maandag 18 februari 2013

Baby J. is regulating

Baby J. is big and beautiful, he can lift up his head, has strong legs and big lungs.

I know these things because one of his favourite tricks is to push down hard with his legs while seated in manduca or sling, beat his fists on my chest, open up his mouth and yell.

He's five weeks old today and on the cusp of evil week 6, when fussiness and crying hit their peak. He has his fussy evening hour. And a fussy morning hour. Or two. Or three. A fussy afternoon hour. Or two. Or three. Until the evening hour.

He also has lovely (half) hours: the one after the day has started and we do tummy time. The one after his long, exhausted midday nap, when we lie on the floor and look out the window. He has lovely minutes too, like the several minutes when he's kicking back in the bath, the ones just before he goes to bed at night and he's slowly falling asleep after having had three feeds in an hour and a half, or the ones when sister E. is trying to cuddle him before she starts yelling at us because we won't let her pick him up.

This morning she sat on our bed next to baby J. and pushed me off. "Daddy has set the table", she informed me while hugging J. uncomfortably close. "It's time for your breakfast." And when I didn't make a move: "GO!" She swats us away when we try to cuddle him. There is Only One Designated Baby J. Cuddler and that is she.

But, oh, the crying. I can't stand it. This morning I jumped up and down in frustration in front of the National Library (while holding on tightly to baby J.'s head who was seated in the manduca) because he wouldn't let me stand still long enough to pay my library fines. Or maybe the cold inside had woken him up. I don't know. I only know that it had been several hours of on-the-brink-of-wailing, only warded off by S. and my own constant efforts at soothing and I though I had finally lulled him back to sleep by walking from home to the Library. No such luck, apparently.

I explained to S. that baby crying jumpstarts every molecule and adrenaline gland in my body and that I can't "just accept it". I, and I think many mothers with me, am simply not wired that way. (And yes, I deliberately typed "mothers" instead of "parents". I'm too tired, but I'm quite sure there is research backing that claim up.)

Whenever I complain about his sleeping, people commisserate about broken nights. But Baby J. actually generally sleeps quite well at night (by newborn standards, obviously), has one night feed, an occasional late evening feed and is usually back in his crib within the hour. Sometimes even within the half hour. But clearly we pay for this luxury with day-time wakefulness.

I had him checked by the doctor, on the off chance that there was a Medical Reason For His Crying. There isn't. And as our pediaetrician happens to be specialized in gastroenterology (stomachs and stuff) she helpfully also ruled out cramps.

"He's regulating" she said with a besotted look (did I mention Baby J. really is gorgeous?). "Regulating?" I asked. "He's trying to find his routine", she clarified. Did you know newborns actually don't know how to fall asleep? Apparently that is learned behaviour. So, your basic six weeks old crying fits so. We're just going to have to sit this one out.

And in the meantime, we've got a part-time helper coming in a couple a times a week so my arms get a break from jiggling the crying baby and I get a chance to nap. Or to feed the firstborn.

Today was her first day. Her experienced nanny verdict?

"He just doesn't want to close his eyes even though he's definitely sleepy." She looked at the calm but wide-eyed baby draped over her shoulder with a indulgent smile.

"I think he's sleeping with his eyes open now."

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