With baby Mary Jane closing in on the two week anniversary of that time she was accidentally born in our bathtub, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some photos of her, and a few things I’ve learned NOT to do while parenting my newborns.
1. Change Her Diaper at Night
This is huge you guys. You know how the books tell you that in the middle of the night you’ll feed the baby, she’ll half fall asleep, then she’ll poop, then you have to change her diaper, resulting in a wide-awake baby, and then, you know, you just hang out, until you can start the process all over again in half an hour?
I don’t do that.
|Lulu and Frankie are pretty excited about a new little sister.|
When the baby is sleepy and I am sleepy, I change her diaper, then I lay down with her in bed and nurse her until we both fall asleep and then . . . we get up in the morning. I nurse her, half-awake, as needed, through the night, and she always goes right back to sleep. Even if her pants aren’t clean. And I’ve never had babies get diaper rash from new baby poop. They totally don’t care. They juuuuust go right back to sleep.
I know co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. But it IS for us, and co-sleeping is way better when it involves actual sleeping.
|I cannot believe how GIANT Lulu became as soon as we brought home Mary Jane!|
2. Put Her Down
I just don’t put my babies down any more. I tried with my first, and it was just an unmitigated disaster. So now, they just get held or worn all the time. Mostly by me, sometimes by dad or grandparents or siblings. But, for the first few weeks, I don’t even have a crib or basket or swing or anything for putting babies in even out and available.
|So many girls! At one point we had three boys and a girl, but now we’ve flip-flopped with the second four.|
We do own a swing, someplace, and when she gets a little older, and there aren’t as many grownups around here to help, I’ll get it out and use it as much as the baby will tolerate. But, mostly, if it’s working for her, I’ll still hold or wear her almost all the time.
Not because I hate it and suffer through every second of it, not because I think only terrible mothers ever put their babies down . . . but because I don’t hate it TOO much, and sometimes I even like it, and it’s the way I’ve figured out to have my babies be happy and/or asleep all the time. And I like that.
3. Keep Track of Diapers or Feedings or ANY of That
I half-heartedly made check marks on the diapers and feedings chart they gave me with our first baby. But I soon figured out that my baby and I were both better off just focusing on getting to know each other and figuring out nursing, without any paperwork at all.
These days, I no longer think of nursing as “feeding the baby.” I think of nursing as “the thing the baby does when she is awake.” (“And sometimes also while she is sleeping.” ^see above^)
|Mary Jane’s “that sound makes me hungry” face. This is what she does when she hears my voice. It cracks me up every time.|
Now, in response to all things, I just . . . nurse the baby. Whether the problem is Hungry, or Grumpy, or Tired, or Awake, or Noisy in Church, the solution is always . . . nursing. It works great. I just always. nurse. the baby.
|Hey, it’s World Breastfeeding Week! Here’s my contribution.|
4. Take Her Back to the Doctor to Get the Clamp Off
Maybe if you stay in the hospital for long enough, they’ll take it off before you leave. But we never do stay in the hospital long enough for that. So we used to go back to the pediatrician to have them cut the plastic clamp off.
But ya know what? It doesn’t require and special skills or tools. If you’ve got some diagonal cutters (like pliers, but sharp), you can clip right through the joint end, and open it up and off it comes. Then you can clip off some of the dried, flattened, scratchy part of the cord that isn’t actually wet or sticky or touching the body, and wait for the rest of it to dry up and fall off.
I’m not saying YOU have to, but that’s what I do.
5. Bathe Her
Once that umbilical cord stump falls off, you’re supposed to start bathing the baby, right? That’s what I used to do. And boy did my babies hate it. Mostly because I was a dummy who thought I should put baby Jack in the bath seat in the sink and just run the faucet on him. Poor thing.
|A little morning sun bathing, a little Lion King.|
Anyway, all my newborns have pretty much hated baths, even once my technique improved. And I really don’t have time for stuff that requires an elaborate set up to upset my baby.
Now, I just sorta wipe them off as needed. Or I take them into the bathtub with me, which they like, but . . . it can end, um, abruptly.
|Thirteen years apart. Just getting a few kick-punching tips from big brother.|
6. Wait to Baptize Her
With our first couple babies, I wanted everything to be perfect for the baptism. I wanted to plan just the right service and reception. I wanted all the family and all our friends to be able to attend.
And all that is perfectly lovely to want. But, for me, wanting that meant I wasn’t focusing on what was most important: the actual sacrament.
Now, we baptize our babies just as quickly as we can. Usually the weekend after they’re born, but certainly within a couple weeks. We have personal relationships with a few priests and we’ve always been able to find one willing and available to do a private baptism within that time period.
|With godmother Micaela.|
We invite everyone, and hope people can make it. But if they can’t, we are content with their prayers. It’s not because I worry that our babies are actually in danger of dying, or that I doubt that a merciful and omnipotent God would accept our intent to baptize our child if the worst did happen. It’s because I believe completely in the importance and efficacy of baptism. I don’t want my perfect little baby girl to live with the burden of original sin for one more moment than she must.
|Centerpieces washi-taped by Betty and Anita.|
I don’t want her to live without the graces that baptism gives her for one more moment than she must.
It just seems like something that I wouldn’t want to put off.
|Duchess of Caimbridge-inspiered . . .|
Unlike all the other parties I throw which *I* think are simple, but probably aren’t, our baptism parties really ARE simple.
For Mary Jane’s baptism last Sunday, we had pink paper plates, a tray of take out deli sandwiches, various juices, a fruit plate, and some donuts. Boom. It’s a party.
|Sundays are for donuts.|
And, more importantly, it’s a new little a Catholic with a squeaky clean soul.
7. Figure I’ve Got it Figured Out
Because while I do have it WAY more figured out than I did with my first couple babies, and I know how things TEND to go, and what TENDS to work for me and for my brand of babies . . . each time is going to be a little bit different.
|Twenty-first century baby. Face Time with Gramma.|
Each pregnancy, each labor, each delivery, each recovery, each baby is going to have its own unique things going on.
I haven’t found it useful to compare myself to other people, or even to my own other babies. What works best is to pay attention to what my body and my baby seem to need this time around, and then do that.
And not fret about it.
|Peas porridge hot. Peas porridge cold. Mary Jane in a pot, nine days old.|
Bonus: I DO . . . Let People Help Me
You guys may have noticed that I like to do stuff. But at least for the first two weeks, I try not to. The husband has awesome paternity leave, my parents are great and come spend a week or two at the house every time we have a baby. Our Catholic community is THE best and our friends deliver meals to us four or five times per week for a couple of weeks.
|These brownies came to my house. It was awesome.|
And, I’m not great at relaxing. I’m not as good as Blythe. I tend to have a pretty easy time of it physically, which means I feel better postpartum than I did when I was huge and pregnant. But even with a pretty easy recovery, I really notice when I overdo it. It is a good thing for me to chill with this sweet new baby. And for me to gratefully accept kind and generous offers of help. And let someone else wrangle Frankie. Rawr.