Baby Lessons, and How Daddy Saved the Day (or Night)

baby A three weeks old
Baby A, 3 weeks old

There is a lot I’m re-learning about having a very young baby. Lots of things I only half-remembered, especially the counter-intuitive parts. For instance:

  • The more sleep she gets, the sleepier she will be.
  • The more tired – or overtired – she gets, the more awake she seems.
  • She may hate the swaddle (and she DOES) but it can still calm her down.
  • She will wake up, just like E did, at that damn 40-minute mark of her nap, whether she needs more sleep or not.

I am also realizing that E was one of the easiest babies possible, especially in the early days, though I’m not sure I realized HOW easy at the time. I knew I was fortunate that he almost never cried unless there was a good reason, but I always figured our successes in certain areas – like establishing good napping habits – came from following Tracy Hogg’s advice diligently in those contexts.

Now I realize that the fact that he took a pacifier after only a few tries, or that he was mostly amenable to the swaddle, meant that he was just going easy on us. It wasn’t our exemplary technique or anything.

Baby A is a feistier, fussier baby, hands down. Not that she’s a hellion or anything – she is often very sweet and mellow. (When I worried, before she was born, that we were going to pay this time for having such a good-natured baby the first time around, I was imagining colic. So far, there’s no sign of that, and I’m very grateful.) But she fusses considerably more often than her older brother did, and when she’s upset, her mad cry is WAY madder. I was pretty startled the first time I heard it.

My daughter is a pretty good sleeper. I really can’t complain. But again, I realize how good I had it with E – he was a quiet sleeper. And he didn’t even arrive with his days and nights mixed up. Baby A, however, was a night owl for a little while. She also has had minor nasal congestion since her second week of life, which means she’s a bit more snore-ish, and she periodically does a half-awake sustained grunting thing, reminiscent of a rhino or a bulldozer or some other creature much larger than she is. It makes me worry that she’s not getting good-quality sleep – but I don’t know how to tell for sure.

Last night was the first time I had a glimpse of what it might feel like… to have the urge to shake a baby. (I can barely even type those words. What a horrifying thought.) Obviously I could never even come close to doing such a thing, but I could imagine where such a feeling would come from, if you were sleep-deprived enough, with a crying enough baby.

So basically, we were in a cycle that wasn’t getting better. I had used all my techniques to encourage her to sleep (swaddling, nursing, un-swaddling, bouncing, patting, shushing, singing, burping, etc. etc.); she would often drift off, but just wake up again and be more upset. Sean had switched places with me for a bit – I had gotten to go sit with E for a bit, which was really nice since it’s rare these days. (He asked me, because there was a sleeping bag in his room, “Can Mamas go in sleeping bags, or just Daddies?” Then he held my arm and said, “I love you.” Because he loves my arm so much.)

Daddy had gotten A to sleep, but then she awoke again. He suggested he should put her in the Moby wrap, where she sleeps very well, but I objected because I didn’t want that to be the only way she can fall asleep. (Not my best moment. I should have said yes.)

There commenced well over an hour more of trying the same things over and over and having them fail. I was already not in a very positive frame of mind, since the night before hadn’t been the best sleep either… I didn’t know what to do, and I was falling-down tired (not literally, since I was in bed with her, but you know what I mean). It was past midnight, and all I could imagine was this awful cycle continuing all night long.

Sean finally came back in and insisted on his original idea of wearing her so she and I could both get some sleep. I felt bad – because he wouldn’t be sleeping – but couldn’t say no.

And it worked. She went right to sleep in the wrap, snuggled against his chest, and he sat with her for three hours. (Glad we have internet and Netflix.) And I fell fast asleep too, and it was awesome.

baby A smiling in her sleep
Hurray for sleeping!

By the time he brought the baby back to me, she was in sleep mode: she had some milk and went straight back to sleep. Daddy finally went to bed himself, well past 3 a.m., seeming totally sanguine about the fact that he would be getting up with E in the morning at whatever hour our son’s three-year-old system decided.

Lesson learned. If it’s that time of night and overtiredness is on the horizon (or already there), use whichever technique is the most fool-proof. It’s worth it.

I love you, Hubbibi. THANK YOU. You’re the best.



9 thoughts on “Baby Lessons, and How Daddy Saved the Day (or Night)

  1. Mary Snow says:

    “Lesson learned. If it’s that time of night and overtiredness is on the horizon (or already there), use whichever technique is the most fool-proof. It’s worth it.”

    True that! Wishing you may zzzz’s, friend!

  2. Beth Lopez says:

    My first baby was so easy. She was my Arwen. I wondered why people complained about newborns. They eat, they gurgle, coo and smile, they sleep, repeat. She slept through the night starting at 5 weeks.
    Then I had number 2. Colic, never slept more than an hour at a stretch. Thank God I discovered the calming properties of peppermint tea at 3 months or neither of us would have survived. I consider myself a hero that she and I both survived her infancy. Not that I wish the same on you, but the struggle went on until she moved out at 18, just sayin’.

    • diblog says:

      Yep. Beth, THAT is what I was afraid would happen with us, because that would have been more proportional payback for our overly calm firstborn. Not that anyone DESERVES to go through the colicky-baby months (including the baby!). Our daughter is just a different temperament – probably more normal, in truth, because she does just cry sometimes.

  3. Carrie says:

    Hey Momma – don’t forget, you CANNOT spoil them too much, or ‘ruin’ their sleeping before 6 months old!! Do WHATEVER works for now!
    You’re a great momma and things will resolve after a while – even if you do “wear her” to sleep for the next 4.5 months! lol
    My 2nd was EXACTLY the same – remember, I literally spent HOURS bouncing on the exercise ball. But, this too shall pass, and while hard to beleive now, you will kinda miss a part of it! And for the record, while he was EXACTLY the same as A is now, he’s sleeping through the night every night now….. It passes. I promise.

    love ya!

    • diblog says:

      Thanks, Carrie. We have been using the exercise ball a lot – she responds well to it too – and I think of you and M every time! 🙂 And I know you’re right, all this will seem so brief and fleeting all too soon, and I’m sure I’ll be all nostalgic ‘cuz that’s just how I am. But I do worry that it’s hard on her, being so congested… when I hear all the noise she’s making at night, it sounds like it feels awful. So far, the humidifier and the inclined mattress don’t seem to help; the saline spray only helps for a short while. And I can’t keep a hat on her at night whatsoever. Thankfully, she won’t be the one who remembers this.

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