How to Survive Rough Nights

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The first step is to surrender to the fact that they will happen, and that it’s okay. Babies are not machines, they are living creatures that are developing rapidly and experiencing many challenging things. Sleep is developmental; there will be many ebbs and flows. Don’t expect that at any certain age they will magically sleep 10 hours straight. It often takes a few years for them to get there consistently. There will be leaps, teething, growing pains, colds, and gassy nights. It’s okay. It’s part of life with a baby. You will get through. ❤

You will probably cry. You will probably get frustrated, annoyed, even angry. You will likely have thoughts of harming your child. But you will get through. Here are a few thoughts that help me during those rough nights.

This won’t last forever.

My baby needs me right now. I am glad I can be here for him.

I love my baby even when I don’t like him.

Sleep is developmental. It isn’t his fault he’s having a hard time.

Someday he will be a grown man (with his own baby who won’t sleep.)

I am learning patience.

I am practicing real love and surrender.

Right now there are women WISHING they could trade places with me. Women who desperately long to have babies but aren’t able to. Women who are mothers of angel babies who would give anything to have their sweet baby crying in their arms once again.

I would miss this terribly if something happened to him.

My short term comfort is not worth risking damaging his long term emotional health. (when I’m tempted to try some form of Cry it Out)

I am not alone. There are other mothers awake right now; pacing the floor and praying their baby will sleep.

Other things I do are…

… ask my husband to take a turn. I try to do it as long as possible, since I know I can nap and he can’t. But at the end of the day, we are both parents and sometimes I. Just. Can’t. handle it anymore.

… step outside for a minute with him.

…be gentle with myself the next day. Nap. Take it easy. Don’t try to do all the things, just do the essentials.

…Squeeze my baby and tell I love him. Over and over. Sometimes I need help remembering it. Ha.

… Pray

… Rock him in our big rocking chair in the living room

… deep breaths. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be.

Other ideas are lavender essential oil, soft music, etc.

If I’m really getting angry and realize that I may actually hurt him (sleep deprivation combined with the crying can really mess with your mind) I put him down for a minute and breathe.

What do I do with Noah when he won’t just nurse back to sleep? Well, I keep trying to nurse, lol. But after that–I walk him while gently bouncing. I pat his back to try to burp him. I change his diaper just in case that was the issue. I hold him with gentle pressure on his belly or in a sort of squatting position to help relieve any gas. (also can try bicycling their legs or massaging in a clockwise direction) I rock him. I hum or sing or just talk soothingly. I keep everything dark and calm, even if he’s acting wide awake.

Hopefully that was helpful to some of you. Much love and best wishes for many good nights and few rough ones. ❤

Preparing for Breastfeeding

img_6556Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things there is. It is a wonderful experience to watch your baby grow and be content from your milk. However… it can be very challenging, especially in the first weeks. Here are some ideas of things you can do during pregnancy to increase your chances of being successful at it.

  1. Find a good CLC (certified lactation consultant) or IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, years more training and experience) in your area. Contact or meet her if possible. Otherwise, just keep her number handy. In your phone or on the fridge. You may think you won’t need one–I didn’t think I would since my mom was there and she’s nursed 8 babies. But… I had complications she hadn’t experienced, and I was so glad I already was aware of a local CLC who could come help.
  2. Build a support team. Educate your husband/SO as you learn. Let them know how much you will need their support and encouragement. Find another woman who has breastfed successfully and ask her to be your support person for late night texts and questions and commiseration and so forth. SUPPORT IS EVERYTHING. Breastfeeding during the first weeks and months is TOUGH.
  3. Join Expressions! Lactation Services group on Facebook. We have a couple IBCLCs and several CLCs on our team to help answer questions. You can also learn a ton just by hanging out there and reading. (I am one of the moderators)
  4. Buy/borrow a good book on breastfeeding. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by the LLL is a good choice.
  5. Wear cotton bras and/or go braless when possible
  6. Get sun on your chest for a few minutes a day if at all possible
  7. Only use water to wash on and around your nipples. They’re self cleaning and soap will dry them out. Plus it is a good habit to be in for when your baby is born–you wouldn’t want baby accidentally eating any residual soap.
  8. Buy stuff… The only things you NEED for nursing are breasts and a baby. However, a nursing pillow (My Brest Friend is a good one, better than the boppy according to many women), nice cotton sleep nursing bras (comfy and you will probably want a bra on at night due to leaking), and reusable and disposable nursing pads are my suggestions as far as stuff. A pump is a good idea, just in case your baby can’t/won’t latch for the first couple days like Noah. (But otherwise it is NOT to be used until after 6/8 weeks.) Nipple butter  (or coconut oil) is nice, but you can also just leave milk on and let it air dry… works wonders. Nipple shields should NOT be used unless under the supervision of an IBCLC. They can cause issues and don’t really solve problems, just mask them. Nursing covers are optional, of course. Personally I just used a blanket to cover my breast. I don’t feel it necessary to try hide the fact that I’m nursing, but I do cover that much just out of respect for my peeps. Trying to ease everyone into this whole nursing in public deal. 😛 The two shirt method also works well.

