A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wild Man Blues; or, Three Weeks

My little boy is three weeks old!

These three weeks have raced by-- it feels like I was just pregnant yesterday. But I also feel like I've been sleep-deprived and changing diapers for a year. My relationship with time is strange--days both fly and crawl. Moments can feel monotonous, but then I look at the clock and can't believe it's 5 pm already.

This is my first week alone without motherly assistance. It's going fairly well. I feel more confident about my ability to read Smudgie's cues and to keep my spirits up through the poopsplosions and crying jags. (I'm actually rather amazed that I feel so relatively calm and even-natured-- the postpartum blues were one of my biggest fears and I'm very grateful to have mostly avoided them so far).

My biggest emotional issue right now is feeling useless and unproductive. I haven't gotten the hang of the Moby or Ergo yet and our stroller is too difficult for me to lug it up and down the stairs of our walk-up and assemble myself, so I haven't been leaving the house much on my own. And when Smudgie falls asleep during the day, I'm lucky if I manage to get a few loads of laundry done, pump some breast-milk, or wash and sterilize some bottles. I mostly read on the couch or catch a nap or watch tv.

I can't shut off the guilty, need-to-accomplish-things part of my brain. I feel bad that I'm not baking pies with all the apples we got from our CSA or finishing knitting Smudgie's blanket or cleaning the apartment. I feel bad that I haven't figured out the carriers yet so I can run errands or walk Bella or just introduce Smudgie to the world. I had a phone session with my therapist yesterday, who suggested I try to just be in the moment right now and not think of this time as achievement-oriented, which I agree is wise and I'm trying to do. But it's hard.

Also difficult is the spate of the fussies that Smudgie has weathered over the last week. Once or twice a day, he'll have a three-hour span where he won't sleep, doesn't want to eat, doesn't need a change, and doesn't want to be set down. We call this his Wild Man Phase, because of the way he'll grunt and bang his head around my boob and flail his arms like a tiny dictator having a tantrum. The Wild Man phases, with their whining and crying, are really difficult for LG and I to deal with, especially when they happen at 3 am. But at least we know that they're temporary and rarely last more than 4 hours, at which point Smudgie falls asleep and is out for hours.

I also made the mistake a few days ago of reading a sleep training book someone sent me. It ramped up my anxiety hardcore. Do I not feed Smudgie often enough? Too often? Should I really be letting him cry it out at less than a month. (No way, I last about 30 seconds when he cries before I start crying too). I got really worried about doing everything wrong and decided to stop reading books. Smudgie seems to be growing well and sleeps okay in his crib at night (though he will only fall asleep in my lap for daytime naps). So I'm going to try to follow my instincts and hope for the best. (As my bff said, no one goes off to college still needing to nurse to sleep, so one way or another these things get fixed.)

There's so much more I haven't touched on: Smudgie's blisters (a staph infection acquired in the hospital--scary!--but nearly gone after antibiotic cream), our first brunch outing as a family last weekend (successful!), my struggles with the Moby wrap and Ergo carrier (majorly disappointing and inconvenient). But I'm juggling a wild man on my lap and my lunch with my one-handed typing, so I'll leave you with a photo of my little dude stylin' in his fall duds.


  1. My Mom's only piece of advice to me was that you can't love your baby too much... and if what feels right to you and to him is feeding him on demand, picking him up and holding him when he's crying, and doing things YOUR way instead of the way a stupid book says, then go with it. That's my plan... we'll see how it goes. :) Soon you'll look back at these days and miss all the chances you had to just sit around and hold your cuddly baby and "accomplish" nothing more important (cuz really, what's more important than that anyway?!).

    Hang in there - it's good to hear from you!

  2. Do you have friends with other types of carriers? Keep trying them on until you find one you like. Getting out of the house every day, even if it's just for an hour or two to meet a friend for lunch or go to the grocery store, will do you a world of good. Good luck!

  3. Cuteness! Love the picture!

    I agree that just being in the moment is the best thing. Just enjoy where you are right now.

  4. he is too cute, love those socks :) hoping you get the hang of things soon, can you get down with him in one of those slings or baby bjourn carriers?

  5. the ergo carrier is the greatest BUT one thing i didn't realize is that i needed the newborn insert. do you have that? and i'm an idiot and didn't realize that their little feet need to be sticking out - just be smart and look at pictures instead of trying to stuff your baby into a burrito like i did :) also, sleep training - everyone told me DO NOT try to sleep train until four months and they were ALL RIGHT. if your baby is most comfortable sleeping on you, with you, in his crib, in a bassinet, it doesn't matter - do whatever you have to do to maximize his and YOUR sleep. i read healthy sleep habits, happy child and it helped a lot from the perspective of knowing that every 1-2 hours, my baby needed to sleep. that was so so helpful - i knew if she was fussy after a couple of hours, she needed to sleep. i could write about this for DAYS (my babe is almost 5 months old) - but whatever you do is the RIGHT thing - God gave you that baby, trust yourself!

  6. I don't think u can sleep train a baby that young so don't sweat it, really. Yes, get a friend with same carrier to come over and help you figure out how to get it on and then practice by yourself in front of her. I never liked mine but I had a low end one. Though I am told some babies like enough that you can wear and do all sorts of things around the home at same time.

    Don't sweat state of your apt ... Seriously, short of bugs or fire or tripping hazards, nobody cares, including visitors.

    Aim for one mini-outing a day...get a bagel, dessert, etc. get some fresh air to help Mommy maintain her perspective - it helps!

  7. Gorgeous bub! I love the photo. I'm going through some of the same time warp that you are - it's very strange. But I'm still on this side of the "help" hurdle - Mr. D only goes back to work next week. I know it's going to be tough, though.

