Living with a baby is like serving a tiny little foreign dictator, an itty-bitty Kim Jong-Il, if you will. There's a language barrier, unreasonable demands, tantrums, and you sometimes move through the night wondering if you will live to see another day. In an effort to have something close to sanity, most parents try and follow their kids to a schedule that works for both of them. This is the first of a series where once a month we'll be posting how we're living these days. Sometimes we'll have questions, sometimes we'll have triumphs, and we'd love you to chime in too.
Cori & Everett
October is Everett's fourth to fifth month here on Earth. It's a good one for both of us. Since about month three, he has put himself on a fairly predictable schedule. His schedule generally looks something like this:
6:30am: rouse to nurse, then cuddle back to sleep
6:40-8: sleep for Everett and DH, I pump then take the dog for a jog then shower if I can
8-9: awake for the day, drink bottle*, smile, giggle, coo, settle down I put him in his crib at first tired signs
10-12: awake, nurse, drink bottle, giggle, coo, bathe, read, smile, laugh inappropriately at my burps, play, flail, startle, catch glimpses of RHWONY much to my chagrin, kick, smile some more, stare at Henry the dog, then settle
2-5: same as 10-12
5-6: nap while mommy drinks a beer
6-8: DADDY'S HOME! more activity, more eating, more smiles, more screams, more guffaws, start to settle, dim the lights, offer baba, story time, change diaper, put on Snuza, put on SleepSack, rock the baby, cuddles and lullabies
8pm: Daddy puts Everett to bed
8:01: Parentals eat dinner and watch Homeland
10:00: My bedtime
12:00: DH does a dream feed then goes to bed
Admittedly, my baby is a good sleeper. Natty says that you either get a good sleeper or a good eater, and I got the good sleeper*. I put him down to nap any time he starts to seem cranky, look glazed over, or seems the slightest bit tired. He generally goes down without a fight, but if he does fight it, I pick him up and soothe him, because that's the way I roll.
This schedule is a loose generalization of a day. I try to be as flexible as I can within his parameters - if I go out to lunch with a friend, he'll usually take a shorter midday nap and take a longer afternoon nap. This works for both of us. Times of naps may change, but there are always 3 or 4 amounting to 5ish hours of napping. Bed time may be a little early or late, but he usually sleeps 12 hours. We have yet to experience teething, though!
*more on all this (PITA) pumping/bottle feeding later
Natty & Georgia
Georgia is three months old and just settling into a reliable schedule. I wasted a lot of time and energy by trying to get her into a rhythm before then. Three months is a long time to live at the whim of a person who weighs less than your average Thanksgiving turkey, but it felt even longer because I was trying to hard to make things predictable too early.
6:45/7:30 a.m. - Georgia wakes up and wants to nurse (pretty much all of her naps are flanked by a nursing session on either side.) The family hangs out in our bedroom while she starts her day and we drink coffee. She usually has lots of smiles and giggles for Patrick before he leaves for work for the day around 8.
8:30/9 a.m. - Time for her first nap of the day. I nurse her then plonk her in her crib while I eat some breakfast and start my work day. In a perfect world, she naps for about two hours, but too often, she wakes up after 45 minutes and wants out. I don't rush in at the first signs of consciousness - she sometimes rolls around for a bit, talking to herself and chewing on her blankie, then passes back out.
10:30/11 a/m. to 12:30/1 p.m.. - She's up and wants to nurse, then play. It used to be I could put her on her playmat or in her bouncy seat and work while she stared and swiped at her toys but no longer. She'll still play independently but not for very long and she really wants to be Doing Stuff. So, we go for walks or I carry her around while I tidy up around the house or we read books and play with Captain Calamari. It's also a good time to go for a quick errand or visit because then she can do the all important Looking at New Stuff.
12:30/1 p.m.- Nurse and a nap. I never know if this will be a long nap (2-1/2 hour) or a shortie (45 minutes), so I scramble to get some lunch and work done while I can. Once she is up from her nap, she's ready to nurse, then is usually more amenable to some independent play than she is in the morning, so I can get a few work things done while she plays, but she wants me in her line of sight.
4:30 p.m.- This is her most dependable nap and it usually lasts an hour. I think we both need this break towards the end of the day. If I forget to lay her down and she's been playing, it will suddenly get quiet and there she is, passed out in a heap of her toys.
6/6:30 p.m. - Patrick comes home just after she wakes up. She nurses, then he plays with her while I finish up my work for the day (hopefully). We put something together for dinner and Georgia usually starts to grump a bit just as we're finishing up.
7/7:30 p.m. - Georgia gets a bath, lotioned up, pajamaed, read a story, then nursed. This is when things kind of start to degrade and I'm often left nursing and rocking the girl until she's in a light coma, ala Buster Bluth. I don't want to have her dependent on nursing in order to sleep and during the day, I can lay her down in her crib awake and she'll babble a bit and pass out in 5-10 minutes, but if we try it at night, she screams bloody murder and gets so worked up, so quickly, it takes about 30 minutes just to calm her down. Plus, it makes us feel terrible. (Even if she is asleep when we lay her down, she rouses almost immediately and is pissed.) Sometimes we lay her down and think we're in the clear but she wakes up 45 minutes later, screaming in a way she never does at other times.
So for now, I rock and rock and nurse and nurse and pat and pat and all the while, in my head I cycle through all the things that it could be and all the ways I'm making mistakes and in general, it's a hard way to end otherwise good days. When I think about it in the cool light of day, I realize she's just a little baby who is still learning to self-soothe.
Once she's asleep, I'm usually so exhausted myself, I head to bed before 10. She generally gets a good stretch of sleep, then wakes any time between 1 and 3 in the morning to be nursed. We get another few hours of sleep until sometime between 4 and 5:30 in the morning when she wants to nurse again. Then it all starts again around 6:45/7:30 the next day. It's really hard to live on so much broken sleep but I keep reminding myself that this won't last forever. Even if she sleeps this way for the next two years (please, Lord, have mercy) it isn't forever.