eight weeks of baby wisdom, part two

blankets. expecting parents of the world: do not register for blankets! people will give you so many! the one exception is if there’s some kind of special blanket that you know you will use to pieces. i registered for & received a swaddling blanket by swaddle designs & I LOVE IT. ramona is already too big for most traditional receiving blankets, so the swaddle designs blanket is my go-to when i want to swaddle her. the other blankets in heavy rotation are blankets we did not ask for & that i didn’t expect to use so often. my second-favorite is this really soft fleecy blanket printed with monkeys. i didn’t think i’d use it because i thought it was too heavy for a tiny baby. i don’t know what i was thinking. i use it constantly. it’s my fave for when i take her out in the moby & want a blanket to cover her.

if you must buy a blanket for a new baby, may i suggest a wearable blanket? we have several & they’re a nice layering piece.

pacifiers. someone just asked my opinion of pacifiers earlier today. ramona was given pacifiers when she was in the NICU. as far as i could tell, she didn’t seem to have any idea what the fuck to do with them. then she was enrolled in the ntrainer study, to help her learn how to take food my mouth, & that basically involved giving her a special augmented pacifier every day. i think it helped her figure out what a pacifier is & how to use it. for like a week after that, she was really into her pacifier. then we just kind of stopped offering it to her. not because we were against them, but because a tiny baby will just spit the pacifier out before too long & then scream to get it back. so you have to sit there & hold it in her mouth. kind of defeats the purpose of, you know, pacifying the kid so you have a few minutes to do something else. if she really seems to want to suck on something & her bottle isn’t ready yet, we will offer a finger. but the pacifiers have fallen out of favor in the xyerra-taber household.

that said, i feel that parents should do what they need to do to get through the day. if a pacifier helps, then use a pacifier. if at some point i feel that a pacifier will help me with ramona, i will use it. i would use it with the hope of taking it away for good before she turns a year old, because i really don’t want to deal with trying to convince a three-year-old that it’s time to give up on the pacifier. but you know…i say that now. who knows what the future holds? i never thought i’d lay my baby on the ottoman & turn my back for two seconds, only to hear a *thud* & find her laying on the floor, but…that’s exactly what happened two nights ago. anyone who thinks they will be the perfect parent whose baby will never use a pacifier, or whose baby will be weaned off the pacifier by the time they’re a year old, or whose baby will never fall off the ottoman, or whose baby will never fall asleep on its belly should probably rethink their decision to have a baby. because there is no perfection in this gig.

sleep. right now, jared & i are trying a system suggested by a friend of his. we’ve split the night into two shifts: 10pm to 3am, & 3am to 8am. we trade off on who gets which shift. tonight i have the late shift. last night i had the early shift. when you’re on shift, you stay in the living room with the baby & you sleep on the couch. hopefully she sleeps in her bouncy chair, but…maybe she sleeps on the couch with you (on your chest, not actually on the couch). or she sleeps on you while you remain awake, staring at the clock & wondering if 4am is too early to just give up & make coffee. the other person sleeps in the bedroom, & it is a kind of bliss.

this system isn’t great. it means that we never get to sleep together anymore, & especially last week, after charlotte died, i had a really hard time. charlotte used to hop on to the couch & snuggle with me when i was on baby duty. it was really difficult to lay there & know that charlotte would not be visiting, & of course i kept replaying her last few days in my head over & over, & the trip to the animal hospital, & her symptoms, wondering if we truly made the right decision in euthanizing her. for the first few nights, i stayed up with ramona during my whole shift, watching TV while ramona slept. (i rented “parks & recreation” from the video store in order to have something light & funny to distract me.) when i had the bedroom to myself, i laid there & cried. 

i’m feeling better now & am able to sleep some when i’m on baby duty. jared LOVES this system. he says he likes to know definitively whose turn it is to get up with the baby. (we had all three been sleeping in the bedroom together, & jared & i would take turns getting up with her. but it was stressful in a way because you never knew when you first woke up whose turn it was, & if it was your turn, you felt a lot of pressure to get the baby all the way back to sleep before bringing her back in, lest the other person wake up & be angry.) i think this system is okay. i got a solid seven-hour stretch of sleep last night after we did the pass off at 3am, so i guess i can’t complain. what new mom gets seven hours of sleep at a time, you know?

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “eight weeks of baby wisdom, part two

  1. LJ didn’t take to the pacifier until she was about 6 weeks old. And now I’m that mom who keeps one clipped to her all day long. :p LJ had a witching hour from about 8-10pm every night. It wasn’t so bad as far as witching hours go – she’d be fine as long as you kept walking her around in circles. But it was really exhausting. Once she took to the pacifier, we were able to help her self-soothe at night and then we were able to start trying out a bed-time routine. In a month or so, when she’s six months old, I think we’ll start weaning her… but who knows, right?

    Sorry I sent you all those blankets! I guess I should have realized that you’d have too many of them as well. Although you should definitely try out that swaddle-me blanket. LJ slept like a champ when she was swaddled. And the velcro is seriously clutch.

