Sleep.

On sleep:

Starting Sleep Training

You must start teaching your baby to sleep as soon as he comes home from the hospital, except that there is no way to teach a baby how to sleep before 8 weeks, 4 months, or 6 months. Learning good sleep habits starts as early as possible and there is definitely no way to spoil a baby, except for when you’re spoiling your baby by responding to him at every noise. Never pick the baby up until you have paused the baby so he learns how to soothe himself back to sleep, except when you should pick the baby up immediately because something is definitely wrong and he can’t learn how to soothe himself back to sleep yet.

Day/Night Confusion

Day/night confusion doesn’t exist, so you shouldn’t worry about it until your baby confuses daytime and nighttime. Make sure to wake your baby up if he’s sleeping too long during the day so he learns the difference between daytime and nighttime, but never wake a sleeping baby up because it will only frustrate you both and won’t actually help him figure out the difference between daytime and nighttime. The baby will eventually figure out the difference between day and night on his own, but definitely do help him figure out the difference by keeping the rooms bright during the day and making sure to put the baby in a very dark place for naps.

Nursing

Remember that no baby has ever needed to nurse himself to sleep in his college dorm room so don’t worry about nursing your baby to sleep, but be aware that if you nurse your baby to sleep now they will become overindulged babies, children, adolescents and adults who can never truly sleep well. However, nursing your baby to sleep is natural and shouldn’t be ignored and if you don’t nurse the baby to sleep he will become afraid of abandonment his whole life and will never trust, love, or feel like anything is actually ever right in his life.

Changing

Never change a baby in the night unless he has a poopy diaper, but definitely change him whenever he’s upset so that way you’re setting yourself up for successful potty training later. Don’t buy overnight diapers because they lead to diaper rash; but definitely buy the overnight diapers so that way the baby will be able to stay asleep even if he has a wet diaper in the night. Only ever use cloth diapers at night. Only ever use disposable diapers at night. A wipes heater is a waste of money, but it’s the only thing that will help keep your baby semi-sleeping while you change him. Never talk to the baby when you’re changing him in the night so he knows that it’s not a time for play, but definitely talk and soothe him so he’s not confused and scared during the changing time.

Bedtime

Put your baby to bed as early as humanly possible, but be sure to keep them up late enough so they can sleep until you want them to sleep in their crib to avoid a too early wakeup. Don’t keep them awake in the evenings, but listen to their cues if they’re tired and let them sleep whenever they’re exhausted no matter what time of day it is.

Quiet

Never keep the baby in an artificially and abnormally quiet place to sleep, but make sure the room is noiseless and pitch black every time the baby is sleeping so he can learn to sleep. Definitely don’t use a noise machine or lullaby player, but those contraptions certainly help with routine and can be a trigger to help the baby sleep.

Putting the baby in the crib

You should definitely have the baby sleep in the crib from the first day home from the hospital, from 2 weeks on, from 8 weeks on, and from 6 months on, but never sooner. Putting a baby in the crib is cruel and he feels abandoned, but don’t worry about putting your baby in the crib because it is a good habit early that you will never have to break later. Never cosleep with your baby because it fosters too much dependence, but cosleeping allows for unparalleled bonding with your child and babies will eventually sleep in their own bed when they’re ready. Never have your baby in your room because that is your space and place except for the first two weeks, month, or 12 weeks when the baby is in the bassinet next to your bed.

Be sure to put the baby in the crib while he’s still drowsy but awake so he learns how to fall asleep on his own. Never rock him to sleep, but definitely be sure to rock him to sleep so he feels secure and loved. If the baby falls asleep in your arms don’t worry about waking him up to fall asleep, but definitely wake him up before you put him down so he can put himself to sleep.

Naps

Your baby will never sleep well during the night unless he naps during the day, but don’t worry about naps; they will fall into place once the nighttime sleep comes together. Only allow the baby to nap in the crib. Only allow the baby to nap while not moving; it doesn’t matter where the baby sleeps during naps. Never allow the baby to be put to sleep by a stroller, swing, vibrating chair, or car, but you can definitely use a stroller, swing, vibrating chair, or car to get the baby to sleep if that’s what works. A nap only counts if it is taken while stationary. A nap is a nap, no matter where and how the baby gets to sleep. Be sure to only have the baby nap in a dark, quiet room, but be sure to keep the baby napping in brightness without making it too quiet in the house so he doesn’t confuse day and night.