    Those carriers require practice. Especially now when they're still so...floppy? We tried with our Beco and had to leave it to another day. As far as the perfectionism thing/cleaning the apartment/etc... I have moments of that, too. But, Mama, you worked too hard to get here, and went through all those months of the pregnancy, not to mention the labor...you deserve to ignore the dust. (Actually, you deserve a cleaning service which will also miraculously install an elevator).

  8. I'm working on my 2nd baby and don't worry about sleep training for a few more months. Like 5 or 6. You can't sleep train a newborn. I have a 6 month old and I can handle a little crying but when she really ramps up it is physically painful to me. Just do what feels right to you. Good luck

  9. I agree with the previous poster about the newborn insert. I have one you can borrow if you'd like. I didn't realize you needed one and bought it when D was a little over a month, but we only used it until she was around 4 months.

    The guilt is unfortunate, but normal. You're doing the best for Smudgie and you're a great mom. He won't care if there is dust on the end tables.

  10. my little one has that wildman thing too, the carrier saved my life. take your time though, learn how to use it and dont worry aboutthe guilt. I have done Noooooooooothing around the house, it sucks but the baby is too high matenance right now BUT that will change.

  11. I am a person who always has to be doing something productive, so I can imagine that it's frustrating for you right now to just BE. Sounds like you and Smudgie are doing great though! Thanks for sharing the pic!

  12. You sound like a new mom and so that means 'you're going up from here!" I swear to you it gets better and better and easier and easier until they start wanting to talk and walk at the same time and you have to understand their gibberish because they will scream. Soon you'll be understanding that all kids, ok most kids, fall into a pattern and you'll figure out what that pattern is and you'll be out and about eating, walking, sipping coffee and showing him the world all at the same time. p.s. PUT THE BOOKS DOWN! LOL

  13. I totally remember those days....sometimes I would feel guilty sleeping for 10 minutes while the babies napped, b/c I thought I should be cooking/cleaning/making a baby book/etc. It's hard not to feel that way! At around 4 weeks old I finally figured out how to get them both out of the apartment (we live on a 3rd floor walk up but have the luxury of being able to keep a stroller in the entryway) and that made the world's BIGGEST difference in my mental state. Being able to get fresh air, and maybe even accomplish a minor errand (grabbing something at the drugstore, for instance) felt so.freaking.good.

    You're doing awesome and I know it's going to feel better as you go.

    PS We tried not to think about night sleep until they passed 8 weeks old, but that's reaaaally hard when you're ragged with sleep deprivation. Don't don't don't feel bad getting rest whenever/wherever you can! xoxo

  14. I think it sounds like you're doing a great job, really. And, I definitely say go with your instincts right now.

  15. Sloper, your post brings back so many memories of my first months with my older son. I had recently finished my PhD and, until just a few weeks before his birth, had been working a fulltime job plus part-time adjuncting. The switch to "all baby, all the time" mode was dizzying and disorienting, and like you, the sense that I should be doing MORE, or doing what I was doing BETTER, sometimes impinged on relishing the fruits of what had been, essentially, an additional job: the process of getting and staying pregnant, after a long battle with infertility.

    One piece of perspective did help, though I wish I'd been able to internalize it better at the time. You've probably heard the theory that the first few months are really the "fourth trimester," when the baby really should still be inside you, in developmental terms, but has to come out due to evolutionary changes in head/brain size. That's why it makes so much sense just to sit around and hold your baby as much as he wants. Read a bunch of trashy books that aren't on your dissertation bibliography! Watch the movies and TV series on DVD that you haven't had a chance to see! Wallow in it! In a couple of months, things will be different.

    I also echo others' comments about trying out different carriers AND getting out of the house. I was reduced to tears by the Ergo when I borrowed one from a friend who sang its praises, and I still don't know if it was the Ergo itself or my frayed nerves and sleep-deprived brain. I had the best luck with a Baby Bjorn because it was so simple, and it was easy to unsnap it and put my son down on a bed when he fell asleep in it. (Plus, it was easily adjustable when my husband wanted to wear it.) Putting the baby in a carrier during his crazy times--both my sons had those--really helped with calming down. I'd often wear the babies around the house for several hours while doing various tasks, or go outside and walk, with a large coat around both of us.

    One of the other best pieces of advice I got as a new mother was to try to get outside somewhere every day, and that's also where coming up with a workable carrier solution helps. Coffee shops, where I could discreetly nurse, then hold a sleeping baby while I drank something, had a snack, and read, were great. I had a whole circuit of places like that: coffee shops, public library, family area at a mall. I may just have been lucky, but I also found that these forays led to many random conversations with strangers that were surprisingly affirming and sanity-boosting.

  16. Oh, Sloper, he is SO BEAUTIFUL. I am so moved by his wise little face!

    I am glad you are doing so well and am sorry about the 'wild-man' phases. Does it work to put him in his car seat and swing it by hand? That's the only thing that worked for us when Penelope was like that. Oh and the vacuum cleaner of course! Such memories of standing in a dark room in the middle of the night with the vacuum running, doing arm-curls with Penelope in her car seat... I can't believe that those are now FOND memories, and I miss those days!!

    As for the carriers, neither the Moby nor the Ergo has ever worked for me. The Bjorn has been absolutely the best for us. Actually, it's the only one that has worked so far. Good luck getting out! But don't worry about vegging out-- you deserve it!

  17. Love the fall duds :)

    Honestly, I'd take daily sterilizing of bottles off the to-do list. Is it really necessary? Are they being rubbed in plague? I've never understood why simply *washing* bottles - like one would any other dish - isn't sufficient. But I'm a wild and noncompliant woman.