Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Babies for problem solvers: night and day are a world apart

It takes a lot of energy to fail to put a baby down for a nap. Sure, sometimes it takes a lot to succeed at it, too, but failing just drains me.

It's important to set limits. I imagine that's a lesson I'll learn again. It's probably the most generally applicable thing we've learned during this brief period of trying to teach Oliver to fall asleep (day and night) on his own, i.e., without nursing, bouncing, rocking, walking, soothing, and so on.

Everything started so well! We had a simple plan: make sure Oliver was awake when we put him down to sleep at night and after each nighttime feed. That meant making sure he didn't fall asleep while nursing. He didn't have to be very awake—besides being very difficult sometimes, that would be counterproductive—but definitely not asleep. If he whined or cried, I would pick him up, calm him, and put him down again, and repeat until he fell asleep. And it worked! The first night, I only had to pick him up maybe two or three times at each waking, the next night, less, and I think by the third night, he had figured it out—huzzah! He no longer complained when we put him down awake. He just went to sleep. We felt good. We had succeeded at adjusting Oliver's nighttime sleep habits!

How hard could it be to adjust his daytime habits? Ha ha ha ha.

As an aside, I think I have tried to add a bit of humour to my posts, but the air is not the only thing getting drier in our house as the weather gets colder. Humour is among the first senses to fail without deep sleep, and I haven't had any of that for some time. So, if you think I'm making a joke, I probably am. It just might not be very funny. Or it might not make sense.

Another thing that dries up with poor sleep is sympathy, which is unfortunate, since it's extremely important! That probably suggests something bad about how sympathetic I am regularly. But things are generally good. Oliver's been getting regular six-hour stretches of sleep at night, and we're sort of figuring out how to turn "regular" into "consistent". The key: feed him as much as possible during the day and before bed! That might sound obvious, particularly given our past issues, but I'll talk about it more next time.

I wonder sometimes whether we're fussing too much about this or that, trying to solve problems that aren't really problems at all. He's only twelve weeks old after all! But we must balance our needs and Oliver's, all while trying to figure out what the heck is happening.

Part of the reason we are taking these steps is so that we can all be in better shape by the time I return to work (January), and by the time Oliver is too big for his bassinet (December) and needs to move into his crib—in his nursery—on a different floor from our bedroom. We figure that if Oliver develops good sleeping habits asap—ideally, sleeping through the night—we might not have to come up with any interim crib measures. Well, it's a good thing we started when we did!

But I'll get into the daytime another time, or else this will turn into an endless post.


Over nine days, Oliver grew half a kilogram, around eighteen ounces, two ounces a day. That's twice the expected rate. After that growth spurt, he weighed six and a half kilos (fourteen pounds, five ounces), and that was a week ago. He's had another brief spurt and is surely closing in on seven kilos. Still, he hasn't gotten very chubby yet. He's growing long as well as wide.

It seems a bit absurd that we have to take care of these helpless animals for so long before they can really do anything. Parenthood—at least at the beginning—is a condition that does not fit into the modern desire for convenience, instant gratification, and "individualism". It's a giant reminder of our humanness and a true end to adolescence—if one takes the endeavour seriously, I guess. At the same time, it feels animal, even though most baby animals are considerably more competent than baby humans! Moreover, because I've been the homemaker since Oliver was born—with Danijela working and me on leave—it's really been non-stop baby with only very small windows for anything else. (I'll return to that thought later.) It's very exciting to get to guide this little human through the early stages of being, but I'm certainly still getting used to it.


In developmental news, Oliver has clearly found his hands, and will suck them when he can get them in his mouth, which is fairly often. So he's gaining control of his limbs, but he's certainly got some flailing left to do. He's also taken to tummy time, and is lifting his head and starting to hold himself up with his arms. He hasn't rolled over yet though, and he's got a way to go before he knows what he's doing on his tummy. He is more responsive, too, and talkative, cooing and gooing whenever he's in a good mood, whether someone is around to listen or not. These are great signs!

More later.

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