“The sleeping habits of a newborn baby are perfectly logical and sensible – unless you’re not a newborn baby” – from ‘The Rough Guide to Babies and Toddlers’ by Kaz Cooke.
She’s here 🙂
Baby M arrived into our world just over three weeks ago after procrastinating about just how long past her scheduled arrival date she wanted to keep her mum and I waiting for.
But, and I’m still beaming with pride as I write this, she is most definitely worth that extra wait and the nine months of planning, worry, apprehension and excitement that preceded it.
Both baby and mum had a bit of a scare when the time came, but thankfully came through unscathed and I am totally besotted with them.
And so it’s begun. Despite still not having got over the phase of just staring at Baby M and whispering to my wife “we created that”, the process of working our way up probably the steepest learning curve known to man has started in earnest.
Of course, that journey would probably be a lot easier if we could actually get a decent night’s sleep.
We thought we had it sorted out after the first couple of nights in which Baby M refused to settle down in her crib or carrycot and therefore wouldn’t sleep unless she was being held in someone’s arms. That first night home from the hospital ended with Mrs.D, my mother-in-law and I taking turns in 3-4 hour shifts to hold Baby M whilst we sat in a chair and pondered how to get to the toilet without waking her.
After a couple of nights, it seemed easier with a bit of experimentation. She preferred the warmth of a blanket that had been wrapped round her mum or I and – hurrah! – actually slept between feeding time, bar the odd grizzle when something warm and wet had exploded into her nappy.
However, the following night was unsettled again, continuing the pattern of taking one step forward and then two steps back. Since then we’ve tried a dim bedside light, the light from the baby monitor, switching the baby monitor off because she was in our room anyway and it kept angrily flashing red to tell us that the room was TOO WARM!
We’ve tried having a ‘quiet time’ from 8pm, soothing her forehead, getting her fed and changed just before bedtime, playing a CD consisting of womb sounds (which was crap and only served to drain our laptop battery), a vague attempt at co-sleeping – even though we don’t like that idea – and swaddling. The swaddling seems to mostly do the trick at the moment, depending on who the ‘swaddler’ is. Mrs.D has the knack of wrapping M up nice and warm, like a giant burrito. It seems to work pretty well. I wrap M up more loosely, like a plate of giant nachos, which doesn’t.
Of course, I shouldn’t complain too much about sleep deprivation, even on those unsettled nights when my wife desperately needs to rest and I’ve had to take Baby M downstairs (thank goodness for 24-hour sports TV channels). Because, even though changing the nappy from hell at 2am isn’t exactly welcome, I’m not the one who has to also get up at intervals and do the feeding.
Not that Baby M is so well advanced that she knows the difference between her mummy and daddy yet. She has a habit of ‘rooting’ on me a lot of the time when I pick her up and place her on my chest. Despite my protestations that I am not the restaurant she is looking for (not even a roadside café), she wriggles around trying to get her mouth into position for a feed. I try and take the subsequent head-butts as a sign of affection.
It’s too early to get a routine going yet though. Whilst some experts may disagree, it doesn’t seem right or feasible to impose a routine on someone who has only been in the world for three weeks. If anybody asks, we’re currently ‘baby-centric’.
Despite the lack of sleep, we think we are making progress. I never believed other people when they said that newborns change by the day, yet Baby M is doing just that. Before she was born, I was at pains to point out that I wouldn’t be one of those dads who constantly took pictures and sent them to all and sundry. However, my wife gleefully points out, I’ve completed contradicted myself. “Look, here’s our baby at a slightly different angle”.
But, I don’t care. When I’m not walking around like an emotionally drained, sleep-deprived zombie, I’m relishing these early stages of fatherhood and excited at the prospect of all the new experiences to come. I may not be able to plan anything for more than an hour ahead anymore, nor necessarily even remember what day it is, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Anyway, it looks like I have a 20-minute window. I could finally have a shower, make some food or sleep?
I’ll go for sleep. At the moment, it’s always sleep.