In Discussions, Discussions, Life, Money, Parenting

Initial Observations of being a New Parent and Mother

DISCLAIMER: This will be a LONG post. A SUPER LONG, EPIC post about baby poo, sleep and all the things I had to learn on my own.

It is interesting to no one but expecting or first-time parents…..OR maybe parents who have older children who want to laugh at my amusing escapades with my firstborn.

This is also partly for me to remember notes for my next baby, but all the better if you find it helpful!

THE FIRST MONTH REALLY IS THE WORST, BUT IT GETS BETTER

Adina called it.

The first month of a newborn is the worst, and it’s doubly hard as a new parent because you don’t know things like trying to figure out the basics of a baby — their poo, how long they need to sleep, how to diaper them (NOT easy!! especially using and getting used to cloth diapers, which by the way, I LOVE), getting them to sleep, etc.

The first month is also when your newborn is scared to be out of the womb, their schedule is all screwed up in their heads and everything is scary and unfamiliar to them so they (MAY) cry all the time and be inconsolable no matter what you do.

On top of that, factor in the stress of trying to breastfeed your child (getting a baby to latch on is not as easy as it looks or seems, mothers who get it right away and babies who learn quickly are fortunate!), having to feed them every three hours, and trying to snatch bits and pieces of sleep here and there.

Once the first month is over, things start getting a lot better. Instead of it being random feeding and sleeping patterns, their schedule becomes more regular.

You get the hang of holding onto your baby with one arm, he starts getting fatter and easier to handle (a newborn is SO tiny and fragile, you’re scared you’re going to break them), and you shift into becoming much more confident as a new parent.


YOU WILL LOVE IT ONCE YOU KNOW YOUR BABY’S SCHEDULE

Mine had absolutely no rhyme or reason for the first month and I was trying so many different things to get him to calm down and sleep, that nothing worked, but as he got older, he loved being on a schedule that he dictated, I’d say around 6 weeks.

The first 2 weeks were hell as I mentioned.

He was so scared of being alone at night for the first two weeks out of the womb that he screamed until 2 – 5 a.m. in the morning and wouldn’t stop.

His days were his nights, and vice versa, so his schedule was all effed up and it gave us all sleep deprivation. I was desperate.

I kept a log of everything — how long he slept, when he slept, and I soon realized what he needed.

Anyway, you will love this scheduling too because there’s no guessing as to what they’re crying about although their cries are different for each:

  • Are they hungry?
  • Are they tired?
  • Do they need a diaper change?
  • Are they bored?

These are all things you can discern pretty quickly:

  1. Check diaper for wetness
  2. When did they last eat — check when you last fed him based on schedule
  3. Did they miss a nap — check when and how they last slept

… and it takes the guesswork out of what your baby needs.

My schedule for the baby has turned from an actual schedule to letting him nap as much as he wants, and then when he wakes up, getting him to go back to sleep within an hour and a half to two hours of waking up.

It’s a flexible schedule.

YOU WILL LEARN WHAT EACH CRY MEANS

Not all cries are the same.

I learned as fast as I could which cry / fussing meant what.

When I hear him fuss a little while wide awake it usually means his diaper is wet, and he really feels it because I am using cloth diapers.

When I see him pant really loudly and quickly, put his fist to his mouth and start to tip over from one side or the other, I know he’s hungry.

When I see him turn away and just give a short squeal or wail, I know he’s tired or bored.

There are other squeals and screams that I’ve learned as well, but those are the main ones. Each baby will be different, and in the beginning, ALL screams will sound the same for about a month as you learn which one is which.

Also, he started at around the end of 1 month, crying for no reason at night. He’d just wail and wail. No food, no diaper change, nothing, just crying.

Lastly, if they’re whining or snuffling but not crying, don’t go in until it’s dire. They could be struggling to learn how to get back to sleep.

You may even be interrupting them in a middle of a nightmare or a dream and accidentally wake them up which means another lost 10 – 45 minutes trying to calm him down to sleep again.

LACTATION CONSULTANTS CAN BE JUDGMENTAL COWS

I am not saying they’re bad people, but they are pretty fierce / adamant that “Breast is Best” and while I agree, they should also cut new mothers a bit of slack because we’re overwhelmed with everything.


They are so strong in their opinion that you can end up giving your baby jaundice in your determination to feed only breast milk (true story of a friend), or you can break down like I did because you had to supplement with formula and they made you feel like a failure as a mother and a BAD, BAD human being for doing so.

So while this “breast is best” works for most women, women like me who have had trouble breastfeeding, it can reduce you to a puddle of tears more than once.

It’s not that I didn’t want to feed him breast milk out of any kind of vanity (e.g. the myth that your breasts will be ruined if you breastfeed), it was that I couldn’t.

Side note: In France, women don’t breast feed past 1 month, 3 max as not to ruin their breasts (this is a myth). They think their breasts should be reserved for their spouses and are THEIR breasts (part of their sexuality).

See, I had dreamed while being pregnant, of breastfeeding Baby Bun for at least a year.

He’d be happily suckling and I’d gaze lovingly down on him while squirrels would frolic outside and occasionally peek in to smile at this idyllic picture of Mother and Child bonding, and bluebirds would swoop around and chirp encouraging noises at us.

Seriously. I had dreamed that.

What ended up happening was the total opposite:

It started as him screaming in impatience, hunger and stress that he couldn’t eat off the breast, and me crying in pain and stressed out that I couldn’t feed him what he wanted and needed, while trying to recover from being sliced open during my C-Section delivery.

Even the nurse who tried to help me at night to get him to latch on was surprised at how aggressive and angry he was at our attempts to feed him with my breast. That’s sayin’ something!!!

