Tuesday, May 6, 2014

4 Weeks In - A Complete (mis)Guide to Infancy

This is momentous. I am sitting at my laptop for the first time since Henry was born. 4 weeks of relying on my iPhone for basically everything. If that thing dispensed breast milk, I'd have been set. When Henry was a newborn lump (weeks 1 - 3), I could stash him in his swing, turn that sucker on and sit on the adjacent upholstered chair staring at the television, listing the things that probably should get done but definitely would not. That chair was previously known as "the pregnancy chair." Now it is known as "the breast feeding chair." Also, "Frank's chair" because I have to fight my dog for it. I don't blame him. It's that comfortable and yet completely attractive.

In the past week, Henry has become this very alert small monkey that does not enjoy being put down. Where my inability to get things accomplished before was due to sheer exhaustion, I now couple the excuse with a lack of operable limbs. I am holding the baby. Always holding the child. Typically while bouncing on a yoga ball. He is obsessed and immediately soothed by bouncing on this thing. I paid about $35 for it on Amazon. Had I known how completely crucial it would become in my life, I would have paid $8 zillion dollars and lived out of a cardboard box. Me, my baby and my yoga ball. No problem. Oh yeah, and that chair. Last night I took out the Moby wrap because I was finding it really difficult to eat, drink, and otherwise function with a single cramped hand. I had tried the Moby before and Smallpox here absolutely did not enjoy the experience of being smashed against me. Now, however, he finds it quite relaxing provided I bounce on the ball for about 10 minutes while balancing a pacifier in his mouth. Then I am free to go about my business. Guys, I could pee if I wanted to. Sometimes I make coffee. And now I'm on the computer writing my second blog post in 6 weeks. Feeling super accomplished.

Having Henry has been: amazing, fun, exhausting, scary, sad, weird, overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating, warm-gooey-lovey and most other adjectives. He is a really good baby. For a newborn, he's not so horrible at sleeping. I mean, nights don't resemble anything from the past but, based on what I hear, they're not too bad. At 4 weeks, H sleeps for one 3-4 hour stretch and then for a few 2 hour stretches (except for this morning when as of 2:30 he decided it was an every hour affair and we had to be up permanently at 5:30. Watch me weep - oh wait, I can't, I'm too tired to make my tear ducts function). Here's what H will NOT tolerate: his bassinette. Lying flat on his back is his least favorite thing in the world. He screamed this at us ad nauseum when we brought him home from the hospital. On repeat for several nights until I had a breakdown and put him in our bed. No pillows, no covers, all by "safe" co-sleeping rules. It also helps to lie there in half-awake being terrified of being yelled at by your pediatrician for putting your new child at risk of everything. New parent shame. Then my cousin loaned me her Fisher Price Rock n' Play, we revisited tight, snug swaddling a la The Happiest Baby on the Block, and Henry started for real sleeping. I, of course, had to spend the first night standing over him making sure he was breathing but, after that first night, I allowed myself to sleep too. It's been a revelation. Rock n' Plays are a small step up from co-sleeping according to many pediatricians and hoards of terrible fear-mongering mothers on the internet but, since never sleeping ever again didn't seem like a great option, I'm going to ride it out. I have total faith that since he's figured out what night sleeping is supposed to look like, I'll be able to transition him to the bassinette and crib soon.

I have great plans to write a post on breast feeding once I figure that one out. All things considered, it's going very well. He's gaining like a champ. In the past 2 weeks, though, latch has become occasionally quite painful. Not always, but sometimes. I then break his latch, reposition, and half the time it solves the problem and half the time does not. I plan on going to a granola lactation support group for some guidance. Then I'll write about how I've aced it, am becoming a board-certified lactation consultant, and am committed to breast feeding at least through his freshman year of college. After that, we'll play it by ear.
I'm also going to write more about the emotional side of being a new mom coupled with the fact that my husband is still, obviously and understandably, reeling from his father's untimely death. That has been excruciatingly hard. I need to get my mind wrapped around that a little more. It's still too fresh, still too much of a daily clusterfuck.

I've mentioned several things that I feel have helped get me through the first month and that I forsee using a lot in the months to come. I'm not advertising for these companies (advertising to the mini handful of readers? I don't think Fisher Price cares) but for those of you who will be having a baby soon or ever, I do feel like these have helped out significantly.

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block - This lived on my nightstand for a long time and then I read it out of desperation. Try actually reading it before you lose your mind. I imagine that would be quite effective. I thought my baby didn't like being swaddled because he "needed his hands to soothe." The author assures me that newborns don't have the physical ability to coordinate this kind of action. Oh right. They're total spazzes with immature nervous systems. Swaddling, for us, has been a godsend for general calming and slumber inducement.
  • The Miracle Blanket - Do you suck at swaddling as much as I do? Don't worry! There are 78 different products at your disposal! I happened to register for 2 of these and have found them quite handy. Henry, while a supremely advanced infant, cannot break out of this. Also, because the bottom is a flap, you can change a diaper at night without completely unswaddling your baby and unleashing the fury of hell.
  • Lillebaby - So you say you'd like to leave the house! Good for you. Good luck with that. Actually, I had great luck right away with the Lillebaby carrier. There are tons of carriers out there. I love this one because it has shitloads of lumbar support and the other carriers don't. I know, I tried them all. Ergo has upper back support but it's the lower back that aches granny over here. I feel like I could lug a preteen in this carrier without pain. Henry is really content riding in this. And by that I mean he nods off to sleep pretty quickly while I walk the dogs, go to the pharmacy, get a cup of coffee, what have you.
  • Yoga ball. Any exercise ball will do. Hands down my single most fantastic purchase. I am bouncing as I type this sentence.
  • Rock n' Play - Turns out lots of babies are uncooperative like mine and don't appreciate how wonderfully granola the co-sleeper bassinette is that you bought him. My baby will sleep in a Rock n' Play. Sleep is amazing. Don't get one with the fuzzy insert because it's unnecessary and not terribly safe. Feel free to spazz out on me about this one.
  • Any soft baby-wearing wrap. I have the Moby. My sister has the Kataan. I don't think it matters, any "hands-free device" will do. Just give yourself an option for walking around your apartment with both arms footloose and fancy free.
  • Target Nursing Tanks - If you choose to wear a shirt at all while breast feeding, try covering your tatas in one of these tanks. It's sort of like being topless.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter - I found out the hard way ("OMG my nipples just caught on bloody fire!!!!) that I'm wildly allergic to lanolin, the key ingredient in many nipple ointments. I'm sure you won't be but regardless, this nip butter feels so ridiculously soothing. Sensitive-nipple-skin-en-fuego aside, I vastly prefer the feel of this to the more popular lanolin product.
  • A full-time, live-in Nanny and/or Wet Nurse - I don't have one of these,  I just imagine it would be highly convenient. 
 I promise to start writing more now that I have life completely figured out. Or have occasional use of my hands. I am reading your blog updates however I am reading them on the Bloglovin app on my phone while breast feeding. That stupid app doesn't give you the option of commenting.
In closing, Henry is so fucking adorable you'd die if you saw him in person. Together, we are figuring this all out.