Just to remind everyone that this is my first experience with a baby. I have never babysat, held a baby more than 15 minutes or watched one in my life until I had my own.
Everything I learned about babies, has come from the internet, from books and from listening to other people’s (sometimes) misguided but well-meaning advice.
Again, my disclaimer is that this post will be NOT INTERESTING TO ANYONE who is not a parent or thinking about becoming a parent and want to be completely turned off from having children.
So here’s my original: Initial Observations of a New Mother and Parent
IT HELPS TO TREAT YOURSELF TO A TART ONCE IN A WHILE
Sometimes, Mommy needs a treat to calm down her nerves and pat herself on the back (in the belly?) for a successful job well done, avoiding a crying meltdown from trying to get her baby to sleep.
For instance, this raspberry pistachio tart does the trick every time.
IF YOU ARE BREASTFEEDING / PUMPING.. EAT FATTY THINGS
I’ve noticed that when I eat a lot of fat, my milk production increases. I get about 4 ounces more than I normally would, and the milk flows easily.
Without fat, my milk production stalls and I can literally see in the bottle the separation of a very thin layer of fat, and the rest being almost translucent and watery, meaning there isn’t enough fat in there to be milk, it’s mostly water.
The only horrible thing about all of this fat-eating, is that my skin breaks out.
My body does not process fat very well but I need it to produce milk.
The good news is that I get to eat smoked meat sandwiches with liver pate and not feel (as) guilty because I’m helping increase my milk production:
I AM A CERTIFIED MOMMY NINJA
Onyx belt level.
SO BLACK it’s blacker than black.
I can get in and out of a room without making any noise.
I have even perfected the art of not moving too fast so that it creates a wind, breeze, or a draft that will float over and wake him up.
Toes down then the heel. Don’t try and walk flat footed.
Don’t make noises.
Don’t turn on any lights.
Don’t breathe. Too loudly.
Don’t exude any fear. They can smell it, and it’s like a signal to wake up.
Then when the baby is finally drowsy, scream at your partner for doing the dishes and banging them around while the baby is trying to get to sleep. (OK so that one was a one-time thing)
You too, once you have a baby, may learn how to become a Parent Ninja.
That’s not to say he can’t sleep through ANY noise. I don’t want to raise a kid that can’t sleep through any kind of little noise.
He can.. but only once he’s actually asleep, not while he’s TRYING to sleep. Once he’s asleep, you can go into the room, grab stuff and not wake him, but doing it while he’s trying to sleep is just asking for trouble.
HIS GIGGLES AND SMILES MAKE YOUR DAY
It’s all worth it when you see his gummy smile or make him giggle.
He usually giggles as he’s peeing on me or trying to get out of getting his diaper changed, but that’s another story.
It’s also really gratifying to come into the room, have him search out with his eyes for you, find you, and give a huge huge grin because you’re one of his favourite people.
I love trying to get him to giggle and smile. I’ll pretty much do anything to keep it going.
DIAPER RASH STRESSES ME OUT
I know all babies get it, but he hadn’t had a SINGLE BOUT of diaper rash for 5 full months until we moved.
I suspect my diet has something to do with it, so I stopped drinking citrus juices to avoid giving him alkaline pee, which may be very irritating and the cause for his diaper rash.
In the meantime, creams from the doctor (the first one being hydrocortisone which sort of worked but then it came back), and this new anti-fungal one (with Canesten), seem to be working on his butt.
I change his cloth diapers every single time he pees.
Sometimes I change him three times an hour.
For disposable diapers, I change him at least every 2 hours unless he’s sleeping, then I leave the diaper on for 12 hours… I’m sure that doesn’t help his diaper rash but I am too exhausted to deal with a baby who wakes up from a diaper change, so I just pray it doesn’t affect him too much.
..NOT TO MENTION INFANT ECZEMA
Yep. He has it.
He gets it from me and BF’s side (his family members have it, but he doesn’t).
I hope he grows out of it and doesn’t end up having it like I did as a kid.
It’s the worst thing to have as a kid. I know it firsthand.
