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Archive for July 16th, 2012

My Approach to Parenting

I’ve been reading “mom blogs” long before I ever considered becoming a mom myself. So I’m no stranger to controversy over parenting styles – everything from breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding to co-sleeping and attachment parenting, to cloth vs disposable, spanking vs time-out and everything in between. And until you become a parent, you never quite know exactly what style you’ll follow.

(BTW, I guess this makes me a mom blogger now, huh?)

Something I realized recently is that one’s parenting style really begins during pregnancy. For first-timers, we’re kind of all over the place. Some of us read everything we can get our hands on and follow every single piece of advice to the letter. NOT A SINGLE DROP OF CAFFEINE! NO SOFT CHEESES EVER! OMFG IS THAT A SUBWAY SANDWICH? GET IT AWAY FROM ME! LISTERIA AHHH!!!

Others are content being completely clueless and continue to binge on Diet Coke and cigarettes – although they’ve “cut back” to just a couple of cigarettes a day.

And then there are those of us that fall somewhere in the middle, indulging in a latte here and there, or going for that blue cheese salad (as soon as we’ve double checked that the cheese has been pasteurized), and maybe even stealing a sip of wine or beer when we think no one is looking.

But it doesn’t end there. In fact, the differences are only just beginning. Then there’s the actual birthing of the baby and this is where things really get divided. You’ve got your home births and doulas, your water births, your anti-drug posse, your c-section schedulers, and your typical pain-managed vaginal births. And no mater what your birth plan is, if you’re even the type to have a birth plan (I’m not), then most likely things didn’t go exactly as hoped. And from there, the differences in parenting styles just multiply exponentially.

Before D was born, I couldn’t imagine him. I couldn’t picture having a baby in our house, in our arms while we sit on the couch watching TV. So naturally I couldn’t really imagine what sort of parent I would be. I had no clue. But just like everyone else, we’ve figured things out and I have to say that things seem to be going really well so far. We’re only 7 weeks into this whole “mom & dad” thing but our style of parenting is very similar, which makes us a pretty great team. So what is our style, exactly? What’s working so well for us?

The answer is really simple. Flexibility and common sense.

Here’s what I mean: If the baby is hungry, feed it. And not just what I think is enough. I feed the baby until he isn’t hungry anymore. Sometimes that means supplementing with a little forumla when I’m all out of breast milk, but so what? I’d rather my baby have a full belly than cause him discomfort by making him wait until more of my milk comes in. That’s just unnecessary stress for both of us.

If the baby is tired, let him sleep. Nothing is worse than an irritated, sleep-deprived baby. Except maybe a hungry baby (see above).

If he’s peed or pooped, change him. Even if it means waking him up. Even if I just changed him 2 minutes ago. Diaper rash is no fun for anyone, especially the baby.

It’s good to have a routine, but that routine should be flexible, unless you don’t ever plan on leaving the house ever. I mean, I don’t eat dinner at exactly 6pm every night. Sometimes I eat at 5, sometimes 7 or later. And miraculously enough, whenever that happens, I don’t have a total meltdown when I’m out of my routine. So I don’t want my child to have a meltdown either whenever we go on vacation or go to visit family and things aren’t exactly like our routine at home. And as long as we’re still following the above logic of eating when hungry and sleeping when sleepy, that shouldn’t happen.

Now I haven’t read any baby books, other than the What To Expect series, so I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert at this. I mean, I’ve only been doing this for 7 weeks for crissakes. I know NOTHING. But even so, what we’re doing seems to be working. Our baby is happy and healthy and developing right on schedule. We do tummy time, and play with him, and talk to him constantly – but I’m not going overboard with Baby Einstein, or limiting the length of time the TV is on during the day, or cutting back on the inappropriate humor and conversations I have with my husband in his presence. Eventually I’ll have to do all of those things, but he’s not even 7 weeks old, so not yet.

Really, we’re just living our lives as we normally would on any lazy weekend. The challenge for us now is to become more comfortable taking him out into the world. We’ve conquered big box stores and doctors offices, but have yet to try a restaurant or other public setting – like the zoo. All in due time, I suppose though. We’re just learning as we go, and so far so good.

 

 

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6 Weeks

I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping up on little man’s tiny milestones. Like the fact that he’s been smiling since birth (gas) but around week 3 I feel like he really started to light up when he recognized our voices or faces. They weren’t full-on smiles back then, but raised eyebrows with an open “O” mouth. But now, he really, truly smiles – especially when we put him on the changing table to change his diaper. This kid hated having his diaper changed those first few days at home, but now I’m pretty sure it’s his third favorite time of day (the first being feeding time, the second being bath time).