And that’s about all you can do while pregnant. No need to take any supplements, rough up your nipples, etc., etc. Mainly just learn as much as you can and be super determined. Don’t give yourself the option to quit. It’s the most important thing you can do for your baby and yourself. It will improve your health (lowers chances of breast cancer and several other things) and your baby’s health while nursing and over the long term.

Make a list of reasons why you will keep going even when it’s hard and refer back to it on rough days. You can do it!!! ❤

P.S. I am not getting reimbursed for any of the suggestions I make here… these are just things that worked well for me.

All the Baby Stuff…

… you don’t need. Living in a small condo has really helped me simplify and do without. I’m not a huge “stuff” person anyway, so it’s been relatively easy… but still a learning curve, especially with a baby. I had a hard time figuring out what I needed to register for and what I didn’t… I thought I’d help any others in a similar situation out.

So here’s what you DON’T need, at least for awhile:

A Crib

A nursery

A changing table (changing pads on the bed or floor works well)

A high chair (we bought a simple, inexpensive one after six months when he started solids… if you have a table (we use a coffee table that lifts up) you can use a booster seat thing on one of your chairs.)

A swing

A bouncy seat

A bumbo

A baby bath tub (if you have a sink or a tub… we co-bathe or wash in the sink. Now that he can sit, he sometimes takes shallow baths in the tub “alone”. We did get one, but he ended up hating it. I wish we hadn’t registered for it.)

A baby monitor (He sleeps in the same room as we do, obviously, and the house is so small he’s hardly away from me… just a couple steps to go check on him.)

A noise machine (there are many noise apps, some free! We use Sleep Pillow)

A nursing cover (nurse uncovered (two shirt method works well for most women) or use a blanket/burp cloth to cover your breast. Noah hates covers as do a lot of babies.)

A diaper pail (use a wet bag instead)

Baby lotion (I have never used any lotion on Noah… just coconut oil occasionally. I just don’t bathe him too frequently and use very little, very natural soap)

Diaper cream (coconut oil again. Also cloth diapers.)

Baby powder (unnecessary and some of them are dangerous)

Formula

Pacifiers (but then if you want to use them, they’re pretty small.)

Baby dishes (we do baby led weaning, so he just smashes stuff on his high chair tray for now)

Baby hamper (we just wash all of our clothes in a hypoallergenic, dye free, natural-ish detergent so no need to separate clothes)

Diaper bag (we use Pete’s school back pack)

Swaddler thingies. Blankets work just fine for most babies. Also some babies hate being swaddled, like mine. Ahem. If yours loves it, you may want to invest in some.

Baby shoes. Until they’re like 6 months or older. They fit them for like a day before that. Plus it can be bad for their growth if the shoes are at all restrictive/hard.

Any gagety things

Cart cover

Hand mitt thingies. They use their hands/arms in nursing and to regulate temperature… so covering them can be an issue. Also if they do scratch themselves, it heals very quickly.

What you DO need, in my opinion/experience:


A baby carrier or two! Preferably one wrap type carrier and one soft structured carrier.


Diapers (we did disposable for the first couple months and then switched to cloth (Soft Bums for the win!) with cloth wipes. It’s actually not bad, especially when exclusively breastfeeding.)


Some baby clothes, but keep in mind they grow SO FAST so you only need like maybe 10-20 outfits per size. At least if you do laundry frequently.


Changing pads. The soft ones that fold up small.


Carseat. (duh) Read up on carseat safety! It’s fairly simple… but so important and so easy to get wrong.


Books (I love Usborne and so does Noah. I am a consultant if you’re interested. :))


Some toys, don’t go crazy… they don’t need much. Think toys that can be used for years. (Sophie really does live up to the hype, btw)


Those expensive big muslin blankets. Seriously, we used them a lot more than I imagined. As play mats, backgrounds, nursing cover, for comfort/warmth, etc.


Bibs. a couple soft ones for drool and a couple rubber ones for food.


Hooded baby towels, ’cause cute. But you don’t NEED them, technically. Babies can use adult towels just fine. Same for baby washcloths.


A pack and play (didn’t bother using it at all till after 3 months because we bedshare and newborns don’t do the sleeping alone thing too well), but after that we started doing some naps in it… and from around 5 months or so he starts the night in there.


A rock and play (one of the only places besides your arms newborns will be content for longer than 1 second)

The Wonder Weeks app (very helpful for understanding the developmental stages of your baby!! Big sanity saver.)

