Tales from the Diaper Bag


Hubby Guest Post No. 3: Sleep? We Don’t Need No Stinking Sleep!

By reading the last couple of posts, you may have gotten the impression that we aren’t getting the AMA-recommended 8 hours of sleep per night.  That is completely inaccurate – in fact, we typically get about 8.5 hours – I get 4 and I graciously let the wife get 4.5 hours of semi-slumber.  Nothing to look at here – please move along.  Seriously, anyone who tells you that the first few months of parenthood isn’t that hard either doesn’t have a kid or has blacked out those months from their memory.  So many of my friends with toddlers have reacted to my tales of woe with a 100-mile stare that I didn’t understand at first.  Now I know that it must be their brain shutting down to protect them from the memory.   

In fact, I recently learned that a very good friend of mine is pregnant with her second baby.  I realized – too late – that I have been regaling her daily with our stories of sleepless nights, reflux and screaming babies in an all-too-small house.  I can’t imagine what she was thinking when I was telling her these tales – did her brain shut them out so I was in essence talking to myself? Maybe she honestly didn’t remember those nights and was now having some sort of Vietnamesqe flashback – hard to say.  God knows I don’t ask her – it’s better not to know. 

In all, we know that sleep patterns change, and that they will get better over time.  We also vaguely remember the first few weeks in which I would stay up until 1:30am to feed the baby and then get to bed around 2am – I watched a lot of late night poker and lousy Showtime movies in those days.  As they say, it is darkest before the dawn (really – I know from experience over the past couple of weeks exactly what dawn looks like), so we’re looking forward to a new sleep pattern that will allow us to both eat dinner AND watch a TV show before having to tend to the baby’s crying. 

A side note to our across-the-street neighbors:  How is it possible that you have your TV on every minute of every day?  I have looked out our back window at all hours, literally, and your TV is always on!  How is it possible that you could watch that much TV?  More disturbingly, you watch a lot of the same shows we do (big TV + condo development = easy to see what you’re watching) – does that mean we having something in common?  Are my wife and I that close to being 24/7 TV watchers?  Freightening thought.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream. . .of More Sleep

I didn’t think we’d be doing sleep training until the baby was 3 months old but the last several weeks have been ROUGH.  She’s not sleeping as well as she did when she was 3-6 weeks old and moreover, she’s miserable. She has been screaming for hours during the night and in the morning she’s a cranky and sleepy baby.  Last Thursday when she screamed non-stop from 8:30 until 4 AM (and no, we were not letting her cry it out or Ferberizing her) we surrendered. We decided to find a sleep training method and try it. We had to get this situation under control because it’s all taking its toll.

The lack of sleep is making me wacky. I forget common words like “coffee” or “door.”  I call everyone by my daughter’s name. . . my friends, my mom, the cat.  Last Thursday I put on my husband’s jeans. . .and didn’t notice the difference. That’s how out of it I was. And then there’s my poor husband. I’m still on maternity leave, so at least I don’t have to put on a suit do any deep thinking after a night spent walking to halls with the baby. My husband . . yikes. The poor guy is getting less sleep than a long distance trucker hopped up on No-Doze.  I don’t know how he’s doing it.

So we hired a sleep consultant (more to follow on that) and bought a new baby sleep book:  Good Night, Sleep Tight.  Essentially, you put the baby down “drowsy, but awake” and sit next to her crib and help her fall asleep in the cribby patting her stomach, telling her she’s ok, etc. but you absolutely DO NOT PICK HER UP OUT OF THE CRIB. Unless she’s completely flipping out, the goal is to help sooth her to sleep in the crib. After a few nights, you move your chair to the middle of the room. Then the door of the nursery. Then outside the nursery, etc. 

We have always rocked our baby asleep, so this is a rough adjustment. We’ve only been doing this for a couple of days, but she’s still  annoyed that we don’t pick her up (and tells us so) and we itch for the times when 20 minutes of rocking soothed her to sleep and let us go back to bed. . .alas, this is probably better for us in the long run. Certainly if she’s able to get herself back to sleep, she won’t cry out in the middle of the night as much.  

Ultimate goal: 8-10 hours of solid sleep. For the baby and for us.  A girl can dream, can’t she? (well, she used to. . when she got REM sleep)


Operation Document Smile: Mission Accomplished

Argh. . Finally!  The smile captured on film!

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Two Months Old!

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The baby is a little more than two months old!  She’s still a hand-full.  This week she had her two month doctor’s appointment and she’s gaining plenty of weight and hitting her developmental benchmarks.  She also got her first round of inoculations, which I had been dreading since she was born. I hated the idea of her being subjected to pain without being able to understand what was happening to her. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The doctor’s appointment unfortunately fell during morning nap-time so she was in a very surly mood by the time the doctor saw her and was a raging, snotty mess for the entire appointment. When she finally got her shots at the end of the visit, she was already so caught up in her meltdown that I don’t think she even noticed that she got a couple of shots. Heck, I don’t think she’d have noticed if she had gotten a hundred shots. Certainly she couldn’t have screamed any louder had she noticed the pain.

