Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The “Enjoy your sleep while you can!” Advice: Annoying or Helpful?

If you are one of the many people who said this to me, I apologize if this post seems bitchy.

I’ve blogged before about the many annoying things people say to pregnant women:
-“Oh, you’re going to find out the gender! But it’s sooooooo fun to be surprised!”
-“You’re trying to go without medication? Are you crazy?!?!?”
-“You’re napping? Enjoy it while you can, because you’ll never sleep again!!!”
Looking back on the doomsday “Enjoy the sleep while you can, because you’ll never get it again” advice, I can say, I think these people were exaggerating. Let me explain.

Maybe my baby is just an angel, but his sleep sessions generally come at night, starting anywhere from 8pm to midnight, and ending anywhere from 8 to 10 am. We wake up 2-3 times to feed, so it’s not like I’m getting uninterrupted sleep. I usually get 2 hours, then 3, then 3 more. Several times I’ve gotten 4, 5, 6 and even 7 hours straight (although I paid for that 7 hours by breastfeeding almost all day to make up for all the eating time he lost).

Now, it’s not fun to wake up after 3 hours sleep, and I am groggy. When I hear Baby Q stir at 6:30, or 5:30 am, after I’ve just gotten him back to sleep at 3:30 am, I’m not the most joyous I’ve ever been. In fact, I try to ignore him, or jiggle him, to see if he’ll go back to sleep. (My new thing is, if my husband is awake, I’ll call him on my iPhone to see if he’ll come change the baby’s diaper then deliver him to me to breastfeed in bed.) It’s also hard to force myself to go back to sleep at 8am if that’s when the baby has decided to take the last part of his sleep (after staying up until midnight). But despite the erratic sleep, I feel fantastic overall, and I’m not any more tired than I’ve been at other points in my life.

About these people that told me life was going to be a living hell:
I think those people are maybe
a) parents of toddlers, so their sleep interruptions have been going on for months and even years, so their advice is not relevant to a new mom, who knows damn well she better sleep when the baby sleeps (although I’m ignoring that advice right now to blog).
b) parents who have gone back to work, so they do not have the luxury of sleeping in with baby until 10am like I did yesterday.
c) or maybe they had a hard time with their babies.
I’m not doubting their statements that they were sleep-deprived, I’m just saying, maybe it’s not going to be a total shitstorm for every new mom, because it wasn’t for me. (What WAS a shitstorm was how achy my entire pelvic floor was for 3 entire weeks- why didn’t anyone warn me about THAT?!?)

So, the question in the title: was that advice annoying, or helpful? I’m actually erring on the side of helpful, because their warnings were so dire that I basically got myself psyched up to face Navy SEAL-like conditions with my new baby.

I do recall that the first week was tough. Breastfeeding was not trouble-free, and I was beat up from birth, and I was hormonal. The first week or two, he’d sometimes not go to bed until 1 or 2 am. That was tough. If the rest of his infant-hood was like that, yeah, the dire warnings would be appropriate. But even as I continued to hurt, Baby Q’s sleep cycles normalized to where I could guarantee that he understood that dark time meant sleep time.
I think one good thing I did was not trying to accomplish anything but sleeping and feeding him. I didn’t try to go shopping, or make dinner, or go out of my way to accommodate visitors. I set very low standards for myself: breastfeed and sleep.

(And not every sleep night is good; this photo is from a day when he didn't sleep well at night, so he was tired, but was resisting a good nap- we breasted in bed for what felt like all day. This is why I don't commit to a lot of activities; my life is easier if I put his sleep- and mine- first!)

Whenver I complain about advice from other people, I have to stop and check: am I giving any pregnant people annoying advice? I have been badgering my friend to call a lactation consultant, but I think I’m the only one telling her that (because I am OBSESSED with my lactation consultants at Stamford Hospital- I LOVE them), so I think that’s OK. I’m on a “trust your boobies” kick. I do also recommend products to friends (Moby wrap, Swaddleme, etc.) but I think that’s OK too. I just think it’s important to distinguish whether you are actually giving ADVICE to a new mom, or if you are just expressing a memory of what it was like for YOU. Saying “sleep when baby sleeps” is good advice, and one that you SHOULD hear a dozen, and fifty, times, because it is RIGHT ON. Telling someone they’ll never sleep again… well, that just might not be true, but if it happened to you, I’d like to hear about your experience so I can learn from it. And I guess that’s what you do when you hear scary warnings. Say, “Oh, is that what happened to you? Do you have any advice?”
I’ve actually been afraid to tell people how well my baby sleeps, because everyone else seems so traumatized.

