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Chapter 8: Soothing a Baby (With a Bra) + a $100 Babies R Us Giveaway!

Like many soon-to-be moms, I read a lot of baby books while I was pregnant with my first child. I knew all about what to expect during the pregnancy, and my husband and I took a class so we could prepare for the birth itself. Overall, I felt pretty confident. After all, we tried for 5 years to get pregnant with Chloe, and I was going to do my best to make her happy.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Chloe turned out to be a fairly easy baby. She was healthy and generally good-natured. She smelled as sweet as honey and I’d spend what felt like hours just marveling at her perfect smallness. However, there were some things that didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Breastfeeding, for instance, took us a while. The books and the nurses made it sound so easy, but it took lots of tries and advice and eventually a nipple shield (for a short while) for both of us to get the hang of it.

Then there was the sleeping. Or… lack of sleeping. Chloe was an extremely light sleeper. Anything could wake her up, even quiet sounds like the dog walking by her door or the heater kicking on. Unfortunately, during those times the only thing that would help her back to sleep was nursing.

Eventually, exhausted, I began searching for an alternate back-to-sleep soothing method. I scoured the baby books and parenting web sites. At first, we tried giving her the pacifier that the hospital had given us. I’m embarrassed now to say that I really wanted to do things “by the book,” and “by the book” meant discouraging pacifier use. But, I tried it anyway. Chloe would give it a few sucks and then spit it out. I’d edge it back and she’d spit it back out. Basically, no go.

So began the long trial (and error) of every soothing thing I could think of – humming, singing, white noise, radio, baby-wearing, softies, blankets, rocking, teethers (I had high hopes for Sophie the giraffe), and anything else I could think of. Each option was given several chances in the hopes that it would be “the one.” Sadly, some crying ensued, but I wasn’t about to give up hope.

One afternoon, after putting Chloe down for her nap, I heard her rouse after just a short while. I’m sure I cringed inwardly, and honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I was doing (possibly prepping dinner), but whatever it was took a little time to complete. By the time I got back to check on her I found that she had gone back to sleep! On her own! Hallelujah! But, wait. What was that thing clutched in her little hand? Was that… my bra?!

Miracle of miracles, all Chloe needed was my bra. I’m not saying it was all perfect from then on out. Oh, no. However, I began leaving one with her and sometimes it worked. Plus, I learned to not go rushing in (this was totally against the grain of “by the books” back then, but I was beginning to see how bending the rules might have its advantages). Eventually, Chloe began putting herself back to sleep (and sucking her thumb, sigh).

The moral of this story? No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what advice you’ve been given or tales you’ve been told – there will never be a child exactly like yours, or a mother exactly like you. While it’s good to glean information from the plethora of sources out there, the best things you can do is experiment, trust your instincts, give it time, ask questions and don’t be afraid do things the way that works best for you and your baby. Because, you are the mom, and you will figure it out… eventually. 🙂

…….

The post above is one of many personal stories that have been included in the MAM Blogger Real Parenting Guide. My particular post is Chapter 8: Soothing a Baby (With a Bra), but I encourage you to read other chapters and also to find out more about the products (bottles, pacifiers, teethers, etc) that MAM makes. The right tools definitely make the job of parenting easier.

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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Be sure to visit the MAM Brand Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts and find more chances to win!


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Sleep baby, Sleep!

Here’s a simple mobile I made for Leo’s room using a Kikkerland hanging photoclip mobile. I actually bought it years ago from a now defunct downtown toy store with the intention of making a felt mobile for Chloe’s nursery, but I never got around to it. I’d like to sew one for Leo, but in case I never get around to it either, I thought these paper elephants would make cute placeholders, and Leo seems to like it.

Speaking of Leo, he had his best night ever last night – only one 3am night waking and then up for good at 6am as usual (I don’t count the wakings that occur before David and I go to bed). What a change from the 4-5+ night wakings that have been plaguing us for months! Maybe it was the excitement of his first birthday party (photos to come!) or that he was still recovering from his 5(!) vaccination shots at his Friday check up, but we’ve definitely seen improvement, especially over the last few days.

You know parents who say “we’ve tried everything!”? Well, that certainly feels like us. In the last few weeks since we’ve moved Leo out of our room and into his own we’ve:

(1) Strewn several extra pacifiers around his bed in the hopes he’d try and find one himself instead of waking us up to do it.

(2) Installed a bumper to keep the aforementioned pacifiers from falling out while he reached for them (which happened A LOT).