Speaking of feeding time, I seriously get a kick out of how excited he gets when he knows he’s about to be fed. Before we feed him, we take a burp cloth or wash cloth and put it under his chin like a bib. He gets SO EXCITED when this happens, he opens his mouth wide and starts moving his arms around. It makes it pretty difficult to get the burp cloth to stay put, but it’s just so damn adorable. And he still loves bath time, but only when it’s a sponge bath. We tried giving him a bath in his baby bathtub one night, and he was terrified of the seat, I think because the little hammock made him feel like he was falling. Not a fan. So we went back to sponge baths for the time being.

The night before my grandpa’s funeral, D slept from about midnight until 7:30am. He was exactly 1 month old. At 6 am, I ran upstairs to tell my parents (who were staying with us) – “He slept through the night!!” – and said that maybe grandpa had a hand in soothing him to sleep because he knew we needed the rest. I had high hopes that this was the beginning of sleeping through the night, but alas, he’s still on 4 hour stretches, with a few 6 and 5 hour nights scattered in there. The night before the funeral is still the longest stretch of sleep he’s had to date.

On July 11, we had his 6 week check-up, complete with shots. He weighed 11lbs 11oz and was a little over 23 inches long, putting him in te 50th percentile for both height and weight. The doc said his head circumference is a little on the small side but she didn’t seem concerned about it. We just don’t have huge heads on either side of our families. At the very end of the appointment, the doc left the room and the nurse came in to administer his shots. The first one was oral, which he took just fine. The last three were actual shots – 2 in one leg and one in the other. And OH.MY.GAWD. was there screaming. When she stuck him with the first needle, his little eyes shot wide open and he lost his breath. Then the screaming started. I give the nurse credit for moving quickly to get the other two shots finished before handing him over to me for comforting. Now, my son cries when he’s hungry or uncomfortable or whatever, but it’s really more like yelling or fussing. This was all out crying, with real tears and a quivering lower lip. It was the cutest and saddest little thing. Fortunately, he was over it within about a two minutes and fell asleep on the way home. The doc said that he may be fussy or have a low-grade fever in a few hours so to give him some Children’s Tylenol and she outlined the proper dosage. She said only 8% of babies have any sort of reaction so this was just in case. Um, 8% my foot. About 5 hours after his shots, he woke up screaming and there wasn’t much we could do to get him to settle down. He was inconsolable, so after a few minutes, we popped open that Children’s Tylenol. Worked like a charm.

We’ve started taking him out a bit more, originally starting with trips to the doc and to visit my grandparents (sniff), and eventually graduated to trips to Target and the brand spankin’ new Super Walmart. We’ve also started taking evening walks around our neighborhood and passed another couple the other day out walking their one-month-old baby girl. Wish I knew where they lived so I could take them some cupcakes. (I have cake mix sitting in my cabinet just waiting for an excuse to make it.)

Speaking of food… I’ve been terrible about my diet. For the last few months of pregnancy, I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I indulged way more than I would normally. And that bad habit has extended into post-partum. With all the stress of my grandpa, plus recovering from a c-section, I didn’t cook or really even set foot in a grocery store for WEEKS. We ate so much fast food and takeout, I don’t even want to think about it. Sure, I was down almost 25lbs from pregnancy, but I still have 15 more to go just to get to my pre-preg weight. But when you combine breast-feeding (i.e. increased appetite) with laziness and junk food in the house, well…let’s just say my weight-loss plan is still just a plan.

All in all though, and the sadness over losing my grandpa not withstanding, I’m starting to enjoy my maternity leave. I feel like we’re getting the hang of this parenting thing and I’m loving all the time we’re spending with our new little dude. Sometimes, I just can’t handle the cuteness and I just shower him with kisses and cuddles and baby talk. I feel like I’m going to say this a lot, but as much as we’re looking forward to him walking and talking, I find myself holding him on my chest, just trying to soak in the moment and memory of him being so tiny. Because he’s already bigger

than he was yesterday and tomorrow he’ll be bigger than he is today and OMG my baby is growing up so fast!! Thank goodness for digital cameras. I take photos every single day. Sometimes for Twitter, but most of the time to send to my mom to help brighten her day a little since she can’t be here to hang out with him everyday or even every week. It sucks not having family in town, but it is what it is for now.

 

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