So, I had my last full week of maternity leave all planned out. I knew how I was going to spend every day. I was going to make ornaments with my mom at her house. I was going to have my mother-in-law come over to my house on one or two days to do another practice run of caring for Michael. I was going to enjoy my evenings with my husband and watch new TV shows to relax. It was all planned out. And then life happened. On Tuesday, Aaron found out he'd be working night crew. What did this mean? It meant that he'd be home (but mostly asleep) during the day, and then he'd be gone at nighttime. Fabulous (note the sarcasm). So, my daytime plans were shot. And now I was going to be the only parent home to put our son to bed-- an activity that I was not fond of even when Aaron is here to help. So, I dreaded nighttime from 5pm when Aaron left for work until 1:30, or 2:45, or 3:30, or even 3:45am (all were possible times that Aaron would arrive home). Fortunately, one of my best friends came and spent the nights with me on Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. It was such a relief to know she was sitting in the living room while I endured the nighttime ritual of scream-cries and restless sleep. I was exhausted at night because I just wanted my husband safe and sound at home with me. I was exhausted during the daytime because I felt like I should try to keep Michael quiet so Aaron could rest. Needless to say, stress became a common figure in my life and routine and I could see that it was spilling over to my son. This had to stop!
Oddly, it had never occured to me that Michael needed to have a bedtime. I had been functioning on the "baby goes to bed when I go to bed" routine, which really meant that I'd be up for an hour or two after I really wanted to be asleep, because I'd be attempting to get an overtired newborn to sleep. Not fun, and not helpful. I transitioned into the "when the baby acts super fussy, put him to bed" routine, which meant that I'd lay an overtired newborn in his bassinet, and I'd sit on the couch and listen to him cry. My child has strong lungs. His cries are very loud. Even when he's in his bassinet in our room at the other end of the hall and I'm sitting on the couch in the living room. This is also not fun, and also not helpful.
Sometime during the week, I remembered reading that babies crave routine. They like to know what will happen next. Therefore, I decided that Michael needed a bedtime, and he also needed a routine leading up to bedtime. With my return to work, I knew we both needed good sleep, and that would only come if my little boy was able to go to sleep before becoming overtired. So, the bedtime routine was established. Beginning at 6:00pm, we begin to "wind down." Michael gets a bath everyday (every other day I use baby wash and shampoo. On the other nights, he gets a warm water wipe down-- basically, a bath without soap). A diaper change and a clean set of PJ's is the next step. Michael is then offered a "snack" to "top off his tank." This calms him since sucking is a comfort to babies. It also helps him relax when he's put in his bassinet since his tummy is full and he isn't dealing with hunger pains. While Michael is eating, or shortly thereafter, Aaron or I read to him "Night Night Blessings" by Amy Parker (a phenomenal board book that I totally recommend). Then I take Michael down the hall to our room, and we turn on the master bathroom light, and we turn on the Twilight Turtle. I lay him on my bed and swaddle him. I then say a prayer and sometimes I sing a song. Then I tell him I love him, and I lay him in his bassinet. I return to the living room and time his cries with a stopwatch (this is mainly so I can reassure myself that what seems like minutes upon minutes of crying is actually only a few seconds). For the first few days of the routine, he cried during the whole thing. After being laid in his bassinet, he would cry off and on for an hour or 2. But, by putting him in his bed and letting him exert any extra energy through crying allows me to come into the living room and breathe. I still hear the cries-- as I said, my child has extremely strong lungs. Over time, I think he'll sense the release of stress and will settle down quicker.
Another schedule change aside from Aaron being absent in the evenings, was my return to work. Michael and I were then separated from each other for 10 hours during the day. We had NEVER been apart that long! I know we'll adapt, but I expect to have some fussy nights for a little while longer. This little guy has a lot going on!
Fortunately, on Wednesday of this week, Aaron was FINALLY done with night shift! My teammate is home to help me once again! The 3 of us are involved in the bedtime routine. Aaron talks and sings to Michael during bathtime, he lays out the clean diaper and PJs, and reads the story. Hopefully, now that both of Michael's parents are home during the evening, we'll have more stability and will adapt to our new weekday schedules.
Tonight, for example, was FABULOUS! Michael let out a couple of fusses around 6:00. I can't even say he even cried-- he just kind of hinted that he was tired. So, we began the bedtime routine right on time. He didn't cry during his bath. He didn't cry getting his PJs on (and if you know this kid, you know he LOVES to be naked and hates having clothes put on). He didn't cry when he was eating, or during his story. Folks, he didn't even cry when I swaddled him or said a prayer! I tucked him in and that was that! Ready for this? Total crying time was less than 9 minutes! Woo-hoo! Answered prayer! We're getting used to the routine! In addition, Michael only woke up once last night to eat. I see a full-nights sleep on the horizon!
So, how do I feel now that a full work week is behind me? Well, there are pros and cons. The pro is that going to work is almost like an ability to un-wind. I do not hear fussiness or crying, which allows me time to rejuvenate. I think about Michael constantly at work, but I am still able to perform my job. The cons of course is being away from my baby! And though I am rejuvenating during the 10 hours, I'm doing real work-- so, it's not like I get to come to work and nap! I'm also already tired when I arrive at work, and staring at a computer screen is not a help! I am fortunate to be able to pump at work. It is going well and I count my blessings every day and I'm very thankful. The days go by relatively fast, but unfortunately, the nights do too. On Wednesday, I was exhausted. I think I had been surviving these last 7 weeks on adrenaline and caffeine. I have a caffeine entourage at work: coffee with creamer, hot tea with honey. I'm almost afraid to drink my hot tea because it'll make me relax so much that I might conk out. :) I also drink Fenugreek tea for it's "motherly" benefits.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE holding my little one after I get home. He just molds right into my chest and loves to be a cuddle bug. That makes me feel so good! My cubicle is COVERED with pictures of him and that makes me feel closer to him.
I am loving being a mom!
Resting with Mommy after a long day.
Not so sure he likes the hooded towels. :)
Little baby laughter during a song. :)
Trying out the Bumbo seat for the first time today!
The latest obsession: the tongue! He sticks it out all the time!
Deciding what he thinks about his "big boy chair" as we call it. :)
Thanks for catching up with us! Prayers are always appreciated! Until next time! Much love, Reba