Blah blah, OK, off to brush teeth and shower while baby sleeps! (It’s 930am, we went to bed 11pm ish I think, woke up and fed at 2, I got back to bed at 330, he stirred at 630, fed and went back to sleep, stirred again an hour later with poops and farts, I fed him again, he went back to sleep, and I chose to blog instead of sleep! So, I got about 6.5 hours of interrupted sleep- not great, but I’m willing to be a little tired today because we slept for 11 interrupted yesterday! But that was after two rougher nights. So, whatever. This is my full time job so I should not expect a life of ease.)
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wanna Be Popular? Have a Baby

I mentioned in "Pregnant, or On Terrorist Watch List?" that people stalk you as your due date approaches. You get lots of attention. Then, after you have the baby, people congratulate you, call you, post messages on your facebook page, send you gifts... well, all of that attention is starting to dry up, and yesterday I was feeling a little... well, neglected, and not as popular.
But then today I went SHOPPING with the baby, and people were ALL OVER me.

This is not necessarily a good thing. My baby is only 5 weeks old, so I don't want people all up in his grill with their germy breath. It is my job to keep this kid cold and flu-free, and I'm pretty aggressive about it.
On the first part of my errand, I kept him in the stroller with the suncover pulled over his carseat so no one would get too close to him.
Nope. People just get closer, so they can bend over and peek under the sunscreen.

Girl at counter: "Oh, a baby!" Comes around and peers under sunscreen.
Me: "Are you perfectly healthy?"
"Oh- uh- yes!"
Me: "OK, well, just don't get any closer than that, just in case. He's only 5 weeks."
Of course I seem like a psycho bitch, but I don't care. Maybe that person is getting sick and they just don't know it yet. In any case, they haven't washed their hands, so I can't risk them- God forbid- TOUCHING my baby.
Since the sunscreen failed, for the next part of my errand, I thought I'd keep him nestled between my boobs in the sling. Surely THAT would keep people away from him, right? No one's going to get up in my grill, and in my boobs, right?

I was in the sports store for, max, 3 minutes. In that time, despite my clearly giving off "don't talk to me I'm busy" vibes, 3 people got too close to me to tell my how cute my baby was, ask how old he is, and of course, tell me how fast they grow up.
I know I seem like an ungrateful brat. But I keep reading that you're supposed to really protect them from germs for the first couple months, so that's what I'm doing. I don't want people to breathe on my baby unless I've cleared them.
In general, I want my baby all to myself.
Maybe I should stop running errands.

The point of this post though, is to tell you I felt very popular today, but I didn't want to feel popular. I hadn't showered, I wanted to get my errands done quickly and in a germ-free way... and people kept wanting to chat. I was not in friendly chat mode, I was in "nervous new mom not really sure if baby likes sling, and thinks he'll be hungry and poopy soon, and I am hoping to also make it to Target after this."

Really, I am just a brat, aren't I.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mom Club and Beyond: I'm a Joiner

Life with Baby Q is insanely fantastic.
I'm totally into breastfeeding and want to join La Leche League. Actually, I want to join every possible group I can. I've felt left out of the general Mom Club for a while, so now that I am a mom, I want to join every club to which I've been denied entry for years:
La Leche League
Attachment Parenting Meetup Group (had to learn what that was before I could join)
Local Hospital's Moms group
Stroller Strides
Baby Massage Class
Mommy and Me Yoga
Music Together
I mean, you name something, and if it exists around here, I'm gonna join it.

OK, we're gonna go try the sling to see if I can maybe get like, one thing accomplished around the house.

