Notes from five months

I suppose since I just wrote my four-month review yesterday a month ago it’s time for the five-month look-back.

mangoes

This is Connor’s first reaction to mangoes. I love this picture so much I can’t even put into words how much I love this picture.

Quick highlights of the last month include:

  • Sleeping through the night
  • Our first trip away from home since November (aka, our first trip away from home since Connor became a semi-sentient being)
  • Starting solids and loving them (well, you know, for the most part.)
  • Mom and Dad learning how to clean up solids from every skin surface possible
  • Brinkley (our dog) becoming Connor’s most favorite thing in the entire universe. You’ve got good taste, kiddo.

What else is happening around our house, you ask? Well…

He doesn’t smell like a newborn anymore.

smelling rabbitNewborns have a very distinct and special smell. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. Or maybe I had heard that and thought that the moms saying it were all sleep-deprived weirdos who had finally lost it. Not that that couldn’t be the case, but seriously, the smell is real.

Only, it’s not real anymore. Connor doesn’t have it. And he will never have it again. That smell is crack and I truly, truly believe it’s one of the reasons why moms willingly have more than one child. My friends have informed me that it’s even less socially acceptable to go up to newborns in public and inhale their precious newborn odor than it is for random people to go around touching pregnant bellies.

Dang it.


Babies are weird.

hkghstI suppose the nice way of putting this is that “each and every baby is their own perfectly perfect individual snowflake.” But I am here to say it: snowflakes are weird and so are babies.

For all of the textured toys and books and games we have for Wee Connor nothing gets him so enthralled as the embroidered pillows we have on our couch. When I dress him all hell breaks loose if I try to put his right arm through the shirt first, but left then right is fine. Which means, apparently, my son is part horse. He absolutely takes pacifiers but recently his favorite thing recently is to either take the pacifier out and chew on the edge of it or to jam his thumb in the middle of the pacifier, getting the thumb stuck there, and then waving the pacifier around in shock that his thumb now has a giant green thing on it. Also, did you know that there is an entire line of blankets and toys that have mock tags all over them? It’s because of one thing: babies love tags more than they love toys. And you know what? They’ll still love the manufacturers’ tags on the Taggy blankets more.

My point is this: babies are weird. Don’t feel bad if what works for every other mom on the Internet (or, worse, what your mom swears worked on you) doesn’t work for your baby. Let your baby’s freak flag fly. It’s good practice.


Evaluate and calibrate.

dw fixingBefore you have a baby, you have a fairly decent idea of your lifestyle. You know a few things: what kind of house or apartment you live in, whether you walk or drive to your daily activities, and a general idea of how you live your life. You – appropriately – register for and buy things to fit the knowledge you have as well as do the best you can with the knowledge you have to raise this mysterious little tiny human.

And then the baby actually shows up.

There’s a lot of stuff you know know you need right away, and other stuff you don’t know what exactly you’ll need. For instance, we got an Uppababy Vista stroller because it had a bassinet feature (which Connor hated, please see above re: babies and weirdness) and could be used straight from birth. After a lot of hauling around, struggling to fold it, stopping using the infant seat in and out of the car because it became really heavy really quickly, and realizing that the thing in general is way too freaking heavy to do that kind of lifting and maneuvering in small spaces, it became clear we needed a lighter stroller now that Connor had enough head control to sit more upright in a stroller. However, five months ago, I never would have known what kind of lightweight stroller I would want. I wouldn’t know what features I liked, what features I didn’t like, and I would have absolutely bought the wrong one*.

The same theory applies to the non-tangible stuff, too. Sometimes you’ll try things for sleep or naps that just plain old don’t work. The point is really that in both in physical stuff and mentality, the most important thing I can say is to do a lot of evaluation and subsequent calibration. Making adjustments based on what’s working and what isn’t is the most important thing you can remember to do. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to stick a baby peg in a square hole. So if you don’t know exactly what you’re going to need, my advice would be this: wait until you’re more sure. You’ll know what you need when you need it. And if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it up.

Evaluate. Then calibrate.


I am not strong enough for a video monitor.

sleeping video monitor

Did he fall asleep mid-twerk? Seriously, he sleeps like this all the time.

The moment I started using our video monitor as an audio monitor Connor’s sleep skyrocketed. Here’s the thing about video monitors: they’re fascinating. They give a never-before-seen glimpse into what it is your baby does all night while you’re out watching DVRed episodes of The Mindy Project. (Spoiler: they get into the most ridiculous sleeping positions possible. Spoiler number two: Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.) The kicker, though, is that video monitors make it really tempting to go in and get your baby too soon. When babies sleep they move around, they rustle, and they can even wake up for a bit, flail around, and then fall back asleep again. Sometimes they wake up and need to be changed or fed and then they actually really cry. With an audio-only monitor you only know about the latter situations. However, a video monitor lets you in on what’s going on all the time in that little world of theirs and can trick even the best of us into thinking the baby is truly awake when really he might just be putting himself back to sleep. It’s almost irresistible to go in to the baby too early with a video monitor. “Oh shoot, well, he’s awake. Might as well go change and feed him…” No! That’s not the answer**! The answer usually is to let him see if he can fall back asleep. But sometimes you just want to head the misery off, even as they’re getting older and learning new skills like falling back asleep. We realized eventually we were robbing Connor of the ability to fall back asleep on his own and started using the video monitor as an audio one, and haven’t looked back since***.


It’s going by way, way too fast.

This is a mere 20 days. Twenty! That's not even the same baby!

This is a mere 20 days. Twenty! That’s not even the same baby!

I hate that I’m one of those parents who say things like this.

I hate that every pregnant person I see I now am one of those jerks who offers no actual valuable advice except, “Cherish the time! [Indistinguishable gibberish about babyhood flying by]!”

The problem is, it’s true. Time does go by extra fast. There are very few times in your life that are measured so exactly by months, and it’s a shocking realization to wake up one day and have this smiling, laughing little person with his own actual personality looking up at you instead of a screaming little Winston Churchill lookalike that you had no idea what to do with five months ago.

The other day I looked down at Connor and whispered sweetly in his ear, “stop growing up now, okay?” He looked back up at me, touched my cheek with his tiny little hand, and laughed straight in my face.

That about sums up parenthood right there.

And I still love it.


*I bought this one: the Summer Infant 3D-One. Infuriatingly not available on Amazon. It has an awesomely easy one-handed fold, a huge canopy, stands while folded (!!!!), and an easy recline feature. I tested out all the umbrella strollers with a baby in my arms and this one beat them all out for me, hands down…or…hands full of baby. Same thing, really.

**At least, for our baby. Your baby might be different. In fact, there’s a 100% chance your baby is a weird, beautiful snowflake just like my baby is a weird, beautiful snowflake. Have fun with that.

***Pun intended. I make these kinds of jokes now. It’s my lot in life as a forever uncool mom.

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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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