Because I’m left-handed and therefore look at everything backwards…well, backwards to all of you dime-a-dozen righties…here is my answer to Samantha’s second question. My answer to her first question will be posted tomorrow on Black Belt Mama’s blog, as my guest post, because in the blogosphere, I can’t bring soup and ice and morphine to BBM, but I can guest post.
For those of you who have advice for Samantha about this, or her other question, please chime in. I’m only one parent, who’s had only one baby, so I’m sure there are other perspectives.
Also, I’m going to be beyond the grid for several days now while I travel to Grammy’s in Vermont, which doesn’t even have cell coverage, much less internet access. So, to those of you who are celebrating something, even if it’s just a day off from work, have a Merry Something. Me, I’m going off to have a Merry Christmas, and I’ll be back with y’all for the New Year.
‘Nother question for you: We’re going to try and have the little man in our room sleeping in the P & P in the beginning, so I can nurse easily and keep an eye on him. Bryan will obviously be going back to work after 1-2 weeks. So, what happens to the baby when Bryan gets up and gets ready for work? We don’t want to wake the baby if he’s still sleeping. I know lots of parents do this little arrangement, and I can’t figure out how it all goes smoothly. Thoughts? I don’t know if 3B slept in your room or not, so maybe you have no clue either. But this leads into ANOTHER question: I know you’re supposed to keep everything dark and quiet at night so they don’t totally wake up. Just feed ’em and put ’em back down. But! What about diaper changes? Won’t that stimulate them more? I know I should dive into a few sleeping books and will probably get my questions answered, but until this godforsaken move is over I have no spare time. So I ask you instead.
Actually, these are questions that no book answered to my satisfaction. They did answer your questions, but they didn’t provide complete and real descriptions of how those answers play out. I’ll try to do that, but as always, your mileage may vary, so be sure to check with other parents as well.
Oh, and before I forget, we only used one book dedicated to the topic of sleep: The Happiest Baby on the Block. I haven’t heard anything that would lead me to use another book for our next baby.
3B did sleep in our room in his Pack & Play, which worked well. We initially set it up as a bassinet with the little changing table (tray? trough?) on the end. That worked well for us, although I did prefer using 3B’s actual changing table, which was a changing pad on top of a dresser, because I didn’t have to hunch over to reach him.
In regards to keeping an eye on him, there was no worry about hearing him since Mama’s hearing is so tuned in to him that she can hear it when he so much as thinks about fussing. In fact, after 3B was born, Mama started sleeping so lightly that a fly walking on a cotton ball could wake her up. My Mom suggested having 3B sleep in the hallway, to keep Mama from being woken up every time 3B turned over. Another room is too far away, Mom said, but don’t have him sleep right next to you, if you want to get any sleep. We couldn’t imagine being more than six inches from 3B after he was born, so we kept him right next to the bed. Mom was smart.
Even though 3B has always been an active sleeper–picture a sleeping baby going through a bikram yoga session in a Pack & Play–Mama eventually got used to the noise, and was able to get more sleep. I, of course, wouldn’t wake up if 3B crawled into my ear and threw a tantrum on my eardrum, which is typical dad behavior.
Another typical dad behavior is going to work in the morning. I double-checked with Mama on this, and we agree that I never went to work without seeing 3B awake. Here’s why…and I think this answers your diaper change question too…
Although your baby will probably sleep “all the time,” that’s kind of a bullshit phrase that we all use without speaking the truth behind it. Initially, your baby will sleep, if you’re lucky, for two hours at a time. Initially, you will sleep, if you’re lucky, for two hours a day. Here’s the deal (I picked 1:30 a.m. randomly, your baby will pick other random times for you):
1:15 a.m. Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:20 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:25 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
1:30 Baby wakes up.
