This article is for my dear friend Claudia, expecting her surprise baby in August. Since it has been so long since either of us have had a baby, there were a few facts and tidbits I thought I’d share besides the ones I shared in The Irk Is In the Details, to make it easier for her and anyone else who could use a good baby tip. I wasn’t reading all those baby books this time. But there were undeniable and familiar problems that arose that needed to be dealt with.
Seems your intestines slow down during pregnancy. It’s not bad enough that it gets more difficult to reach yourself to keep clean. Remember my complaints in this post entitled My Biological Equation? Now your regularity is at risk and leaves you feeling bloated and large as a house with a baby. So not cool. Thanks to a nurse friend, aka the Amazon Fairy, I discovered this stuff called Miralax. The generic name for the chemical is Polyethylene Glycol and it’s odorless and tasteless when dissolved in water and does the trick so well that I am never using anything else ever.
Declaring my intention to breast feed, the nurse at the hospital alerted me to the new form of Lanolin that you put on your nipples which prevents chapping and don’t have to wash off before you nurse. Considering the efforts to breast feed can be thwarted in a myriad of different ways, keeping your nipples from drying and cracking is a good start. One tube will do the trick.
As for the leaky boobies, because that’s what’s happening to the other one that’s not in the baby’s mouth, there’s breast pads. Like round sanitary napkins for your bra, there are better ones and worse ones. I ordered a boatload of the Lanisoh brand because, simply, they have two adhesive strips. Yes they look bumpy under your clothes but they will hang on tightly as you open and close your nursing bra however many times in a day. Those three tidbits were more important than you can imagine. Moving on.
In my previous article, The Irk Is In The Details, I shared a few tips and am glad to restate them. Baby’s fingernails are sharp and tiny. Two months in and twice having clipped off some of her fingertip in order to cut her nails, I discovered that a 10 pack of fine emery boards will go a long way. You won’t saw their finger tip off. But you will saw down those claws. I did it while I nursed Fiona. It may be unnerving to hear and feel the sawing but you’ll be glad you did this.
At 3 months, the craziness suddenly seems to abate and that’s miraculous. And at 3 1/2 months, she was very capable of sleeping through the night. Dr’s book says if they’re 12 lbs plus, they have enough fat supplies to not need the three o’clock feeding. So I let her wake up and then fall back asleep then. If she squawked really loudly and started to wind up, I went in and apologized and fed her and tried again the next week. By then she was ready to wake and then put herself back to sleep as we all do. And her diaper wasn’t even that full. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. I didn’t break Eamon of this 3 am feeding until he was 8 months and it wasn’t pretty.
When trying to guess what the baby needs, it is entirely possible that he/she is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable even when you don’t think he/she should be. As in, “But you just ate an hour ago”. It’s called cluster feeding. And it’s also possible that it’s a combo. A move from one to another can happen at any time.
When the baby is just at that point where they’re sleepy but not asleep quite yet, that’s when you lay them down so they can put themselves to sleep. I always put her on her side with a back prop. Remember to switch sides though. The Doctor could tell which side I preferred by her head. Try not to let the baby fall asleep in your arms often or you’ll have a baby who relies on you for that. And if they’re exhausted and overstimulated, look at the clock and allow them to cry for say, 4 minutes. My kids always squawked one last loud squawk before they passed out. If they’re still crying after your four minutes, pick them up. There i bad habit you are at risk to form here which is picking them up the instant you hear them cry. Often mothers end up overstimulating the baby by constantly touching and talking and doing. The baby just needs a chance to fall asleep!
I was never so happy as when I saw Fiona could suck her own thumb at 3 1/2 months. I was a thumb sucker and it gave me an enormous amount of pleasure to do so. And you don’t have to retrieve it off the floor ten million times. My teeth were messed up by genetics and not having braces, not by thumb-sucking. And I gave it up when peer pressure kicked in. Little guys suddenly don’t want to be babies anymore.
Fiona had one bought of colic three days after she was born when her intestines suddenly started to work. Her legs went completely straight and she was in obvious pain. I called the pediatrician on call at the hospital and he said it was colic. She would scream then she would pass out and then wake again. If it goes on a really long time, share the stress and get the significant other or grandmother to hold the baby while you get to where you can’t hear for a couple of minutes. Because there’s nothing to be done but wait it out. And it is one of the hardest things to witness for a parent. Helplessness is hard.
Sleep deprivation is something you will adjust to. And actually you’ll be more alert when you wake up during this time. It’s when I started to get more sleep that I felt groggy when I woke. It takes three days until you no longer notice sleep deprivation. As Soldiers were in wars before you and I, you are in the trenches until you aren’t anymore. Children are great about setting their own schedules. You’ll find the baby’s not sleeping very much for one day will result in the first all-nighter around 9 weeks. The fussiness may occur in the late afternoon and early evening for a long while afterwards. Car rides, strolls, and swings should all be in your arsenal. And other people holding the baby who aren’t as anxious. Ha.
Fiona was a good spewer until recently. She would almost projectile vomit up her milk after I fed her. Here’s the tricks. DO NOT PUT THE BABY OVER YOUR SHOULDER. That’s called the Heimlich maneuver. Ooopsie. Keep them on their left sides at an angle as long as possible. If there’s a bottle feeding, put some infant probiotics in there. It works. Don’t put the baby in a bent position. If there’s a way to keep them with their heads higher and stretched out when they sleep and are awake, find it. Little baby sling chairs are great. And I was turned onto the spewing baby formula which is thicker. The AR stands for acid reflux. Of course. It’s the old lady’s trick of putting cereal in the formula but already mixed.
I found that patting their backs really does help. Not just for burps because it relaxes the burps out too, but for soothing. When you lay them down to fall asleep, 20 pats on the butt and you’re out the door. And the most useful tip I can give, when they want to continue to stand up in their crib because they just figured out how to stand (somewhere late in the first year), but not how to sit back down? You hold their hip down firmly with one hand while you pat the back side rhythmically. When they discover they have a new talent, they want to keep using it and their brains get really excited, which then keeps them awake and then they get exhausted. I got a special title of “Baby Whisperer” for this maneuver. And I don’t doubt I’ll be using it again.
And then there’s the “Call me to talk” option. I called a gal once I think. But I wished I’d had someone like me to call. It’s really all good as long as you keep them alive. And the longer you do that, the more bonus points you get to win the Mommy of the Year award. What do you mean they stopped giving the award out. What have I been overachieving all this time for then?