To make everything worse, then I had a lactation consultant in the hospital who basically made me feel like crap for wanting to supplement with formula until my milk started flowing a little better and I could produce enough to feed him.

She gave me such Evil Eyes when I fed him formula, and made me feel so bad… I couldn’t let it go for 2 weeks, and felt awful about the whole situation, while berating myself and my breasts for not providing Baby Bun with the best food and antibodies he needed to thrive.

One nurse felt SO BAD for me during this period that she told me not to worry, that the first thing was to make sure he would eat SOMETHING and be fed, and that things would get better as long as I had a plan — that I would pump milk as much as possible and feed him as much as I could via pumping and supplement with formula if I had to.

She was so sweet, it made things better… a bit. Until I got home and was alone.

I spent many nights and afternoons crying over being a failure as a mother because I had to supplement with formula, and wondering why breastfeeding Baby Bun was so hard when it came so easily to everyone else.

My mother tried to calm me down during that very stressful period, and said:

It’s okay! We’ll just formula feed him! It could be worse.

You could have no milk at all to feed him with, let alone formula or other alternatives.

At least you’re producing something!!! Something is better than nothing.

My mother was so poor, she fed her babies water mixed with flour because she had nothing to eat and couldn’t produce anything for the child.

She ended up raising 16 children! ALIVE! We’re all alive!!!

BF tried to console me by saying:

Well in the past women who didn’t have formula fed their babies with whatever they could find, even cow’s milk which is now taboo to feed a child under a year of age… and those kids survived!!

It’s not so bad.

At the end of it all, I am able to pump out and give him the majority of his meals as breast milk, and what I cannot give, I supplement with alternatives and am feeling less inadequate about having to do so.

My point is to not beat yourself up over this.

Just feed what you can and wait until you are able to produce more milk (if possible), and if you can’t produce enough, supplement and be happy that you don’t have to feed them water mixed with flour like my grandmother did.

YOU WORRY ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN EVEN PRODUCE MILK

As per my story above, I was worried I would not produce any milk (truth be told, my breasts didn’t even go up more than half a cup size during my pregnancy, so this was a great stressful concern of mine).

On top of that, Baby Bun basically gums on the most sensitive part of my body with his very strong, toothless mouth in an attempt to force milk out.. milk that was non-existent in any kind of flow for the first few weeks.

He gummed me so hard once, he drew blood. BLOOD.

Little vampire. O_o

I then imposed a schedule on myself by pumping every 1.5 – 2 hours, even if it only gave me 5 mL – 10 mL out of the 30mL that he needed. Even the nurse on the hotline told me that I deserved a huge hug for trying so hard to feed my baby on breast milk 100%.

I have since improved milk production by eating oats, pumping every 3 hours (even at night), resting, drinking lots of water and trying not to stress out, and now I’m giving him about 90% of his feeds as breast milk.

YOU WILL WONDER WHETHER OR NOT YOUR BABY’S POO IS NORMAL

Thank goodness for the Internet. Where else can a worrywart new parent google what your baby’s poo should look like?

Of all the things to worry about, this was my first one.

I had no idea if he had diarrhea or was constipated (he was neither, newborn poo is SUPPOSED to look runny and gross, and it ranges in colour from yellow to brown once their body clears out that black and green crud from when they were in utero).

Just in case you were wondering, there is literally a photo gallery of what is “normal” for a newborn to poo out.

YOU WORRY ABOUT WHETHER YOU ARE STARVING OR OVERFEEDING THEM

You waffle between: Am I starving him!? Why isn’t he pooing and peeing the average amounts as noted on my information sheet?

…to….

Am I overfeeding him!? How did he gain 2 pounds in a month on breast milk (pumped breast milk, mind you) alone!

The Doctor gave me the eye and told me not to overdo it because he should be drinking on average 60mL per feeding but he’s grunting so aggressively like a little hungry piglet and screaming…!!??

ARRRRRRRRGHGGHHGHGHG!!! *tears hair out*

This is Baby Bun’s face at feeding time

(Funnily enough, I actually almost hold him just like that, supporting his neck..)

http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2014/03/otter-woodland-park-zoo.html

YOU AGONIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT SPENDING ENOUGH TIME BUILDING THEIR BRAIN EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY

.. among other things!

Most notably whether or not you’re ruining them by giving them a pacifier when they cry. (I totally got judged for this!!)

(I will note that he doesn’t seem to like pacifiers anyway. He hasn’t been very attached to one and kind of gets angry if I try to give him one sometimes because he KNOWS there’s no milk, it’s just sucking on an empty pacifier.)

Between being sleep deprived and anxious about being a new parent of a little human being, you get a lot of flack from your parents (*cough*mom*cough*) and society in general because every where you turn, you encounter articles like:

Are you damaging your little loved one beyond all comprehension by not singing opera to them, playing Mozart, running math and language flash cards in front of their unfocused newborn eyes and trying to stimulate them every minute of their day!?

Yes.

Apparently I am a horrible mother based on these articles, because I am prioritizing sleep and washing my hair (I don’t even wash it daily!!!) over trying to stimulate my newborn to make him into some baby genius.


I’ll bet you Einstein’s mother never bothered to do any of that crap and he turned out to be one of the most amazing minds in human history.

Photograph-Toronto-Canada-Ontario-Einstein-Love-is-the-Answer-Sign

Anyway, my point is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up over this. Talk to your baby, play with him, but don’t start him on some genius track. He’s just a baby for goodness sake.

Enjoy him.

(Also I stick him in the swing chair when I need a break or my back is hurting, so I guess I get another Bad Mommy demerit point for this.)

I mean, women gave birth, then went out to finish the harvest a few hours after popping out a new human. O_o

Nowadays, we’re whining if we don’t get epidurals and stressing out about developing our little child’s brain the minute he is introduced into the world.

