Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Motherhood Survival: Tips for Baby Sleeping & Mom Staying Sane

When I was pregnant with Hudson, I picked up every baby book available: Bringing Up Bebe, What To Expect When You're Expecting/The First Year, Baby Wise - you get the picture.  I also poured over BabyCenter and The Bump trying to anticipate every step I needed to take during pregnancy and after to ensure a perfectly planned and executed delivery and childhood for my precious boy.

At nearly 10 months after his birth, I look back and think F#$% That S^&*.   

Let me explain.  

My nursery did turn out perfect, exactly the way I wanted it.  My pregnancy wasn't too bad (minus the 60 lbs I gained and the horrible heartburn the last month).  Comparatively, I can't complain because I know there are many terrible things that can go wrong so I am grateful I was spared.  I had my hospital suitcase packed a month prior to my delivery date, complete with all the items on every hospital preparation list I could find plus the very necessary push gown.

In the end, I didn't have to grab my bag in a hurry because I was scheduled for induction.  We got to the hospital around 5am, I was given Pitocin about 8, epidural around 10, and Hudson arrived in the world just before 6 PM.  The time in between was pretty easy.  Since I had my epidural I was able to sleep, read (definitely bring books/magazines/e-reader) and watch TV during the labor process.  Once it came time to push Hudson came out on the 4th try so I was able to see my sweet angel very quickly.  He was literally the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

We took him home after the 2nd day at the hospital and thus began our perfect new life as a family. NOT.

For me, nursing was hard.  It was painful and I just couldn't seem to get him to stay suctioned on my nipple properly.  He also never seemed to be completely full and satisfied after each feeding.  What helped was a nipple shield the nurses at the hospital gave me.  I began to use it each time we fed and it seemed to help ease the pain and get him the amount of food he needed.  

Hudson was born on a Wednesday.  Sunday is when it all went to hell.  

After a particularly trying day with Hudson eating nonstop and my nipples feeling like they were straight out of a page of 50 Shades, I finally was able to doze off with him on the couch for about 15 minutes.  Then my husband came in.  "What does Tuckerbelle [our golden retriever] have in her mouth?" He asked.  I called her over.  "Tuckerbelle!  Tuckerbelle!"  She trotted over with a look of guilt and I forced open her mouth.  I began examining the piece of shredded clear, flimsy plastic to figure out what it was.  Then sheer panic began to ensue.  Then hyperventilating.  Then a full blown panic attack/hysterical breakdown/trip to the psychotic ward.  Kidding about the last part.  But, the item in question was my nipped shield.  My ONLY nipple shield.  


Probably some more curse words were involved but until now I tried to black this moment out of my mind.  Now I look back and laugh.  My sweet husband gave me a hug and told me we could do this, that even though he may not know yet how to show it Hudson loved me and I was doing an amazing job.  He piled our family in the car and took us to Target to purchase some more nipple shields.  I have so much respect for people who do this alone because at that moment I realized I could not be more grateful for my husband.

After a few more weeks of nursing I had another mini-breakdown.  I tried to pump milk rather than give it directly to Hudson.  I pumped out 1 ounce in 45 minutes.  Then in my sleep-deprived state I went to rinse my pumping tools and ended up rinsing the milk down the drain.  My husband wasn't home at that time but thankfully I had some formula from the birthing class we took and I switched to that and have never looked back.  

I share all of this because nursing is wonderful, but it is not for everyone.  I had a friend (another mother) who told me "Whatever you can give him is exactly what he needs."  In a society with so much pressure and judgment around nursing that was exactly what I needed to hear.  So of course, I had another sobbing breakdown.  

The first two months after we brought Hudson home are hazy.  I have heard God created a woman's mind to forget the hard stuff with children so we will be able to procreate.  Personally, I think it's because God realizes we need all the brain cells we can to supervise them once they get older so why waste them on memories of what is no longer necessary?

I know for the first two weeks he slept in a swing next to our bed.  I could pick him up and nurse him and then put him back in the swing (or more often fall asleep with him on top of me).  I woke up in a panic numerous times thinking I would crush my baby - I never did.  

After two weeks we moved him upstairs to his crib and I slept across the hall.  I had a friend who told me the longer you take to move them the harder it is to get them used to this.  Whether that's right or wrong, it worked for us.  

During the day, I fed Hudson whenever he was hungry.  I realize BabyWise would probably punch me in the face for this but I didn't have the heart to let him cry because he hadn't gone 3 hours without a meal.  Days were all over the board.  He might sleep for 3.5 hours and then wake up and be hungry, or he might want a meal every hour.  Bottom line, I met his needs.

At night, I developed a routine with him: starting at 9pm a gentle lavender sponge bath, application of lavender lotion, and then swaddling in a Halo sleep sack.  I don't know if I sucked at swaddling or had the incredible Hulk for a child but every time I swaddled him myself he escaped.  I then rocked him in the glider and gave him a bottle, putting him in bed after he was asleep.  The exact same thing every nite. 

He generally woke up 2-3 times a nite in the beginning (first 4 weeks), then it gradually began to slow.  1-2 times at 5 weeks.  Once at 6.  At 7 weeks he was sleeping through the nite.  9-7.  Yes you read that correctly.  10 hours of sleep for him.  10 hours of sleep for me.  I felt like a new woman.  

Now I realize experts would scold me and say a baby cannot sleep that long and there's a problem blah blah blah.  I am certainly no expert, just a mom trying to do the best I can and for me the method above worked.  

This is my baby today, at 10 months old.  I'd say things are working out pretty well.  

In summary, here's my best short list and tips for new & expecting moms:

Notice I don't have birth plan on that list.  At the birthing class I attended, the nurse (who used to work in the birthing unit at our hospital) told me nurses hate them.  They are going to do whatever they can to make sure you're comfortable and have what you need unless it interferes with your or the babies safety.  I didn't bring mine, told my nurse what I'd heard, and she thanked me and was a rock star the whole time.  Just something to consider.  If you must have one, maybe just keep it stashed for safe keeping unless the need arises.  

 When the baby comes home, I only have a couple of tips:
1.  Do what works best for you and your baby.  Forget what the "experts" and everyone else tells you.  Nature built you for this so you'll figure it out.

2.  Take some time to yourself.  The first few months are hard so if you need a nite's sleep and need your husband/mother/mother-in-law/sister/friend/whoever to take over for a nite, ask!

3. Don't beat yourself up over not sticking to your plans (see number 1)

4.  Invest in wine.  You can have a full glass even if you're nursing (my pediatrician approved it).  For those that are more cautious, they invented these.  

5.  Take a breather.  If your baby won't stop crying and he/she's been fed/bathed/snuggled/ensured not sick, sometimes you need to let them cry for a little bit to save your own sanity.  I'm not talking hours here, but before you lose your mind put them in the crib, grab a glass of wine, and take a bath.  Then resume daily exhaustive duties as normal with your mind a little more calm.  

That's all folks.  I'm no genius, just a mom trying to get through it like the rest of this.  Kind of like this mom (if you haven't seen it watch it's hilarious!!!)

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