Our baby has been ex utero for three weeks now, and so far it's been a bumpy ride. Not that we weren't expecting challenges, and this is surely nothing compared to future ones. Yet some things you just can't understand until you're 'in the shit,' or you've had shit on your hands, or you've seen projectile shit. You get my drift here.
What have we learned so far? Very little, I'm sure. Unfortunately there is so much conflicting information about babies that it's quite staggering to a new parent. The main rule to live by seems to be that "every baby is different." One book tells you it's OK to let them cry, then the other one reams you out for even thinking of such a thing. But when you've been trying to calm a two week old who hasn't slept for more than 20 minutes in the past 5 hours AND she won't latch on because she's too tired, your desperate hope is that the trick your friend told you about fashioning a tinfoil hat for the baby and playing polka lullabies will work for your baby just as it did hers.
The baby has gone from feeding for an hour and sleeping for 2-3 to feeding for 15-20 minute spurts and fussing for 2-3 hours. She'll get fussy, try latching on and then get cranky and flail her little arms around while singing her siren baby song. She looks tired, she's got slower movements and probably could not pass a sobriety test if she was pulled over. She just won't go to sleep! I've explained to her numerous times how she should relish the amount of sleep she can get right now. How when she gets older sleep will not be as easy to obtain, and people often take pills and dream of purple butterflies to get the desired result. Alas, my logic does not work on her. Perhaps when she's older someone like Dora or Barney can convey this better than I can.
She spits pacifiers out like they were chewing tobacco. Swaddling only annoys her because she needs her arms free to flail about and clean the shell casings we've set out for her to earn some extra money. Holding her and swaying about or doing the "parent dance" barely works, and it makes me look like a hopeless Heisman trophy runner-up who has no coordination. I even tried singing to her in my croaky voice, and not even my best renditions of Beatles tunes can soothe her.
Time and again we've been told that this period will pass. Parents who are veterans of the war on fussiness and gas have assured us that we will get a reprieve, and that this is the easy stuff. We want to believe them, and we know they're right, but it's hard to keep that frame of mind when your baby hasn't slept consistently for the past few days and it seems like she hates you for bringing her into this world. Yet there we are every night trying to soothe her and let her know that we're here for her. Due to the fact that we're breast feeding, many of the soothing sessions have been carried out by my wife (she is the best!), and I am so thankful for her hard work and dedication. I do my best to keep diapers changed, swaddles bundled (no arms!) and her mind and body nourished. I can only hope I'm doing as much for my ladies as my wife is doing in her role as a mother.
We've been lucky enough to have our families and some really awesome friends help us out since we've gotten home from the hospital. They've shown their support with gifts, visits, cards wishing us well and some fantastic food that needs little preparation. I cannot thank them enough for their support, and I hope we can pay them back properly once the shell shock of the baby being here has finally worn off. I can't wait until the baby is a bit older and (fingers crossed) past the fussy stage so we can take her out for visits and show her the world she's now a part of. I'm also looking forward to seeing the world through her eyes and learning with and from her. It's tough right now, but I know it's going to be worth it.