Friday, 7 September 2012

Parenthood: day seventeen

A couple of nights ago, I drove from Symington to the edge of Markham, fifty kilometres each way, to pick up a strange baby-rocking contraption from a kind family that no longer needed it. They charged us fifty dollars for the otherwise two hundred dollar beast, so the two-hour trek was worth it. Anyway, I love a good drive.

When I first saw the thing though, I was a bit stunned. There it sat in this family's foyer, like some infant space flight training machine. I had no idea these things are so big! I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit in the car, but it did, and now it sits in our living room, giving us some idea of what our house will look like over the coming years.

Swings are another recommendation from Dr. Karp. Although they're clearly a popular choice for helping infants sleep, we hadn't thought about them until watching his video, which makes them look like miracle machines. I was unsure, thinking we could get by without, but Danijela was immediately convinced. She was right.

After washing the seat covers and cleaning the leaked battery acid from two of the four D batteries left in the compartment (and worrying that maybe we'd bought a dud), we plopped a cranky Oliver in the seat, set it to swing at the fastest speed, turned on the white noise, and waited. A minute of rocking and he was calm as can be. A couple minutes more and he was asleep. Yes!

So not only does this thing swing at six speeds, it also offers two levels of "soothing vibration", five or six varieties of white noise, including one with bird sounds, tinny lullabies, volume control, a mobile, and other distractions. Strangely, though (to me at least), it only runs on batteries. However, the seller assured us that she had only replaced them once for two kids, so I guess four Ds go a fair distance.

The key of course is that it works, that is, it puts Oliver to sleep. This is mainly important for naps. He might nap otherwise, but up until we got this thing, that was unpredictable at best, and certainly a lot more effort. As far as we can tell, in the first couple of weeks, Oliver slept about ten or eleven hours in a twenty-four-hour period, almost entirely at night. Much of his daytime sleep was in five-minute increments while he was nursing. But the normal range for newborns is fifteen to twenty hours. He should have been having several naps during the day, but he wasn't, and I think that had a lot to do with his fussiness and crying. We could see that he was tired, but he wouldn't sleep. He didn't know how to nap yet.

A common refrain from parenting guides is that infants have to learn how to sleep properly (and parents have to teach them). Without aids like motorized swing chairs, that means creating an appropriate environment for naps, looking for the signs of sleepiness (usually not too hard to catch), putting the kid down, and hoping for the best. Then, when the baby cries out five, ten or fifteen minutes later, soothing him to sleep again and on and on, until he finally naps. Or doesn't, which was often the case with Oliver. And then there's overtiredness. Oh man. But both child and parent learn from this process, right?

The contraption in our living room requires no training. We notice the signs of regular or overtiredness, put him in the seat, turn it on, and watch—voila! Whatever. If we had to spend another few weeks teaching Oliver how to nap, we'd all lose it. Anyway, he's already napping better both in and out of the seat, and he seems happier for it, so while I wonder a bit about what it means to use the fancy seat, I don't feel bad using it.


Oliver gained two pounds in his first two weeks. Usually newborns lose weight before the gain it, but he didn't lose any weight at all.

He seems to enjoy car rides, although this humidity is tricky. Today, we went location-scouting for an upcoming shoot of Danijela's, and he fell asleep on the drive, even after already having a couple of good naps. But on the drive home, he was hot and bothered, and we simply couldn't calm him.

It feels great to get out of the house and do things. The other day, we went for coffee and snacks at Starving Artist and stopped in Campbell Park to feed the little dude. On Tuesday, we took him to the midwives clinic in Kensington and then into the market for some supplies and sandwiches. That excursion might have been nicer if Danijela and Oliver weren't confined to the car due to the torrential rain. But these things are helping us feel normal.

While we're starting to sort out Oliver's sleep (fingers crossed), I don't know what to do about mine. I was spoiled last week with a couple of uninterrupted six-hour sleeps with couple-hour bookends, but that's not normal and I don't expect to enjoy such moments very often. I (and Danijela) haven't really napped either. There's generally too much to do. I feel pretty good though. I'm trying to do a few sun salutations every morning before breakfast to get the blood flowing.

We've been sleeping with a white noise rain track for the past week (another Karp recommendation—for baby, not specifically for us), so that has been weird, too. I don't think it has interfered with my sleep, but it is still odd.

We have both (all!) been much happier the last few days. Oliver has cried less, and has been easier to soothe, and Danijela and I have felt a lot more comfortable and confident, which I'm sure will not last!  

There really is too much to write, and I'm afraid I'm not completely coherent—not really finishing my thoughts. So more later!

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

Our first we had to drive or stroller everywhere to sleep our second almost exclusively slept on us or a swing for the first three months. They can both self soothe and go to bed now - we read all the books too and they are alarmist. You have to find what works for your family! We even used the horrible soothers and they are both fine at 4 and 6!

Creative Commons License
The New Dilettantes by Adam Gorley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.