Of all the tips on how to get a baby to sleep well, I keep reading about the importance of getting baby on a schedule. While I’ve been pretty great at making sure he has a bath at approximately the same time each night from the start, before now I haven’t really made any true effort beyond that, sticking mainly to survival mode. At first baby N was doing the usual newborn thing of being very sleepy all the time so the biggest challenge was making sure I got to eat dinner during one of his snoozy moments.
But then he went through a developmental phase which I can only describe as “difficult” whereby he has been next to impossible to convince to go down for a sleep in the evenings. I had been warned by my best friend who has two young children that babies are tough between weeks six to eight, and boy was she right. While baby N is a lovely smiley, laughing boy in the mornings and the afternoons, something happens around 6pm where he turns into some kind of screaming monster.
I’m not joking when I say I was giving him his bath around 7pm each night last week and if I was lucky he went down for a nap (not his nighttime sleep) at around 10pm. If I was unlucky, it was more like midnight. He would of course wake up a couple of hours later for a feed so that wasn’t even the end of the baby soothing process for the night.
Meanwhile, as I was trying to get him to go to sleep in the first instance, I was holding him, walking around the house with him, bouncing him in my arms and hubby even took him for a drive in the car one night. That day I had been awake since 3am and holding the baby for practically the whole day because he’d not had much daytime nap success so by midnight I actually told my husband that I was resigning from motherhood and the baby was now his. So he took the baby out in the car with him! While the baby did sleep in the car (and I slept on the bed while they were in the car together), he then woke up the second we tried to move him to the baby bed which made me cry some more. I think he crashed out around 1am on that night so I almost pulled a 24 hours shift.
In between the bouncing and the crying (mine, more than the baby’s) I was FRANTICALLY googling how to make a baby sleep, At some point I realised that no one has any freaking idea how to make a baby sleep and most advice can be summarised as “Try anything in the hope that something, anything works for your baby”. Anyway, everyone seemed to be banging on about the importance of a schedule for baby so he knows what to do at any given time of day.
This week I am trying very hard to actually follow a schedule of some sorts. I’m two days in and so far I’m seeing some small progress, which in baby land means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING because babies like to completely change their behaviour from one day to the next it seems. However, in my more optimistic moments I like to think/hope/dream that this is the beginning of better days for us.
As for baby N’s neck and head situation, he seems to have made some good progress in just one week. We visited the baby physio again yesterday and she seemed pleased with how he is progressing. I can actually see he is getting stronger too which is making me a little relieved. He is definitely getting better and happier with tummy time too and only in just one week!
I have more or less been carrying baby N about the house when he is not asleep and I have almost gotten used to it. When I really, really have to do something that requires two hands I do just put him down somewhere in a position that is not physio approved because sometimes you just have to get stuff done! That said, I am now quite talented at applying make-up one-handed. I have not attempted eyeliner one-handed though! In some ways I think it is helping to bond me closer to baby N after my rough start, so every cloud has a silver lining etc.
For those of you who are expecting a baby soon and may be making a gift list, I would caution you against getting a bouncer/swing of any kind as I quizzed my baby physio about why she banned me from using ours anymore. She explained that not only does the angle of the bouncer/swing mean that most babies will naturally favour leaning their head to one side to rest it, which can then lead to the problem with the weak neck, but also she said that these items make baby very passive. They don’t encourage babies to turn their heads to look around at their surroundings, thus strengthening their neck muscles.
It was an interesting view and something I had certainly not thought about when we bought ours, but also I think once you have one in your house, you’re tempted to use it possibly more than you should do so that you can get some rest or some chores done. I absolutely love the one we got (the Mammaroo) and so does baby N, but the wonky neck and flat head is simply not worth it! In our case the bouncer/swing did not cause baby N’s problems, but it did make it worse.
In good news though, all of this flat head situation has meant that baby N has made the transition to the cot bed. Unfortunately he has cut down the total consecutive hours he will sleep for his long sleep at night since moving out of the Cocoonababy, but I think there would have been some kind of regression when we made the transition regardless of when it was. At least we are dealing with it now and already I can see him being more comfortable in the cot bed. Given that he’s so long I would have had to move him in the next couple of weeks anyway.
He is also coping with his special Mimos pillow pretty well. In case anyone is also having flat head issues, then I encourage you to get one of these pillows too. They seem to be pretty magical at helping to ease away the symptoms! They are expensive, but you have to do what you have to do. Links below to some stockists – I am not getting any endorsement for this!
