Thursday, July 12, 2012

The most important subject for new moms

That’s right, it’s sleep! Ryder and I are still working on getting our sleep schedule figured out. He has slept 5-6 hours in a row at night 3 nights so far, and I am working towards getting that consistently, so I’m not sleeping/tired all day. That was the cruel irony I found after giving birth: the most exhausting experience of my life and not getting to sleep more than 3 hours at a time for the next 3 weeks.


This is his bed:

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It’s basically a tent. We put it on a glass table next to our bed. It has no pillows or sheets and it has a firm mattress, and it’s big enough to last for years. This will be Ryder’s bed—his familiar home—for the next several years. It’s no longer on sale on Amazon, but you can find it here: It’s only 4.5 pounds and was $69.95. It folds completely flat and pops out easily.

If I had a second choice it would be this one. It’s only 3 pounds and $29.99, but it’s only for infants, not usable past age 4-5 months.

I’m cosleeping a lot more than I ever intended I would, though, because it’s easier than lifting him in and out of bed. I read that 70% of parents cosleep with their babies despite the recommendations of the American Pediatric Association. It’s very sweet to snuggle in the mornings that way, and Ryder seems to prefer it to sleeping alone. I only do it when it’s daylight, though, so I can see him, and after Jacob’s gone to work. He’s running a basketball camp right now for Mexican kids.

I started Ryder  on his binky when he was little over three weeks old, and it’s a lifesaver. I don’t know how some parents manage without it. Ryder sucked his thumb in the womb (we saw it on the ultrasound) and sometimes it seems like nothing will satisfy him except to suck—anything.

I’ve read two books about baby sleeping— On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep and The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night .  They are basically two completely different styles. Babywise is a controversial book . Its author, Gary Ezzo, is very anti-attachment parenting, which is the style of the other author, Elizabeth Pantley. I think I lean toward the more attachment parenting style, while not thinking “crying it out” is evil. Also, I am not a very scheduled person these days, and Babywise is pretty strict when it comes to feeding times. I’m trying to take ideas from both, though. The most important thing I got from Babywise was this: get a full feeding in, and don’t just let the baby snack or fall asleep at the breast. Then they won’t get the “hind milk” which is what makes them feel full. I’ve had days with Ryder where it felt like I was feeding him every hour, and it was exhausting. The full feedings help to avoid that. I also learned to let Ryder cry just a little bit will sometimes mean he will go to sleep—that he’s fussy because he’s tired.

The ideas I got from Elizabeth Pantley are these:

  • Don’t just pick him up as soon as he makes a noise in the night. Sometimes they are just sleeping noises and not hungry noises.
  • Don’t turn on the lights or do anything terribly exciting at bedtime or during the night, so he can distinguish between night and day. Develop a bedtime routine to calm him down, like reading books, giving a bath, massage, and other peaceful things with dimmed lights.

 Grandma Hiller’s forehead massage relaxed Ryder nicely:

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  • Don’t let the baby nap too long during the day, or he will get his days and nights mixed up. Three hours should be the max and less than one hour doesn’t really make them less fussy.
  • Establish an early bedtime for baby, around 7-8 pm.
  • Don’t let the baby become dependent on having something in his mouth to go to sleep—the “sucking-to-sleep association.”
  • If the baby needs help going back to sleep, use key words, patting, rocking, to help them, and use breastfeeding as a last resort.
  • Make a book about sleep for children who are toddlers and still not sleeping well.

BOTH books say that routine is important for baby. Routine is not something I have had in my life for quite a while, so wish me luck as I try to figure out Ryder and I’s routine and stick with it. One way we are choosing to avoid routine is not having him have to fall asleep in the same place. We want him to be able to fall asleep on the go. Here he is in our Boba wrap, on the way home from the hospital:mexico city 005

Babywise says a baby can sleep through the night at 2 months (that’s part of the controversy) No Cry says 4 months. I’m aiming for the two-month goal of 5 hours a night while trying to be realistic.

Any tips/ideas that have worked for you and your baby?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Postpartum surprises and changes

My biggest surprise is a happy one: the evolution into Jacob and I becoming parents has been natural. We are over the moon with our little one. This is enough of a surprise for me, because I may have been something akin to depressed when I was pregnant. It’s hard to say, because the symptoms of pregnancy are so similar: I could sleep 12 hours at a time, my appetite was lower, I couldn’t get out and do the things I liked because I didn’t feel up to it, I was anxious for the future…mostly normal pregnancy things really, but it just got worse with each month. I just didn’t feel like myself.

So it has been wonderful that I didn’t even get the “baby blues” let alone postpartum depression. I have felt 100 times better now that I’m not massive and I have a healthy and beautiful baby that I totally feel bonded to.

I had no idea how much I would enjoy breastfeeding, especially as the pain has lessened. Before having a baby, I thought it sounded so unnatural for something so supposedly natural. After all, I’d never played the part of ‘milk producing mammal’ before. But it’s so much more than that. It’s providing sustenance and comfort to a little person who is entirely dependent on you, who coos and squeaks and bobs his head and makes happy noises when getting fed.

Also, if anyone had told me having a newborn is just like having a puppy I would have been more excited at the prospect. Ryder whimpers, pants, licks and is so similar to having a pet that Jacob and I both agree that our desire to have a dog has been quenched. I just wonder if that dwindled desire will last as Ryder grows? Except a puppy doesn’t have such kissable cheeks, nor does a puppy smile a huge gummy smile when he’s with you.

I had no idea that it would be so fun to dress up a little boy in cute little newborn outfits.

It’s so funny to me now that I wanted a girl. Ryder is just perfect for Jacob and I. No little girl could be sweeter than our Ryder. I’m thrilled, too, that he looks like Jacob. mexico city 001

I wouldn’t mind if he was like Jacob in every way. He already seems to have my husband’s good natured temperament. Although it has made me laugh, to be feeding my baby and to see my husband’s face, in miniature, peering up at me.


One of the more difficult changes for me has simply been lost time with Jacob. Jacob was my whole world before Ryder…now I see less of him because of the weird sleep thing. I’m sure we will get that under control eventually, but for now the nature of a needy newborn means I’m cuddling a lot more with Jacob’s miniature version than with the full-sized one.

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Jacob is the father I knew he would be: fun, competent, and involved. I’ve never seen him happier. Ryder doesn’t scream when dad gives his baths (I’ve had my mommy guilt moment already too, when I realized I’d made the bath water too hot for Ryder and he was screaming).

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He loves to carry Ryder around in his pouch. Here he is latching on to Jacob Smile

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He also likes to give Ryder his nose to suck. Ryder happily obliges.

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Ryder does gang signs with his hands. We think it’s so funny.

“Jacobito” (little Jacob) is a good sleeper, he has already slept as much as 6 hours in a row, and he is not colicky. He’s an easy baby. Also a surprise, Jacob and I had prepared ourselves for a crier.

He has already been to his first museums, ridden on the bus and in taxis, attended church, went on outings with friends, and ate at restaurants without a hitch. He is a good little companion. Some Mexicans have given me some grief for taking him out so young (I think they do the 40 day stay inside postpartum thing) but for the most part they have been friendly and happy to see him.

I feel more connected to the world in general now. I am not only in the position of being a daughter and a sister…I’m now a mother too. I have never felt “baby hungry” or spent time with a newborn. In fact I have not considered myself a baby person. Now when I see a pregnant woman I know what is coming her way, and I smile.

I already feel melancholy that Ryder is growing so fast…it helps to look at his newborn pictures and remember…

newborn blanket

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