Sound machine app

Burp cloths (could use rags or wash clothes or prefolds)

A couple hats

Socks and/or footed pjs, though keep in mind that baby’s feet are naturally cold. Use the core temp (chest/belly) to determine layers, not feet or hands. If the belly is warm they’re fine. Also, keep in mind that being too warm is more dangerous than too cold for them. If they are held, skin to skin especially, it will help keep their temp just right. 😊

Nose frida/snot sucker (sounds gross but seriously, you will do many more worse things in your mom carrier. That thing works well and really isn’t as bad as it sounds.)


Stroller… I didn’t use it till he could sit up, personally, and I still carry him a lot. But strollers are handy for all the stuff you don’t want to carry. And sometimes it’s nice to put baby in there.

Nail clippers or scissors, though I just tore or bit his nails the first several months.

Tooth brush (we just use water for now)

………

That’s not an exhaustive list, but it covers a lot of the non essentials and essentials. A lot of that you can get second hand, and people also often are willing to chip in for bigger things. Having a baby isn’t as expensive or as cluttery as “they” say!!

Feel free to comment with your experience/items for either list!

Staying at Home

What’s it like to be a stay at home mom of one baby?

It’s lying in bed with your sleeping baby latched on; staying there because you know he needs you right now, even though other things are calling to you.

It’s laughing with your baby while you read a book with a sore back because of all the hunching over and lifting you do.

It’s anxious, fearful moments because you’re alone with your thoughts, your phone, and a helpless, non verbal baby.

It’s constant stopping and starting; never ending interruptions on the same tasks over and over.

It’s your heart bursting inside you with the overwhelming sweetness and brilliance of your baby.

It’s wondering what your life purpose is; feeling like you’re not doing anything worthwhile even though in the back of your mind you know there’s nothing better you could do.

It’s walks outside, enjoying the sort of fresh air, trying to push the overwhelming thoughts aside and just live… it’s so easy for babies, but not for mommies.

It’s being amazed at the fact that your baby is doing super basic things–but it’s so wonderful to you because you grew this person and they’re doing the things!!

It’s trying to eat. A constant battle, because you want to eat healthy but every time you actually try to cook/prepare something, either baby needs you before you’re able to do it, or baby needs you before you can eat it. So you end up not eating enough, and/or eating junk.

It’s the nap time dilemma–do I have time to shower? Should I eat? Maybe do a project? Just sit and veg? Clean? Read? So many things to do, so little time!! Nevermind, he woke up. (Or, I miss my baby….. wait why is he still sleeping?? Is he dead?? No, not dead, but now I just wasted a whole hour (or two) I could have showered! I could have made real food! I could have cleaned the bathroom! I could have painted!! Wrote a book!!! Ahhh!)

It’s trying to come up with activities for your baby but not having ideas.

It’s feeling like you’re not doing enough, like you should be doing more stimulation or something.

It’s being afraid to love them so much because what if something happens to them?

It’s being frustrated because you can’t seem to get anything done, but yet you can’t possibly imagine not having this sweet squishy mischievous little one in your life.

It’s praying and hoping that they’ll make a difference in this world, and then wondering if there even will be a world worth growing up into.

It’s being so lonely and anxious that you continually go to social media to distract yourself and feel connected, only to read something that makes you more anxious or feel less connected. But it’s hard to find another option so you keep repeating the same dumb cycle and feeling like you’re such a mess.

It’s going way too many days without a shower, but your baby sure is clean.

It’s precious moments of gazing into your giggling baby’s eyes, or watching them sleep and feeling like you can’t bear the cuteness.

It’s the wonder of watching them learn and explore.

It’s the frustration of them pulling everything within reach on the floor and chewing on it.

It’s never being off the clock; 24/7, you’re on call. Thankfully my husband shares in the load quite a bit, so it’s way better than it could be. But I still feel that constant “on”.

It’s feeling like your failing but being unsure of how to do better or what to change… having bursts of inspiration that are squelched by either your own tiredness and anxiety or just your baby’s constant neediness.

It’s beautiful, challenging, worthwhile, anxiety-inducing, thought-provoking, exhausting, hilarious, and so sweet.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity, and still working to figure out how to better manage my thoughts, emotions and time. It’s challenging, but it strange ways. In some ways it’s extremely simple–keep myself and the baby alive and relatively happy and healthy. But the mental/emotional side is much more complex, especially in our day.

So… I’m writing this in a dark room with my baby sleeping on me surrounded by boxes and thoughts. I’m wondering what’s going to happen after this–will he stay asleep if I put him in his bed? I can’t keep working on the boxes because it might wake him up. (One bedroom) What else can I do? I’m hungry. Again. Ugh. Better eat. And pee, that’s important. I need a shower but that’s tempting fate; besides I want to finish planning the menu and paint and shop for Christmas and I should do dishes……

Nap time dilemma strikes again.

I’m gonna try putting him down and see what happens. 😬

P.s. Isn’t he darling though??!