Swaddling

You should absolutely swaddle your baby to help him feel like he’s back in the womb, but swaddling your baby might kill him, so definitely don’t do that. Swaddle the baby with his arms out in case he rolls over and needs to reposition. Swaddle the baby with his arms in so he feels more secure and wrapped up, like he was in the womb. Only use a specific swaddle blanket in case it comes undone. Don’t bother with the specially made swaddle blankets and use blankets like they do in the hospital. Never swaddle the baby because he already does know that he’s no longer in the womb since that’s the point of birth and existence. If your baby hates being swaddled swaddle him anyway. If your baby hates being swaddled never swaddle him.

Baths

A bath is the only thing that will help start your bedtime routine correctly, so make sure to start every bedtime routine with a bath. Only bathe the baby every few days so he doesn’t get dry skin. Babies don’t get dirty so you just need to use warm water. Babies get dirty, so definitely use baby soap.

Crying it out

Never, ever, ever let the baby cry it out because it’s cruel and ineffective, and crying it out is the only thing that actually finally works. Your baby can learn to fall asleep without crying, but will never learn to fall asleep without some amount of fussiness because crying is his only form of expression and learning new things like sleeping on his own is difficult. Your baby can self soothe in some way at birth, at 2 weeks, at 8 weeks, at 4 months, at 6 months, but never sooner. The baby can’t learn anything if he’s crying after 5 minutes, but make sure to give him up to 15 minutes to see if he’ll fall asleep on his own. Never go in to soothe the baby during your cry it out training, but go in to soothe at set intervals to make sure he knows you’re still there. Offer the baby a pacifier and make quieting noises only and never pick the baby up, but don’t go in at all and definitely go pick the baby up if he’s upset.

When people ask you about how you’re sleeping

Do not tell them truth because caring friends and relatives might worry about you when you start sobbing uncontrollably, but definitely make sure to have some people with whom you can confide how exhausted you are. Smile politely and say in an unnaturally high-pitched voice, “we’re working on it!” while on the inside think, “my soul is being crushed in the middle of the night by a 12-pound miniature human being,” but don’t actually think that because that makes you an ungrateful person and because it’s not actually true.

Sleep problems will eventually all sort themselves out, except for the ones that never sort themselves out without intervention, which is all of them.

This.too.will.pass.

Godspeed.

IMG_3424

The things that helped us survive the first 6 weeks of parenthood

Connor BearIf I look back on the past 6 weeks or so there are many things that I could say to summarize this time, including, but not limited to:

  • Sleep deprivation – but not as bad as I would have thought!
  • Pure amazement that someone has not barged through my door thanking me for looking after their baby and this whole time has just been one grand babysitting experiment
  • Baby brain (Example: I typed “debrivation” on that first bullet the first go. Also, I accidentally took my dog to the vet in my slippers. True story. This baby brain thing is no joke.)
  • Overwhelming joy
  • Wondering who it is that approved me becoming a parent because clearly I have no idea what I’m doing

And so on and so forth. Wash, rinse, repeat.

That said, though, there have been a few items that have made my life these past few weeks easier. And when I say “easier” I really mean, “I so heartily recommend all of these products that I don’t know how we would have survived these past 6 weeks without them.”

Now, let me explain something else. I think almost every single one of these items I have had the following phrase/sentiment thrown at me by people either without babies and/or older generations:

“It’s amazing how people had babies before [insert product about which they’re talking] was invented…” 

In my opinion this sentiment is not only passive aggressive but slightly insulting, mostly because it’s true of every innovation in the history of mankind. Yes, people used to have babies in the woods, but that doesn’t mean that medicine and trained professionals didn’t make the birthing experience better. Yes, mothers have been nursing their children for years before a breastfeeding pillow was invented, but that doesn’t mean that the breastfeeding pillow doesn’t make it easier. I have not met a mom with a child under the age of 10 who has expressed this sentiment because the fact of the matter is this: if it makes your life easier and more survivable and you like it, then you should stick with it. It doesn’t matter if people didn’t have whatever it is you really like thirty years ago. You have it now, it works for you, so go with it.

