The seven week shift – regaining sanity after a newborn

The seven week shift – regaining sanity after a newborn

The joy and awe of having a newborn is immense, and overwhelming. This is especially the case when you have two other kids running around with the same needs they’ve had for the past 2 and 4 years. As with any new addition to a family, sleep is highly coveted commodity and chaos is only a hairsbreadth away.

After the first week or two of adjustment, the older kids quickly realize they can exploit this new bundle of joy. They will get up to all sorts of antics knowing mom is trapped in a chair feeding their newest sibling and so, can escape any and all repercussions. Enter the month of yelling. Deprived of any other recourse, Mom quickly devolves into a hoarse mess as she attempts to keep all the tiny humans alive and relatively well taken care of. Socks may not match and baths a thing of the past, but they’re fed and rested aren’t they?! Meanwhile, the tiny humans are rejoicing in their freedom and flaunting their newfound power as they blithely go about any activity they find amusing. Needless to say, nothing that Mom wants accomplished is on their to-do list.

As the days chug along with excruciating slowness, the new babe gradually begins to fall into the rhythm of the household. During waking hours, Mom can at least count on an hour or so of slumber from the little one, provided the babe is constantly snugged up against a boob or tucked under an arm. Allotted this modicum of freedom, she can now rampage around the house and one-handed, attempt to rectify the fracturing discipline she has managed to hold onto. Understanding that yelling is never the answer (though that was never in doubt), she gamely attempts to re-establish the love and trust that once reigned supreme. Enter the age of the tantrums.

While a semblance of order has begun to creep back into existence, the toddler and pre-school variety of tiny humans have entered a new phase of rebellion. Gone are the days of outright, smiling smugness and enter the age of tears, buckets and buckets or tears. The toddler now employs epic tantrums at the slightest of provocation, or just because. The preschooler responds to the re-establishment of tyranny by dissolving into tears and whining before she even hears more than one word uttered from a parent’s mouth.

Not all hope is lost. As the weeks go by, the babe reaches the magical age of 7 weeks and a monumental shift is about to transpire. The babe will sit or lay, awake or asleep…alone! Gone are the days of Mom’s one-armed failings. Slowly, but surely the minuscule footholds that were being put into place will begin to hold and order will gradually return. Mom will begin to remember she isn’t caring for three well-mannered demons, but instead the three darling children she loves so very much. No doubt the future holds many more challenges, but she can rest assured that there is a light…somewhere down the deep, dark tunnel.

Items we couldn’t live without.

Leaving the hospital after the baby was born was both incredibly exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking. Having a team of medical professionals around for any tiny question that might come up is a rather comforting experience. However, I knew I wouldn’t miss the noise and frequent interruptions and couldn’t wait to be in my own space again. Once home, we quickly realized how valuable all that help was though there were a few products we were extremely fortunate to have and helped make our lives much easier and a bit less stressful.

  1. Angelcare Monitor – This is an amazing device. We have the audio version, which is more than sufficient in our tiny house. It’s a monitor that also has a panel that fits under the crib (or cradle/bassinet) mattress which alerts you if the baby stops moving for more than 15 seconds. As I’m sure many new parents can attest, one of our biggest fears was that something might happen during the night while we’re sleeping and we would have no idea. The peace of mind this monitor affords is fantastic. We tested it ourselves before the baby arrived and it’s amazingly responsive even under a thick crib mattress. Like many new parents, the first few nights home we had the baby sleeping in a cradle in our room. The baby did fine…but we barely slept a wink. A few days and a hurricane later, we moved the baby into her crib. Having the monitor made this transition much easier and we’ve been sleeping much sounder ever since! One minor problem we had was that the monitor creates some white noise/static when activated by the baby’s noises. As a result, I was waking up for every minor grunt and groan if the monitor picked it up. Eventually I realized you could turn the volume down slightly which eliminated the static and now I only wake when the baby is fussing or crying to the point where I’d want to check on her.
  2. SwaddleMe Sleep Sacks – During the first week or two, we used the hospital blankets and receiving blankets to swaddle our daughter at night. She definitely loved the swaddle and slept much better having it. We perfected the folding and tucking but this turned night feedings and changings into quite a production and the baby quickly learned how to free her arms. Once she was free, she’d wake more frequently and not sleep as well as she might have. My cousin had given us some of the SwaddleMe sacks and once we pulled them out, this changed everything. The velcro tabs make changing a breeze and you can cinch the sack quite snugly to avoid little hands and arms from wriggling free.
  3. Cloth Diapers/Burp Cloths – There are a whole slew of burp cloths out there but nothing stands up like these do. They’re large and very absorbent. Once the baby started spitting up quite frequently, these were invaluable. We still go through about 8-10 per day but I can’t imagine what my laundry pile would be like without them! There are a few varieties with varying weights of material. I prefer the thicker, padded variety as they’re softer to the touch and seem to be the most absorbent.
  4. Boppy Pillow – This is great for breastfeeding and bottle feeding. At the beginning, I’d settle the baby right on top while feeding which worked great. Now that she’s a bit bigger, I can prop it under my arm and elbow on whichever side she’s nursing from. Our baby was also a bit gassy so after feeding, she’d get uncomfortable if we put her down flat right away. We quickly learned that the Boppy kept her at enough of an incline when we placed her inside the U shape with her head well supported on the cushion. This is also a great position for awake time as she can look around easily. I would definitely not leave her unattended as the baby can wriggle around and eventually slide down into the center of pillow. However, it’s great for those times when you need your hands free but can keep a constant eye on the baby!
  5. Medela breast pump – Being able to nurse is an amazing bonding experience and has been very rewarding for me. There are times though when you need the freedom of giving a bottle. This bump has been very easy to use and has made life much easier. We decided early on that we wanted to give our baby a bottle a day so that she’d get used to it and this has worked very well for us. My husband has a chance to bond with her every night and I manage to get a few consecutive hours of sleep. It has also made it possible for us to visit family or run errands without worrying about finding a place to feed the baby. It has a battery pack for pumping on the go and a cooler bag for storing and transporting milk. There’s even enough room in the bag for a few extra items like a nursing cover, extra bottles etc. They have some other handy products as well, such as microwaveable┬ásterilizing bags, lanolin, milk storage bags and more.
Those are our main finds so far, more to come as Adelena keeps growing!

Still here!

I’m still here! Things have been hectic the last few weeks but are beginning to settle back into.a routine.

The baby has arrived! Adelena Therese was born August 20th and has thrown our lives into complete disarray…in a good way!

Joe has started his new school year and having changed grade levels, he us still working out the kinks.

Within the first week of having Adelena home we had an earthquake and a hurricane. Fun times!

All in all it’s been amazing so far and we have already learned a lot.

More to come soon on the birth experience, items we can’t live without and the benefits of living in a tiny house with a newborn!

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