She DID it! For 5 nights my wake-up-4-times-nightly-screaming sleeper has made it to the next level. I have one thing to thank for this life-changing miracle. The box fan!
But first a small poem.
To my daughter, who will not sleep
Your eyes should be steady and silent but instead, you angel of primal pierced ears— You pierce ears.
Not my best. I’ll admit.
I’ve done it all. Shush noises, swaddling, suckling…all the other “s”s. I’ve rocked her til my back was numb, then rocked her some more. Taken her into bed with me, gotten back up. Reswaddled by the hundreds. Set her down. Picked her back up. Begged and pleaded. Lost my temper a time or two (maybe more). Cried more than a handful of times.
Her nightly routine cost me jobs. Who can write a coherent sentence after five months of waking up every two hours? Who has the mental capacity for careful reading and revision on that kind of schedule?
There have been a few nights here and there when she surprised me. We did a whole CIO routine during winter break that worked for a while. But in each case, we’d see her creep back to 3-5 wake up every night. It’s been a rough year. However finally, last week something changed.
As the spring has warmed up, my husband set up the box fan at the window to vent house in the evening, and on the first warm night, we left it on.
She slept til 3 am. I nursed her and put her back in her crib (easily) and she slept until 4:30 am. then the next night, she woke at 2:30 am and again at 4:30 am. It’s gone more or less like this for a few days. Last night, she woke at 2 am and then at 6 am.
You guys. This is a manageable schedule. This is a brain functioning schedule. I feel like a champ.
There are a ton of advice articles online about baby stuff. Here’s what I found the most useful.
If I’m being honest, the first 6 months of my daughter’s life are a blur. I have very little short term memory of the events of that time. I remember long days and interrupted nights in which I marveled at her while she slept, breastfed until I was raw, and endlessly negotiated whether to sleep, shower, eat, or spend time with my son or husband.
Through it all, I had support from spouse, parents, siblings, and friends. I’m really lucky. What I didn’t have was a ton of extra money. So this post is to help other moms by sharing the items of real value that made those first 6 months survivable.
A really perfect nursing pillow (2 of ’em).
A My Brest Friend nursing pillow was a hand-me-down from an experienced mom during my first pregnancy. Unlike other nursing pillows, it isn’t a multitasker. You really can’t use it to prop the baby up or work on tummy time. The cover, although removable, can be somewhat complex to take off and put back on again.
But– for nursing, it is the only pillow I found that really helped me with baby positioning, prevented back pain, didn’t slip, and made me feel comfortable while I nursed. I’m not too proud to admit I wore it around the house like a tutu on some days, throwing it on, then pouring myself a coffee and grabbing a snack before settling in for a feeding session.
I also found the pocket perfect for holding a container of nipple balm, a water bottle, and even better for sneaking candy.
We have a two-story house, and it was helpful to have one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I also made sure to have at lease one extra clean cover, for quick changes during spit ups.
Although I got one as a hand-me-down for my first born, that one did not last. The foam tore. However, once I asked for it, a few friends were able to pass their old ones (still in good condition) to me.
Cooling soothing breast pads
My daughter was not a gentle nurser. She pulled, still suckling as she pulled away, she dug her claws into my skin, and sometimes refused to detach. I tried a few different types of gel breast pads. They kept me going when all I wanted to do was quit.
The ones that I liked best were the ones first given to me by the hospital staff. I preferred the Ameda ComfortGel Pads because they weren’t sticky (some of the pads on the market stick like glue) and because I could wear one pair for a few days. Rinsing them out in icy water actually made them better.
Now when I hear a friend is pregnant, I add a set of these to the care package.
You might start to notice a theme. My boobs really hurt. But Earth Mama Nipple Butter was for more than just the nips. It smells like coco butter, so it’s really nice to put on. I used it as lip balm for me and my son (he gets bad chapped lips in the winter) as well as elbow and hand lotion. It even worked as a diaper cream one day when the regular stuff had fallen behind the changing table and I couldn’t find it.
A “place” to put the baby in every room.
This one isn’t a product per se, but is more a philosophy of living with an infant. Every room, including the bathroom (or right outside the bathroom) can be improved if there is a designated space to put the baby down. Napping pillows, bouncer seats, rockers— all these make life a little easier for a new mom. They can be on the floor, but bonus points if they don’t require mom to bend down. Of course, always consider safety first.
We kept some of these items from when my son was little, but a few extra donations from other moms eager to clean out their garages came in handy.
Sleep and play jumpers
Easy on, easy off—sleep and play jumpers are the best. Choose the ones that close with a zipper and cover the baby’s feet. These are still the main clothing choice everyday and into the night. My son also insisted we buy some in his size. I sorta wish they had them for me too.
What I didn’t need.
Anything new–except a car seat. That’s right folks, beg, borrow, or steal. OK, I did have to order the breast pads and the nipple cream… and diapers and diaper cream. And a few really adorable bows. Ok, yeah, you still have to buy a lot.
Which is why you should take advantage anything that you don’t have to buy. Borrow or reuse a crib and plastic mattresses, accept sturdy strollers, and as many receiving and swaddling blankets you can get.
Hope you are able to find everything you need. And here’s hoping your newbies sleep through the night as soon as possible.