And so, without further ado, here are those things that have made taking care of this tiny little person easier.

My Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow

brest friend

Image via Amazon

I cannot possibly express to anyone how essential this product has been to me for nursing. My mother made fun of me mercilessly for this saying it looks like a tray that the waitresses in bars used to carry around their necks, but it is something that I have not backed down on recommending to every mom-to-be I know. I truly – to my core – believe that this pillow is why Wee Connor caught onto nursing with such ease. There is a reason why every lactation consultant I have heard of uses this product. The Boppy is the old standard, but truly: the My Brest Friend has it beat by a factor of approximately a billion. I use the Boppy for tummy time, so it has been very useful and a great product, but for nursing it does not get better than the My Brest Friend. Here’s why:

  1. It straps around you and keeps you and the baby in a good position, which means you’re not hunched, the baby is comfortable, and you don’t get horrible cricks in your back/neck/arms
  2. It’s flat. The Boppy’s curvature can kind of roll the baby so it makes it harder for them to get and stay in a good position
  3. It has a little head rest built in for the baby, which means that you don’t have to hold the baby’s head the entire time
  4.  You actually get use of your hands while breastfeeding. As I explained in an earlier blog post, this allows you to do a plethora of activities, but it’s still more than using the Boppy or a pillow or nothing at all.
  5. Again, seriously, use of your hands. Cannot. stress this. enough.

I am hardly so absolutely absolute about recommendations and advice, but the Brest Friend lives up to its name.

More changing pad covers

changing pad covers cropI have mentioned this before, I know, but seriously: there is no such thing as too many changing pad covers. There have been days where I have gone through 3 in one day, nay, 3 in the span of about 5 hours.

I personally don’t really have a preference on brand. I have some Aiden and Anais ones that have held up really well so far and are soft as well as a few PB kids ones that are heavenly they are so soft, and so far the stains on the PB Kids ones have come out like magic. They are all about the same price, but I guess if I had to give a nod to one over the other it would be the PB Kids ones, because my ring has snagged on the Aiden ones a few times.

The key is really this: buy a bunch. You will not regret having a bunch of changing pad covers.

I would also recommend getting a standard-sized changing pad so that you can supplement as necessary. If you are having trouble finding covers for your changing pad because it’s proprietary to the store where you bought it…that’s probably going to cause you unnecessary headaches in the future. This is the one I bought and it’s been great.

Phone/Tablet app: Baby Connect

baby connect timer screenshotThere have been a lot of disagreements about tracking or not tracking your baby. For us, the Baby Connect (also available on other platforms) app has been invaluable and has not caused us stress even a little bit. We have liked knowing exactly when Wee Connor last fed because it helps us figure out if he’s actually hungry or not, when he will most likely need to feed again, or if he’s just plain fussy. The app allows sharing with family members, so we have been able to sync on any of our multitude of devices instantly.

We went into parenthood resolute on one item: we are not going to get into the habit of allowing him to snack, meaning feeding very little amounts very very often, because not only would that drive us insane, we also want him to learn to feed fully and stay full for longer periods of time. (This is our mentality and has worked for our family. Other families do things differently. The reasons we have liked it, though, is it has allowed us to eat out at restaurants, go out and do errands, know when he’ll need to eat again, and has given us an immense amount of confidence and happiness in our parenting.)

This app can help you track everything. It has a great built-in timer for nursing/feeding allowing you to time which side you’re on, it can track diapers (which we did stop using after about 2 weeks or so once we got the hang of things), and really anything else you could think of.

In the beginning appointments the doctors might ask you how many diapers your baby has had, or how often they are feeding. This has helped us remember through the lack of sleep and I don’t have to make sure I’m remembering which side I need to go on next, because I can just look at my phone and know.

Eventually I feel that we won’t need the app anymore, of course, but for right now it’s been a true blessing for us.

