Before I had EJ, I spent most of my time on pinterest trying to prepare myself as much as possible. I know what you’re going to say, ‘It’s almost impossible to fully prepare yourself if you have never had a baby before’, I was pretty optimistic but I learned after I had the baby that no amount of research would prepare me for a real life infant that I couldn’t just return upon the first poop to it’s original owner. Now I was the original owner… it was a rough few weeks.
But something I noticed in all of my pinteresting, was that a lot of the pins I found were focused on surviving the first week with baby, making me believe the first week would be the worst I would have to endure, when in all reality that is the easiest week to live through. At least it was for me. Yes, there was the sleep depreivation and the complete fear I would screw something up, but in comparison to the first month, the first week seemed like a piece of cake.
When they are just brand new, they are still recovering from the birthing process, they sleep pretty much consistently and besides eating they don’t really have a preference for much. The first week was the only time I managed to consistently get EJ to sleep in his playpen or anywhere other then my arms, it was also the easiest time to get him to sleep. Of course, if you are breastfeeding for the first time, there is all the hard ships that come along with learning how to breastfeed, which can be pretty stressful. I switched to full time pumping within a few days, I found breastfeeding just too difficult and I couldn’t stand seeing my tiny boy so miserable from hunger. I couldn’t imagine six weeks of torment until we got the hang of it, to moms that breastfeed exclusively, you women are absolutely amazing.
It was after the first week that things started to get really tough for me, that’s when he realized the difference between being in my arms, and being laid down, when he decided to start screaming for no reason, and when he decided sleep just was not for him. Not to mention the constantly having to pump to make sure my milk supply didn’t decrease. I also got a terrible cold when EJ was two weeks, having no clue peppermint would lower my supply I drank copious amounts of peppermint tea and my supply suffered forcing me to use medication to help bring it back.
During my pregnancy, I had all these fancy ideas about how the first few months with EJ would be, and how I would go about this moming journey. All these big ideas just flew out the window when he got here and it turns out he was not on the same page as me at all. I never imagined I would cosleep, I thought I would be a pro at breastfeeding and that we would get a schedule down in no time. I also pictured myself as that mom who immediately bounced back, and was suddenly a champ at finding time and energy to work out every day.
Not so much.
After the first few days of EJ refusing to be laid down, I was so exhausted that I did the only thing I could think of to get some shut eye, I coslept. I was so paranoid about him rolling or me squishing him, that I slept sitting up right on the couch with the nursing pillow around my waist. Not to mention the pillows all over the floor just in case the unthinkable happened. As time has gone on, we’ve transferred to my bed with my husband and I don’t have to surround myself with pillows anymore.
He sleeps in the curve of my arm with me curled around him, He’s six weeks old and we all get around 8-9 hours of sleep a night. We still have two to three nighttime feedings but they are going smoother then ever.
At night, I used to change him, then get a bottle ready, then feed him. The problem with that, I was waking him up too much. All the jostling, the bright lights, the waiting for food, the cold on his bum. It shocked him awake, and made putting him back to sleep so much harder then it should, so I changed tactics. I stopped changing him every time he wakes, instead only changing him for poops, or after two feedings. When we starts to stir, I grab the bottle I keep at my nightside table, since breastmilk is good at room temp for four hours, and just feed him right away. This stops him from fully waking up, then he just instantly falls back asleep and so can I, giving both of us much better sleeps. Of course, I have to pump at least twice a night which limits my ability to go instantly back to sleep, but sometimes I’ll skip one session to get a little extra sleep.
Of course cosleeping, isn’t for everyone and I will start transitioning him into his crib soon in small increments. I can get him to sleep in his bassinet for a couple hours at a time but that has a lot to do with how warm our room is, he can’t stand being cold. During the day if I have a fire going in the living room he sleeps beautifully by himself, he’s much calmer during diaper changes when he’s warm as well.