Age: 8 weeks +1
Weight: No idea as he’s not been weighed this week, but after holding him all day long for a week, I can officially tell you he is HEAVY!
Feeding: He feeds on a pretty consistent 3 hour schedule during the day. It stretches to 4-5 hours at night depending on
what kind of monster he is being his sleeping habits.
Sleeping routine: See above. Last week his routine was to refuse to go to sleep unless in my arms and every time I put him in bed, he would throw his eyes wide open and cry. This was infuriating! However, I am still trying to get him to sleep like the books say babies should. I bathe him at around 7pm, feed him, read him a story and then try and get him to go to sleep. The past two nights this hasn’t been too bad, but let’s see if we can make it three in a row.
During the day, he seems to have 2 morning naps of around 30-45 mins each and in the afternoon he might have 1-2 naps. He seems to prefer to nap on me in the afternoons so we’ve been watching some pretty average TV together. I also read that it’s important not to take your baby about too much during the day so that he can rest properly at nap times as a well-napped baby apparently means they will sleep better at night. With this in mind I have also been making an effort to time errands and other things around his naps so that he gets good rest and this has seemed to have positive results too, even though I’m going bananas.
I’ve also learned not to go to soothe the baby the second he starts crying when in bed as sometimes he does a small cry and falls back to sleep. If I had intervened and picked him up (for example) then he would be wide awake. However, quite often if he’s not properly awake he just drifts back to sleep which is nice.
Firsts: Baby N is quite the smiler and will smile for most people if they give him a big one themselves, but he particularly loves daddy and saves all his big smiles for him when he comes home from work. I really love his funny toothless grins and giggles. He doesn’t yet seem at all interested in the cats but I do wonder when he’ll start laughing at them too.
Last night we took him out to his first family party at a relative’s house. I was not sure this was a good idea (see above about keeping to a schedule) but apart from absolutely wailing the house down as I bundled him into his car seat to go there, he was a total angel and everyone probably now thinks I’m exaggerating about how hard he is to put down to sleep. In fact, he didn’t even wake up when I put him back in the car seat to go home, drove home, took him out of the seat and put him in bed. He even slept through to 4am which means he had 6 hours between feeds (something he doesn’t do often). Am I the only one who sometimes feels their baby is trying to mock them?
Hair: Slowly growing back so he no longer looks like quite the old man.
Eyes: I think they are starting to move a little away from blue towards a hazel/brown.
Mummy update: After a great start to my exercise regime with my return to yoga last Wednesday, I’ve failed to do anything further since. I was meant to go to yoga again on Saturday morning but it didn’t work out. Friday night was a nightmare with the baby and so both my hubby and I were exhausted on Saturday and it just seemed like too much effort.
Today I went for a lovely walk in the park with the baby, but that barely counted as a workout. I am heading back to yoga tomorrow though and hopefully again on Saturday. I am even contemplating a gentle personal training session on Thursday which I have not done in about two years as I took a break during the IVF process. Wish me luck!
In general I find that I try and have some things to do throughout the week, but that if I don’t have the capacity to do the non-essential things on the day that I just don’t do them. I have really had to let go of a lot of what used to bother me in order to adjust to the new normal. Some days I don’t put any make-up on, others I put some on just to make myself feel better. For me the one non-negotiable is that I have to wash my hair every day. This simple task can sometimes feel like a burden but I always feel better for it.
I have always been the one to keep things neat and tidy around the house so if hubby left something out I would probably tidy it away for him. These days I just don’t have the time or ability to do this so I just leave whatever it is wherever it was. Do you know the miraculous thing is that he sometimes comes back now and tidies it up himself!! This is a REVELATION! Sometimes it takes him two days to do it, but still at least he realises he has to clean up his own stuff! The irony is that it’s only now that I think he’s getting a full appreciation of how the old me used to take care of him. New me does not take care of him so well right now (oops!).
The past week I have been hugely annoyed by my husband though. I am finding his attitude very difficult. While he is very helpful and takes responsibility for many, many things in our relationship, I feel he could be more supportive of me regarding the baby. He will come home from work and go straight to the gym or play on his computer – which is all fine, but when he does it every single day and I don’t get even 5 minutes to sit and do nothing (especially when the baby is being difficult) I find it incredibly selfish. Unfortunately I haven’t yet managed to effectively communicate my frustration to him. It usually comes out when I am at my most exhausted and just creates tension between us that I also don’t have energy for. It’s a difficult time and we are still managing the transition, but I can FULLY understand why people struggle in their relationships after having a baby.