The stuff you don’t think of until it’s in your face

April 21, 2009 at 11:17 am (Baby Stuff, Daily Life) (, , , )

Motherhood is so unpredictable, and rewarding, and frustrating.  If I could go back to my pregnant self and tell her one thing, it’d be to talk to my husband more about our parenting style.  Oh, we talked about it vaguely: “”You’ll help me out, right?” “Of course! I want to be involved in our daughter’s life.”  But that doesn’t even brush the surface of the number of parenting decisions we have to make each day.

The biggest one we should have talked about: “cry it out” or not?  I say not.  I say that an infant has no concept of how to manipulate people; if she’s crying and we pick her up and soothe her, we’re fulfilling her basic, primal need for love and social interaction.  Sure, this results in me carrying her around the house a lot, but to me, it’s a hell of a lot better than listening to her cry.  I can’t even fathom how I could decide “I’m tired of taking care of my baby” and go put the baby in another room, close the door, and go about my daily life without her.  It’s just not who I am.  Yes, there have been times when she’s been crying so long and loud that all I want is for her to shut the hell up and go to sleep, but I also feel like, as her mother, it’s my responsibility to at least let her know that she’s being heard, and I’m not going to abandon her just because she’s upset.  I know it works for some people, and that’s fine, that’s their thing.  I know not everyone can handle listening to a baby cry.  I know it can pierce your brain and make you think of doing things that you’d never actually do.  And I know that in an apartment, where there’s not a lot of space and you can’t really have a quiet area to “escape” to for a break from the crying, it can be even worse.  But this is something we should have talked about and hashed out a lot more, because it’s lead to some resentment on both of our parts.

Another big thing to talk about: co-sleeping.  I’m okay with Maia not being in bed with us all night; it wasn’t something that I’d planned on doing anyhow, and when Chris and I discussed how having her in the bed was impacting our sleep (which was already impacted enough with the sheer fact that we have a newborn), I was alright with compromising and putting her in the bassinet for most of the night.  I still am.  And I still pull her into bed whenever she wakes up for the first time after 5am, so when I wake up for the day, she’s right there.  I like to sleep with a comforter on no matter what the temperature is, and I like my comforter all the way up around my neck, so it can be a little scary for me because I worry about accidentally covering her with it.  But honestly, waking up and having her right there is so, so perfect.  I wonder what we’re going to do when she outgrows the bassinet (and at the rate she’s growing, it’s going to be sooner than expected).  I hate the idea of her sleeping in another room.  Maybe I’ll live in the nursery until she is sleeping through the night or only waking for one nighttime feeding.

Which leads me to a third thing: nighttime feedings.  On weeks when Chris is off work, since we’re all in the same room together, I just feed her while sitting up next to him, but I feel kind of funny if she goes into loud suck mode because it could be disturbing his sleep.  There’s been at least one time where he’s gotten up out of bed and went into the nursery to sleep because she was just too damned slurpy.  Now, I’ve also pumped a few times and stored some milk in the freezer, but how on earth anyone feeds their baby that way is beyond me.  By the time the milk has warmed to the proper temperature (even if it’s just been in the fridge), Maia’s so wound up about the fact that she isn’t being fed that there is no way she’ll take the bottle.  I have to put her on my breast, let her calm down, then de-latch her and give her the bottle.  And frankly, if she’s already nursing, I don’t really see a reason to de-latch, but then the milk in the bottle is being wasted (everything I’ve read suggests NOT reheating milk more than twice).  But when I leave her with family to be watched, I have to leave a bottle; are they supposed to randomly heat it and try to feed her?  She feeds on-demand.

Then there are the little decisions: how often to bathe her? who bathes her? how often to change her onesie? should she be wearing long sleeves or short?  what about pants?  socks? how full do we let the baby laundry get before we do it?  do you powder her rump every time you change her or just randomly?  should we hold her over our shoulder or in front of our chests?  when she falls asleep being carried, do we set her in the swing, on the couch, in the crib, in the bassinet, or just continue to hold her?  do we swaddle her?  do we put a blanket over her? do we turn on the music on the swing?  will she stay calm enough for me to do some dishes if I put her in her bouncy chair?  should I turn on the music and lights display on the bouncy chair right away, or save it for when she gets a little fussy in the hopes that it’ll calm her down?

Gahhh.  Ten thousand questions, and you can never have one set answer to them, you have to adapt on the spot.  It’s exhausting!



  1. Jinxy said,

    Its mind blowing how many decisions we make daily. For the most part my hubby lets me make most of the final rulings (it works for us and we usually agree), he does have something different in mind sometimes and then we hash it out.
    We had a whole cry it out discussion last night. I don’t agree with it and he doesn’t either. But when I went to wash my hair last night Lily cried almost the whole time no matter what the Hubs did. The crying makes him feel bad because he feels he can’t help. He wants to know the difference between her crying in her bed/bouncer/swing or while he’s holding her. I say if he’s holding her she feels secure. He sort of agrees.