    LJ hated bottles, so I had to take every single nighttime feeding. I am seriously jealous of your seven hours of sleep! I don’t think I got more than four or five hours until about a month ago when we started sleep training. I’m *still* catching up on my sleep.

    1. ramona is just over eight weeks old now & still doesn’t seem super-interested in the pacifier. she’ll take it if we offer it to her, but she seems just as happy without it. or maybe i just feed her too much. that could explain why she weighs like nine pounds (enormous for a preemie of her gestational age). maybe all those times i’m giving her a bottle, she really just wanted a pacifier? not that she doesn’t refuse to eat when she’s not hungry.

      no worries on the blankets! i love the pink one with the gray trim. most of the receiving blankets are too small for swaddling at this point, but we can use them to lay her down during tummy time, or we could even cut them up to make extra wipes. they will find a use, never fear. & i am a big fan of the swaddling blankets with velcro. jared has himself convinced that ramona hates to have her arms tucked down when she’s in the swaddle, so she only gets wrapped that way when he’s not around. but trust me, she conks right out.

      the seven hours of sleep is definitely an argument for exclusively pumping! it is a huge relief being able to pass ramona off to jared for feeds. but then when i get up, i have to pump before i do anything else & it is insane. after that seven-hour stretch (longest i’ve ever gone without pumping), i made 14 ounces of milk. & that obviously doesn’t count all the milk that leaked all over my shirt while i was setting everything up.

      what kind of sleep training are you doing? i’m hoping ramona will gradually just start being able to tell day from night & go for longer & longer stretches between meals at night. it seems to be happening already, actually. it’s been a while since she had a really alert, wakeful period at night, but she has them everyday during the day. & during the day, she usually wants a new bottle every two hours or so, but at night, she’ll go three & sometimes four hours, especially if she is sleeping with one of us. she’s still so little though, i’m not worried about getting her to sleep through the night any time soon.

      you said in your letter that you might try cloth diapering again once LJ is sleeping through the night? any reason why that’s the marker you’re waiting for? is it just so you don’t have to get up in the night to deal with diapers? obvs we have to get up to fix a bottle, so it’s no big deal to throw a diaper change into the mix as well.

  2. I wrote up a whole post on my phone while LJ napped in my arms, and then the internet ate it. Grrr. :p

    You’re not even supposed to think about sleep training until your baby weighs at least 12 pounds, so you have some time to think about it. I know a lot of people who refused to do it, and a lot of people who swore by it. It really depends on the parent and what works best for them.

    We used the Ferber method when we did sleep training. A lot of people think that he’s a baby-hating monster, but if you actually read his book (which I did), there solid reasoning behind his progressive waiting approach. People call it “crying it out” but that’s *not* what he advocates. Basically, you put your baby down when they’re sleepy, but not asleep. And you let them fall asleep on their own. At first, that means that they cry. A lot. But then they learn how to settle themselves. Which means that when they wake up in the middle of the night (everyone wakes up briefly in the middle of the night, babies and adults), they can settle themselves back to sleep without your help.

    It’s called progressive waiting, because you go in to reassure them that everything is ok, but you wait a little bit longer each time. And you don’t pick them up, rock them, feed them, etc. She cried off and on for a couple of hours the first night that we did it, but she eventually fell asleep and then she slept the whole night. I couldn’t take the crying, so Kristian stayed up with her and I went and slept in our attic with a white noise app going on my phone. After that, she pretty much went down every night and slept all the way through. We still have to go upstairs once or twice as she’s falling asleep, but she’s usually out for the count within 10-15 minutes, if not less. She went from going to bed at 10pm and waking up several times a night to going to bed around 8:30pm and sleeping all the way through until 7 or 7:30.

    Getting up a few times a night wasn’t bad when I was on maternity leave and could sleep in with her and then take a nap during the day. It was sheer torture once I was working fulltime. Before we did sleep training, I was going to bed sometime between 10:30pm and 11pm, waking up 2-4 times a night, then getting up at 5:45am to go to work. It was… rough. I was slowly losing my mind. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since abut July (this was in December). I was angry and irritable all the time, and I was having problems at work because my IQ had dropped what felt like about 20 points. I had elaborate fantasies about getting appendicitis and sleeping at the hospital. LJ hates bottles, so I was stuck with all the nighttime feedings. She wouldn’t fall back asleep unless I fed her, so I was feeding her several times a night.

    I blogged a little bit about it.

    We’re doing much better now, which is why I’m considering going back to cloth diapers. When she was going to bed at 10pm and I was going to bed right after her, I pretty much only had time to lay out my clothes and pack my lunch for the next day, make sure I’d cleaned all of my pump parts, put together clean pump bottles and maybe take a shower. I stopped cloth diapering at that point, because one more load of laundry was just way more than I could handle. She also can’t wear cloth diapers at daycare, because MA state laws make it pretty much impossible for them to cloth diaper her legally. None of the daycares we looked at would touch cloth. So the logistics of having two diaper systems was just more than my tired brain could handle. My husband was never really on board with cloth, so he’d often go to change her and she’d come back wearing a disposable. It felt like all this unnecessary stress and hassle and I just didn’t have the physical or mental energy to deal with it anymore. So I decided to stop for the sake of my own sanity and it really did make things a lot easier. Cloth diapers aren’t *that* hard (obviously you know this), but they’re just enough extra work that it was too much for me.