Diapers with a wetness indicator strip

diaper indicator stripIt sounds silly, and I never would have thought that it was that useful, but the diapers we use are Pampers Swaddlers, and they have a little strip that when wet turns from yellow to blue.

This has let us diagnose a need of changing vs. feeding vs. anything else so much more easily that I can’t imagine not having that quick reference to go to. I love my indicator strips.

Caveat to the diapers with an indicator strip: any diaper that you like and works, you should stick with it

While cloth diapers won’t work for my family, if they work for yours: great! If you don’t need an indicator strip, you’re a genius and I applaud your mental abilities that so far exceed mine I can’t even comprehend your mental fortitude. If the diapers with indicator strips keep getting blown out and another brand doesn’t, then definitely go with what works.

The key is this: stick with what works. We lucked out with Pampers and won’t fix what ain’t broke, but others like other brands. Different strokes for different folks – and when you’re in the land of poop it’s all about what makes your life better.

A good no-spill water bottle that you can use with one hand

hydro flaskThe weirdest thing happens when you’re breastfeeding. You can be going along thinking things are just honky dory, then the nanosecond you put that baby up and start nursing you have suddenly been living in the Sahara for three weeks and haven’t had a drop of water the entire time. The thirst is unreal.

My suggestion is this: get a really good – insulated if you can – water bottle you can use with one hand. This way you can keep it next to you on your chair/couch/wherever you’re feeding and won’t have to worry about your glass of water being just out of reach on the table.

I use this Hydro Flask with the straw lid and it hasn’t failed me yet. It keeps cold things cold and hot things hot for an excessively long time. A water bottle you like is a simple item, but it’s one I didn’t realize would be vital.

A book/reference guide/philosophy/someone you trust and like enough to be able to block out all the other garbage thrown at you about parenting

bringing up bebeWhether you have a defined/”named” philosophy or not, everyone has their way of parenting and their opinions about it. What works for one family doesn’t work for another. That’s why people are different people and that’s why people are interesting. That said, it will not stop others from spewing their beliefs on you. This can be at its best well-intentioned and at its worst guilt-inducing/harmful. The key is to have your head on straight so you can see them as well-intentioned.

So far what has worked for my husband and I is this: find something (be it a book/philosophy or person) you really like that speaks to you that you both agree upon, and when you evaluate advice thrown at you from every direction, kindly discard the stuff you don’t agree with as well-intentioned, but not for you. If you have someone/something you can turn to as a frame of reference it makes it about a trillion times easier to have perspective on the other opinions thrown at you because you have a lens with which to view these other philosophies and see what works for you and what doesn’t in your own head.

new basicsWhat works for us? I personally really, really, really loved the book Bringing Up Bébé. Her realizations on babies and children as seen through an American living in France spoke to me in such a way that seemed simply common sense to me. These aren’t new-fangled ideas; they can almost be seen as old-fashioned in America that have fallen out of favor, but the practices work for our family perfectly. In Bringing Up Bébé she interviews a pediatrician in Tribeca, NYC, named Michel Cohen who has written a reference guide called The New Basics, which has been our favorite reference book about babies so far. His style is wry but very helpful, and has the same philosophy of “let babies be babies” that we have come to realize we have as well, while also making sure you have your own life as well. If you’d like to see what his opinions are, they can also be found on his website here.

Again: this is what works for our family. There are of course things I don’t agree with in these books, but we are working on what works for us, and that has been what has made parenthood not only survivable but enjoyable.

Allons-y! 

Do you have any essential items that you love for babies? Let me know in the comments!

Activities and thoughts while nursing

Well, it’s been over a month since Wee Connor made his dramatic entrance into the world and it seems like it has been approximately two and a half seconds. Because I’m a, shall we say, selective hippie I have decided to try exclusively to breast feed exclusively and, other than some formula that was given semi-against my will while Connor had a stint in the NICU, I have been successful! Yay!

Seriously. I made this.

Seriously. I made this.

