Saturday, April 4, 2015

Infant Things

3 weeks into new motherhood and I'm learning that parenthood is basically continuous trial and error, fuck ups and frustrations, joy and enchantment. For me. I have no idea what it's like for anyone else and I'm not here to tell anyone how to parent.

I've learned a few things in the past few weeks the baby books don't tell you and while I wouldn't call what I'm going to say "advice" I will say that they might be useful for others.

And just to get it out of the way: no, I don't feel like I'm more connected to the earth, universe, or "meaning of life" now that I'm responsible for a tiny one. The earth is a rock floating in space, the universe still doesn't give a shit about me or you, and I'm as mystified by life and determined to give mine (and what part of her's I"m responsible for) meaning as best as I can. But I didn't suddenly become an expert on anything just because I had a baby.

1. Newborn babies are not very complicated. They need to eat, poop, be loved, and sleep. They'll do all those things a lot and you'll figure out your babies rhythms after awhile. If those few things have been addressed and your baby is still inconsolable, it's pediatrician time. Note: not complicated does not mean "easy". It just means your baby isn't sitting around contemplating deep truths right now, they're just navigating this whole life outside the womb, tiny tube status.

2. If you're bottle or formula feeding like I am, get Dr. Brown's bottles with a variety of nipple sizes. My daughter has a bit of acid refluc and we use a thicker formula to help. It goes through the standard size 1 nipples at an excruciating pace and while it's a good idea for them not to gulp outrageously, it shouldn't be a chore either. This isn't an issue if you're using regular formula or breast milk in terms of flow. Also get a drying rack you can keep on the counter and a formula mixing pitcher to keep in the fridge. Formula only keeps for a day so don't go nuts pre-mixing, but having a bunch of it ready can definitely help when you're stumbling around at 3am with a crying, hungry infant.

3. Wherever you do your feedings/holding times, keep burp cloths, soothers, nose sucking bulb thing, and baby lotion within easy reach. Also make sure it has drink holders for you because you also need to hydrate. I mostly use our little couch and I've been using a little gray bath thingie they gave us at the hospital to keep paraphrenalia in. It currently has Aveeno baby lotion, a sleep sack, 2 burp cloths, my water bottle, and 2 binkies in it. It also has the Infant CPR pamphlet we got for easy referral.

4. You're going to get a lot of advice, a lot of it very good, but also not always practical depending on your lifestyle. For instance, I am home with my daughter but I'm a freelance writer. I was already doing assignments between feedings after 2 weeks. So the advice to sleep when she sleeps only goes so far. I do it when I can and so will you.

5. Cut yourself a break. Not just in terms of making mistakes, but also with things like needing to put them down for awhile and not hold them 24/7. Or by watching a favorite show while they sleep. You absolutely need down time and while that's not always possible with a hungry, wet diapered, fussy baby...it's okay to want and need that time. If you have a partner this is easier to do, but not everyone does. Plus you also have human things you need to do like eat and poop yourself.

6. Try not to over anticipate what your baby needs. You can't prevent poopy diapers, you can't prevent hunger, and trying to somehow keep your baby from ever getting fussy will only result in botched feedings where they fall asleep too soon and you have to feed them again in half an hour...or using way more diapers because you're trying to catch every pee/poop the second it happens and they're not ready yet. Obviously you don't want your kid sitting around in a funky diaper but as long as you're dealing with them 8-10 a days or whatever then you're fine.

That's all I've got for now. None of it earth shattering or revelatory, and all subject to whatever my daughter ends up needing. Sometimes that's feedings closer together, sometimes it's longer naps, we figure it out as we go.

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