Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I Know

We're still alive over here! I have updates to Jonah's weekly photo project, but that will require a bit more time so it'll have to wait a bit longer. Jonah is currently taking a nap in his car seat just inside the front door, so I thought I'd jot down some notes about my thoughts lately.

Wait, why is Jonah taking a nap in his carseat you ask? Well, you see, my child is apparently one of those very few who don't need naps. Scratch that. He definitely NEEDS naps, but he refuses to take one at a time other than while he's nursing. About once a week or so he'll actually stay asleep when I put him down, but other than that we're out of luck. Also, he screams approximately 97% of the time that he's in his carseat, so the fact that he decided to take a nap in his carseat and stay asleep when I brought him in from the car is quite the miracle.

Anyway, we're chugging along here. Jonah is 16 weeks old (17 tomorrow), and there is so much going on in my head and in my heart. I go back to work the first full week in November, and while I'm cherishing every single second I have here with my little man, I'm really starting to feel quite a bit of anxiety about returning to work. I like my job. I know that my job has purpose and meaning and that hopefully I have some kind of small impact on students' futures. But I want to be with my baby. I want to be with him every day so I can watch all the small details about him unfold as he grows.
Annnnnd I'm back, three days later to finish the post.

So anyway, the point of this post is that being a mom is the best but hardest job in the world. I'm sure those veteran mommies are like, "you think you know that now, but just wait. You really don't have a clue yet."

I am a researcher. I'm pretty sure I drive my family nuts when I bust out another, "Well, according to....." but I can't help it. I like all kinds of research, too. The peer-reviewed articles in published journals, news articles (when the journalists are flaming idiots, which unfortunately seems to be the case more often these days), books, and anecdotal "research" by other moms. But I'm here to tell you that no matter how much preparation you do, there are just some things you can't fully be ready for when you bring your tiny human home from the hospital.

Unfortunately, a few of these things made me feel like I wasn't doing something right, or that maybe there was something "wrong" with my baby. But what I've learned in the past seventeen weeks is that we all create our own normal. Every mom and baby are different, so the old saying of trust your gut is probably one of the best things we can do as moms.

Without further ado, here are some things that I was unprepared for, even with all my research:

