Well, I’ve been a dad for just about two months. I have to say that I like it: Blueberry’s an adorable child, and even though she’s been suffering from gas the last few weeks, she (mostly) hasn’t decided to handle it by screaming non-stop.
She’s not sleeping through the night yet, and that might be a few months off still, but her sleep periods are definitely getting longer, with at least one 4-hour snooze each night this week. Wayfare and I had been coping for the first few weeks by alternating responsibility: I stay up all night and do a late-night feed so she can get 5 or 6 hours of sleep in a row herself. But now that I’m at my new job, I can’t keep that schedule up, so hopefully Blueberry will be sleeping long enough at night that Wayfare won’t lose her mind from lack of sleep.
It’s amazing how many changes there have been in her over such a short time period. She’s not yet really interacting with the world (rattles and toys don’t hold her interest), but she does look at us, and is awake more than just the amount of time it takes to eat. We get to see her eyes so much more now than in the first week. She’s also so much bigger: many of her newborn clothes only got worn once before she outgrew them. And the difference between an 8 lbs baby in your arms and a 12 lbs one is huge.
She’s a very well-behaved baby: perfectly content with strangers. She’s obviously very gassy, and she’ll grunt and strain with it, but doesn’t scream bloody murder like some gassy babies will. When her diaper’s wet, she hardly even seems to notice now. She tolerates the nasal aspirator (snot bulb) surprisingly well, and even seems to be relieved to have an empty nose. And she’s very calm when we give her a bath.
Even when she does fuss, she’s good about humouring us when we try to settle her. While she’s making her hunger cry and Wayfare is still getting set up, sometimes I’ll put my nose on her lip and she’ll suck it for a second, only to stop and give me a look of (well-deserved) confusion. That little move can buy me up to a minute of silence.
We read a lot about pregnancy and delivery before the birth, but were hoping to have another few weeks of gestation to start reading the books that told us what to do after she arrived. So we’re not as over-read on what to expect with her as a baby.
One thing we didn’t read about until we saw a poster about it in the hospital was how difficult the second night can be: she barely slept at all that night, and was not quiet about being awake and unhappy. I think we would have lost it to despair (thinking that it would always be that way) if it weren’t for those 2nd night posters in the hospital. Definitely something not covered enough in the books.
Our parenting philosophy has evolved a fair bit to meet her changes through the month: for the first week or two it was all about trying to calm her as much as possible. We wanted to show her that the world is not such a horrible place when she was out of the womb. She spent most of the time naked (save for the diaper) and getting skin-to-skin contact for feedings or just snuggles, or nicely swaddled up. We were attentive to her little noises, and prepared for her to basically wake up with food in her mouth (also because she was jaundiced, so we were eager for her to wake up and eat most times, as she was sleeping the maximum recommended amount for a child that young).
Then as she got a bit bigger and the jaundice went away, we started to slow down our responses a bit. Now we let her fuss for a minute or two before feeding her, in a hopeful attempt to teach her patience (or as the books call it, self-soothing). I don’t exactly sit there with a stopwatch watching her cry, but when she does start I do take a moment to go pee, wash my hands, etc. Sometimes (maybe 1/4 of the time) she does push out the gas or whatever, and goes back to sleep.
Really, at this point we’re just striving for balance: trying to meet her needs soon with a minimum of fussing while also giving her a chance to learn to connect her sleep cycles and settle herself. To balance her needs for food now with our need to get her to sleep through the nights later.
Here are some things we found handy so far:
- Pre-cooked meals, especially for the first two weeks: we were so far behind on sleep, and so pre-occupied with feeding her, that it was super-nice to have some pre-cooked meals delivered every few days by the grandmothers. If you don’t have grandmother delivery service, then have some cash ready for delivery, or stock up on frozen dinners.
- The swing: it’s reclined enough to be safe for a very young baby, but upright enough to help her work out her gas, and of course the movement helps rock her to sleep. She spends like half the day in her swing now.
- There are a lot of books to recommend:
The Birth Partner Handbook by Carl Jones was a good one to prepare for labour (and even includes a handy “skip to this page if she is in labour now” section for the procrastinating dads-to-be). Though it’s written for dads-to-be (and other birth partners), it has a lot of good information in a fairly concise book.
Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman is part narrative, part parenting discussion/instructional. Wayfare didn’t find the second half as useful as the first, but that first half is worth checking it out at the library: it basically discusses some differences in typical French vs American parenting. In particular, it focuses on how French children tend to start sleeping through the night and eating more regular meals several months before American kids, and discusses some of the different philosophies that may help achieve that. The concept of balance and “the pause” really resonated with us.
- Wayfare has become a fan of well.ca: they stock a lot of things like nursing bra pads, and it’s handy to have ~3 day delivery when you’re too tired to leave the house to shop. If you’re interested in a referral coupon ($10 off a $40 order for new customers) just send me an email or leave a comment and I’ll send you one.