EJ also wasn’t a fan of bathtime at first. It was a source of stress for me, his screaming and squirming made getting him clean hard. PLus he would work himself up so much that it took time to calm him down. My solution for that was taking baths with him. Turns out, he just wanted to float in the warm water, when I hold him in the water he calms right down, just instantly pleased. Means cleaning him is so easy, we haven’t had an issue with shampoo in the eyes because he stays so still I can use a cup to gently rinse his hair and not be worried about the water or soap running into his eyes. I was lead to believe that my baby would adore either the swing, or the bouncy chair but I happened to have the one infant that hates both completely. The only time he will accept being in his bouncy chair is if I manually bounce him the entire time he is in the thing, and even then he has to be in a good mood for him to enjoy it. He’s such a particular little man, it’s taken quite some time to figure out what he likes and when he likes it. It changes week to week so it isn’t full proof but it does help.
The exercise ball that failed to put me in labor, is my secret weapon for getting him to sleep when he is going bezerk, the bouncing coupled with some soft singing and he passes right out. It’s hard on my back but saves my sanity. I’m a horrible singer to anyone else’s ears, but to him I apparently sing like an angel. Unfortunately there are not a lot of songs I know all the words to, so I rotate between the same four songs, which gets a little old after awhile. However, it‘s one of the only things that will put him to sleep when he’s in a screaming fit.
All in all, these are some of the things that have helped us but since babies are so different what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another. I read this sentence in almost every baby article I’ve ever read, and it drove me nuts because I just wanted to know what would for sure work, every single time and I hate that there is not an end all be all method to my kids screaming fits.
I’m sorry to say I don’t have an end all be all method, but I hope some of the things I’ve mentioned, perhaps no one else has, and now you have some new ideas to try out. The biggest point I want to make, is that having a newborn changes all of the plans. They don’t care about your carefully laid out ideas of soothing themselves to sleep right from the start, or getting on a schedule so don’t feel too disappointed when it doesn’t work out.
I know I’ve also read this advice quite a bit; it’s okay to set baby down and take a few minutes for yourself, even when he’s screaming bloody murder. If I’m having a really hard time I carry him in a sling which calms him right down, but thats also hard on my back. When I need to shower, I put him in his bouncy chair, in the bathroom with me and sing while I shower. The warmth and noise soothes him enough that I can shower in peace, sometimes it even knocks him out so I can pamper myself a little bit. Certainly helps my sanity, when I feel clean and fresh I’m in a much better mood.
I don’t get much alone time, but I’ve figured out ways to still get ‘me’ time to reenergize and feel human again. I make sure to read when he’s napping at least once a day, or even while I’m trying to rock him to sleep. I also read while pumping and bouncing him with my foot, I crochet when I have free hands and only use one nap a day to clean my houSe. It means that my house isn’t always spotless, but I don’t feel so trapped or discouraged daily, it helps me feel like I’m still more then just ‘mom’.
I strongly believe that all of those parents bragging about schedules or babys sleeping through the night just found what works for their baby, so find what works for you and your tiny. It might not be what you expected but for the first three months you can’t spoil a baby, they don’t understand how to be ‘manipulative’ or ‘spoiled’, that part comes latEr. For the first three months, it’s all about surviving.
After he starts to understand more concepts and is old enough to be on a schedule I’ll will start transitioning him to be there, but in the mean time, everyone is getting wonderful sleep. Which gives me more patience and happiness which leads to a calmer household.
Obviously if you have older children it might be hard to go with any of these tricks, in that case I’m sorry I couldn’t help and I hope you find some answers soon.
If you have friends or family that are parents, definitely seek help from them, ask them what tips and tricks they have. Maybe there are some you haven’t thought of but at the very least you can know you aren’t alone in the hardships your facing. Mom groups are also great for that, but you do run the risk of the ‘judgemental’ parents that just feel the need to be negative about absolutely everything so if you join those, just don’t put too much stock in the negative nancys.
My sweet boy smiling at me, or cuddling closer, or even just looking all peaceful makes all the back pain and craziness completely worth it. PLus he smells like baby, which I just adore.