In the past, they didn’t even have time to worry about all of that. They just wanted to try and keep the kid alive, never mind develop his brain.

Even today, my mom watched a documentary of a woman in Africa who went into labour and had to walk 3 DAYS to get to a hospital to give birth. The baby died, but even so.. can you imagine? Walking 3 days WHILE IN LABOUR?

I couldn’t even stand it, lying on a soft cushy bed in a hospital.

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT REALLY FEELS LIKE TO BE SLEEP DEPRIVED

Unless you have tested it out beforehand, waking up every hour to three hours, having to sleepily rock a fake baby that is screaming at the top of his lungs or something, you have NO IDEA what being sleep deprived means.

Yes, you are told you are going to be sleep deprived but until you’re actually sleep deprived, you have no clue how it feels.

YOU WONDER WHERE THE TIME GOES IN AN ENTIRE DAY

The advice EVERYONE gives me is for me to take care of myself first, but honestly because I’ve taken on the extra burden of trying to feed him my breast milk exclusively by pumping every 2 hours, I had shortened my “Me” time down to snatches of half and hour here and there.

Then if he wakes up from a wet diaper or a bad dream, it screws your “Me” time because it takes another 15 minutes to get him to go back to sleep assuming you didn’t miss his sleep window because you were eating downstairs and only managed to hear him crying at full, inconsolable screaming peak while you were trying to shove a piece of cheese and bread into your mouth to fuel up.

Also, because he had HORRIBLE sleep habits that were learned in the beginning, THIS DID NOT HELP.

So.. when does a new parent take care of herself especially if she’s all alone in this?

I wonder how mothers in the past did this.

I’ll bet they weren’t worrying about whether or not their baby’s poo was normal-looking, and worried more about whether or not they could finish the harvest in time to feed the rest of the family.

As my baby got older, and he finally got on a schedule WITH good sleep habits, I am now relaxed and have 1.5 – 2 hours during the day in sporadic spurts to myself, AND I get time to myself at night around 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. !!!!

Plus I get to sleep through the night now because he doesn’t wake up past 11 p.m. any longer, although I wake myself up to go pump milk and release the painful heaviness in my chest.

YOU LIVE IN CONSTANT FEAR OF ANY LITTLE CRY, WHIMPER OR SNORT THAT COMES OUT OF YOUR SLEEPING DRAGON BABY 

It took on average about half an hour before Baby Bun was lulled to sleep in the beginning, before scheduling and good sleep habits.

Now I don’t even wait until he’s completely conked out with glued-shut eyes either, and I try my best not to rock him to sleep so he doesn’t get used to it!

In the beginning this is how it worked:

I try my best and lay him down right when he is on the cusp of sleeping and has unfocused blinky eyes that roll back into his head, uneven breathing and I can see he’s about to sleep if I gave him 2 more minutes in my arms.

Once he’s down, I hold my breath and wait to see if he will wake up with a start and have HUGE OPEN, AWAKE eyes that make me go: OH NO… SERIOUSLY?

Then you think: Well, there goes another 15 minutes of my precious “Me” time that I could be eating/sleeping/using the washroom/laundry/etc.

..and you have to try and stay calm and not freak out at 3 a.m. in the morning while in a sleep-deprived state, as not to damage his delicate emotional psyche and to make the situation worse than it is.

Now, with better sleep habits and a schedule, this happens less often and I am trying my best to stay consistent so that he doesn’t regress back.

AT THE START YOU WORRY IF YOU ARE BEING A BAD PARENT BY TRYING TO IMPOSE A SCHEDULE IN AN ATTEMPT TO REGAIN SANITY

..or as I mentioned, even if you give them a pacifier!

For the first few weeks, he slept 3-4 hours in a stretch… DURING THE DAY and this is how it went:

Anyway, in the hospital they say to not let them go more than 3-4 hours in between feeds, and I tried to do the same thing at home.

Then it started becoming a problem because he stopped sleeping at night since he was happily sleeping during the day in 3-4 hour stretches.

See, their days are our nights and our nights are their days. When we’re sleeping at night, they’re active inside the uterus, and when we’re awake and walking around, we’re basically rocking and soothing them to sleep while we’re awake.

They come out TOTALLY screwed up for a schedule, and trying to get them on track with a normal day/night schedule can be a horrible experience.

He was a growing Bun who needs to eat every 3 hours like clockwork, even in the middle of the night and loves to sleep all day long if I would let him.

This resulted in him waking up at 11 p.m., midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m. … all the way until 8 a.m. in the morning when in an exhausted stupor I fell asleep beside him on the floor and he happily slept, finally satiated from having made me run like a house elf up and down the stairs collecting breast milk I had pumped for him to eat in the fridge.

(Did I mention that during all these feedings, I also had to pump every 2 hours to get enough milk?)

I waffled back and forth for about a month of whether I should impose an eating/sleeping schedule on him.

Some people say I will ruin his precious psyche and not meet his emotional needs if I try and force and eating and sleeping schedule on him.

These folks are usually North American psychologists and fancy-titled people who write articles about how babies for the first three months should create their own schedule and eat, poo, sleep, pee and cry on demand and you are to serve as their servant and slave for the next 20 years!!!

Others (notably in France), put babies on a sleeping and eating schedule the minute they come home. For instance, they dictate WHEN the baby eats, and if they are 2 hours away from their feeding time, they let them cry it out for 2 hours until the time arrives, ignoring his little wails of impatient hunger.

This one makes me too sad. I can’t NOT feed him when he’s crying with little tears coming out, so I just feed him early. *guilty*

In the end, I ended up being a little more French than I thought.

TEACH GOOD SLEEP HABITS EARLY ON, LIKE FROM DAY ONE

I wish I had started this from Day One.

