First, the second part

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.

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  • I co-sleep with my babies, because I can’t stand the transfer from my arms to the bassinet. My baby always wakes up. My routine is much simpler than the Bradstiens.

    I only change the baby’s daiper if he has pooped (my babies are very vocal about pooping, so I always know.) However it is important to use a very absorbent nighttime diaper, or your baby will leak (I use a huggie diaper, with a diaper doubler).

    When the baby wakes up to feed, I sit up in bed to nurse him. I burp him after the first breast, but let him go to sleep while nursing from the second. When he is asleep, I tranfer him from my lap to the bed and then I go back to sleep.

    My husband leaves for work before we get up. He quietly creeps out of bed, and gets dressed in the living room. I never hear him leave the bed, and he never wakes the baby.

    Hope this helps!

  • We wanted to cosleep, but both baby and I got zero sleep that way. So we went with the bassinet next to the bed. Worked like a charm. I also got very good at nursing while lying down and dozing. And I think (the memories are getting a bit fuzzy now) that we usually waited for a poop to change diapers, unless there was clearly a huge amount of pee happening or he already had diaper rash.

    We were lucky that our kids were much better sleepers than we thought they would be…so they didn’t wake up just because one of us got up. But again that’s not cosleeping.

    Now if someone can explain how the parents ever have intimate relations ever again if they choose to cosleep, I’ll be very grateful.

  • With my two, cosleeping kept me from sleeping, so they slept in the bassinet, and pretty quickly moved down the hall to their own rooms. The first child refused to nurse, so we split the night time duties. After the first couple of weeks, you find out where the snaps go or get rid of the garments that do not snap easily and the whole routine goes better.

    The second child loved to nurse (until age 4), so he fell asleep with me a lot when he was nursing. I moved him to his own bed when I woke up later, or his father did when he noticed that we had company.
    You should do what works for the child and for you, and not be so attached to a particular routine that you cannot give it up as easily as the child does. Flexibility is a big thing with kids.

    It is also a good idea to let the child experience normal noise levels in your house when s/he is sleeping during the day. It helps reduce the number of times that disturbances at night wake the baby. If you keep everything too quiet for baby when s/he is sleeping, how will s/he ever learn to sleep through classes in high school. Or fall asleep when you are wandering through Walmart.

  • Ahhh…your baby will sleep all the time in the beginning…that IS bullsh*t. Or, it was for us.

    Man….I remember the very beginning….Gage wanted to nurse every 45 minutes, and only for about 5 minutes at a time. That was a tough schedule to get down…

    …and when I was pregnant, I was soooo certain that I was going to “train” my son to sleep in his crib in his room, down the hall.
    Got that little one home….and his room might as well have been a million miles away. I could not STAND to have him down the hall at night. We weren’t home 24 hours before my mother in law was on a WalMart run for a bassinet!

    For us—we used the bassinet in our room during the night. For daytime naps, he slept either in his crib in his room (with me glued to the baby monitor!), or in the cradle in the living room.

    🙂
    oh, the newborn days….

  • …and for me, I was afraid of cosleeping. I know it works for many….but I’ve seen accidents from that in our ER. Parents who never thought it would happen to them, and suddenly, their baby was gone. That was just terrifying to me. So, if I had Gage in bed with us to nurse at night, and we both fell asleep, I’d wake up in a panic!

  • Ahhhhh the art of child rearing.

    I agree with whoever said do what works best for you and the baby. This will change daily. This will also change for each child you bear. I have 4.

    #1, I didn’t know what I was doing and he slept in a modified drawer in our bedroom. I would wake up at night and go to another room so I could nurse and burp. Change diaper if it was dirty, or when done nursing. Dad was not home to worry about waking the baby or waking dad with the baby. After a while he would sleep with me in my bed. It took 3 long nights to teach him to sleep alone. The only one he peed on was his auntie B when she would come over to watch him during the day to give mom a break. He and I have an understanding that he was my guinea pig and I am learning using him. I still have this child and he is almost 21.

    #2 was a dream. The textbook definition of a self soother. This is what you really want. Might I add I never listened to doctors who said the baby should sleep on their back or side. Mine were all tummy sleepers. GM got us a basinette for this one and she slept in it. Again I would get up in the middle of the night after she would sound out to feed and change diapers. She liked falling asleep, and I learned from a very patient GM that a burp was always necessary after eating. I also learned that she was more likely to burp if I patted her bottom, not her pack. GM would try position changes… lie down, sit up to work the burps out. To this day she can put her Uncle F to shame with her burps. As a self soother, I would then lay her back down in the basinette (while she was awake) and she would lay there until she fell asleep. When she turned 2 she turned on me. From that moment on I said, “I am not wondering what she will be like as a teenager, because she is like that now!!” I was right. She holds the 2A WA State title of Champion in the 100 breaststroke. I still have this one too.

    #3 was a nightmare!! She would cry and cry and cry. I could hold her 26 hours a day every day and it was never enough. I would feed her but she only nursed (as all my other children did) for a short time. She would be fed and have a clean diaper and feel the need to cry. She thought she was an only child… still does. The only thing missing was my sleep. By this time I had the nighttime routine down. I would get up and go to another room, usually watching TV while nighttime nursing. The worst part was getting hooked on a show, putting the baby back to bed and going out to the living room to finish the movie. She eventually became a quiet happy child… even a late talker… but always very expressive. I still have this one too.

    It is important for me to say at this time, that crying is okay. If you cater to a child immediately, you are only training them that is what to expect. If you can let them wake up in the night, cry for a minute or two, they will learn that good things come to those who wait. I try not to cater to any of my children, and that is what they expect. It took me several children to learn this valuable lesson.

    #4 I can’t even remember (and he is only 12) what I did. I think I was on autopilot by that time.

    Self Soother: A child that can make him/herself happy, sometimes to the degree of falling asleep alone. You will want any child to do this by the time they reach puberty. If you can accomplish this before they are one, even better.

    Good luck to the first time parent. It is an ongoing learning experience. Sometimes you do things that you are not even thinking about because you are so tired you are no longer thinking. Then the baby falls asleep and you look back and wonder what you did so you can do it again. Getting the parent to fall back asleep is never a problem.

    If it works like a dream, the baby will probably pick up on this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    I would be amazed if any book could put into print the wide array of baby nighttime routines. I laugh at Papa B’s scenario knowing how true it all seems at the time. The real joy is being able to look back and laugh about it. That is usually when you start thinking another baby would be fun.

    Listen to what everyone says and then don’t do 95% of it. Really listen to people you admire (with kids) and try what works. Sometimes you have to do 50 things to find the one thing that makes everyone happy. Flexibility is very important…. as is routine. I will let you figure that one out.

  • You guys rock so hard core I can’t even explain. Thank you SO much for your wonderful insight–it really has helped. I’ll file all this away for when The Boy is born and see what works. But at least now I know what I could be up against.

    I better get to sleep now to stock up!

  • You might want to get a dart board so it will be easier to decide which tactic you will be using each night….. until you find one that works

    Papa B’s favorite sister

  • Curiosity got the best of me and I still don’t have question #1 or an answer….. but in looking I read through some of the pregnancy journals on Stephanie’s Blog. All of that is so true… and moving at 25 weeks is much easier than moving at 38 weeks…. which is what Idid with #3. So not only was I moving, but I was also taking care of 2 kids at home, one of which needed a ride to school everyday. Of course she was so tired after all the activity she decided to come 2 weeks late. She paid me back!! Papa B got to be there and it made that day all the more special.