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An Open Letter December 9, 2008

Filed under: Daily Grind,Schmooper — booksunread @ 6:25 am

To Any Parent I’ve Ever Secretly Mocked Because:
1. So what if he’s breastfed? Pump a bottle and leave him for a night to go out.
2. God, kid is 4 months old, leave him with a sitter and go out for a night.
3. So what if it’s naptime? You can still leave the house, he can just catch up later.

Yeah, I am an Asshole.  I just really, really did not understand.
1. I had no idea that there were breastfed babies who would refuse to take a bottle.  Until mine did.  I was never able to get Squidge to take one from me or Miguel until I went back to work and left him with my parents and he had no choice.  Until then, there was no one else I felt right about pawning him off on to break him to the bottle.  For a SAHM without close friends and family in town, I now can see how this might be impossible.

2. The number of times I’ve actually done this? Four. Three times when my parents were in town, once when Miguel’s were.  Despite numerous competent people generously offering, repeatedly, to watch Squidge for us.  Mostly it’s been because he has had that early evening fussiness so my options have been to subject someone else to him screaming his head off (not what they had in mind) or put him to bed before we go out (which I felt guilty about since they were offering so they could play with the cute baby, not sit in my house and watch tv).

Even now that the witching hour is over, I’m still reluctant because I worry how he would react to someone else trying to put him to bed.  He goes down pretty easy for me now with about 15-20 minutes of off and on crying before he passes out.  Again, we could go out after he’s in bed but I feel bad asking someone to just come hang out at our house without the reward of cute baby (did I mention my baby is cute?:)).  And how would he react to finding a near-stranger there if he does wake up while we’re gone?  Miguel hasn’t even attempted to put him to bed on his own yet.

And also, who the fuck has the energy to go out when they have a 4 month old at home who still doesn’t sleep through the night?  And you either have to go to work or still get up at the crack of ass and take care of said 4 month old all of the next day?  Not me, for sure. I’m usually in bed between 8 and 9.

3. Did you know that a baby/kid that misses a regular nap may catch a second wind and stay up well past it, but will eventually hit a wall and meltdown in spectacular fashion?  And be so tired they don’t even know what to do with themselves, including go to sleep, which is what they need?  Yeah, me neither.  Now I understand the nap Nazis.

Lately, I’ve just been hit with this overwhelming sense that I suck at this, and have no clue what the fuck I’m doing.  I’ve stopped reading the Your Baby Week by Week and What to Expect the First Year because they are just stressing me out with all the things they say Squidge “should” or “might” be doing by this age.  I second guess everything and wonder if I should be doing things differently.

Take sleeping through the night.  We’ve been waking him at 11:30ish and giving him a feeding to help encourage him to sleep all night.  All the books recommend this as a top off before YOU go to bed.  Except because he DOESN’T SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, neither one of us is up that late, so we have to set an alarm to get ourselves and him up to do this.  Then he is almost always up again between 2 and 4 and out again until 6.  If he does make it past then, then he only makes it till 5/5:30 or so which is not ideal because we are getting ready for work and it’s better if he gets up at 6 (also on the weekends, I really value that extra hour of sleep). 

The other issue is that he usually takes a full bottle if he does the 2-4 wake up. If he makes it till 5:30-6, regardless of whether or not he had that in between bottle, he rarely takes more than an ounce or two, if anything at all. He is just too awake, happy to see us and more interested in playing than eating.  So to cut out that wake up is to cut out a feeding, something he can ill afford as he is still eating basically the same amount he did two months ago and doesn’t make up for it by eating more the rest of the day.  The times when we don’t get him up at 11:30 (sometimes I forget the alarm or just plain can’t haul myself out of bed when there is no crying baby to immediately attend to), he sometimes wakes up around that time naturally, or he sometimes makes it until about 1.  When he makes it till 1, then he usually sleeps the rest of the night till 6. 

So what to do? Stop beating our heads against the wall with this 11:30 feeding that doesn’t seem to be doing anything and just feed him when he wakes up?  But then is he ever going to be able to go basically 11 hours from when we put him down at 7 until 6 in the morning and we’re dooming ourselves to even longer interrupted sleep? I DON’T KNOW, and it stresses me out.

Again with the feeding and sleeping-the books say he should be consolidating his naps into two longer ones a day now. Squidge still takes, and clearly needs, four naps a day.  Some naps he will go longer than usual, but if it’s more than a half hour we wake him up because otherwise his eating will also get off schedule which means there’s not enough time in the day to get them all in.  And as I said, he does not then take more at another feeding to make up for a missed one.  So should I keep waking him or start seeing how long he sleeps and just feed him when he gets up, trusting that eventually his appetite will prompt him to take larger feedings and keep him eating enough to grow and thrive?  I DON’T KNOW.  What if I try it and he doesn’t start eating more per feeding and his weight gain stalls again?

Especially now that his torticollis and flat head have been diagnosed, I am continuously anxious about his development and what other problems I may be missing like I missed that.  Like, despite rolling from his tummy to his back for the first time three weeks ago, he still does not do it consistently.  I can’t remember the last time I saw him do it. It’s been days, despite the large increase in the amount of tummy time we’ve given him since then.  You’d think that when he gets bored/pissed off with tummy time, which he inevitably does, very quickly or after 15 minutes or so depending on the length of time you are able to distract and entertain him, he never just pushes himself over on to his back. I know he can do it, I’ve seen him.  You’d think he’d want to perform this new trick over and over again. But nope, he goes days in between doing it and then only does it once or twice in a row. Is this normal? I DON’T KNOW. 

And yes, I know, logically, every baby is different and develops at his/her own pace.  But I’m sure many a parent has used just that justification/reassurance to push down niggling fears and doubts that something is wrong developmentally with their baby.  When really, they were right and something is/was wrong.


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