Otherwise, you are in for at least 10 -45 minutes of patting, rocking, swaying and hurting your back … for the next 5+ years, and they will have bad sleep habits.


My mom started him on a VERY bad habit of holding and rocking him to sleep WHILE HE SLEPT. So for 1.5 – 2 hours she would hold him!!!!!

Very. VERY bad.

Also…

Babies need to sleep based on your schedule. Either very early or a little later, but really, no later than 9 p.m.

Do not try and force them to stay up past 9 p.m. thinking they will sleep longer / better at night.

THIS DOES NOT WORK.

You need to get them to sleep around a decent time from when they last woke up because otherwise they will just scream and be overtired until 2 a.m. in the morning and you will just tear your hair out and cry.

All babies have a different schedule but generally, babies need to sleep early. This will also give you time to rest and it will make them realize that their nights and days need to be fixed.

Also, if you plan on going back to work, schedule their sleeping around YOUR schedule of when you wake up to get ready for work and so on.

These are things I do / things I learned:

  • Swaddle him comfortably to get him ready to sleep once you see a few big yawns
  • Start 15 minutes early before his scheduled nap time
  • Rock / sway / pat their butt to lull him to sleep and get them calm before you lay them down to sleep (do this before they start squealing / fussing because they’re tired)
  • The minute he is calm and I see his eyelids drooping a few times and he gives me sleepy eyes, I lay him down onto the bed even though he squeals as I lay him down (he is doing this a lot less now)
  • Do not rock and pat him to a full sleep, and leave IMMEDIATELY once you lay him down, put the cover on him and pat his butt one last time

The first few times to teach him good habits were really rough, I’m not going to lie but it only took me 4 sleeps to get him trained at about 2 months.

They say you should do this well before 6 months of age or else the kid starts cottoning on that when he squeals, you’ll show up and feed him / rock him / whatever.

Babies are smart. REALLY smart. And sneaky.

Also, this will hurt you psychologically more than him — not me, I didn’t feel any pangs of guilt or heartache hearing him scream because I’m apparently not a very soft-hearted mother based on my parenting style… plus I really REALLY want to be able to sleep again.

As I see it he doesn’t know what’s happening and is frustrated which results in crying, but he’s now learning what should happen.

This is a very bad habit and you will regret not doing this sooner.

I used a bit of Baby Ferberizing (coined by Dr. Ferber) in the the mix, which is also known as the “cry it out” method.

There’s also another method called the “no cry method” by The Baby Whisperer, which means you just keep picking the baby up each time he cries until he stops crying and gives up that you are not going to hold him while he sleeps.

I tried that method after Baby Ferberizing — it didn’t seem to stick past a night or two, when I’d have to redo the cycle all over again but maybe it was because he’s under 3 months, but I will say that I’ve noticed a BIG change in his behaviour now.

He doesn’t whine or cry for no reason at all.

When he does fuss or make little urgent noises, it’s 99.99% of the time either that his diaper is wet, he’s a bit bored, or he’s getting sleepy.

I think he’s realized he can’t just cry wolf without good reason, or else I’ll learn to ignore him until he melts down.

This has made my life a lot easier, and I don’t regret Ferberizing him a little.

I’m fairly sure parents in France who want their babies to faire ses nuits (‘do their nights’) do the same thing and just let them cry it out until they realize Mommy is not coming to them each time they squeal.

As written in the book Bringing up Bebe, a lot of French parents have their babies sleep through the night by 2 – 3 months, and 4 months is considered very old / too long for a baby to sleep through the night which is not the norm here in North America as far as I understand it.

She doesn’t exactly say what the method is, but I suspect a little Ferberizing was used. I’d be surprised if their babies didn’t cry and just slept through the night like magic little angels.

(LIARS.)

Here’s how it went..

THE FIRST NAP I TRIED THIS: SLEEP #1

His eyes would pop right open and he’d start fighting the blanket, then he’d start squealing and screaming to be picked up and rocked again.

I picked him up each time, rocked him 5 seconds then stopped and just held him.

Once I started rocking, he’d stop crying, but once I stopped, he’d start fussing and sobbing again.

Of course throughout all of this I am desperately talking (softly) to him, telling him that this is for his own good to learn how to sleep on his own without being rocked and carried all the time.

Once he calmed down from my rock-stop routine, I’d pat him and quickly lay him back down to sleep with the covers, pat him again, and then leave the room immediately, and wait outside. He’d start squealing as I put him down but I left anyway.

When he started crying again, I’d go back in, pick up him, pat his butt and calm him down.

The second time of this, I’d wait 5 minutes. The third, 10 minutes.

I didn’t have to even go past 10 minutes. He pretty much stopped crying and fussing the second go-round, about 5 minutes in.

THE SECOND NAP I TRIED THIS: SLEEP #2

Same deal. He’d cry and cry unless I was actively rocking him after I lulled him into sleepy land with his droopy eyelids.

I repeated the same cycle — for the first sobbing I’d pat and rock him for 5 seconds, wash, rinse, repeat, then once calm, I laid him back down.

By the second sobbing, he stopped fussing after 2 minutes then fell asleep.

THE FULL-TIME SLEEP I TRIED THIS: SLEEP #3

By the time I got to night-time, I was sure he would be much better this time around.

Sure enough, I had to get to the stage of waiting 5 minutes before going in to pat and calm him down, but the second squealing lasted only 30 seconds.

THE NEXT MORNING: SLEEP #4

By the next morning for his next nap, once I saw a few yawns and light fussing, I swaddled him, cuddled him, and lulled him to sleep with a little pacing up and down the hallway.

I laid him right into his bed by the time I saw his eyelids droop, and he didn’t cry at all.

Went right to sleep.

VICTORY!!!!!!