1:30:05 Baby is in Mama’s arms to nurse. Initially, nursing was a whole production number–propping Mama up in bed, or having her rock in the glider, or reclining on the couch–mostly because we didn’t know what we were doing. After a short while, Mama would just lay 3B down next to her, and nurse him while dozing. I would sit up to burp him, since that worked better vertically, but I would also doze or sleep through nursing.
1:50-2:00 Baby is done nursing.
2:00 Diaper change commences.
(optional steps that applied for the first week–
2:01 Grammy comes in, changes diaper, takes 3B to living room, rocks him to sleep, returns him to P&P; w/o waking Mama and Papa.
2:30: Grammy is beatified.)
2:07 Mama and Papa finish finding and opening all the snaps on 3B’s garment.
2:08 Diaper is opened. Mama and Papa marvel at contents, reconsider why they wanted a baby so badly, consult 3B’s cute little mug, remember why, and proceed.
2:10 3B pees all over his bassinet, having squirmed out from under burp diaper laid down to protect against this. Papa splits off to wipe down bassinet and change the sheet.
2:12 As Mama is closing up 3B’s diaper, he poops in it. (Your mileage on this may vary, but we learned to not be too quick about changing 3B’s diaper after feeding to avoid this. Then again, the longer you wait to change it, the less sleep you get. Then there’s the serial pooping–I almost cried the night that I changed 10 diapers in an hour.)
2:20 With a second clean diaper on, and bassinet cleaned, Mama and Papa set out to snap up 3B’s garment and reswaddle him. At the same time, somewhere in the world, a child sets out to fold an origami sock out of Kleenex and put two fighting weasels in it, all without tearing the tissues. Although the projects have striking similarities, the child finishes before Mama and Papa have 3B all snapped up and reswaddled.
2:30 Papa takes 3B out to living room to rock him to sleep in glider, and so Mama can get some sleep.
2:31 Mama pees, gets water to drink, etc.
2:35 Mama goes to sleep/passes out from exhaustion.
2:45-3:14 In an ideal world, 3B goes to sleep and Papa stays awake, gently transferring 3B to his bassinet when he’s finally slumbering. Often, however, Papa would work the 5 S’s from Happiest Baby, rock 3B, and walk 3B for awhile before he would go to sleep. Often this took so long that Papa would just stay in the glider with 3B sleeping on his chest rather than risk 3B waking up when he was transferred to the bassinet, which often happened.
3:00 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:05 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:10 Mama wakes up, anticipating baby waking up.
3:15 3B wakes up to eat. Rinse, repeat.
Notice how we were awake through most, if not all of those two hours? And how 3B was actually awake for a significant part of it too? Every two hour segment of the day looks pretty much the same, so the odds are good that when Bryan is getting ready for work, he and the baby and you will all be awake already, or will wake up some time before he goes, as a part of the regular cycle. Also, if Bryan values his life, he will learn to be quiet enough to not wake the baby when he gets ready.
And about those middle-of-the-night diaper changes–baby’s already going to be awake, because you’ll do it after one of the 12 times you feed him at night, so you’re not disrupting him. And you have to change his diapers anyway, to avoid diaper rash and blowouts, which cause you to have to change his clothes, his sheet, and his pad under the sheet, as well as his diaper.
You wrote, “I can’t figure out how it all goes smoothly.” From my experience, I would say that initially, the mechanics of it won’t go smoothly. Hell, it’s pretty rough emotionally too. But love will get you through–love for the baby and love for each other. Love for coffee doesn’t hurt. Eventually, however, you and Bryan and baby will figure out a rhythm.
At which time, baby will change all of his patterns, causing you to start all over again.
But each time he does that, it gets easier. It’s hard to picture while you’re pregnant, but you will get to know your baby better than you know anyone–Bryan, your best friend, even yourself. You will eventually work mostly in concert with him, with him more as an extension of yourself, rather than as a person wholly separate from you. Yours and Bryan’s love of your baby, and his love of you, will make it go smoothly.
Well, that and a live-in nanny.