Monday, August 27, 2007

Does This Thing Come With Instructions?

Whoever said that parenting would be easy is a big fat liar.

Okay, nobody said parenting would be easy. In fact, everyone said it would be really hard, but I guess I just wasn't listening.

I think one of the hardest parts is having no point of reference for what is quote-unquote normal. For example, Alex is completely opposed to the whole notion of sleeping. And being tired is irrelevant. Although he exhibits every sign of fatigue, he will fight off sleeping with every bone in his body. He still gnaws and roots when he gets sleepy, but even on the rare occasion that I allow him to nurse to sleep, he wakes up the second I pull away. He will eventually go to sleep if he is being held and rocked or held and bounced or held and walked, but as soon as you go to put him down, he wakes up in a huff and the process starts over. On a rare occasion, he will accidentally fall asleep in his swing, but as soon as he startles and realizes that he has fallen asleep, he seems completely annoyed that he allowed himself to do so and proceeds to fuss until we can rock or bounce or walk him to sleep again. And that's just naps - forget about nighttime! I could rock him until until he is dead to the world, then the second I lay him in his crib he is wide awake and looking at me like, "Who said we could stop rocking? Get back to it, woman." Are all babies this resistant to sleeping or is it just my precious little angel?

At this point, I have completely tossed every self-imposed rule and preconceived notion that I once had out the window and am guilty of just about every thing that I swore I wouldn't do. I have found that you do what you gotta do to keep the baby and yourself sane, laying any convictions aside for the time being. And everyone says, "It'll get better." Great. Just tell me when so I can mark that date on my calendar and start crossing off the days.

I hate to wish away any moment I have with him now, but it is hard to enjoy every minute when I am frustrated and sleep deprived. I am afraid that my expectations for Alex are way too high for his age, and I find myself trying to reason with a seven week old instead of accepting the fact that he is a baby and that he will cry and fuss and that's okay. I have spent many hours on the internet, seeking answers to my many questions, but have found very little info about dealing with babies under three months. Is that because no one knows what to do before that? Even the experts are like, "Check back at three months. 'Till then, you're on your own."

I don't want to give the impression that it is all bad, because that certainly isn't the case. For the most part, parenthood is wonderful and exhilarating and such a precious gift that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. (Of course, that can be difficult to keep that in mind when it is three in the morning and the baby will only sleep if Mom is wide awake and rocking him.) Aside from sleeping (or not sleeping) issues, Alex has the sweetest disposition and is so much fun to play with. He isn't super interactive just yet, but he's getting there, and his smiling and laughing and cooing is enough to keep all three of us entertained for a while. And when he actually is asleep, I can't help but stare at him and tell him how sweet and loved he is, often sacrificing my own precious naptime to do so. Oh well, totally worth it...


lauradday said...

Have you heard of the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"? It has a whole chapter on Months 1-4. This guy's ideas are different than the baby wise guys, but I like him better. He seems to have more research and proof for his opinions. Unfortunately I didn't get the book until Jack was 7 mo old, but it totally helped us out.

Tracy said...

Sarah, I can certainly sympathize with your plight. We have history. When you were Alex's age, you never slept unless your mom was pacing with you or I was rocking you in that old recliner. To be positive, I see it as a sign of intelligence. You, and probably Alex (thanks to DNA), started thinking at birth, and soon realized you were helpless in an infant's body. Sleeping seemed a waste of time and staying awake so much made you miserable, yet your stubborn nature(s) refused to relent. I can't remember when you started to sleep through the night, but I do recall you were reading Silverstein by then. Maybe you should read a little of War and Peace to him at bedtime. Seriously, give it time. He'll adapt (or you will) Love you guys, Dad

Oliver said...

I also recommend the book Laura mentioned above - I have a copy and would totally let you use it except for the fact that Oliver soon will be moving to 1 nap, and I need to figure out how that's done! And I know you'll want it to reference throughout Alex's babyhood - it's been a great book. I know I'm one of the losers that keeps telling you that it will get better - really it does. I know that doesn't help with right now, but somehow that hope helped us through the rough times. You guys are awesome.

Marjorie W. said...