UPDATE: THE NO CRY METHOD

Then he regressed the next week after we went to the doctor and he got his shots. I decided to try another method — the “no cry” method where you basically keep picking up and putting down the baby each time he cries until he gives up and realizes he needs to sleep and no amount of crying will stop you from putting him back down onto his bed each time.

This worked really well for a while, and I even got down to the point where I could just lay him on the bed and he’d fall asleep.

UPDATE #2: THE MOMMY’S BACK HURTS METHOD

STOP THE PRESSES!

Once my son turned 4 months old, he suddenly de-Ferberized himself.


 

NOTHING I DID WORKED.

He totally changed overnight and he refused to sleep, with OR without crying method.

He started screaming for 15 minutes to half an hour before every single nap or time to sleep.

I also tried the ‘no cry method’ and that didn’t work either because he would just scream and scream and scream.

One day, just by accident, I hurt my back quite badly.

I pinched a nerve and couldn’t carry anything, move quickly or do any of the things that parents do with babies.

I was at my wit’s end because I didn’t know what to do because how can I rock him to sleep if I can’t even really carry him or move?

Enter: The Mommy’s Back Hurts method.

Essentially, I walk very slowly with him in my arms, patting his butt while singing a lullaby. I lull him to sleep and once I see him turn his head into my chest (a sign of sleepiness), I gently lay him down on his bed, and basically pat him until he sleeps.

YES. He screams.

YES. He cries.

YES. He flails his arms and legs, eyes pop open, and gets REALLY REALLY angry at me.

YES. He fusses and he wants me to pick him up, hold him and rock him to sleep.

NO. I don’t do any of that.

I just lie down beside him, pat his butt, rub his back, and basically ignore his cries for being picked up, while going: “Shhh shhh shhh shh” like a white noise machine.

Of course before doing all of this, I have changed his diaper, fed him a full bottle and I know he isn’t hungry or dirty. He’s just tired and cranky, but wants me to carry him the entire him, rocking and dancing like a maniac, which I couldn’t do because I pinched a nerve in my back.

And you know what? Within about 15 minutes to half an hour, he falls asleep. I don’t know if he just is so tired of crying that he falls asleep, or if he is learning to soothe himself to sleep, but I am no longer picking him up to rock him to sleep.

This is like.. the Ferberizing method meets The Baby Whisperer method. Ferberizing is letting him cry, and The Baby Whisperer is being right there with him, patting his butt until he stops crying and falls asleep.

I hope this method sticks, because my back is feeling a lot better not to mention my legs and arms. No more jelly arms!

HOW / WHEN I REALIZED THE BABY COULD SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT

Coming onto the second month, he started sleeping a longer stretch of time. Instead of waking up and crying every 3 hours for milk, he’d cry every 4 hours, almost bordering on 5.

In the beginning, I didn’t even set my alarm in the beginning because I KNEW he’d wake me up every 3 hours, that was how consistent he was.

That’s when I knew he was ready to sleep through the night. SWEET!

(Experts call “sleeping through the night” the equivalent of 5 hours. So.. yeah. Don’t imagine it’ll be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. unless you are a lucky mother.)

Baby Bun is now sleeping about 5-7 hours at a time depending on how much sleep he gets during the day, but now he’s started sleeping a lot longer at around 3 months.

He sleeps 5-6 hours at a stretch after he goes down for the night, wakes up for milk, then sleeps another 5 hours.

*BLISS*

So I started him on a schedule E.A.S.Y. popularized by Tracy Hogg a.k.a. The Baby Whisperer and it worked like a charm for a bit because I know he needs to nap within about 2 hours and I memorized all the baby cues of eating, sleeping and so on.

Note: Before this point where he was sleeping longer stretches of time, there was NO WAY he was adhering to the schedule. I tried my damnedest to stick to the schedule and get him to sleep the way he was supposed to and it didn’t work AT ALL. Very frustrating. He just wasn’t ready.

Just keep a log and try to keep him on a consistent schedule of eating and sleeping.

He sleeps within an hour and a half to two hours, and eats almost exactly every 3 hours.

Otherwise you can do like my friends do, and pay $300 – $500 for a “Sleep Consultant” to teach you how to put your baby on a schedule and get them to sleep.

I am too cheap for this, so I did it as a DIY.

She also has another method to the Ferber method which I mentioned and has worked very well.

UPDATE: HE IS SLEEPING EVEN LONGER NOW

He now sleeps at least 8 hours, sometimes 10 – 12 hours after turning 4 months old. I didn’t change his diet, didn’t add anything to his milk and he has just decided to sleep longer, although it’s partly related to how much he sleeps during the day.

Turns out, his horrible napping of an hour here and there during the day MAY be helping him sleep longer at night because he’s so exhausted, he just tuckers out.

OR… he just tanks up and drinks a lot of milk before sleeping, which keeps his belly full during the night.

I am thinking it is more the milk thing than the napping thing but WTF do I know.. I am just happy I get to sleep longer now.

YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR BREASTS LOOK LIKE THEY SHOULD BE IN A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO SHOOT

HUGE nipples.That’s all I have to say. Nothing prepares you for this body change.

That’s all I’ve observed and gone through so far. I hope it prepares new mothers for what’s to come. I hope it’s better for other women!!