(3) Plugged in a night light so he could see the pacifiers in the dark (a major downfall of the mam brand pacifiers, which are mostly transparent. They do make a glow-in-the-dark version, which we’re trying, but unsure if that helps.

(4) Started using a white noise machine. I think this has been a key element. I was against these with Chloe, especially because I personally can’t stand noise while I sleep, but Leo is very tuned-in to the sound of his sister’s voice, or her pounding feet in her room next door (for such a lightweight she walks like an elephant). Also, Leo’s new bedroom is at the front of the house so street sounds can be an issue. Even with the noise machine, our neighbor’s ridiculously loud pick-up engine roars to life in the wee hours of the morning and never fails to wake him up.

And these are all things we’ve added just since his new room, so that doesn’t include cutting out nighttime nursing (which occurred a long time ago), creating a consistent bed time routine, etc.

All in all, I think we’re on track to a better sleep schedule for both of us. However, the irony is that last night, during Leo’s best night sleep, was one of Chloe’s worst nights. A record 10+ wakings because she was sick. Ah, the irony.

 


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Night Night

Today, while Chloe was sitting in my lap and I was briefly checking my email, Chloe put her head down on my arm. I heard her saying something over and over, and when I gave her my full attention I realized she was repeating “night night.” Fascinated, I cautiously asked her if she wanted to go night night. After all, I didn’t want her to worry I’d lay her in bed, just because she happened to say the words. Well, she didn’t say no, even though I asked her a couple times and walked her into her room. There I laid her down and covered her gently with a blanket, all the while expecting her to protest. But she didn’t. She took at nap.

Chloe’s napping has been haywire lately. I think she’s transitioning from two naps to one. She hasn’t taken two naps for days now, and I have to gauge carefully when is a good time to put her down. I usually guess correctly, and she goes right down, but sometimes, its anyone’s guess.

I already miss the two nap schedule. I have a hard time getting anything done, and working is almost impossible. It has gotten to the point that she cries if I sit down at my computer. She is also more energetic than ever, and very LOUD. She’ll wander around the house yelling Mama! Mama! or More! More! over and over again, or just generally crying at my legs until I get up.

It is really the days when I have work to do that are the hardest. Regular days are fine, where I can give my full attention to just us. David has suggested I give up working from home, but I don’t want to. But I also don’t want him to come home to a messy house, frustrated wife and grumpy child either. I know that something’s gotta give. I just hope to put off whatever it is a little longer. I’m scared that if I stop taking work and lose my clients it will be impossible to get that momentum back. Plus, it is something I enjoy (when I can concentrate) and it keeps my skills updated. Who knows what things will be like if I stop now and try to start again later? The industry and software is ever changing. I could get left behind. But I also want to be a good mom. And a good wife, too.

Why can’t I just have it all?


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Exhaustion

I have been zombie mama for the past week. We finally made the big decision to transition Chloe’s crib out of our room and into her room. After hearing other mamas say how their babies sleep (almost) through the night, I figured some change was in order. Chloe’s longest night-time sleep cycle averaged between 2-3 hours. This means for the past 6 months I have not had more than a few hours of sleep at a time. Miraculously, I have been able to function okay, but I felt almost perpetually tired, like life was just a bit gray and hazy around the edges.

We made the switch last Thursday after I re-read some helpful email advice and talked to other moms. Our routine had been to occasionally put Chloe down in her crib in our room, then bring her into bed to nurse back to sleep when she first woke up. Honestly, both David and I were fine with this arrangement, but I began to feel that our bed was too small for all three of us. I wanted more room to stretch out and not worry about jostling or waking her. If we had a king-size bed, I probably would have continued what we were doing. It was just so convenient, not to mention cozy. But she is 6 months old and I figured I’d best do it now, while she is flexible, than later when it would be harder.

Anyway, the first 5 nights were hell. More crying and sadness, more wakings. I told myself at the beginning that I would commit to this for at least a week and then re-evaluate if necessary. Turns out, on night 6, she slept a record 6+ hours! I would have been singing hallelujahs if it wasn’t for Barkley, who for some inexplicable reason woke me up at 4:30am to go out. I might not have forgiven him, except that Chloe did it again the next night! On those two nights I simply laid her in bed around 9pm after our new night-time routine (nursing, bath-time with Dad, and then reading a couple books) and she would fall asleep quietly after a few minutes. Both nights she woke up at 11pm, to be nursed and put back in her crib before settling in for her long stretch. It was a miracle.

Then there was last night. Because we weren’t able to keep to our successful routine and timing, she reverted back to her original short sleep cycles. Not fun. But at least now we know what works, and that longer sleep is possible. And that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

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