K, guys. That last one was a little harsh, I know. I am pleased to report things are looking up. The fact that I’m even sitting here, outside on my deck writing this is proof that things can and do get better. I found out there is no set time for things to improve, and everything could go to hell at ANY GIVEN MOMENT. So, enjoy it. I have learned not to question or take for granted these moments of solitude.
As we discussed before, I was told by many people that the 3-month mark for babies is *the shit* and when things start to get fun. They start to show their little personalities, and they start to sleep, etc. That was not our experience. Really, for us the 3-month marker catapulted the entire family into 8-10 weeks of solid misery. No one wants to hear that, but it’s true. We. Were. All. Miserable. Now, as Lily is on the verge of turning 5-months old, things seemingly have started to settle and I am SO THANKFUL. A few things that resolved:
- POOP. I never, ever, ever thought I would be so ecstatic to see human poop fill a diaper and stain everything it touches, but indeed, poop became our endgame. At the 3-month marker, Lily stopped being able to poop. We may never know why for sure, and it may have been a combination of the Zantac she was prescribed (perhaps unnecessarily,) starting daycare, sleeping poorly, and a major growth spurt. It took 3-4 weeks for her to start to go on her own again, but luckily, she seems to be back in the poop saddle. Thank God. As a friend so eloquently put it recently, “Poop is Life.”
- SLEEP. The biggie. I was beyond desperate. The universe helped me stumble across an article online that featured the authors of the book, “The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep- Newborn to School Age.” Everything these ladies said made sense to me. I bought the book immediately and began to explore the concepts of child-led sleeping. Basically, get out of your baby’s way! She’s trying to sleep! It was clear to me that leaping up to go into her room and rock her every 45 minutes to an hour was not getting us anywhere. I knew I wanted her to learn to soothe herself and get back to sleep on her own. But was it too soon? We adapted some of the methods early on, but as she nears the 5-month mark, we have fully gone to “The Sleep Wave” method and guess what? It’s working. Lily almost always goes right to sleep on her own, sometimes playing with her lovey (another lifesaver at sleep time,) or pacifier first, sometimes falling asleep as soon as we put her down. I am very happy with this progress. Also, by some miracle (because honestly, that’s what it feels like,) the last 3-4 days, Lily has been sleeping almost the entire night- that’s 7pm-5 or 6am, with only one or two wake ups. ::PRAISE HANDS TO THE SKY::
- FEEDING. I feel dumb, but I am trying to cut myself some slack. During the misery weeks, I reached out to anyone and everyone looking for ideas, advice, tips of any kind. There were a lot of good ones. At least two friends asked, “Do you think she’s hungry?” Um, NO. Definitely NOT. This child slept through the night starting at 1.5 months and never woke up to eat. She is DEFINITELY NOT HUNGRY. Geez.So, I think she was hungry. Once I started feeding Lily at both 11pm/12am like I was before AND once around 2 or 3am if she woke up, her quality of sleep immediately improved. I felt like such a complete idiot for letting my babe go hungry because I was so determined to hang on to that one milestone I thought we had mastered. She mastered that when she was a teeny baby! She is a 7-month old-sized 4-month old now, Lindsay! C’mon! Use your head! Well, my head was in the clouds, so all I can do is forgive myself and move forward. My logic reasoned that we should be moving AWAY from night feedings as Lily gets older, not towards them. Sometimes logic and books and the internet are wrong. Try to listen to that elusive motherly instinct everyone talks about.
- INSTINCT. The one and only “I.” I was sure mine was developing nicely while home with my baby on maternity leave. Going back to work threw me for a big, confusing surprise. I stopped trusting myself and felt quite out of tune with my own daughter. It was extremely frustrating and slightly devastating. Maybe it was there all along, but I couldn’t hear it. In fact, I know it was there at times, like when I felt unsure about the pediatrician we had chosen. Did I mention they incorrectly vaccinated Lily at her 4 month checkup? Yeah. Add to the misery! Anyways, a little extra sleep and a return to trust has helped me connect again to my own instincts. Spending extra time with my girl helps immensely, too (thanks to working for the best company in Buffalo!)
After all of this, I have to conclude by sharing that the only thing I believe will make your life with a new baby better is time and practice. There is no one bottle that she will take after refusing. Don’t go out and buy every brand. Sure, maybe one will take eventually, but that’s only after the TIME it took to practice with lots and lots of bottles. Save yourself the money and keep pushing ahead with the bottles you have. There isn’t one magic sleep solution that works for every kid- simply, the one that works for you as a parent. I think most kids will eventually adapt if you keep hammering away with the same method, over and over until it’s the nightly norm. PRACTICE. There is a ton of waiting, and the waiting part sucks. Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t, and don’t feel bad for feeling bad during it. Be super bitchy to everyone. Eat lots of pizza during that time. Have 1+ beer/night. Don’t feel guilty about missing a family birthday party in order to go to bed at 7pm to rake up a whopping 4 hours of sleep before dawn. Do whatever you can to make yourself feel sane(r) during the misery times. Seek comfort wherever you can. All you can do is embrace it for the time being because the other piece of advice I can give you (the MOST annoying one,) is this too, shall pass. It does.
(PS I finished this 3 hours later. You do what you can.)