THERE YOU HAVE IT.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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34 Comments

  1. Life we learn

    I so hear ya!
    I can relate to so much of what you have said here. The first 4 weeks are definitely the hardest and you really don’t understand how hard it is until you have been through it. Same goes for the sleep deprivation and breastfeeding. I had issues breastfeeding too and I felt the same judgement from a lactation consultant. The hospitals are so biased towards breastfeeding that they make you feel so guilty when you feed your baby formula. I actually have no issues with formula, I too was formula fed and I turned out just fine so in my opinion I feel like the health authorities brainwash mothers into thinking formula is bad, when it really isn’t.
    I am all for routines too, it’s great for everyone, mum, dad and the baby. I have recently started my baby who is 3 months on a routine and so far so good. He was sort of on a routine already which we flowed into naturally so I was lucky enough to just make some tweaks to what was already there.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You know, they’re all liars. It isn’t as easy as it seems. I will also say the same goes for potty training. I hate how unrealistic it is online about 3 days or 24 hours and they “get it”.. LIARS. Realistically, I am on a 6-month to 1-year timeline. It takes them a long while to get it.

      Reply
  2. anna

    Thank you so much for this – I am, of course, all over posts such as this, but I haven’t really crossed over to find any parenting blogs, so thank you! I will for sure reference it for the future. I heard the same thing about the first month (and it’s kind of terrifying that it’s called ‘fourth trimester’ – three seem like enough, though I understand what they’re trying to say), so I hope baby adapts to a normal sleep schedule so it won’t be as challenging after maternity leave. Thank you for sharing!!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I will be updating as I go along. He’s reaching the stage where I THINK he understands what I am saying depending on my tone but I’ll update everyone if I manage to find another method to get him to sleep.

      The first three months are really tough, girl. You and your husband are in for it as newbie parents. All I can say is: ASK FOR ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET.

      Have people move in, stay with you, help you out, cook for you, take the baby, let you rest.. all that stuff is very helpful in the first 3 months. After 3 months, it gets easier. Much easier, relatively speaking.

      Maternity leave — I don’t know how long you get, but even now, he is still waking up at least once a night. When something happens like a big event (moving to another city in our case), a baby’s schedule WILL change. Mine did. He started waking up every 3 hours again. *sigh*

      Reply
      1. anna

        @save. spend. splurge.: Thanks so much for your advice! Would you recommend people stay (i.e., parents) the first two months? On one hand, I do understand the need to get all the help I can get, especially since B doesn’t really have any leave so it will be just me. On the other, I worry that I might get snappy at parents due to lack of sleep, or I might want to just do things my way (plus, extra people = extra noise, and I like quiet environments). But, I have totally no clue – it’s a 50/50 with friends, where some just wanted to be left alone and some wanted help (or happened to live with parents, anyway). I’m grateful that you will be posting more!

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          YES. HELL YES.

          If your husband can stay at home and help, it will take a lot of pressure off you and help. WHen he goes back to work, he will also understand what it’s like to be with a baby 24/7 and will not be saying crap to you like: But what do you do all day?

          He also has to learn how to be a father, and it would be great if he could change a diaper while you napped or took a shower, or watched the baby.. or learned how to get him/her to sleep without you. All that stuff is crucial to learn so that he feels comfortable handling a child.

          My own partner didn’t really handle our baby until he was 4 months. By that time, he’s already easily held and is not so fragile, and he missed 4 months of experience in taking care of a baby.

          You WILL get cranky. You WILL cry. You WILL scream. All that stuff happened to me. If you don’t do any of that, you are fantastic and an angel… I felt really bad screaming afterwards because my mom would say: We’re just trying to help!!!

          Apologize. A lot. In advance. Your hormones, your stress, lack of sleep.. all of that will factor in especially if you like quiet environments like I do.

          You will want the help. Friends who say they want to be left alone in the first 3 months have no idea how much help they need / could need. Just taking a shower is an ordeal.

          Or as an example, if the baby is screaming every hour, or every other hour and won’t sleep (too scared being out in the world “alone” without being in the womb), you can hand him or her off to your husband, or to a parent, and try to lie down and get some rest through all the screaming.

          Or just having someone hold the baby so you don’t have to.

          Reply
          1. anna

            @save. spend. splurge.: This helps so much, thank you!! I know, I’m wondering now if the friends who said they prefer to be alone only say that *because* they had the help (and yes, it was loud, but it was still helpful than not having someone there, you know). B can get some time off, but not as much as I can (3 months), so he’ll only really experience it after work and on weekends. We’re discussing with my parents since they live out of state, so now I’m definitely leaning towards having them around early on then later (around 3 months I’ll have to go back to work and take him to day care, which costs an arm and a leg!). I didn’t know you moved to another city (so behind on blogs) – I hope you are enjoying your new digs and baby is adjusting better!!

          2. save. spend. splurge.

            Well he won’t be off the hook entirely because babies cry all night at the start if you get one like mine. He won’t be sleeping well but work will cut him some slack knowing he has a newborn.

            Definitely get your parents and in-laws in sooner rather than later. You will need all the help.

            Well Baby Bun cried the whole way here (not used to sleeping on his own without being rocked) but we made it and he is finally starting to go back to sleeping 5-8 hours at a time. When we first arrived he wouldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours each night like when he was smaller.

  3. Morgaine

    Thank you for this post! I’m so very grateful that you are willing to share your experiences with us. BTW, I wasn’t breastfed (or my brother) and we turned out fine. There just seems to have been a turning point where women are now being shamed if they can’t breastfeed, and I think that’s awful. Good on ya for keep trying and I hope the back isn’t sore for too much longer. Go get a massage! 😉

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Or shamed if they ARE! Apparently breastfeeding in public is gross for a lot of people. Not to me, but I was really gung ho on this mother’s milk business.

      Reply
  4. E
    Emily @ Urban Departures

    I loved this post. It reminded me and echoed my thoughts as a new mom, especially the giant nipples! LOL.

    If asked for parental advice, I always recommend doing whatever (within reason, considering health and safety of baby) works best for the parents for the parent’s mental health, whether that be formula feeding, co-sleeping, cloth diapering etc. Everyone has their own philosophy on how to care for a baby. I, like you, followed the EASY routine as well and put my child on a routine as early as I could to maintain my own sanity.