Speaking of medical woes, both my husband and I are coming down with a cold. Oy. We’re taking efforts to make sure the baby doesn’t catch our bug (to the extent that’s possible) but we’re struggling to shrug off the sniffles and keep our level of energy up for the baby. We’re both big proponents of sleep as a cure for most ills.  However, there’s little of that to be found in our house weekend.  Indeed, her sleeping patterns have gotten worse these past few weeks. Last night, for example, she didn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. That’s pretty atypical for her. Even on her “bad nights” she”ll sleep solidly between 1 am- 7am.  Last night she was constantly up. . .which means so were we.  On nights like these, I think of all those people who post on online parenting message boards about how their baby magically started sleeping from 7:30 pm – 6:30am and I curse those smug parents and wish horrible spit-up incidents upon them. May their favorite shirts be stained forever! May they forever cringe when burping their children!

Anyhow, my husband is having a particularly tough time dealing with being both sick and severely fatigued, so he’s taking a nap this morning while I watch the baby and catch up on some cleaning.  . . and watch some girly television that he would absolutely hate.  What am I watching? Shall We Dance. Ah, Richard Gere dancing the Pasodoble. Thank you Bravo, for bringing such joy into my home this fine Saturday morning.


Potential Reading Material for Nap Time?

I signed up for Facebook this weekend (I know, I know. . .I am waaaaaaaay late to that party). Anyhow, one of my friends posted a list of a books of which the Big Read estimates that the average American has only read six. I’ll say that I think the list is a little odd- several of the books are “girly” pulp fiction books (Bridget Jones Diary?) so I can’t get all that spun up that most Americans haven’t read more of these.  I’m doing better than the average, but in looking over the list I can see that I’ve never really given Dickens a chance.  How did I get through high school and college without having to read at least one book by that guy? 

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen …Yes
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien … No
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte …Yes
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling …Yes
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee … Yes
6 The Bible …Yes
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte …Yes
8 1984 – George Orwell … Yes
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman … No
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens …No
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott … No
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy …No
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller … Yes
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare … some
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier … Yes
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien … Yes
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks … No
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger ..Yes
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger … Yes
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot …No
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell …Yes
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald … Yes
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens …No
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy …No
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams …No
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh … No
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky …No
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck … No
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll … No
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame …No
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy …No
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens …No
33 The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis …Yes
34 Emma – Jane Austen …Yes
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen …Yes
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe … Yes
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini … Yes
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres … Yes
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden …Yes
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne …Yes
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell … Yes
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown … Yes
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez … Yes
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving … No
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins … No
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery …Yes
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy … No
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood … No
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding … Yes
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan …No
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel …No
52 Dune – Frank Herbert … No
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons … No
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen …Yes
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth … No
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon … Yes
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens …No
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley … Yes
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon …No
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez … Yes
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck … Yes
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov … No
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt … No
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold … No
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas …Yes
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac …No
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy …No
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding … Yes
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie … No
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville … No
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens …No
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker … No
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett …No
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson … No
75 Ulysses – James Joyce …No
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath …No
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome … No
78 Germinal – Emile Zola … No
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray … No
80 Possession – AS Byatt … Yes
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens …No
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell … No
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker …No
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro … No
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert …No
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry … No
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White … Yes
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom … No
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle …Yes
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton … No
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad … No
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupe …Yes
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks … No
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams … No
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole … No
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute … No
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas ..No
98 Hamlet –– Shakespeare … Yes
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl. ..Yes
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo …Yes

Mission for the Weekend: Document the Smile

Our little baby has been smiling for weeks but when we pull out the camera she suddenly turns pensive. Argh! It’s driving me crazy! Now I know how those UFO nuts feel. . . you know it exists but no one believes you until you can document it.  This is as close as we’ve gotten.

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Warm Weather. . .Yay. . Sleep Training. . Boo!

Unseasonably warm weather has let me bust the baby out of our condo for a couple of good long walks.  The weather was fabulous (I wore sandals!) and I was jazzed to get the baby some fresh air and sunshine (with a good SPF and a sunscreen, that is).  I am sooooo looking forward to Spring (real Spring. Not cold, rainy might-as-well-be-Winter March).

In less cheery news, we’re starting to work on the baby’s sleep training.  Nothing extreme, just getting her to sleep in her crib for longer stretches. Before this week, we fed her at 6, 9 and midnight and since my husband was doing to midnight feeding, he kept our snoozing baby in the bouncy seat in our living room until she was ready to eat. The problem was that as our baby got to be a better sleeper, she didn’t want to get up for the midnight feeding. So it became the 1 AM feeding. Then the 2:15 feeding.  Awesome that she was sleeping. Not so awesome that the hubby (who had to be at work in the morning) was napping on the couch waiting for the baby to wake up.