Now, I am moisturizing him every night with a baby massage and a light layer of hydrocortisone until the rash disappears. It’s almost gone (it’s been almost a week), and then I’ll stop using hydrocortisone and just rub heavy moisturizer onto his body every night.
ANY CHANGE MAKES HIM REGRESS
As a result, he started sleeping only 5 hours again, waking every 3 hours, crying for milk.
He’s finally working back towards sleeping 7 hours in a stretch, or sometimes 5 hours, a little milk, then another 5 hours.. but this is 3 weeks later and him getting used to his new environment/surroundings.
Any change will make your child want to be comforted / nursed more.
Plus.. I can feel like he grew within the past few weeks.
His head is markedly bigger / fatter than before. How do I know this? I regularly palm my baby’s head.
No joke, I actually do this… and my palm used to be able to cover his entire face and almost go around his entire head, and now it barely covers his face.
He is also refusing to sleep after 2 p.m. I am at my wit’s end.
I am going to start packing him into my Chimparoo carrier and forcing him to nap at least an hour so that he sleeps later at night and wakes up later.
UPDATE: THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER
He stopped growing (I know this because he stopped feeding so damn much), and now is sleeping a tiny bit better because I am not letting him sleep past 1.5 hours.
I tried letting him sleep as much as he wanted (sometimes up to 3 hours) because you should never wake a sleeping baby (or so they say), but it totally messed with his night sleep.
The theory behind not waking up a baby from a nap is that if they sleep well during the day, they sleep well at night. This is true, but in Baby Bun’s case, if he naps for only 30 minutes, he’s cranky and needs another nap earlier than normal, like within the hour or so.
If he naps about an hour, he’s fine for another nap in about 2 hours.
If he naps for an hour and a half, he’s good to nap in 2.5 hours or so.
Any longer than 2 hours for a nap, and he refuses to sleep for at least another 3 hours (crying all the way), and his night sleep is totally effed up, waking up every 3 hours, half awake, not even sleepy, crying for milk or just to be patted back to sleep.
If he sleeps TOO well during the day, his night sleeping is just awful, he wakes up at 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. and wants to play even though he has only slept about 7 hours in total for the night and needs somewhere between 11 – 12 hours.
I wake him up every 1.5 – 2 hours now, and I am moving his bed time to be later and later, right now we’re around 8 p.m. for bedtime which is ideal, as he then wakes up around 5 a.m. sometimes 6 a.m.
READ THIS BOOK GETTING TO 50/50 BEFORE YOU EXPLODE LIKE I DID
My partner made the grave, GRAVE, SERIOUS mistake the other day of saying to me in anger:
I am changing his diaper to help you out, and you…
..before I cut him off and let him have it.
My response was something along the lines of:
Help ME OUT?
HELP ME OUT?
Changing your SON’S DIAPER is NOT helping me out.
It’s CHANGING YOUR SON’S DIAPER.
It’s being a parent. It’s being a father.
It’s learning how to be a parent so that you can take care of him.
This isn’t helping ME.
It’s for HIM.
You can’t just go around your life thinking that you can just play with him an hour or two a day when you get home and it being sufficient to be called a parent.
You need to do all the tough stuff of being a parent too — changing his diaper, feeding him, getting him to nap. THESE ARE ALL THINGS a parent does, not just a mother.
When you watch him, you aren’t BABYSITTING or helping me out.
You are watching YOUR CHILD and taking care of him, not HELPING ME.
I was so furious that I pumped milk for half an hour to get rid of the buildup, and then told him curtly I was going out.
I left him short instructions of when the baby last ate, when he should eat, and when he should nap.
I came back two hours later, a little more relaxed, but more importantly, I came back to a partner who I think finally realized that he had to start stepping up to take care of him a bit more rather than leaving it all to me.
I’m going to start leaving him alone when need be, like when I go get my driver’s license or to the dentist. Baby Bun has to learn that his father is also a caregiver.
Mothers are not the only ones who can take care of a child.
I’m admittedly not very maternal, no matter what people think, but I try my best so that I am a good mother, so I expect the same from his father.
Not only that, I don’t want him expecting me to always be the one to take care of him. I don’t want to be the defaulted parent 100% of the time.
