a half months old. Maybe it’s time.

So I started a bedtime routine. In the early evening I bathed her, gave her a baby massage with coconut oil, put her in her jammies, fed her and put her to bed. And then she got up an hour later. I rocked her and walked her and soothed her and bounced her and every time I put her down, her eyes would pop open and she would be awaaaake.

It was incredibly frustrating, I mean I had a PLAN! And she wasn’t going along with it! Suddenly nighttime had become a nightmare, and she’d be fractious the whole next day because she didn’t sleep very well after an evening of fussing.

After the second night of trying out this routine, when she didn’t go down for the night until midnight, I found myself venting to Adam the next morning, “Man, she just did NOT want to sleep last night. I don’t know what to do.”

At which point he looked at me like I was crazy, and said “Madeleine she slept for eight straight hours. What’s the problem?”

Oh hi, darling! The problem is me.

Somehow I forgot everything I knew about my daughter and replaced it with a theory and a system and a method that someone else kindly suggested, because it was working for them. But it didn’t work for us, and beyond that, why was I searching for a solution to a problem that didn’t exist?

All of these systems are in place trying to get babies to sleep through the night. Olive is already doing that – she’s done that since she was two months old. She set her own schedule, usually going to sleep around 11pm or midnight and waking up at 8-8:30am. But because all of the books and all of the other moms and the experts who know everything about everything say that babies should be going to sleep at 7pm, I felt like the routine she had established was wrong.

And dammit, I was going to fix it!

So for these two days and nights, these two horrible, horrible days and nights, her routine looked the same: Napping every hour and a half or so until she finally went down for the night at 11 ish- but MY nights became infuriating.

When I heard her wake up an hour after I put her down, instead thinking, “Oh, she’s done her nap!” and going to get her, playing with her, reading to her, etc., I would think “Shit! She woke up!” and I would rock her, bounce her and become increasingly annoyed as I tried in vain to put her to back to sleep – ignoring the fact that she wasn’t ready to sleep yet, DUH.

It’s mind boggling how this series of events: the timing and duration of sleep, the amount of wakefulness – even the amount of sleep we were each getting, all of it was exactly the same. But because I had it in my head that bedtime was 8pm, our nights suddenly looked ridiculous.

My mom always reminds me, “babies haven’t read the book”. Meaning, essentially, the books are sometimes bullshit. Or they don’t apply to your baby. Or they are detailing something that just doesn’t feel right. Or they’re labeling your nighttime routines as a problem when you have a three month old sleeping nine hours straight and suddenly that’s not good enough so you start acting like a crazy person.

I have a feeling that I am going to have to learn this lesson several times. To trust my gut and not mess with a good thing; to follow my intuition and pat unicorns and chase rainbows, etc. To acknowledge that some things might work for others but don’t work for me, for us, and that’s okay.

And to do it all without somehow feeling like I’m not doing it “right” (and guys, I so, SO want to be right. You know on Dr. Phil [not that I used to watch Dr. Phil…ok maybe once] when he leans in real close to a guest and says in that thick southern drawl, “Listen. Do y’all want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?” I would always secretly think to myself: “Well duh, I want to be right! And furthermore, I’d like to you to admit that I’m right, and THAT will make me happy!”)

I don’t know why this is so difficult, why it’s so hard to just listen to our babies and give them what they need. I don’t know why I feel like such a crazy hippie writing that either, worried that people will think I’m a pushover or too soft or something (but then I wonder, what’s wrong with being soft? Isn’t that what you are supposed to be for your baby? A soft place of comfort?)

There’s a reason an infant’s cries break your heart and make you physically uncomfortable, there’s a reason that they are comforted by being close to you, why they sleep best snuggled against your chest.

It’s unnerving to me how we have come to define a “good” baby as one that does the least to inconvenience our lives, one who demands the least from us.

A “good” baby sleeps when we do and doesn’t need to nurse too much, but also magically gains the right amount of weight. He never cries but also doesn’t need to be held all the time. He’s the baby that doesn’t have needs – and we all need that!

Ugh. I’m over it.

I’m sorry Olive. You just keep sticking with your awesome routine, you obviously know what you’re doing, and I’ll try to stop getting in your way.



Motherhood

Life With a Newborn

I’m not sure how qualified I am to write a post like this – I mean we do have a newborn, she’s sitting right here beside me! – but we’ve only been home from the hospital for 3-4 days, have only been parents for a week.

Barring all of those disclaimers however, this first week is what I was most nervous about. I didn’t know what to expect, and everything I heard from other parents was borderline apocalyptic in nature: “Sleep now, because you will NEVER. SLEEP. AGAIN!” they whispered, eyes wide. “Take some time to enjoy your life as it is,” they solemnly intoned, “Because it’s about to change. FOREVER.”

I took these ominous warning seriously and prepared accordingly. I froze food, pre-designed birth announcements and printed out address labels, made mass quantities of laundry detergent, baby wipe solution. I prepared as though I wouldn’t have more than five minutes here and there to take care of my basic needs, because I had no idea what the reality would look like.

Well, one week in, a lot of the time reality looks like this:

        

I have no point of comparison, no way to tell if our experience is normal or not, but so far Olive has been nothing but a delight, and life with a newborn has been nothing like what I had prepared myself for. Trust me, the moment I feel like tearing my hair out from sleep-deprived insanity, or ripping Adam apart in a fit of spousal rage, y’all will be the first to know. But so far, in this very first week, things have been positively bucolic.

