Would you help a devoted reader and write about some baby stuff (which I know you love)?? I just had my first baby on August 21st. She was 5 weeks early so we spent 11 days in special care in the hospital, but now she is home, gaining weight fast, is strong, and doing well. I know everyone tells you having a newborn is hard and you don't sleep, but dude. Nothing prepared me. Can you talk about your tips for dealing with the constant feedings and the no sleep? She won't sleep in her cosleeper next to us, she wants to be held or near us, and we're terrified of killing her in bed in our sleep. She's not even a fussy baby and still we don't sleep. It's so bad I can't imagine doing this again, and we definitely want(ed) more kids.
How did you do it? How in GOD'S NAME did you do it with older kids to care for, too? Did you just never sleep? Did you sleep in shifts? And what about the breastfeeding? How did you work it all out, especially nights? And when oh when does it get better?
OMG, I SO sympathize. There is NOTHING like Newborn Night Craziness to send a person screaming into the sea. Or backyard, whatever. Here's a post I wrote about it when I was going through it with Henry: Newborn Sleep Survival Plan. And here's the post I wrote when someone else asked me about it: Sleep Issues. The second title looks more dull but is more worth reading because I didn't write it while suffering newborn sleep deprivation myself, and because it involves ninjas.
And here are some BASIC TIPS in quick-reading format, because my guess is that you have about 15 seconds before the baby needs you:
1. I promise it will get better. I PROMISE. (Note: I am not authorized to make this promise.) This is temporary and will pass like a storm, leaving you blinking in the sunlight and thinking "What the HOLY F just happened here??" Even if your baby is one of those kids who has never! ending! sleep! issues!, the postpartum time is the only time when your body is so beat-up and exhausted and when your mind is so circuit-blown by the new baby and its existence and its birth.
2. It works out okay with other kids, too. I don't remember HOW, but here I am, so it must have worked out. I think it's that by the time you have a second baby, the little squaller you're looking at now will be so familiar to you, and also she may be TALKING, and also I'll say again the part about her being FAMILIAR to you by then. Because I think that's what makes the difference: right now you're caring for a tiny stranger, but you'll only have one tiny stranger at a time.
3. For sleep, my philosophy is Do Whatever Is Necessary. In my own experience, I didn't find that any of the first-couple-months stuff created lasting issues. At the TIME I'd be thinking "Oh no, he can't sleep in his car seat---then he'll ALWAYS want to sleep in his car seat!" but that did not come to pass. Generally in the "nursing every 2 hours" stage I sleep in a recliner with the baby on me (I fall asleep nursing, so that's the pose) and a nightlight nearby so I can see well enough to nurse if the baby wakes. Or I put the baby in a bouncy seat or in a swing or in the carseat or ANYWHERE THE BABY WILL SLEEP. But of course this philosophy works only if there ARE places the baby will sleep, or if a "whatever is necessary" EXISTS to do. Otherwise---well, see #1.
4. One of my sleep mottos is "Every little bit helps." This helps me with the INTENSE FRUSTRATION of jussssst getting sleepy and then the baby wakes up. I think firmly to myself: "That five minutes was still worth it." Or if I'm thinking, "I shouldn't go back to bed---the baby will wake up in half an hour," I do it anyway: every little bit of sleep helps. I also doze while nursing.
5. It helped me a lot to play The Sims during my pregnancy, because then after the baby was born I was used to the idea that a character could live in a 24-hour world, not paying much attention to The Right Time To Do Things. So I'd sleep a couple of hours, then be up a couple of hours, then sleep an hour, then be up a bunch of hours, then eat at 11:00 at night. SURVIVAL. Survival is the only goal. Schedule comes later.
6. There is no One Right Way to handle the Newborn Night Craziness. Different things work for different people at different times. You can pick and choose from whatever sleep tips anyone gives you, but don't be discouraged if what they think is SO OBVIOUSLY THE ONLY RIGHT WAY doesn't work for you at all.
7. I PROMISE. (This is not a guarantee.)