    I’m sorry to hear about your horrible experience with the lactation consultants! They should exist to support, not judge. I recently read a study where new moms where monitored closely after giving birth. The children that fared better had moms who were less stressed. Having a stressed mom due to breastfeeding obstacles is not better for baby despite being breastfeed. My supply was directly correlated to my stress levels: more anxiety = less milk.

    Anyway, you’re not alone in your experience and I think you’re awesome for sharing it. I’m glad all is going well and you’re getting sleep 🙂

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      The giant nipples scared me when I realized that they were mine. Sometimes I stare in the mirror and think: OMG. I’m a Mommy.

      I AGREE. Do what is best for you and your baby.. and your SANITY.

      My supply was directly correlated to my stress and to sleep. No sleep, means no milk.

      Reply
  5. A
    AdinaJ

    Whenever I would get worked up about what I wasn’t doing right as a parent, I’d remind myself of my parents’ generation. Their mothers smoked and drank while pregnant, formula fed extensively, did the CIO, and probably didn’t spend every waking moment stimulating their infants. And the Baby Boomers turned out just fine! There are millions of them kicking about 😉

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      “None dead yet..!”

      True. My mom had no idea about half the stuff I read about. I turned out OK …

      Reply
    2. M
      MelD

      @AdinaJ: Most survive, whatever you do… LOL

      Reply
      1. save. spend. splurge.

        My mother was fed rice water (water that washed rice that was mostly starch) and she, and her 16 siblings survived. They aren’t super healthy or tall or strong but they’re alive!!

        Reply
  6. M
    MelD

    I still love that otter pic!
    Anyway, thanks for writing up your observations. I continue fascinated – your experience is still very different from mine! I still see a lot of reliance on other people’s opinions, media etc. that bemuses me. It never occurred to me to use a “method” of any kind!! In pondering this, I guess different cultures remained very isolated and static for a long time, populations were denser and so “the way” to do things was passed on naturally; every girl soaked up around her how things were done. No right, no wrong if you look globally, just whatever that society considered to be “normal”. Now with globalisation and mass media, it can get confusing because someone else’s “method” might be better and everyone wants the best for their kids in the long term… For myself, I was pretty isolated and had already grown up away from a particular culture around babies – I had nothing to do with babies, had never held one, till I had my own. My mother had had me and then a career, so she hadn’t a clue, either, so that was no help and I had no other reference around me. I made the effort to read a couple of books but as you have established yourself, they don’t always tell it like it is. So I guess I mostly acted on instinct and some vague absorption from what media was around (in the 80s). My own instinct, then, was that I spent the first 3 mths more or less glued to my girls, but I didn’t feel it was stressful or that I lacked sleep, interestingly, and I am not a particularly maternal person, I have to say. I did breastfeed, which made life infinitely easier, but I never attempted to stick with any kind of schedule and just did pretty much what I liked and went where I liked, since my food source was always there. I slept when the baby slept and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do anything else, I have to admit! I spent a lot of time cross-legged on the sofa with a baby in one arm (often sleeping or feeding) and a cat and book in the other… One mother who visited me said she’d not been able to breastfeed her kids. But then she was a skinny, nervous creature who couldn’t sit still for 5 mins, but I wouldn’t criticise her for that, it was just who she was. I’m not!! Apparently I had angels who fed and slept well, as far as I can see – sure they sometimes had a tummy ache, especially around the 3 mth mark, and I would pat and rock as long as necessary. From the age of 3-4 mths I began to put them down more but always close by. They each slept next to us for the first year so were close by and night feeds were not disruptive. From 4-5 mths they slept through most nights, or just one feed, until they were toddlers. I didn’t find it stressful. As they were around all day, they got used to other noises around them and slept regardless, when they were tired. I didn’t have to run a mile if I heard them cry or squeal but could immediately judge whether they could stay where they were or if they needed consolation, nappy, food, whatever, nor did I have to tiptoe around or shush the dog 😉
    Obviously, this isn’t necessarily what other people have experienced and your experience is almost the opposite extreme, but just in case any of your childless readers are wondering, early babyhood doesn’t have to be such a wrought experience!!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I think it’s even better that you didn’t have all this media, all these books to read and people giving you advice.

      My mother was giving me advice and so was every other person I talked to, to the point where I felt so stressed and overwhelmed.

      Finally, I just followed (kind of) what I think is the best for Baby Bun. Magically he started sleeping longer and later, and some days are good, some days are bad.

      I try not to feel too stressed about all this stuff I am supposed to do. He’ll learn, sleep and grow when he wants to, no need to rush him. This is what I am telling myself… although he NEEDS to start sleeping on his own without being rocked because I am about to go back to work in a few months I hope, so I can’t be around..

      Reply
      1. M
        MelD

        @save. spend. splurge.: I went to work when my oldest was 5 mths, so there was a little pressure, but not bad. I wish you much sang-froid and serenity!!

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          Merci beaucoup 🙂

          Reply
  7. NZ Muse

    I am gonna be counting on T for a lot, because I know literally nothing about babies.

    You point about feeding was interesting. I realised I don’t even know if I was breastfed (if I was to guess I would assume not? But who knows). I can’t say I’ve ever pictured myself doing it and I am gonna be plenty grumpy if people judge me whatever I do, which I assume they will.

    I hope your back de-twinges, soon!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Ditto. My only experience with a baby was my own. I have never really held or taken care of one before, for more than 15 minutes.

      You read this stat a lot in the hospital:

      The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to 6 months. Breast milk is all the food your baby needs for the first 6 months of his/her life.

      PRESSURE.

      Reply
  8. Retired By 40!