So this week we decided to give the baby her 9 pm feeding in her nursery and then put her in the crib to wake up when she wakes up.  That way my husband and I get some sleep (in our bed) and the baby gets used to sleeping the whole night in her crib, rather than just from 1-6 AM.  Last night we implemented our plan full of hopes and dreams of a good night’s sleep.  Then at 3:30 in the morning the baby woke up.  The horror. The horror. . .

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been up at that time with her and was beyond groggy. I was Zombie Mommy. What’s worse, when she woke up at 3:30 she wasn’t just hungry.  She was angry. Very angry. It was as though my baby had turned into the Incredible Hulk, she was that full of rage and wrath. . .and she stayed that way until about 6:30 in the morning.  Big kudos to my husband who ultimately took the bullet and walked her around until she fell asleep. Much to the relief of our neighbors. I imagine.

She's smiling because she made your eardrums bleed.

She's smiling because she made your eardrums bleed.

I have no idea what tonight holds for us.  I shudder to think.


Sanity Tool Kit

I’ve been home for 6 weeks and things are going pretty ok. The baby wakes up only once during the night to be fed. Plus, my husband has been a real champ and has taken that feeding, so I’m actually sleeping 5-6 hours a night– woo-hoo!  The only thing that’s still a drag is how little I get to leave the house.

There’s two factors at work here. One is the weather– it’s winter. So we can’t go for walks or take trips to the park or really do anything outside.  No cute baby snowsuit (or a parka for mom) can make that kind of outing anything but miserable.  I even feel bad taking her from the car to the store when the wind is blowing because I worry that her little face will get wind chapped and I’ll be judged by all other mothers in the store to be a total crap parent.  We can go to the mall or Target (and we’ve done both) but really, that’s far from ideal. She isn’t getting any fresh air and I’m tempting to do some  (usually totally unnecessary) shopping.  The other factor at play is the baby herself. She’s older and pretty alert when she’s awake, but she’s still too young to enjoy looking around at places and people. She also gets pretty cranky being stuck in the car seat/stroller for more than an hour at a time.  So, for now, our outings are mad dash sprints that I make hoping to get out and back before the baby wakes up and treats the world to her very special sonic boom cry of doom.  I think we’re still a month or two away from her enjoying being out and about.

Consequently, I spend a lot of time in my living room. Hanging out. Watching the baby. . . watching me. It can make for a long day. I rely on my go-to’s to make sure I don’t go insane.

1. Lost on DVD- because you can only watch so much daytime television and frankly, I’ve seen all the Forensic Files, Baby Story and Dr. Phil that I can handle.

2. ITunes- I play music for the baby during the day and we have cds of nursery rhymes, but sometimes I just have to turn off “The Ants Go Marching” and turn on something a little more current.  Also, the baby seems to prefer dancing to my music (memories from the womb?) and if she’s happy, I’m happy. . . or at least not deafened by her cries.

3.  The gym- three days a week my husband takes over baby duty and I go to the gym to do some cardio. I’m only there 30 minutes but I get to burn off some baby weight and blow off steam from the day. I come home feeling great and I sleep like a rock that night. I was never one of those people that liked to exercise but I LOVE it now.  Even if it means having to look at my flabby post-baby body in all those gym mirrors.

4. Tea time and escapist fiction- When the baby takes her afternoon nap (if she takes an afternoon nap, but that’s another story) I make some decaf tea and read something really junky. I have a pile of non-fiction that I’ll get to eventually. . .but for the past few weeks, I’ve been too tired and preoccupied to read anything heavier than the Style section of the morning paper.


One Month Old

The baby is a month old on Sunday.  In many ways, time has flown.  I’m getting used to living my life in three hour cycles– a diaper change, feeding, burping followed by a desperate attempt to do everything else I need to do before the cycle starts over.  Oy. I think my Boppy pillow might merge into my midsection.  While all that’s been happening, the baby has already started to grow and develop in leaps and bounds.  I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in another month. Personally, I hope I’m in a place where I’m thinking less about how many dirty diapers the baby has had in a day. No adult should think about poop as much as I am these days.   Seriously.

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This month’s challenge: trips out of the house.  Now that la bambina is 4 weeks old, we’re starting to take (very very) short trips out in public.  It’s a tricky business. I have to feed her, put her in her car seat and get her out and back before she gets cranky.  My inability to smoothly handle the car seat, stroller and diaper bag has. . complicated matters. I’m still trying to get the hang of getting the car seat in and out of the car without dislocating my shoulder or locking my keys in the car.  I’m also less than impressive with the Snap-N-Go stroller (It would be better named the “Try to Snap-Curse-Resnap-and Go While Onlookers Snicker”, if my experience is any indication).  Actually, the baby has been fabulous during our little adventures so far, but that’s only because she’s a sweet baby and I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’m hoping that by Month Two, la bambina will be a little road warrior and I’ll be less dopey.


Tired. So tired.

That is all.