Sarah, now that we're on Baby #4, I can tell you without a doubt that everything Alex is doing is totally normal. Frustrating to you, yes, but normal for him. My suggestion is probably one you're not going to like but I will swear that it works most of the time and has worked every time with all of my babies -- even Blevins now at only 5 weeks old has found his groove.

Sleep with the baby. Yep. And let him nurse off to sleep. He's smart and knows the difference between Warm Mom and Real Breast versus No Mom and plastic nipple.

Co-sleeping safely is easy once you get past the apprehension. It saved my life when our oldest was a baby. She needed to nurse every two hours or so and I was about to fling myself out a window just to get some rest. In desperation I brought her into our bed and life got good after that. My kids are all good independent sleepers now, so don't worry about "spoiling" Alex by doing this.

The other thing -- if you're still worried about whether he's getting enough milk from you, quit measuring. Let him nurse on demand. This builds up your milk supply and ensures that he gets the calorie-rich hindmilk that really helps him put on weight. Breastfed babies just operate differently from formula-fed counterparts and feeding schedules and measuring only add to everyone's frustration.

You will make enough milk for him as long as he can nurse when he needs to. It's a cool balancing thing invented by God.

The first baby is the most frustrating because they just don't have any instructions attached. But trust Alex, follow his cues, and I'm betting you'll both sleep better and be more at ease. Take good care. The super nursey phase only lasts about six mos.

Much love,
Cousin Marjorie (Evans) Westmoreland

Quinn said...

I love your Cousin Marjorie!! I was waiting for someone to say exactly what she typed. I did exactly what she is recommending and it has worked with Quinn and it wasn't hard to move her to a crib when she and I were ready for it. She has been sleeping in her crib since she was almost 4 months old with a perfect nighttime schedule (feed at 7:15, bed at 7:45 and awake at 6:00-6:30am). And as for the breastfeeding.....I know I was frustrated about feeling like I was feeding Quinn 24/7. But, I kept telling myself "she won't be this small for very long"...indulge in every minute to be close to little Alex (whether it's feeding him or sleeping with him). Anytime Quinn fussed, whether she was hungry or not, I put her to my breast. It kept her happy, it relaxed me and it kept my milk supply coming (not to mention, burning extra calories) But the bottom line are Alex's mommy (how cool is that!), you know him better than anyone else. Remember to keep praying about it. We love you guys!!

Amy said...

Sarah-When I said I hope you have one "just like you" I didn't think it would really work! Yikers!!! The good news is....look how well you turned out and I'm still standing. The bad news is...have you always gotten everything you wanted if you put your mind to it? You were right when you said you don't want to wish away a second- because the truth is-nothing changes really. Yep, I said it. There will always be challenges to childrearing, new ones all the time but always a test of wills. It doesn't matter the age, it's all the same. Alex is teaching you to do what you want to do in your heart for his best interest. If you do it with love it's the right thing to do and if that means laying him in the middle of the floor while he is crying and throwing yourself a blue blazing hissy fit until you feel better...go for it. Then, pick him up, kiss him, tell him you love him and that he's NOT getting his way... and then relent in about 2 minutes because you just want him to be happy, because that makes you happy. And everyone knows, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Hang in there. It really does get easier. Go play the song- I will survive.
Yo' mama

Oliver said...

My expert opinion is that you should have Tim nurse Alex as often as possible. Don't worry Tim - your milk will come in after Alex drags on it for a couple of days. 9 out of 10 doctors recommend spousal nursing in the latest poll from U.S. Weekly, so I'm sure it's lagit. It's only fair - he got you into this whole mess anyway.

leah said...

You know Seth, they do make those things that go on kind of like a vest and have a spot to place a bottle in so Alex will "feel" like he is nursing! I mean I dont really know that it would work, but it would make for some HILLARIOUS pictures!!! :)

lauradday said...

Mark said to advise Timothy to use a lot of nipple cream to help w/ the soreness.

Chad, Shara, and Kayla said...

Kayla did the same thing when we tried to put her down. We're trying the Babywise thing starting tonight and hopefully she'll be sleeping through the night by the time I got to work. Hang in there. I feel your pain.