According to various sources on the Internet (so how can they be wrong?!) that all seem to conflict each other, four months, without a doubt, can officially be considered the time that I now have an “infant” or “baby” instead of a “newborn.” Why a “newborn” isn’t considered a “baby” will forever confound me, but it is what it is.
What I do know is that this is the first month in which I feel more like a “parent” than “a terrified person posing as an adult who is forever carrying around a child that for some unknown reason everybody seems to think I am qualified to care for.” I mean, it’s still 85/15% in favor of the latter, but that 15% is a huge improvement!*
Here are some thoughts from four months into parenthood.
I have never rooted for anything the way I have cheered for sleep
Here’s the thing about sleep deprivation: it takes a while to compound and get to you. At first we were prepared to sleep only in short bursts. After that, getting up in the middle of the night didn’t seem so horrible because we were only doing it 1-2 times a night, and that was clearly an improvement. But the thing is this: after a few months of getting up unexpectedly in the middle of the night, it wears you down. The lack of solid bouts of sleep with the fear of having to get up at any moment eventually turns your nerves into the equivalent of a nervous chipmunk crossing an 8-lane highway at rush hour.
In desperation I essentially re-read all the books on sleep I could get, to see what the major themes were and what seemed to work and not work with Wee Connor. One thing that everyone seems to agree on: sleep begets sleep. Which means, paradoxically, the more the baby sleeps during the day, the easier it is for him to sleep at night, because once the baby goes into an “overtired” state there’s a biological reflex that pumps adrenaline into his brain that makes him not want to sleep.
Supposedly. I am not sure I have found that to be exactly true, but I’ll still go with it.
What this means in practice is that babies need naps. And I can honestly say that when my favorite football team, the Florida Gators, won the national championship I did not cheer half as hard for that as I do for a random nap on any given Tuesday. If my alma mater Wake Forest somehow made it to the national title Game by some miracle of God (which I would assume would take every other football program in the country coming down with season-long bouts of mono?), it would not compare to the joy I have when Connor goes down for a nap on a random Thursday and stays down for longer than 30-40 minutes (one sleep cycle).
Things are getting better, though. I can tell that we are almost done with the nighttime feedings since they are only happening once a night. He’s going about 8-9 hours at a stretch now, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. A sweet, sweet, light of a full night’s sleep.
My hot beverage consumption apparently has no upper limit
One time my mind drifted and I wondered, “what if there was no more coffee in the world?”
There have been days when my having a hot beverage (coffee, tea, latte, chai latte) have been the deciding factor in getting enough strength to make dinner or ordering Thai food delivery. Of course, there have been days when it makes no difference because Thai food delivery always sounds good to me.
Diapers and changes are still just as fascinating a topic of conversation as anything in the world for my husband and I, but nobody else.
Diapers are such a large part of having a baby that it’s inevitable you just start normalizing immense amounts of conversation about them. Being alone with the baby all day has led to a new hobby of coming up with diaper-related movie titles changed only slightly. A few of my favorites recently include:
- Apoocalypse Now
- Forrest Dump
- Mission: Impoossible
- Back to the Pooture
- Harold and Poomar Go to the Changing Table
- Gangs of Poo York
- Indiana Jones and the Last Poosade
You get the idea.
I need to get out more.
I thought I knew what a growth spurt was. I had no idea.
One of the coolest things about babies getting older is that everything becomes more intense. The smiles last longer and are accompanied by laughs. The playtime becomes even better because the toys and rattles become not just things to shake in front of the baby’s face but actual toys. On the flip side of this, the cries are louder and longer, and the growth spurts are soul-sucking.
Babies, apparently, go through a few distinct growth spurts at certain intervals, one being around 3 months and another being around 4 months, more or less. Before these, Connor had gone through some growth spurts/fussy periods, but when the 3-month one hit around the time he was about 3.25-3.5 months old I had no idea what had happened to my smiling, laughing, beautifully scheduled baby. He woke up one day and turned into a fussy, hungry feeding machine for about 3-4 days straight. The first day it happened I was so blindsided that by the end of the day I just started sobbing. When I realized that, yes, he actually was that hungry things got markedly better and worse; better in that I was feeding him all the time in what seemed around the clock and so he wasn’t wailing all the time, but worse in that I was chained to the breastfeeding pillow for what seemed like 24 hours a day.
Once the spurt was over it was like I had my same baby back, only he was actually bigger. Fun fact: babies literally, scientifically grow overnight. By the time Connor was 3.5 months old he already wasn’t fitting into some of his 3-6 month pajamas and we had to size up to the 6-9 month ones. So while my child ate me out of boob and home at least there was a reward of a markedly larger child at the end of it? So…there’s that?
My son has more wardrobe changes than Cher
Have you ever commented on a child’s outfit and the mom tells you thanks, and then tells you about the outfit the child was wearing earlier that day? Here’s the reason: sometimes your child goes through so many outfits that you just want someone else to know about the one you were so excited for the child to wear. “Oh thanks! I think that sweater is adorable, too. Earlier today he had on this sweater vest that has a dog on it! And then he spat up all over it. It was a fun 5 minutes.”
Thank goodness we have so many clothes for Wee Connor because otherwise I’d be doing laundry four times a day, instead of my current rate of however much it is it’s too much laundry.
I have discovered the true cause of diaper rash
Diaper rash is a long-debated item on what the causes and cures are. However, I’ve found the cause. Contrary to popular belief, here are a few things diaper rash is not caused by**:
- It’s not diapers that go too long unchecked.
- It’s not allowing the baby’s little tushy to dry completely before changing him.
- It’s not a lack of ointments or creams or anything.
No, friends. The true cause of diaper rash is the possibility of the baby’s grandparents seeing him. Every time I have even pondered the possibility of leaving the child with his grandparents he starts getting a little red on his tush even though nothing else has changed. This is also true of scratches on his face, too-long fingernails (I swear I can check his fingernails before we get into the car and when we arrive at his grandparents’ house 20 minutes later they will be an ungodly length that make me look like a negligent mother), and really anything that has to do with the child’s hygiene or health. I am told this is a phenomenon that will never change.
Do not confuse “I need a break” with “I don’t like being a (stay-at-home) mom”
As it turns out, I love my new job. Love it. However, no matter how much you may love doing something, if you do it for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there will come a point when you need.a.break.
At first this was a bit hard to explain to my husband who sometimes didn’t seem to understand why I just want to go to the grocery store by myself without the baby. Or why maybe he can take the feeding before bedtime so that I can sit on the couch…alone. For just a second. When moms ask for a break sometimes it may sound desperate, but it doesn’t mean that moms, or stay-at-home moms for that matter, don’t like what they’re doing. It simply means that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a lot. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. Luckily for me because my husband actually cares about my wellbeing and his intentions were pure and he was actually asking if I was happy in my new life path he understood immediately when I explained this to him. He has taken the nighttime diaper changes before I come feed Connor, he helps when he gets home from work, and when I need a break to go to the grocery store, he gladly tells me to get out and go now. I am so, so lucky.
Yup, still worth it.
Every. Dang. Moment.
*Yes. I am aware this may be as good as it gets.
**These things may all cause diaper rash in reality. Don’t listen to me.