  • Apparently not all babies nap. Now, this one is still up in the air as to whether or not it's a healthy anomoly. Babies are supposed to sleep, like, a LOT, especially when they're tiny. When Jonah was in the NICU he was awesome at sleeping, waking to eat, having a tiny bit of awake time, and then conking out for a few hours. When we brought him home, he did take a few naps in the first few days, but after a few days at home it was like a switch flipped and since that time, we've been lucky to get two solid naps out of the kid per week. The exceptions are that he used to nap when I held him. Which was lovely and so sweet and moments I wouldn't trade for the world, but after a certain point you can only take your house being so filthy before you start to wish you could put down your beautiful babe for just one of those naps so you could put clean sheets on the bed. The past ten weeks or so, though, have been really been napless except for while Jonah's eating. Did you know babies can eat and sleep at the same time? They can. It's great for efficiency but exhausting for you as mom because WHEN ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO NAP? One of the things new moms hear over and over again is to sleep when the baby sleeps. I would have. I would have LOVED to take a nap to help recover from childbirth. I would still love to take a nap because we're still getting up several times a night to nurse and I still feel like I have a hangover when I wake up in the mornings due to sleep deprivation, but I can't because Jonah likes to nap while he's eating and on a rare occasion, while he's in the car (that's if he's not screaming like a wild banshee) or while I'm wearing him at the store or at church. I should note that we have been making slight progress on this front, though. I've noticed that if he is going to take a nap, 2 pm is the most likely time and 11 am is the second most likely time. We've been working really hard on laying in his crib for those nap times, but I think he's only actually stayed asleep once I've layed him down in the crib twice. The other times he wakes up as soon as I start lowering him in it, but I usually try to leave him in there until he starts fussing, which can be any where from two minutes to twenty minutes. 
  • While we're on the topic of sleep, let's talk about night time. While I was pregnant, Will and I set up the pack n' play in our bedroom and planned for Jonah to sleep there "for a few weeks" and then he would transition to his crib in the nursery. ha. ha. HA. I think it was his first night at home, after getting out of bed for the twentieth time because he would not stay asleep, that I finally told Will I was going to put him in bed with us. The next night, he started off in bed with us and we broke down the pack n' play. We put the little guy in the middle of the bed between us on top of a towel because he was spitting up pretty bad in his sleep and we didn't want to have to change our sheets every day. Jonah wore his footie pj's and a swaddle blanket (but with his hands sticking out because he HATED them being stuck in the swaddle, which actually made my life a lot harder because his startle reflex was so strong for a long time and he would wake himself on a regular basis by jerking his hands). We put him towards the top of the bed and Will and I scrunched our pillows down further towards his feet so there wouldn't be any risk of him suffocating on our pillows. This made nursing at night so much easier. After a few nights I discovered that if I could leave him on the side of the bed where he had finished eating he had a higher chance of staying asleep than if I flipped him over back to the middle of the bed, which eventually morphed into us changing Jonah's little pallet onto my left side instead of the middle of the bed. It was a lot more comfortable for me to lay on my left side at night, but I dearly miss my Bump Nest from pregnancy days! The rest of our set up includes the salt rock lamp I ordered from Amazon. We actually keep it on all night on the dimmest setting (the soft amber light is the only light I've found I can sleep with it on), but the dimmer turns up enough that I could turn it up while feeding Jonah to see everything. And finally, I keep an extra pillow and my feeding pillow under Jonah's feet on the bed at night so that when it's time to feed him, I can stack the extra pillow with mine under my arm for extra support. Jonah's s night time sleep schedule for the first several months included the two of us camping out on the couch at night until any where from 11:30 pm to 1:30 am. If I tried to get in bed sooner than that he would immediately wake up and start crying (and if he didn't, he would wait fifteen minutes until I was almost asleep to do it). To me, that was more exhausting than just staying awake until I knew he would actually sleep for an hour or so, so we stayed on the couch and watched a ridiculous amount of Netflix. In addition, Jonah was cluster feeding from around 6 pm to midnight every night any way. Around eight weeks old we started trying to get into the routine of getting a bath every night, and now finally we are able to get in bed before 10 pm. Our routine is to eat somewhere between 7 and 8, take a bath pretty soon after that, then get in bed together for  his last feeding before he goes to sleep. The past few nights he's slept from about 9:30 pm to 1 or 2 am, which has been AMAZING. But he's had good sleep for a few nights and then regressed back to waking every two hours before, so I'm not quite ready to say he's sleeping well yet. Which brings us to the next question: how long are we going to bed share? I never planned to bed share before Jonah got here, I honestly do not know how breastfeeding moms survive without doing it. Unless, I guess, you happen to be one of the lucky ones whose baby sleeps through the night. I think the answer to that question is "as long as he needs it and it's working for all of us." I think if and when Jonah drops down to waking only once in the night I could manage to get out of bed, go into the nursery, feed him in there, and then come back to bed. Will is totally supportive of Jonah staying with us right now because he sees how exhausted I still am (and I haven't even gone back to work yet!) I anticipate Jonah needing to nurse a little more at night when I go back to work and I'm nervous about my milk supply when I go back to work, so I think we'll continue bed sharing at least another month or so after I go back the first week in November. All that said, it goes back to as long as Jonah needs it and it's working for our family. Right now he's still not rolling over and is a pretty peaceful sleeper. I anticipate him beginning to roll over in the next six weeks or so, which might change how much sleep we get and we'll have to reevaluate. 
Alright, so this is my third day trying to get this post written, and it's getting a little ridiculous. So basically, my point is this: all mommies and babies are different. Just because all the lactation consultants told me Jonah should eat every 3-4 hours, doesn't mean that's what his little body needs. My child eats every two hours. He cluster fed for six hours in the evening for the first few months of his life. Babies are wonderful at telling you what they need. So even though it's exhausting to feed a human for forty minutes and then repeat in about an hour around the clock, it's what my baby needed (and still does, although it doesn't take forty minutes for him to eat now).
Ha. I never published this when I originally wrote it. So I'm publishing now, a month or so later.

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