7.19.2010

An Answer

I recently put up a facebook status about being how I seem unable to shower before 2pm. (But just for the record, a few days ago I was showered and dressed by 9am, but the next day it was back to 2:30). A friend then asked why I couldn’t put her in a crib or something to take a shower. I think she was a bit afraid I would think she was asking the question in a rude way but I knew she wasn’t because about 2 months ago when I was 38 weeks pregnant and everyone was telling me to enjoy eating a meal sitting down or showering in the morning, I was wondering the same thing. That question was right up there with “But what am I going to do all day?” And they are pretty closely linked.

As someone who thinks it is vitally important that I stay home with my child, I obviously didn’t think that what I was going to be doing was unimportant, I just couldn’t really wrap my head around how I would actually be spending my minutes.

And to be honest, while I can answer the first question (and I promise, I will eventually), I still have a hard time with the second. I know that I am busy all day and exhausted by the time I go to bed, but if I add up the minutes I spend on the few activities I can actually quantify (change 8 diapers x 5 minutes = 40 + have face to face or tummy time with Lucy = 60 minutes, etc), it doesn’t add up. In fact, I’d probably be missing 5-6 hours

So what did I do with the rest of the day? Did I really just spend them holding/feeding/bouncing/rocking a baby? Well, Yes!

When Lucy is awake, I am either feeding her, changing her or playing with her. She has finally gotten to the point where she can spend 5-10 minutes on a blanket amusing herself by staring at her hands or black and white pictures but when left alone (and by alone I mean, I’m sitting there but not interacting with her) her mood can go from happy to screaming bloody murder in a matter of seconds so leaving her like that isn’t a good idea, even if she is safe in her co-sleeper. Plus, she isn’t in that awake and active stay enough that I want to waste that time.

But it is true what they say, babies sleep a lot. But what they don’t tell you is that their sleep cycles are very short and they spend a lot of time in that light sleep stage. For Lucy, that means the stage where she must be held or at least touched. If she is between Craig and I on the bed and starts to stir, all he normally needs to do is put his hand on her chest and she will go back to sleep, but if we don’t, she will completely wake up and not be too happy about it either. So during the day I hold her or wear her a lot or if I really need a break, I’ll wait till she is completely out. Not falling asleep, not the “it looks like I’m asleep but if you look very closely between my closed eyelids you can see my eyes moving” stage but the totally out of it, “you can pick my hand up and drop it and I don’t stir” stage. That is when I can put her down in her infant chair and do something like use the stove or take a shower. I only have until her next light sleep stage though. The infant chair on vibrate will keep her asleep through a light sleep stage about 50% of the time but it is best not to count on it. Murphy’s law says that if I do, I will end up with a screaming baby and shampoo in my hair. But still, the infant chair is great. Her first deep sleep I eat breakfast, her second I normally grab lunch, the third is when I try to shower (hence the 2pm thing) and the 4th I try and check emails, switch laundry, etc. Writing this down makes it sound very tedious but it really isn’t, I love it. I may smell bad all morning but I love it. And it is nice to know that our UPS man’s wife had a baby a month ago so he doesn’t judge :-)

Which brings me to my final point. I’ve been saying Lucy is an easy baby. I’m not sure that is entirely correct. I think she is just a normal baby that gets held a lot. While at my parents (where they have cable!) I enjoyed an episode or two of “Bringing Home Baby.” Since I had just lived through that, I’m not really sure why I enjoyed watching it but I did. There was one mom that was fretting over her 3-4 day old little boy, saying how he was such a fussy cranky baby and always cried. But then I saw that even though their were four adults in the room (her, the dad and her in-laws) they kept trying to put him in his crib by himself and he didn’t like it. She then went on to say that he would only stop crying when he was held. It made me so sad to watch.

Now I don’t think spending a few minutes alone in a crib will scar him for life but I did feel really bad for her, she was already thinking so negatively about it because she didn’t really know what to expect. I wanted someone to tell her that she didn’t have a extremely fussy, cranky newborn; she just had a newborn. Our babies weren’t that different but instead of thinking “My baby always cries unless I hold him,” I just always think “Wow, Lucy is such a happy baby as long as I am willing to hold/nurse her.” Perspective changes everything! I’m not saying that their aren’t truly high needs babies and I certainly am not doubting that their are colicky babies out there that despite their parents rocking, bouncing, swaddling ,etc just insist on crying for long periods of time. Even my “easy baby” has been having rough evenings the last week or so. She is calm most of the time if I am willing to nurse her but we have had to resort to the vacuum or hairdryer a few times. Sometimes babies are just fussy, I get that. But I do wonder how many “cranky, fussy” babies out there are just babies getting a label they don’t really deserve.

5 comments:

aggierudy3 said...

Great perspective! Zuzu would not sleep with us holding her or even in the room with her after the first two weeks. I missed out on so much cuddle time because of her personality. I'm hoping the next baby is better about wanting to be with me because I know I'll spend a lot of time scurrying after a toddler.

Zuzu was an efficient nurser, but 30 minutes times six was still 3 hours a day. Add to that changing, dressing, bathing, and I worked more with her than when I was teaching part-time. It was also distributed throughout the day, so my actual free-time was much shorter and at odd times.

Amanda said...

but is it wrong to just let her cry for a little while, if you're really needing to do something that can't involve her? (I'm not trying to say that not getting a shower every day is repulsive at all, but keeping with that example, say it's been a week since you last had one and you're feeling like you really really need one and Craig is out of town)

MacKenzie said...

AR - Although it certainly cuts down on my productivity, I do feel lucky that Lucy is a cuddler. Right now she is asleep on Craig's chest while he is napping next to me on the couch and it is pretty much the cutest site I've every seen.

Amanda - It depends on who you ask (it is a very heated subject in mommy world) but I'd say at this age, yes. Since she has no concept of time, if I am not where she can see me, she doesn't really know if I am ever coming back and she is very vulnerable to stresses at this age. When she is older it isn't as big of a deal (even 6 months old is a bigger difference)I think Craig will talk about this more in a post about another book he read but basically, we are firm believers in not letting her cry unless absolutely necessary. Now, there is a difference between fussing and crying though. If she is in her chair or on a blanket and she starts to make fussy noises, I'm fine finishing up what I'm doing and getting to her in a minute or two. But if she starts actually crying, I drop everything and go. Different parents feel differently but that is our "philosophy."

But aside from philisophically feeling that way, biologically I just can't do it. If she is crying, I can't not do something. I have to force myself not to intervene when Craig is handling it but it's hard. And if I can't react (like we are in a car on the highway) I can feel myself respond, my pulse goes up, my milk starts leaking, it's not fun for either of us.

Amanda said...

ok that makes sense! thanks for answering my ignorant questions :)

Chelsea said...

Sorry this is so late (at least in terms of blog time), but I still have 2 comments:
1) Why is the shower at 2 a bad thing? It seems as though you're showering about every 24 hours; some people shower every night, but we don't think they're smelly all day. If you plan on a morning shower, then 2 pm is late, but if 2 pm is your normal schedule, then you're right on time!
2) I totally agree with not letting infants cry at all. When my next-door neighbor had her youngest I'd come over every afternoon after school and carry him around with me (and sometimes over to my house when my parents got home). It sounds to me like you need a 'mother's helper': it worked great for us; she still got to be around her baby all the time (and not worried about a high school kid alone with her infant) but still got to do the dishes, shower, etc.