Maybe it’s because I was expecting it to be so rough that it seems so good? I mean I was steeling myself for sleepless nights, a screaming baby – I was bracing myself for chaos, anarchy, a whirlwind of feedings, diaper changes and trying to care care of myself in the small snatches of time in between. And please believe me when I say that I’m not pulling a George W. and hoisting a giant ”Mission Accomplished!” banner, I’m not discounting those warnings yet, not declaring ourselves the valedictorians of parenting or the proud owners of a perfect baby -quite the contrary in fact. We’re not naive enough to think that things will always be like this, but we are definitely enjoying it while it lasts, and also very grateful that the plunge into this new world, new life, has been as slow and sweet as it has.

We were extraordinarily lucky that she took to breastfeeding right away- I was producing tons of colostrum and my milk came in fairly quickly, which helped things along. I know that breastfeeding is difficult for many women, and I’m fortunate that it has gone so well for us. She is a great sleeper (she must get that from her mama) and after feedings she generally sleeps for 2-3 hours in her crib, her little chair, or on one of us.

At night we have somewhat of a backwards bedtime set-up I think, in that Adam sleeps in our bedroom with her in her crib, and I sleep in the guest room next door. It feels strange sleeping in separate beds, but it’s something we started doing to save Adam’s sanity during the last few months of my pregnancy when I was tossing and turning all night, and getting up to use the bathroom 1535 times. 

Now at night when Olive starts fussing (she’s not at the point of waking up and crying yet, she usually just starts squeaking and sort of cooing to herself) Adam will get her from her crib, change her diaper and bring her to me to feed her. This is working out really well for us at the moment with Adam not working full time, but I want to re-visit it when he goes back to work to make sure that he’s able to get a good night’s sleep. I don’t mind being up a few times a night if I can nap during the day, but it doesn’t seem fair to make Adam do the same and then send him off to a full day of work.

It feels like I’m sharing some deep, dark secret when I say that we’re sleeping in separate beds for the moment – part of me wonders if this is how it starts: first separate beds  (just “temporarily”) and the next thing you know you’re finding charges from AshleyMadison.com on your visa bills and looking at a stranger across the breakfast table, wondering where the man you married went.

Separate beds and potential future failings notwithstanding, things with Adam are wonderful. Seeing him hold his daughter, dance her around the room to put her to sleep, or make funny faces in an attempt to elicit a smile – it’s just a whole other level.

      

He has deemed himself Chief Laundry Do-er in an attempt to lessen the load for me, and yesterday I could barely hold in my laughter as he huffed and puffed with indignant irritation over the fact that I had forgotten to make sure I closed the  velcro diaper tabs before putting them in the laundry – the load came out of the wash with diapers and wipes all stuck together and the CLD was NOT impressed.

“If you’re not going to do the laundry properly, Madeleine” he said sternly, “I would rather that you just didn’t do it at all.”

Um..seriously?

Dude, you have yourself a DEAL! 

I honestly couldn’t believe I was being reprimanded for improper laundry techniques by ADAM of all people, and what’s more, that the solution to this issue was simply for me to just not do it anymore. My heart swelled with pride at this little bit of OCD-ness coming from him – I’ve never been more proud.

Is this how guys swing it? Just feign incompetence until the task is taken from you? I think I might “forget” how to use the vacuum cleaner next – it’s that silly mommy brain of mine!

We had another midwife visit today, Olive has put on lots of weight and is happy and healthy, and my incision is healing well. Besides being her one week birthday, today was also momentous for another reason. As as I was getting dressed this morning (and in case you think I’m that together – “getting dressed” now means changing my milk-stained shirt for a clean one and stuffing diaper liners in my bra because I soak through my nursing pads. Hot, right?)

Anyway, while “getting dressed”, I looked down and discovered with a little jolt of joy that I could SEE my incision! This is a big deal, not because I particularly want to see that little scar-smile covered with steri-strips, but because the incision is located quite low, about an inch or two above my pubic bone, and I haven’t been able to see that part of my body for MONTHS! 

“Adam!” I shouted excitedly from the bathroom as I peered over my little potbelly, “I can see my lady business!”

I will be eternally grateful that he yelled back excitedly, “Really? Good for you!” instead of mocking me as he probably should have. It almost makes up a few days ago when I was surveying myself in the mirror and he said, “Imagine this was yourrealbody?” and by this he meant of course, “Imagine that this – the little potbelly and cement-mixer boobs and bags developing under your eyes – were simply the normal state of affairs, instead of the result of pregnancy and birth.” but given his unfortunate choice of words, this seemingly innocent question resulted in me turning around and wailing, “Adam! This IS my real body!”.

The only thing I wish I could change at this point is the incision – it’s not too painful, especially when I actually remember to take my pain medication and not do a million things in a day, but its location makes wearing normal pants or leggings pretty much impossible, as the waistband sits directly on top. My maternity leggings have been a godsend as the waistband rests on my belly rather than around my hips, and I’ve also been wearing my pajama pants but have had to hoist the waistband up to my belly to create the same effect. Hopefully things will start to feel better soon and I can get back into regular clothes.

So there you have it, our state of the union, one week in.

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Oh My

I just discovered Pregnant Husband….and I think I love him.

Example:

When my pregnant wife wants a snack and I suggest having fruit, she’s like:

Modern Family gif