Notes from four months

Connor Four MonthsAccording 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

tired puppyHere’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.

yay2What 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

coffeeOne time my mind drifted and I wondered, “what if there was no more coffee in the world?”

I cried.

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.

ohmygodOne 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

90s kids, don't even act like you don't wish for this power still to this day. Sabrina4Life.

90s kids, don’t even act like you don’t wish for this power still to this day. Sabrina4Life.

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”

coffee break baby wearingAs 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.

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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.

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