January 24, 2012
One lovely reader, Samantha, asked some questions the other day that I thought maybe some of you might be curious about so I thought I'd make my answers into a post. She said,
"I hope you don't mind but I wanted to ask you some questions about being a mommy? I've been following your work for a long time and I love your posts about Zachary! He seems like such a happy and healthy baby! First, I am a new mom and Its been a rough couple weeks (recovering from a c-section and getting the hang of breastfeeding) tell me it gets easier? lol When did you start doing tummy time? How did you guys play when Zachary was just a few weeks old?? Any advice or tips on bonding? Whats your bedtime routine like? Does Zachary sleep through the night? Thanks for any feedback :) and keep the posts coming!"
Let me start by saying that I am in no way a baby expert or a pediatrician. I only know what we do, what works for us and what I learned from 9 years as a nanny. Ok now with that said...
I am probably the world's worst person to ask if breast-feeding gets easier. Like seriously. I have been through 7 months, like still to this day, of absolute hell. I don't want to go into details, as it's truly gory, but let's just say I had doctor's telling me they had never seen anything ever like it, I'm a hero, and I could write a book about it. Ya, that bad. Now that I've completely terrified you haha... I still stuck with it though. Through tears, excruciating pain, and zero sleep because I had to pump 12 times a day. But I made a promise to myself to breast-feed for a year and thought it was that important. So, even though doctor's gave up on me and I'm still a bit of a medical mystery I stuck with it. And you know what? I'm so happy I did. I am now able to actually breast-feed my son, with minimal pain, and it's amazing. I couldn't be happier. So, I guess the moral of the story is that even in the worst circumstances it gets better. Hopefully you are in a better circumstances and I would suggest that it you stick with it if it's important to you. It will hurt less. They will get more efficient at it. Plus, it's actually super convenient and great bonding/quiet time. The first few weeks are the hardest too. Especially while recovering. It will all get easier though. I promise.
You can start tummy time as soon as the umbilical cord falls off. It's good to get babies off of their backs for a about 30 minutes combined a day since they spend so much time on their backs. They will more than likely cry quickly but try and get them to do it a few times a day for as long as they're willing. A nice way to do it I found, especially when they're really little, is to lay down with them on your chest.
When Zachary was really little I would play with him a lot by making faces at him, holding mobile-like toys above him and swaying them, and singing and dancing with him a lot. He really loved walks and swinging on our porch swing as well. His favorite toy at that age was actually a spoon with some colorful ribbon tied to it. I got the idea from a Gymboree Baby Play book I have that you might find helpful for different games for each age group. I think just holding them and interacting with them is the best thing you can do for them. This answers your other question about bonding too. I know that some people will disagree with holding your baby a lot but I love it. I carry Zachary all day unless we are playing. I wore him in a Moby sometimes when he was little and use a Bjorn now when we are out. They like being close to Mommy, feeling your warmth and hearing your heartbeat. It's as close to the womb as they can get now. Breast-feeding like I said earlier is another great way to bond. Though when I had to bottle feed I didn't feel like I was missing out on any bonding because I spent all day holding and interacting with him. Plus, I would talk to him while I fed him. I understand that not everyone gets to be home and spend all day giving their baby 24/7 attention though so, breast-feeding I know is very special time for the working out-of-the-house moms I know.
Our bedtime routine is pretty standard, though his bedtime is later than others (9pm) because his dad works late and it just works better for us as a family. We do bathtime (every other night) with lots of singing and splashing (his favorite), lotion and a little baby massage with more singing, pajamas, vitamins, read 3 books in the glider, nurse, and then if he hasn't fallen asleep rocking while singing lullabies and shushing.
What happens after that though is the only bad part of the day. He does not sleep through the night, at all. He's a pretty bad sleeper and napper. He gets up like 6 times a night and a lot of those take about an hour to get him back down. Sometimes he's up for a 2 hour stretch crying in there. Yes, that means I don't sleep at all. I have been seeing the clock hit every hour lately. It's pretty miserable. So, ya don't ask me for sleep advice. I feel like I've tried it all, to no avail obviously. If anyone has advice for me I'd love to hear it. I'm willing to try almost anything at this point, though I'm not too keen on crying it out.
Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs. It's 24/7 and you literally never get a break. I define it as sacrifice. But in the best way. Sometimes the hardest struggles come with the greatest rewards. That, to me, is parenting. It's the greatest reward I have ever been blessed with but comes with a very worthwhile cost. Though some of this sounds like complaining it's really not. I wouldn't trade it for anything and feel like the luckiest lady every time that boy smiles at me (so every other second haha). I'm sure you feel the same. Just use those moment to get you through the tough times. I try not to ever think "I can't until he can" or anything like that. Enjoy them now because they will never be this way again and every age has it's beauty and it's tough times.
I hope that's at least a little helpful. Sorry it's an essay. =)