    I’m finishing up my thesis (hopefully!) in March. We might switch back to cloth at that point. We’ll see.

    1. i think your comment actually did post, but it was from a different account or something so i had to approve it. in any case, i got another comment from you that required approval, but since you said pretty much the same thing in these other comments, i’ll just respond to them. (& i only reply to blog comments once a week, in order to preserve my own sanity & not be dicking around on the computer all day every day–or more than i already do, anyway).

      i am so incredibly thankful that jared is 100% on board with cloth diapering. it wasn’t even a question. he was just like, “we’re gonna cloth diaper, right?” we have a ridiculous amount of conversations about what kind of cloth diapers we like best. when we first brought her home from the hospital, there were times when i may have been tempted to put her in a disposable, like after an enormous poop that took like twenty minutes to clean up, but jared stayed the course. i do cloth diaper laundry every other day & sometimes i look at the sheer quantity of diapers she goes through in 48 hours & imagine it all being plastic that is going to a landfill & i am SO THANKFUL that cloth diapering is working out so well for us.

      i haven’t read ferber’s book, but i have heard that his method is not nearly as baby-hating as his detractors claim. i don’t know that i will bother sleep training ramona. we feed of demand, & i figure she will gradually start to demand less food at night. it’s already kind of starting. she often wants a bottle every hour or two during the day, but she’s given us a few four-hour stretches at night. she also seems to self-soothe with increasing regularity. i’ll hear her fussing but by the time i’ve gotten up & found my glasses, she’s asleep again. maybe we just lucked out? or maybe the real horrors have yet to begin.

      we’ve split the night into two shifts: 10pm-3am, & 3am to 8am (although the person doing the first shift generally just sleeps in until they are done sleeping, so second shift can be 3am to like 11am sometimes). we split the shifts on a weekly basis. this week i’m on second shift. being on shift means sleeping in the living room with ramona. if you’re lucky, she’ll sleep in her bouncy chair & you can get a few hours of sleep between feedings. if she’s fussy, you might have to hold her & try to doze on the couch. the other person gets the bedroom to themselves. it’s kind of sad because we never get to go to bed together, but…it’s not forever. once she’s sleeping for longer stretches at night, we’ll move her back into the bedroom & go to bed as a family. but while she’s still waking like five times a night, this method helps both of us feel more well-rested.

  3. Oh! And I forgot to send you the Snappies that I had. You’re supposed to use them with a couple of the diaper covers that I sent you, I think one is solid blue and the other one has rocket ships on it? You take a prefold and then you put it on them like a regular diaper and use the Snappy to hold it in place. Then you put the diaper cover over it. It’s fairly easy, once you get the hang of it. I loved that rocket ship cover, because it reminded me of Calvin’s favorite undies in Calvin and Hobbes.

    I hope the stuff I sent you works well for you. I won’t be offended if it turns out to not be so useful. Unfortunately, I think we both like the same kinds of diapers (prefolds folded newspaper style with a plastic cover over them) and I am still pretending that I can use my thirsty duo wraps again.

    I was actually a big fan of the gDiapers that I bought. I didn’t use them as hybrids, though. I bought some bamboo inserts instead, and then they were 100% cloth/reusable. I’ve heard tell that the disposable inserts are actually really useful for traveling, but we always used regular disposables. The one thing I didn’t like about the gDiapers was that they weren’t water-proof. So, we had a lot more wardrobe malfunctions when I used them. But they were definitely easier to put on, and they fit better under her clothes. My mom put prefolds in them, which I thought was genius. That was at the tail end of my cloth diapering, but if we go back to it I’m definitely going to try that out.

    1. we haven’t busted into the cloth diaper stash you sent us yet, but maybe soon. we have prefolds with one-size covers (by rockabye booty, which has a lot of really cute prints) & a bunch of cheapo pockets by green bees. i like them all, but i think ramona’s thighs might still be a little too slim for the pockets to really do the trick 100% of the time. they’re not all exactly the same size & some seem to have slightly bigger leg openings, so we’ve had some leaks. it’s a lot easier to clean up a poo explosion in a pocket though.

      we’re thinking about taking ramona to toronto in april, & i don’t know what we’ll do diaper-wise. i would prefer to stick with cloth, but that’s kind of implausible for a five-day trip. we’d have to stay somewhere with laundry service, & then…do laundry on vacation. kind of weird. i’m also exclusively pumping, not breastfeeding at all, so i guess i’d have to sit down & pump every four to six hours. which isn’t a huge deal, but it could be somewhat disruptive. i guess we’ll find out the hard way…

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