  2. humpsNbump said,

    Great post. And I can imagine how hard it is to come to a compromise on the many parenting decisions “in the moment” while dealing with a newborn baby. It’s overwhelming enough!

    I agree that you should try to talk things over beforehand but realistically, you don’t really know what decision to make until the baby comes along. Every baby is different and your stance on co-sleeping, bath schedules, powder at diaper changes, swaddling, etc etc can all change. And each parent will probably find that different things work for them. That’s also fine too. Someones the best policy is to be flexible.

    ~ humps

  3. Andi said,

    So funny. i was just thinking about the list of things I wish I’d thought of!!

    #1: get her used to room-temperature milk in the bottle. It didn’t take any trying for us with Piper. Breastmilk can sit out at room temp for up to 6 hours, so if you want Chris to get up with her, he can just grab that ready-to-go bottle. Your family will learn her ‘hungry’ cry and know when to feed her. I have a friend who takes her bottles straight outta the fridge and give them to her son, who takes them without a problem. Warmth is a luxury, not a necessity, and most babies don’t need it or mind it.

    #2: Sleeping? I totally indulge in the baby snuggles in my bed in the mornings too 🙂 Enjoy it while you can, I say!!!

    and lastly, #3: CIO. I was totally against it until recently, when I realized that she’s old enough and smart enough to figure it out. I can’t tell you when my mind changed, but I just knew she was ready. We started small, letting her fuss here and there, but now she puts herself to sleep at night easily and quickly; soothes herself to sleep for naps; and generally is easier to deal with all around. So, you’ll do what you feels right when the time comes (and you can’t handle what’s happening anymore). . .

    That’s all I got. Great post!!!

  4. Ms. Core said,

    Yeah, I am grappling with several of these issues now too. Things have kinda gone to hell around here and I am suffering. I am completely anti-CIO during the first few months for sure and still am currently for my little one. However, to echo what Andi said there are signs that he is actually manipulating me a little now. He fake coughs to get my attn and has smiled at me almost immediately after screaming for me to come in. I am certain you will start to notice them in Maia within the next few weeks. I am not sure either of us are ready for CIO yet bu what I am sure of is that I can’t continue this way for several weeks longer. I know Chris works a ton too but so many days/night I feel like a single parent and not having backup is really tough. Thank goodness we hired a babysitter for a few hours a week.

    And the bed thing, yeah we are struggling with that too. Altho Kevin spends most nights on the couch now anyway since he needs to sleep to get through a day of medical school.

    One more thing, do you really think even if you had thought of all this stuff before hand that you could of made any real decisions at that point? I feel like so much depends on what type of baby you have and what you work and living arrangements are like. There are somethings I stayed exactly where I thought I would on and others that I have completely changed my mind.

  5. Ms. Core said,

    OH and we gave up the night time feedings too for the same reasons. What does work tho (and what my mom did for me at home) was take Lukas in the morning after he had been fed from waking up and let me sleep for another hour or so. Boy, I miss the pampering.

  6. existere said,

    I can’t even read this. For me right now, decisions revolve around whether or not to increase my eBay bid on a playmat.

  7. Cara said,

    The trouble with talking about it before is that you just don’t know. 90% of the decisions we’ve had to make, I had no idea were coming. I mean, I read the books, but I didn’t think they would be an issue. How could you possibly discuss everything? We’ve definitely had some disagreements. I could write a book about the frustrations of me vs him. In the end, we’re a team. But I’m the captain. Make no mistake about that.

  8. Tatiana said,

    I agree with those of you who note that you’re the ultimate decision maker. I am too! We might bang heads here and there, but if it’s something we can’t compromise on, it goes my way.

    I don’t think that there would be any way to think all these things through before baby and have answers for them. There isn’t even any way to be prepared for all these decisions with the first baby. I knew I wouldn’t be prepared, but I didn’t realize how many little things I’d have to deal with every single day. It’s humbling.

    And it’s interesting to see the differences in how Chris and I interact with her. There’s a lot to be said for “daddy parenting”, not only because it gives mommy a break (haha!) but because it’s a fresh perspective. And the baby probably appreciates that, too.

    Chris takes her for an hour or so in the mornings after she’s fed when he isn’t working. I LOVE IT!

  9. Pille @ Nami-Nami said,

    Nora sleeps in our bed most nights. I was worried about covering her with our duvet, but if she’s beside me, I tuck the duvet between my feet, so there’s no danger to cover her.
    If she’s between us, we place her with her head between our pillows – we have one small pillow each, both placed at the far side of the bed, so there’s plenty of room for her in the middle. I read that suggestion somewhere, as it’s unlikely you turn over the baby with your face and not notice it. Works well for us..
    But yes, plenty of decisions to make. K. gives me a break in the morning by changing her, and in the evening for a few hours, before we go to sleep, when he’s playing with her. Much appreciated 🙂

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