Monday, January 07, 2008

May all your dreams be realized

Y'all gave wonderful feedback to Samantha about sleeping and feeding and diaper changes and waking up and aaaaaagh! what the hell are we doing?!...and I never responded, even though I had plenty to say...of course.

Seriously, though, many of you brought up points that I'd forgotten about or skipped over. So, quickly, some things I forgot to say...

Never change a diaper unless there's poop in it. Never. I cannot stress this enough.

Christy talked about cosleeping, which we also did. (Speaking of sleep, go over to Christy's blog to share a little love with her. She's just had her 2nd baby, and sleep isn't coming easily, when it comes at all.) We started off trying to have 3B stay in his bassinet all night. Then, we would start him there, but have him fall asleep next to Mama after one of his feedings in the night, and then we just had him start off the night in bed with us. Actually, he would often start in our bed without us.

We would lace up 3B's swaddle tighter than a football is stitched, move all the blankets and pillows into another zip code, then Mama would nurse him and leave him there, monitor beside him. We would check on him every 10 minutes or so, even though we practically had the monitor embedded in our ears, nervous that he would roll over. The truth was, he couldn't roll over and wasn't inclined to roll over for quite some time. Doing this allowed us some freedom to pursue activities other than nursing, changing diapers, or doing laundry. Activities like eating.

When we went in to sleep next to him, I was initially quite nervous about rolling onto him. It turns out that I was so nervous about it that the only problem I had was getting enough sleep. I would curl myself around on the edge of the bed in a crescent, wide around 3B, so that even if I did roll over, I still wouldn't be near him--a king bed helps with this maneuver. But I was never deep enough in sleep that I didn't know when I was moving. Often, I would twitch or shift a foot and bolt wide awake, thinking, "Ohmigod, a dingo ate my baby" only to realize that he was still two feet away from me.

However, only you know how you sleep, and what your comfort level is, so you'll have to decide for yourself about cosleeping. For us, however, it was one of the best ways for Mama to get sleep. She sleeps so lightly, and is so in tune with 3B, that she was never scared about rolling on top of him, and not having to get 3B back into his bassinet made it that much easier for Mama and 3B to get back to sleep.

However, as Lainey-Painey points out, there are many tragic cosleeping accidents every year, although from what I gather, many of them involve alcohol or drugs. On the flip side, there are also many cultures in which cosleeping is the norm.

As for Henitsirk's question about intimate relations between parents who cosleep--by the time we were rested enough to remember the activities that got us into this situation in the first place, we'd moved 3B into his crib in his room. We were like Sister #1 in moving 3B into his own room pretty quickly, which worked out well for everyone, although it took installing a video monitor for Mama to be completely comfortable with it. In fact, the video monitor turned out to often be better than having him in the bassinet or bed next to us, since we could see more clearly why he was crying, and we were more likely to give him a chance to sort things out and get back to sleep on his own.

As for what Kangamoo (Sister #2) wrote...yes, you have to do what works for you and your baby. Speaking of which, oddly enough, Mama's first nephew also slept in a drawer at first, just as my first nephew did. They both made it out of their drawers--Mama's nephew is a thriving preteen, and mine just survived his 21st birthday. I also think that we're lucky with 3B like Kangamoo was with her #2. We once told another parent that 3B's bedtime routine is a bath, some books, a bottle, toothbrushing, and then we lay him down.

They stared at us blankly and then asked, "What do you do then?"

"What do you mean?"

"After you lay him down for the first time--what do you do then?"

"We enjoy our evening while he sleeps. Why?"

Fortunately for us, they were too tired to strangle us.

Then again, they say each one is different, so the next one might be colicky, as Mama was. And if you're wondering what I was like as a baby, and before you ask my sisters, Mom noted that I was perfectly happy in my playpen most of the day when I was 16 months old. I can't say quite the same about Mama, who was once found on top of the stove at 2 a.m. Still, I try not to laugh when Mama complains about her little spiderman, even if I know that's not coming from my side of the double helix.

And the truth is that 3B has been different at every stage of his life, and even as quickly as from one day to the next, so I second what both my sisters, and others, said--flexibility is the only routine that will succeed regularly.

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  1. Often the first child, the one who gets every second of attention from the parents, is the one who learns that fussing gets you what you want, and if you don't get it (i.e., if your parents are catching on), fussing longer and louder and more insistently will eventually work. That's not every first child, though. Only part of it has to do with birth order. Part of it is the parents' sensibilities, and part is the child's native personality.

    You will no doubt remember the daughters of Bill Cosby, who knows something about kids and parents. The first is the one who is so perfect and wonderful that her parents decide immediately to have another. The second is the one he calls "Beelzebub."

    It has amazed me, in watching nieces and nephews grow, how much of their personalities are already there even before they learn to speak, just like their fingernails and their facial expressions. You get to watch them get bigger and more dynamic as they get older, but the sketch is there from very early on.

  2. Yes. We've been trying to balance figuring out why 3B's frustrated and therefore fussing with letting him work it out on his own when he can. It's not a science, and we each have our own responses. Just as he's learning, we are too.

    It has been amazing to see how laid-back 3B is. Perhaps he learns it from Barky, who also sleeps about 16 hours a day.

  3. "After you lay him down for the first time--what do you do then?"

    That's classic. I was so afraid of waking my son up when he was a baby, and so sure that he required a lot of fussing from me to get him to sleep, that he felt the need to validate these feelings! Luckily now he's a champion sleeper, and I was much more relaxed with my daughter.

  4. Well, that Mama he's got is pretty laid-back too, so maybe 3B gets it there. Now his Papa, on the other hand . . . well, when he gets his coffee on and his mouse finger twitching, he can be restless, but most of the time he's got a pretty keen eye for what's worth fretting over and what can be navigated with an easier course.

  5. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Again, you rock.

    Even though the nursery is the room right next to ours, I still like the idea of him in the P & P at first to make nursing easier. Then I liked the idea (can't remember who mentioned it) of moving him right outside the bedroom in the hallway. Closer than the nursery, but not right next to our bed so we can (TRY) to get some sleep too without hearing all his sleepy noises (as I"m told babies are loud sleepers as a rule).

    I don't see us co-sleeping, but a lot of people say that first until they have the baby and then it just kind of happens. I'm going to try and keep an open mind.

    This whole thing is just crazy--that we'll have a little person to take care of in about three months. So I know that once he's born things will get figured out. But to me, now, it's just mind-boggling :-)

    Thanks again, parenting guru!

  6. SJC: The real guru is Mom, who made the hallway suggestion to us.

    Yes, babies are noisy sleepers. It's amazing they don't wake themselves up. One of the little things you'll discover is that babies don't know how to fart--or poop, really--in their sleep for awhile. So, you get all this loud grunting and squirming, and especially with the farting, some squeals of displeasure, then an audible notification of the problem and its resolution, and then the (loud) sounds of a baby sleeping.

    Of course, by the time that's all over and you've figured out that your baby was just trying to fart, you've already read three chapters in [insert parenting book of choice here], called your parents, checked on WebMD, and made a pot of coffee to keep you fueled up through what will surely be a midnight trip to the doctor's office. So, while he drifts back off, you'll be pacing the night away right up until it's time for him to get up for the day, when you'll crash.

    Amazing that nobody tells you this stuff, right? But then why would you have a baby if they did?