This is a picture of me and Q cuddling in bed. I thought he was awake, so I got him out of his bassinet to cuddle a little before I got up to change and feed him, but he went back to sleep so I just twittered on my iPhone until he woke up. Our bed is way too cushy to safely co-sleep, so I take my baby cuddling when I can.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Must Have Newborn Supplies

Oh my goodness. I can't believe that I just figured out today how to type with 2 hands while breastfeeding. This should change my world. I breastfeed 5-6 hours a day, and I have not been able to use any of that time for blogging, which has been frustrating. I have a need to put my thoughts into words to stay sane. The lactation consultants tell me it's fine how much the baby's eating, that he's adjusting my milk supply to his ravenous growth needs. He was already back up to his birth weight at 10 days, so he's hitting his goals. Good job, Baby Q!

Life with Q is made easier by some kickass products that we love:

The Brest Friend. If you are breastfeeding and don't own this pillow, your life will suck. The Brest Friend snaps around your waist, providing a stable platform for baby to rest on while he's on your boob. Right now, Q is eating, and I'm leaning forward over him and typing. The Brest Friend makes this possible. Don't even think about getting a Boppy for breastfeeding, or you'll never get any blogging done! My laptop is resting on a TV tray. Here's a pic, taken from above, of Q conked out on the Brest Friend, loosely wrapped in his SwaddleMe.

iPhone Breastfeeding Application. Keep track of what side baby nursed on last and for how long. When your husband says, "What did you do today?" you can say, "I breastfed for 4 and a half hours." At first I kept track of this on paper, and it was ridiculous.  Who can find a pen while breastfeeding at 3 am?  It's so much easier to keep track on your phone.  

Swaddle Me. I'm sure there are other sleep sacks that work, but a friend loaned us her 2 SwaddleMes and we love them. The SwaddleMe is made of light cotton, so baby won't get too warm. We usually wrap another blanket over him to make sure he's warm enough, but the SwaddleMe is a great base layer that keeps baby's arms in so he won't startle himself awake.  (There's a microfleece version for winter, too.)  One great thing about the SwaddleMe is that you can unhook the bottom for a quick diaper change or diaper check in the middle of the night, and then you can breastfeed the baby right in the SwaddleMe. I don't do that too often, only when I'm desperate to make sure he stays asleep after he falls asleep on my boob. I like to let his little arms free. I just ordered two more SwaddleMes, so now I have four, since the kid seems to wet them every day. Damn diapers!!! (Or, damn bad diaperer- me.)

Medela Tender Care Lanolin. This feels so good when you're breastfeeding the first week and sore. I know everyone uses the Lansinoh in the purple tube, but the Lanolin goes on more easily because it's thinner. (Note, 1/5/13: If you have any soreness, find a good lactation consultant (or LLL leader) right away.  My soreness was due to the fact that I was not latching my baby properly.  An LC spotted my mistake right away and after I changed the latch, I had no more soreness or bruising.  If I'd know soreness was not normal, I wouldn't have needed the lanolin- I would have asked for help with solving the soreness sooner.)

Ocean Waves Soundtrack (on repeat). We use this to signal the baby it's night time, but in actuality, I think it helps me sleep, not the baby. I have the baby in a little bassinet by my bed. With the Ocean Waves track playing on the Bose speakers, and with my earplugs in, I can have the baby near me but not hear all of his teeny noises- just the larger ones that usually indicate he wants to eat or has a wet diaper. It is really, really important to sleep, so don't feel guilty about using earplugs. Better that than lose your patience and your mind because of sleep deprivation!

Gerber Thermal Blankets. I made a mistake and got the flannel ones, which are stiff, and when you wash them, lint gets all over your dark clothing. Get the THERMAL, also known as waffle weave. I love these blankies. They are soft and large enough for a swaddle. They're great for covering baby while he nurses in only his diaper, so you can get skin to skin contact while keeping him warm. They're only ten bucks for two, and if you want to splurge, get the organic cream colored one for ten bucks (in photo).

Nursing Mother's Companion. Best organized and easiest to read. Basic, informative, reassuring.

Heading Home with Your Newborn. Well-organized, with a practical, relaxed tone- by 2 pediatricians/moms.

I'm sure there are other great products, so if you want to leave a comment about your favorites, please do so!
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