I'm a mom! I have wanted to start writing all about it from day 1...but Jack is now 22 days old and I'm just starting!
I had hoped to write in detail about my experiences before I forgot anything...things like...giving birth with no epidural but NOT by choice! The feelings I had for the first two weeks...being completely overwhelmed, wondering "What have I done!?", crying constantly...hormones! Oh yeah, and breast feeding! That was tough at the beginning! I will hopefully write about those topics later but in this post, I'm going to just start writing and see where it takes me.
As I write this, I'm listening to my baby cry. YES!!! I'm LISTENING to him CRY!!! I learned quickly not to talk too much about my parenting tactics...as it quickly invites feedback from lots of people with different opinions. If I already felt evil for letting Jack "cry it out", I felt even more evil after listening to everyone and their mother's opinions on the matter. (Some people think that you will damage your baby psychologically by letting them cry at this age, or that your baby will stop crying eventually because they just don't trust you and don't expect you to help.)
My goal is for Jack to nap IN HIS CRIB once before noon, and once after noon and at night. At night, we put him in his crib to sleep and yes, the first time we put him down for the night, we do have to listen to him "cry it out"...luckily, I'm married to The Baby Whisperer. More about that later...
So how did I decide on the "cry it out" method?
It all started on February 23rd, 2010, the day Jack was born. The hospital told us to do as much "skin-on-skin" time as possible. Actually, I enjoyed this. It reminds the baby of being in the womb (I guess) and promotes an easier "transition"...I still do not know what that is supposed to mean but it must be good! For the first two weeks, they encouraged as much skin-on-skin time as possible. We took this to heart and Jack was curled up against our chests in frog position around the clock. We came home from the hospital on Wednesday, the 24th...and of course, when it was bed time, I put him in his crib! Where else?! (I always thought it was ridiculous to hear of people who had their kids in bed with them.) Well, I was in for a rude awakening. Jack hated the crib. So I quickly picked him up and tucked him in with me...only I couldnt sleep! I was worried I'd roll on him! So we moved down to the basement and slept in the recliner together...which is where we slept for several nights. After acquiring a huge knot in my back and missing my husband WAY too much, Jack and I decided to move back up to the bed to see if we could both get better sleep. (In the recliner, Jack woke up to eat constantly...at least every hour I'd say.) Jack and I got maybe slightly better sleep in the bed, but John moved into the guest room...we figured, at least one person needed to get sleep and since John can't breastfeed, it would be him! Well another week went by and I was getting more and more exhausted, ovewhelmed, and depressed. Johns sister came to visit that afternoon and asked where Jack was sleeping. When I told her in bed with me, she told me I would kill him and Jack would possibly die. Gotta love this type of advice. Actually, co-sleeping is considered to be best by many but we won't go into that. But I did miss being able to sleep in the same bed with John and having at least SOME of what I considered to be "normal". The truth was, I was worried about rolling on Jack or covering him too much with the sheets and wasn't sleeping well at all. He was waking up every hour and a half...it was tough. The next day we had his two week appointment with the doctor. I asked her (she is rated top doctor by washingtonian magazine so she must know what she's doing) for her input on the sleep situation and she told me, I need to let him cry! He NEEDS to sleep in his crib and right now, his only "sleep association" is me. she explained that we all have sleep associations. For example, as adults, we association our beds with sleep. If we went to bed, and woke up under the dining room table, we'd get up and go back to bed. Jack had learned ME as his sleep association...and so when I put him down ANYWHERE, day or night, whether it be the crib, the pack n' play, the swing, ANYWHERE (even his dads arms), he would cry and cry until I picked him back up. And since I never let him cry, I was ALWAYS carrying him. So she said, I need to teach him new sleep associations...his crib, maybe a bath could eventually be part of the routine...and she said when I do put him in his crib, he needs to be at least slightly awake so he learns to fall asleep in his crib. Babies wake up every 45 minutes and so if I put him in his crib asleep, 45 minutes he'll wake up crying! Hearing her tell me it was really important to let him cry and teach him to sleep in his crib was exactly what I wanted to hear! I kept asking her if he was too young to let cry, if I would scar him, etc...she said, "He does NOT look like the type of kid who is going to be neglected." She said he just needs to know that at night, I do my job, I make sure he is clean, changed, and fed...she didn't think he'd cry for more than 15-20 minutes but said if he does, to just go in the room, and pat his head or whatever. So...we did this.