However, something that nobody told me about was that you should probably be prepared for the mind-numbing times in this first month of things to think about/do while your little baby is actually breastfeeding. Wee Connor feeds every 2-4 hours and during these times – especially in the first month when you both are trying to get the hang of things – you have the use of one hand and are pinned to a chair/couch. After you realize that looking at your baby in amazement might not fulfill your literal hours of time while feeding, activities start to surface. Remember that many of these chunks of time are taking place in the middle of the night around 3:30am. Doing intellectually stimulating things like “catching up on your reading you’ve been meaning to do” are just not in my milieu at these hours, and as such this is the list of what is in my wheelhouse in the middle of the night.

(P.S. Unsolicited recommendation: the biggest recommendation I can make if you’re breastfeeding: the My Brest Friend pillow. It is beyond worth its money and ridicule you will endure from older generations such as your mom.)

Finding things to add to my Netflix queue

watchingtvIf I had to guess at how much time while breastfeeding I spend browsing the Netflix lists for recommendations and adding titles to my queue, I would probably say 50%. Note this is not actually watching the titles, but simply browsing and adding titles to my queue.

Why I don’t just watch any of the things I add to my queue but find it more enjoyable to explore the lists Netflix has arranged for me (Teen Movies from the 80s? TELL ME MORE, NETFLIX!) is beyond me. I didn’t say it’s logical, but again, nothing is really all that logical at 4:30 in the morning.

Trying to figure out the Netflix algorithms

confusedentirelyIf you ever want to plummet yourself into a dark place of mental energy, this is the activity for you.

What are the formulas they use to recommend titles and categories for me? Were my hours of watching essentially wasted before Netflix introduced multiple accounts and now my husband’s account has all the recommendations that aren’t completely lame? Is that why his recommendations include Louis C.K. and mine have The Carrie Diaries? Why is there a category that includes both Clue (one of my all-time favorite movies, by the way) and SE7EN? How does that even happen?!?

I am only left with questions. No answers.

Contemplating and figuring out how to fold a fitted sheet

thats impossibleHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHA!

Got ya.

Get real now.

The E! Network game

My thoughts exactly, whatever Kardashian you are. My thoughts exactly.

My thoughts exactly, whatever Kardashian you are. My thoughts exactly.

I have come up with a new game. It’s called “Is there anything on E! other than Sex and the City reruns or a new Kardashian show and then one airing of The Soup that makes its way onto my DVR each week?” (working title).

The answer is no, no there is not.

If you find something other than Sex and the City or a Kardashian show, you win a prize. Unfortunately for you, this game is as rigged as a state fair ring toss game. You will lose.

(P.S. I secretly do like Sex and the City, which is how I came up with this game. You can judge appropriately.)

Contemplating how much of the breast milk that is coming out of my boobs will end up ON my boobs after this feeding.

welpThe answer is a lot.

Hint about babies: spit up happens. Get used to it.

Giving up the ghost and just turning on another episode of Grey’s Anatomy

The amount of Grey’s Anatomy I have watched during both pregnancy and subsequent motherhood has been disgusting.

But I don’t care. It’s exactly as mentally stimulating as I need it at 3:30 in the morning, and I figure if it makes me happy it can’t be that bad, right? This has become my mantra of motherhood, honestly. A happy, confident mom will pass those feelings on is my theory, and if Grey’s Anatomy is on that path, then so be it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Season 9 of Grey’s is calling my name. Shush your fuss!

How to get a breast pump: a step-by-step guide

As of yesterday, here is what I knew about breastfeeding/breast pumps:

As of today, here is what I know about breast pumps: it falls into the same exact category as every single other baby item/topic of “it is never, ever, EVER as easy to understand as it seems like it should be.”

Now, my husband works for a company that happens to have a ridiculously generous (for our times) program that gives out breast pumps to expectant mothers and spouses who are expecting as well. It is incredibly generous and something that I want to take full advantage of. I should have known something would be amiss because the scariest thought of all baby-related thoughts popped into my head: “this will be so easy and great!”

Protip: if you ever have this thought about anything to do with babies and/or baby products go ahead and stab yourself in the eye with a spoon. It will be less annoying than what you will inevitably have to endure.