I don’t mind taking care of Baby Bun now since I am not working and he is, but when the roles are reversed he has to be able to step up to the plate and take over.
Particularly since that I am going to go back to work soon (I hope) he has to learn how to take care of him without me being around all the time, and there is no better way to learn than to be throw into the deep end of parenthood like I was.
I get that he can’t do things like rock Baby Bun to sleep, which brings me to my next point of sleep training, but he has to learn like all other fathers should learn, how to take care of a child without the crutch of relying on the mother.
He does a lot of stuff that helps me out like cook (and do the dishes), or organize, do his own laundry, and do grocery shopping but all of that is not comparable to taking care of a child 24/7 which includes diaper changes, naps, feedings and playtime.
All of that stuff is easy to do without a baby on your back or to think of because once you’re at home, all of those errands and chores are done… but a baby is 24/7 and it doesn’t stop.
Hell, I’d love to go out and do all the grocery shopping without a baby and to leave him at home with someone. It’s so much easier without a kid to tote around, but that’s not what parenthood is all about.
I credit this book (thank you, reader who suggested it!) to helping me see that I was enabling him to NOT help me out more often because I wasn’t asking him to do things.
If I had someone who cleaned, washed, changed and fed the baby, then just handed him to me to play for an hour or two a day, I’d love it too… which is exactly what I was doing and not letting him be a father.
ALL PARENTS SHOULD READ THIS BOOK, working or not.
GETTING BABY BUN TO SLEEP WITHOUT BEING ROCKED
So in my initial observations as a new mother, I noted that I finally resorted to Method #3: Mommy’s Back Hurts method, where I lay him down on his belly and patting his butt to sleep.
(By the way, I only lay him down on his belly to sleep because he does it automatically anyway. He flips himself over at night and refuses to sleep on his back now. Who am I to force him to sleep on his back if he doesn’t want to? SIDS* BE DAMNED!!
SIDS = Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; although I am being facetious because he sleeps on his belly because he has learned how to roll over, and how to roll back on his own.)
I’ve modified my Mommys Back Hurts method because I want to cut out rocking him to sleep completely.
The original method:
The Mommy’s Back Hurts Original 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.
The NEW MBH (Mommy’s Back Hurts) Method, Modified To Remove Rocking/Lullabies
I no longer walk with him and pat his butt while singing a lullaby. He has to go into a daycare soon, and his father is unable to walk and rock him because he has a horrible back and will throw it out at the slightest twitch.
He is also getting heavier and fatter. It’s not that I can’t carry him for a long period of time, it’s more that I don’t want to.
My arms get tired, I get frustrated, my back twinges, and sometimes he just keeps screaming because he can’t get comfortable in my arms but he also doesn’t want to be laid down to sleep by himself… it’s a whole bundle of WTF-ness.
My new method, is I simply check for his sleepy signs: fussiness, whiny behaviour, rubbing his eyes, yawning…. and I check / change his diaper, and lay him into his bed on his belly and start patting his butt.
THE FIRST NAP OF THE NEW MBH METHOD
The first nap was horrible. 45 minutes of screaming and crying until he turned purple in the face and had to be held for 15 minutes while sobs wracked his little body and he calmed down from his screaming/crying. I felt AWFUL… but my ears also hurt.
I made a note to myself to grab some earplugs for the next round.
THE SECOND NAP OF THE NEW MBH METHOD
Earplugs IN PLACE!
It’s much easier to talk in a soothing voice and tone if you don’t have a baby screaming bloody murder in your ear. My ears were ringing after the first nap and I wasn’t about to repeat the experience.
I saw the signs of sleepiness, changed his diaper, and placed him belly down (it’s his preferred sleeping position now), and started patting his butt to get him to sleep while saying things like:
- You’re a big baby now. You have to learn to go to sleep on your own, okay?
- Mommy has to go back to work soon. Mommy can’t carry you and rock you to sleep any more, okay?
- Mommy’s back is hurting. You’re getting too big for Mommy to rock you all the time.
I know it sounds totally ridiculous when you read it out loud but talking in a soothing manner seems to help.
He actually stops and seems to listen to me. No frickin’ clue if he understands me, but at least he’s not screaming and he’s listening to me.
