Being a new parent is probably the most challenging thing I have ever done. Mostly because I want to do everything right and be the best possible mom in the world. When your baby is crying at night, and those first little baby tears fall from your baby's eyes, prepare yourself. Sometimes, you just can't stop his tears, or yours.
Our second night home Bear wouldn't stop crying. We tried everything, or so we thought. Pat took the baby out of our room because I was getting so emotional and frustrated. He sat, frustrated, in our front room and let our baby cry. As a mother, this was the most difficult thing for me to endure. So, I picked myself up out of bed and together, Pat and I sat in our wingback chairs and tried to console the inconsolable.
Bear laid on my chest skin to skin, then we fed, then we laid skin to skin again. (REPEAT) Pat brought pillows and blankets out to make me comfortable and our little family fell asleep that way.
Fast forward to 4 weeks - here are some of the tricks we have learned along this journey.
Take turns: although Pat doesn't always follow this rule (there have been a few nights where he will let me sleep through the night, much to my chagrin). Our turn taking consists of Pat getting up to change the diaper, then he brings a fresh little baby to me for feeding. The trade off? I get to sleep just a little longer during the changing, and Pat gets to sleep while I feed.
Another time to take turns is during the fussy nights. We try to take it in shifts where I will rock our little guy until I can rock no more (standing is required of course), then Pat will take over. A little sleep can go a long way if you are successful in this.
White noise: I repeat, white noise! This was an absolute life saver for us! After a few weeks of up every 2 hours for feeding, Bear had gained lots of weight (he never lost weight after birth) we decided he could sleep a little longer through the night. But the new problem was getting him to sleep. Before we could even put him down he would start wailing. His bottom chin would quiver and my heart would break. That is until my boss told me about the bathroom fan. It makes perfect sense! The sound mimics the womb. So, one night, during my turn, Bear and I sat in the guest bathroom, on the toilet for 2 hours. 2 very peaceful hours of him being wide eyed in the dark. No sleep yet. But, finally, when my butt could no longer take it, we went into his nursery and I found a box fan recording on YouTube. It played for 8 glorious hours and got my little guy to sleep. I laid awake on the couch and he laid on my chest.
Last night was the first night we didn't have to play it for him to get him to sleep, but I am not taking it out of my back pocket just yet.
Swaddle: your baby in nice and snug, just like in the womb!
Use a pacifier: this is controversial to me, but some nights it has been a life saver. I did not want to introduce a pacifier to our son until he was at least 4 weeks old, but that terrible night I mentioned above, where I became a human pacifier, that was the breaking point. I asked our pediatrician about what we should do, and he said to give it to him. I was kind of shocked, and VERY defeated by this. I was cranky and sullen that entire day. Remember that whole wanting to be the best parent ever thing? I wasn't sure this was the best thing, but it was for my nipples. So we tried it.
Much to my relief, Bear doesn't like the pacifier much at all, in fact, he gets angry when we give it to him. He is smart and knows we are trying to dupe him. BUT, there have been a few instances where he takes it, with my thumb resting on his cheek, and he sleeps peacefully.
My thought on this is, you can take a pacifier away, but not a thumb.
(We have not had any nipple confusion, which is often the fear of introducing the pacifier.)
Be realistic: you knew when you got knocked up that this time was coming. The sleep deprivation. You ARE going to be tired. This time is about your baby, not you. Feed him when he needs fed. Rock him. Burp him. Sing to him. Shush him. Comfort him. Anything he needs. Then, nap with him during the day.
Now, 5 nights out of 7 we get about two stints of 4 consecutive hours of sleep each night. That is, when I am not awoken by his sleep sounds and grunts. But, it is much better than the alternative. And we have all learned to sleep with the sound of the box fan YouTube video.
Please note these are all things that work for us. Our guy eats, poos and pees regularly and has continued to gain weight. Talk to your pediatrician about any and all concerns you may have.
"Bear" is our little guy's alias, as I am not sure I want his name circulating the interwebs at this time. Call me overprotective?