Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Months 1-3

AKA, the fourth trimester

Have you ever noticed how needy a newborn baby is? How most of them are not "good babies" that soothe themselves to sleep or can be left alone, even untouched, for most of their day (and night)?  Not to mention that they are sort of boring.  Seriously.  They are super cute to look at, but mostly it's eat, poop, sleep, poop, eat..... and so forth for the first three months.

Picture this.... you come home after a long day and instead of walking into your comfortable 72 degree house, hopping into your comfortable bed and listening to your favorite song on the radio you open the front door and are flooded with freezing water and terribly loud noises.  It's what every new baby experiences. Forget the enjoyment of being rhythmically squeezed for an average of 8-24 hours. Think instead of what must be processing through their brains.  Shock, fear, anxiety?  Whit was decently calm when he was born, but he was somewhat drugged up from my epidural.  Eilidh experienced her birth the same way I did, naturally medication free. And she came into the world screaming.

I can remember reading somewhere that it helps a baby to sleep if you swaddle the baby and wrap a sweatshirt that smells like you around an old-fashioned alarm clock and put it near their head.  Something about being wrapped up tight near a warm, familiar scent and that tick-tick-tick fools them into thinking they are in the womb again.  That seems like a lot of work to me.

The truth is, human babies are born about three or four months too early. Their brains are only 1/4 the size of an adult brain.  The next closest mammal newborn has a brain 1/2 the size of an adult.  But humans are bi-peds.  Even in the best birthing positions, the ones that open up the hips as much as possible, wouldn't birth the head of a three or four month old baby. Human babies are the weakest and most vulnerable mammal at birth. 

So what do we do to deal with these "needy" babies?  There are so many items on the market that you can buy to help soothe your baby but I've found on this subject (as with so many others) that I took the easiest and least expensive route (that's not me saying I'm cheap and lazy...) Mommy's arms make baby happy, so use them! 

Here's my advice for some of the common complaints.  (And my excuse for not posting much during this "fourth trimester")

Baby only sleeps when... I'm holding him, he's sleeping with me. So do it! Hold, sleep, whatever it takes.  But do your research and do it safely. If your arms are tired or you find the housework piling up, call in reinforcements or consider wearing your baby.  Side note: Daddy sleeping with baby on his chest makes Mommy swoon.

Baby wakes up if I place her on her back. So lay her down on her belly until she's fully asleep.  If you are concerned about SIDS, stand over her like a hawk and then flip her to her back when she's good and asleep. Side note: The first night she was born, Eilidh went to the nursery to be weighed and checked out. The nurses told me she would only settle when placed on her side. At first I felt disappointed that they knew something I didn't, but I realized that I hadn't actually put her down yet.... and now I'm grateful that I knew going in she wouldn't sleep on her back unless she was very deeply asleep.

Baby wants to nurse...all...the...time....So do it.  Ok, that's not a possibility, but introduce a pacifier if you need to, sucking feels good to them, releases all sorts of good endorphins.

I'm exhausted. Buck up, your baby will eventually be a three year old, still exhausting, but in a different way. Seriously though, sleep when you can, however you can and enjoy those precious seconds when you are awake and not delirious from lack of sleep. And maybe next time you'll get a "good" baby.

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