I like to compare the breast pump to the stand mixer on your wedding registry: everyone has a different opinion on how much use you’ll actually get out of it, but it’s a big ticket item that no registry would be complete without, unless you already have one. I thought this analogy was especially apt since I did have a stand mixer already when I got married, so how perfect would it be that I could already have the breast pump, too! ADORBS, RIGHT?!

I am now going to take you through a step-by-step guide on how to obtain said breast pump.

GiftSet_kiinde1. Fall in love with a storage system called Kiinde that direct-pumps into measured bags that have a timed heater that automatically shuts off so it can’t overheat the milk and that also fit directly into a bottle that is supposedly some sort of godsend bottle that works better than normal bottles. Clearly. This is step one.

2. Register for the Kiinde and brag to your mom about how much better stuff is now than when I was born. Be secretly smug about this product you’ve “found” and what a genius you’ve become. Read reviews and fall more in love.

3. Ask your husband to talk to his company’s HR about said breast pump and/or paternity benefits/leave.

4. Wait 2 weeks for number 3 to happen.

5. Remind your husband to talk to his company’s HR about the breast pump and/or paternity benefits/leave because, for really real, he should probably get acquainted and we need to probably get a move on this in case they need a certain amount of notice.

6. Wait another week and a half for number 5 to happen.

7. Get extremely annoyed at your husband for dilly dallying and being embarrassed to ask about anything from HR. Get more annoyed when husband accuses you of having a pregnancy mood swing. End argument with him buying you a Wendy’s Frosty. Pretend that was your plan all along.

8. Have your husband ask HR only to have them tell him there is no such thing as a free breast pump from his company and the HR person had never heard of this.

9. Pull up press release from the company talking about the free breast pumps and rehash argument from number 7, only without the Wendy’s Frosty.

10. Call insurance company to ask about the breast pump. Have them give you the number of the company with which your husband’s company has a corporate breast pump partnership and whose number should have been given along with all maternity/paternity benefits by the HR person.

limerick breast pump

Note: I still have literally 0 idea how this is used and still think all breast pumps look like the suction device Count Rugen uses on Wesley in the Princess Bride movie.

11. Call breast pump company (that only works during Pacific Coast hours, obviously) and then have them verify through your husband’s company that your husband works there. Start to become mildly excited because the breast pump they give you is a $600 hospital-grade breast pump, so there’s a chance that this might be worth it after all. (The pump is made by a company called Limerick and the pump is the “PJ’s Comfort Standard.” I am sure that I will be reviewing it at some point later on down the road because hey, free $600 breast pump, amIright?)

12. Out of a masochistic curiosity, look up the Kiinde again and the brands with which it is compatible.

13. Re-read list, making sure that your realization of this free $600 breast pump you have just spent the better part of a day reading about and/or trying to track down is not on the list.

14. Contact Kiinde customer support out of desperation.

15. Receive email back from Kiinde very kindly explaining that no, you cannot direct pump Limerick’s PJ’s Comfort Standard into the Kiinde bags because a) the thread is unique and b) the Limerick pumps do not use valves (valves?! what the hell is he talking about? I barely know what a valve is, let alone how they apply to breast pumps!) and so the direct-pump Kiinde bags that are so convenient and awesome supposedly collapse with this system.

However, the very nice Kiinde email goes on to explain that I can still use the bags and that they are quite useful. Of course.

16. Get sad.

17. Laugh at self for thinking that anything could ever be easy! HA!

18. Get sad again realizing that self degradation still doesn’t lead to knowing anything about breast feeding other than it has to do with breasts. I think.


At the end of the day I am still getting a supposedly wonderful breast pump and accessories for FREE, something for which I am very grateful when I put all joking aside.

My current thinking is that I will (of course) take the $600 breast pump+accessories and make the Kiinde bags work because you can still pour into them and the storage+heating is great, even if I can’t “direct pump” into them (one of the features I really loved). The “active latch” nipple of the bottle is still apparently fantastic so the bags fitting right into that is great and still a lot less cleaning/sanitizing than the traditional bottles, etc.

Now the next task: learn about how to sustain another human life with breast milk. That might be important.