Saturday, January 26, 2013


It's okay to wash the baby with the laundry
if I use Dreft and the gentle cycle, right?
I love motherhood and being a mommy. It's hard work, easily the hardest work I've ever done, and I spent a summer flipping hundreds of queen size mattresses daily (physically demanding) and several years running my own business (mentally demanding). However it is also absolutely the most rewarding.

The first few weeks of his life were the roughest I've ever survived. I was weak from a difficult delivery, trying to breastfeed a baby born with an appetite when my milk hadn't yet come in, and we were under the impression that a baby HAD to sleep in a bassinet. Of course the one place the baby would not sleep was his bassinet. I got no sleep and essentially spent every waking moment nursing.

It wasn't until I just started sleeping in bed with him nestled beside me that I got any sleep at all, but I felt guilty about doing this. Wouldn't my baby spontaneously combust or something if he didn't sleep swaddled on his back in the bassinet?! No, actually. After a lot of research, this became our norm and life was much happier for both of us because of it.

After month 2, all was well. Jude developed his own schedule, slept through the night, and left me with plenty of time to at least accomplish sitting tasks (writing, chatting, gaming, art, etc.) on my own, with him in my lap (nursing, talking to me, or napping). He required very little in this stage of life, kind of like he was still in the womb. I'd read or sing to him and that was really the extent of entertainment required. Tummy Time was practiced out of necessity rather than interest.

By comparison now, Jude is a fairly needy baby, quickly approaching 4 months. He wants to be amused, stimulated, interacted with. As well he should. So long as his needs are met, he's happy. Though he dislikes everything for at least 5 fussy unsure minutes before enjoying it. He hates to be put down, especially in a reclined position, so I'm often hauling him around from the moment we get up (7am latest) until the moment he goes to bed (about 7-8pm), entertaining him in various ways. Great exercise, considering his weight and unwieldiness. My back hates it though.

While I expected raising a child would require my full attention, I did not account for all the carrying. He doesn't seem to much enjoy the Baby Bjorn style carrier either, meaning my hands are never free.

I do not believe in cry-it-out, for many reasons. First of which being the research done on its long term effects. Second being it's ineffectiveness, many babies just cry until passing out, sometimes upwards of 45 minutes -- that isn't healthy. Sure, some babies will cry for 5-10 minutes then find something interesting to distract them and be fine. This is okay. Sometimes you need to get something done and baby just needs to deal with it. If after a few minutes baby is still screaming, it's probably better to go scoop them up rather than let them drive your neighbors batty and pass out thinking you were eaten by dingos.

"There is evidence that leaving babies to cry alone can increase their emotional stress level. Researchers measured saliva cortisol levels in infants during a sleep training program in which the infants were left to cry themselves to sleep over a three-day period. The infants’ cortisol levels were elevated when they were left to cry alone, indicating a state of high emotional stress. However, the cortisol levels remained high even on the third day, after the infants had stopped crying. This implies that, even though the sleep training program appeared to "work" and the infants fell asleep without crying, their stress levels were still high. Another study found that even brief separations between mothers and their 9-month-old infants can result in elevated infant cortisol levels, indicating emotional stress."

I get moments to myself, sort of, while he eats, and count myself lucky if he falls asleep on me while nursing because he has never been much of a daytime sleeper -- not even as a newborn. At most he will sleep for an hour total each day. Not consecutively. He usually sleeps fantastically at night though, for at least 8 hours. So there's that.

Basically, it leaves me with a lot of entertaining to do. So I'm seeking ideas. I know eventually he'll be more interested in things and willing to play on his own but until then, I need ideas so my brain doesn't turn to mush.

We do a lot of walking, talking, singing, and playing with various objects. Though most toys seem to be 6+ months... I try to get him to spend at least 30 minutes a day on his playmat with me, practicing at grabbing, holding, and pulling. There's Tummy Time, for as long as he'll tolerate it, but he started rolling himself over at 5 weeks so he gets bored of that really fast. I've made it a habit after diaper changes to take him into the restroom to talk to himself in the mirror and watch himself stomp around on the counter top (supported by me of course). Every now and then he'll watch a bit of TV in my lap, but it's typically less than 5 minutes before he'd rather be doing something else (don't blame him, but it's nice when I get to sit down). In the mornings he'll tolerate his swing for about 10-15 minutes but really has no interest in it for the rest of the day unless he's fallen asleep and I can sneak him into it without rousing him. We also go to fetch the mail together in the early afternoon. Every other day or so he gets a bath, which he enjoys more now than he used to, but has yet to play in the tub.

Sometimes he'll do all of these things, sometimes he'll only want to do some of them, and occasionally none of them -- which leaves me basically pacing around the house with him in my arms for nine hours straight. Which is just... it makes me tired thinking about it.

Any suggestions? Diversity is good, even if he doesn't care yet, it's nice for me!


  1. Hey, you write really well on an interesting subject (for me at least). Thank you for sharing. :-)

    Sounds like your Jude is very like my daughter Ellinor. Only that she has to develop her patience a lot earlier because she's competing for my attention with her two older brothers.

    For instance Ellinor has the same initial minute of protests/dislike whenever status-quo changes, especially when I lay her down on her back in the baby-sitter. She's also happiest when lugged around although she's really difficult to carry since she doesn't want to lie down and she's really strong so when held upright I must support her back and head or she might 'spring outwards' (not good).

    I find that just putting her down next to me on her back in the lounge - facing me with her feet towards the backrest of the lounge - is a good position for a temporary rest. She doesn't particularly enjoy looking at the telly, she's happier looking at me.
    On a few occasions she's been surprisingly happy looking at the boys and the telly when they watch children's programs (leaving me free to fix dinner etc etc).

    But I basically have the same problem as you, Ellinor need a lot of attention and I find "face time" is what she likes the best - then being cradled when she's tired (falling asleep in our arms).

    I'm happy to share any tricks I learn along the way - but as of now I'm struggling. I will be reading your blog with great interest to see what you learn as your boy grows. :-)

    Again, thanks for a nice blog.

    1. Thank you, Anna. I will definitely continue writing along the way.

      I've very recently been delving into the world of baby-wearing, so that I can at least have use of my hands now and then. It's been going well thus far, though I still spend about nine hours a day with baby alone.

      Jude loves when I sit with him and practice ASL. TV is more of a passing distraction for him, I don't think he understands how the people got into the box. Haha.

      I look forward to hearing from you as you experiment with little Ellinor. I will certainly share any tips or tricks I discover!

    2. Jude is also challenging to carry as he wants to be held upright as well, but is strong and convinced he will fly harmlessly should he lunge outward without notice. If I don't keep both hands on him at all times while carrying, oh boy would the results be disastrous! The baby sling helps some with that. If he gets really squirmy a single hand can prevent disaster, rather than needing both hands.