After he calmed down and I wiped his tears away, I laid him back down on his belly and patted his butt furiously for the next 30 minutes until he gave little whimpers and finally laid his head down to rest.
THE THIRD NAP OF THE NEW MBH METHOD
I was prepared again with earplugs and boy did I need them this time around.
See, I had fed him 2 hours ago, and apparently Baby Bun is growing so much, he NEEDS to feed every 2 hours now instead of 3.
I TOTALLY missed the cues that he was hungry and not necessarily tired (yet), and I didn’t get a bottle into his mouth until he was purple in the face with frustration and rage, huge rivers of tears coming down his cheeks and out of his eyes and screaming bloody murder.
I finally clued in that maybe.. just MAYBE he might be hungry (babies digest milk in 90 minutes but can eat every 2 – 3 hours), and I grabbed a bottle.
I fed him the entire bottle of milk and he was dozing off as he was eating. Sensing victory, I popped him onto the bed on his belly, gave a few pats and quickly Mommy Ninja’d my way out of the room like a stealthy cat burglar.
Half an hour later, he woke up with a terrified scream.
I ran back in and didn’t pick him up (half an hour is NOT A NAP), and patted his butt back to sleep again.
10 minutes later, a little whimpering and he was back to sleep and slept another hour and a half.
I am basically nursing him to sleep in these cases because.. well. I am not knocking what works.
No skin off my back if he has to nurse to sleep. He only drinks from the bottle anyway.. ANYONE can “nurse him to sleep”.
No need for Mommy here.
Plus, I think at least if he nurses to sleep, he won’t wake up in half an hour because he’s a little hungry. He’ll wake up because he has had a better nap.
THE FOURTH – SIXTH NAPS OF THE NEW MBH METHOD
So far it seems to be working. It just varies how long and how much bum-petting it takes to get him to stop yowling and sleep already.
Sometimes he goes straight to sleep after being nursed, other times, no such luck, he stares up at you with big eyes, gives a big gummy smile, starts kicking his feet like he’s cycling and acts like nothing is wrong.
If it’s before 2 hours, I pick him up and hold him a little while longer. If it’s been 2 hours already, I try desperately to make him nap because if he stays awake past 2 hours without a nap, I am in for a ROUGH, ROUGH night of hearing him wake up every 3 hours.
BONUS: HE IS SLEEPING A LITTLE LONGER AS A RESULT, BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHERE HE IS
He is sleeping longer because of this and his naps have improved somewhat. Sometimes he still only sleeps 30 minutes or so but when he gets into a good nap, he can go up to 3 hours without waking up.
I think it’s because he is getting himself to go to sleep (even though I am still patting his butt to sleep as he is self-soothing), and when he wakes up after 45 minutes he drops right back into another 45 minute nap because he KNOWS where he is.
Before, he was sleeping even before I laid him down on the bed, and when he woke up after his first 45 minute cycle, my arms were gone and he was alone in his bed, which made him wake up and wonder where I was!
His napping was just terrible as a result. He was only napping 20-45 minutes at a time and driving me bonkers.
Now, he’s starting to nap about 2-3 hours at a time on and off (not consistently). I am going to start experimenting with only letting him nap 1.5 hours – 2 hours at a time because his night sleep is getting affected, and he’s waking up at 4 a.m.
I let him nap for 3 hours, and he woke up at 4 a.m. and wanted to play until 5 a.m.
I woke up him at 2 hours instead of letting him continue, and while he still woke up at 4 a.m., he fell back asleep pretty quickly.
I’m going to try 1.5 hours…
I think it’s helping that I am there, patting his butt furiously, going “shhh shhh shhh”, and he knows I am there even though I won’t pick him up. It makes me feel a bit better about this CIO (Cry It Out) method because I haven’t left him alone. I am still there, but not holding him or rocking him.
THIS WILL BE TMI… BUT ALL WOMEN AND THEIR PARTNERS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS
.. sex may hurt for the first couple of times, no matter how long ago you gave birth.
I KNOW, I KNOW. TMI.
But I went through a C-section and I didn’t think I’d be affected er.. down there.. but I was.
It was very painful, even after my scar had a good 5 months to heal.