Night One: He cried for an hour and a half. Torture! I cried the whole time too! This wasn't full fledged crying..just random outbursts...we reassured him every 20 minutes or so...after an hour and a half, I picked him up and fed him, put him back down...and he went to sleep WITHOUT crying...for 4.5 hours! He woke up again, I fed him, changed him, put him back down, and he slept for 3.5 hours! Same thing again and he slept for 2 hours! The next night he only cried for 20 minutes. We have nights that are great (one nigth he slept 6 hours straight) and the regress to where he wakes up every two hours)...We have nights where he hardly cries at all the first time I put him down, and nights where we have to go in every ten minutes or so for an hour or a little more to reassure him. I promised myself I would no longer post anything on Facebook about what I'm doing b/c I can't handle people telling me that I'm doing the wrong thing. I promised myself I would no longer read books or message boards online b/c there are so many different opinions out there...I constantly second guess myself and wonder if I'm doing the right thing...and when you're completely exhausted by the time bedtime rolls around, listening to your baby cry and wondering if you're causing major psychological damage by letting him cry (which is what MANY people believe)...its TOO hard. I decided from now on, when I have any question, I'll call the advice nurse at the pediatrician or ask the doctor...and then listen to them. Why would I have them as doctors if I dont trust what they tell me? I think we have to do what we believe is best in our gut! We have to do what will keep us sane and make us the best parents! We also need to do what is best for the baby! By evening, Jack is sometimes so overtired (he stays alert for long periods during the day without napping some days) and so overstimulated from me carrying him around everywhere and taking him places, that he won't sleep ANYWHERE (not even in my arms) without crying for a long time! So, I do think we're taking the right aproach with him. He's been napping IN HIS CRIB for the last 30 minutes and he only cried (little outbursts nothing major) for about 5-10 minutes.
So we have had some huge breakthroughs with Jack in just three weeks.
Breakthrough #1: Breastfeeding! I cried and cried. This was so hard! I thought we'd never learn! But we did...and it didn't take long! Now, he's becoming pretty chunky (In fact, I want to ask the doctor if babies can gain TOO much weight on breastmilk). He also loves nursing and it sooths him so I'm happy to have something so easy that will stop crying and even put him to sleep...I know, I'm supposed to put him to sleep awake but I don't always do that...sometimes I cheat :) One more thing...the doctor wants him to ideally be taking at least one nap in the morning in his crib, and one nap in the afternoon. So thats my goal. I find even if its for just 20 minutes, it helps him cry less at night since I feel like he must remember the crib from the afternoon. If we go an entire day with no crib, the crib seems to annoy him more by the evening and we go through more crying.
Breakthrough #2: Sleeping! We went from him being held by me 95% of the day and night. He wouldnt let anyone else hold him...he'd turn himself inside out to get back to me if he heard my voice. He woke up every hour and a half. NOW, a typical night consists of him sleeping his long stretch of anywhere from 4-6 hours. He wakes up so happy :) And I sometimes feel like waking him up b/c I can't wait to cuddle with him!
Every day is a new challenge and I realize there is so much to learn! I decided early on that I would focus on only one thing at a time. I wanted to master breast feeding before I worried about sleep. Which we did! But sleep became a big issue! Now, I can see we're well on our way to mastering sleep. I wonder what the next hurdle will be!
Tonight we have his first St. Paddy's Day Celebration at my Mother-In-Law's. I'm nervous b/c I notice the more I take him out, the more crying he does at night before he goes to sleep. I think its because he gets so tired...but St. Patricks Day is a huge deal to my mother-in-law! So we'll be there in the St Patricks Day outfit she bought him.
I also can't wait to blog about how I'm so excited for my friends to have their babies (lots of pregnant friends!), for how nervous I am about returning back to work and how I really don't want to, how John really is a Baby Whisperer, how the baby seems to look like his dad but have my temperment (uh oh), and maybe even about the baby products I've learned to love. Maybe eventually I can start to blog about things non-baby related but that seems to be my world right now...which I will also blog about! How can something so little mean so much!?