    So, two things. The firsts is that you are so smart to sleep train, and not rush in when the baby makes noise in the night. Babies have to learn how to put themselves to sleep. We did it with our daughter and she slept 7 hours at night at 3 weeks. Also, I exclusively pumped for her (although for the opposite reason that you do – my oversupply was massive) it was so uncomfortable, and for the first 3 months, I had to wake up every three hours during the night to pump. It sucked. But, she is healthy and happy, and that’s what matters. I cannot imagine pumping when if I wasn’t getting enough, so I applaud you for sticking with it! You are exactly right, though….now that you’ve made it through the first month, it only gets better from here. My daughter is 9 months today, and the newborn craziness is only a distant memory. Also, it is ok to smack people who say “sleep when the baby sleeps” lol

    Reply
    1. M
      MelD

      @Retired By 40!: Haha!! Still, I did…!! 😉

      Reply
    2. save. spend. splurge.

      Wow, I was practically dreaming of having TOO much milk as my problem. Mine was the opposite. I was trying my hardest to generate it, and I forced myself awake a lot to get it done.

      LOL!! Noted. I’ll mentally smack anyone who says “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Nowadays, I’m sleeping when the baby is awake.

      Reply
  9. J
    J.P.

    Thank you for posting this. My younger sister just had her first child, and after about a month, everything you have just pointed out has been mirrored in her experience. She just finished reading this, and let out a big *phew* in relief that she’s not alone.

    Thanks again, and best wishes.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Oh thank goodness! I’m glad it was helpful. I don’t want other first-time mothers to feel so isolated or bad. It really isn’t easy and no one tells you this stuff.

      Reply
  10. debt debs

    Bsbies are very smart and it is harder for them to fall asleep when they are over tired. My daughter and SIL did the rocking to sleep until my grandson was about 3 months old plus he was sleeping in their bed until about 2 mos. They did a modified CIO method and are religious about his bedtime routine. So much so that they won’t come to dinner anymore unless we eat at 5 o’clock! He’s 8 mos now and has just started standing. We babysat the other night and he stood crying in his crib but eventually put him self down on his tummy. My daughter neglected to tell me that when he stands up they go in and lay him back down and he gets the point.

    She showed me a video about this woman who learned the babies communication sounds because she has super sensitive hearing and has taught this to new mothers (what is wet, hungry, bored, overtired etc.).

    It seems more often than not, women have trouble breastfeeding. Kudos for you to keep with the pumping. My daughter’s turning point came when she paid a lactation consultant to come into their home and help them. She was there for 3 hours and things were much calmer. She needed to use a nipple shield for about a month, but eventually with the support of same LC who also worked at a clinic (my daughter found out when she was working there and showed up), the LC helped her get him off the nipple shield. Like in any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. I have my own BF horror stories but that was 25 years ago. It’s sad when I see not a lot has changed in 25 years to help women with this.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      So I can actually tell the difference in his cries, plus I have a bit of a schedule on him so I can kind of guess WHY he might be crying.

      Sometimes I get it horribly wrong, and he’s crying not because he doesn’t want to sleep or is overtired but because he’s hungry.. AGAIN.

      I am working on getting him to sleep without being rocked. I needed earplugs for that part. Part two coming up.

      I’ve given up on breastfeeding Baby Bun. He just wouldn’t latch, not even after being born. He didn’t even want to try, within an hour of being born, so I think he is just not .. a baby who wants to feed directly.

      Reply
  11. Erin

    How timely! I’m not pregnant, and likely won’t be for a few years, but I just started on medication that I have to take for the rest of my life. It doesn’t affect my fertility and I can have a healthy pregnancy, but it’s not safe for me to breastfeed. At all. It’s been a very weird experience mourning this fact. I just keep reminding myself that I was never breastfed (not even once) and turned out just fine. I’m sure Judgy McJudgersons will make their comments, but I’m not going to give up having kids simply because I can’t breastfeed them.

    It sounds like you’re doing a great job! I’m sorry you had to use the Mommy’s Back Hurts method out of necessity, but it seems like it all turned out well :).

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      LOL! I have a modified Mommys Back Hurts method now.

      Reply
  12. Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    How about that National Geographic Photo shoot? LOL! I breastfeed my daughter for 1 year and half and when I decided to use her cup to drink her milk, I can totally relate that National Geographic Photo shoot. 🙂 I married at the very young age and had my baby at the age of 21, wew! Yes, being a new parent is totally difficult, but an unforgettable one.

    Reply
  13. H
    Helen

    I had a good laugh while reading this. Kudos to you for figuring out the trials and tribulations of raising a newborn. I also read Bringing Up Bebe, and it was quite insightful. I’d like to try to have kids one day, so it’s great you’re documenting your experiences in the blog.

    As far as I’m concerned, you’re doing fine. Ignore all the judgey mcjudgersons who seem to have nothing else better to do than judge. New parents have it tough enough already.

    Also, the term “Bad Mother” gets thrown around a lot, but what about the father or co-parent? They have equal responsibility for raising the child. Get with the times, folks, and leave the mothers alone.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Bringing up Bebe was a good book, regardless of whether or not you have kids. I found the insight into American versus French culture very interesting.

      For my experiences, I have a pretty good memory and I’m sure I won’t need to refer back to these posts at all, but it is definitely a learning curve.

      TRUE! Bad Father / Co-Parent should exist… Have you read Indra Nooyi’s short excerpt interview on The Atlantic? I’ll link to it in the future but basically she says she felt guilty for missing 9 a.m. (!!!) coffee time at her duaghter’s schools, but she is a working mother and other working mothers missed the coffee too.

      Who the heck has time to be able to go at 9a.m. on a weekday!? For me, I am lucky in that I freelance so I can take chunks of time off, but other mothers.. *shakes head*

      A good book you might want to also read is getting to 50/50

      Reply

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