The Unexpected

{ Wednesday, September 16, 2009 }
We knew from the beginning that we could plan all we wanted, but there would be no way to predict how things would go with a new baby. Still, I've been surprised by the things that haven't gone according to plan.

Diapers. We just used the disposables provided at the hospital for those first couple days and switched to cloth once we got home. Then the bean got a horrible case of diaper rash that caused her so much pain that she was wailing inconsolably. The bean cried quite a bit those first couple weeks, but it was always for food and she was easily quieted at my breast. With the rash, she was in too much pain to eat and we were heartbroken that we could do little to comfort her. We tried several different things, but the only way we could find to get rid of the rash and keep it away was to switch to pampers. We tried some more earth-friendly (and less chemical-laden) brands, but they too brought on the rash. You can imagine that's difficult for this tree-hugging mama to swallow, but the bean's in charge. Now that her sensitive skin has started to toughen up a bit, we are very slowly starting to reintroduce the cloth by using one or two a day, but we may never be the full-time cloth diapering family I thought we'd be.

Sleeping. Before the bean was born, I posted about my concerns over our sleeping arrangements. I wasn't exactly sure where everyone would start out sleeping, but I had always thought that I would bring the bean into bed with us at some point during the night to nurse her and we would all sleep together for at least a couple hours. As it turns out, the logistics of that were really too difficult for me. Nursing in bed is not as easy as I thought it might be and I turned out to be way too paranoid to sleep with the bean in the bed. We did try out the snuggle nest for two nights before it was returned. You still have to pick up your baby to get him or her into the thing and the bean always woke up when I picked her up those first few weeks. I figured if I was going to risk waking her, I might as well put her in the bassinet. Yes, the ancient bassinet is where she ended up sleeping her first two months. The boy had the brilliant idea to remove all the lacy coverings, which allowed us a clear view into it from our bed so we could easily check in the night that she was still breathing (c'mon, I know all you parents have done it too). This setup has worked really well, but the bean is growing so quickly that she's within a couple inches of not being able to sleep in it with her legs straight out. She's been able to stretch and simultaneously bump all four sides with various body parts for a few weeks, so this past weekend we moved the crib into our bedroom. (We're still not ready to give up on being able to check her breathing in the middle of the night.) We now have a crib at the foot of our bed and we sleep with our heads at the foot so we can check her more easily. We have co-slept a handful of times and for sure the bean sleeps great in bed with us, but I am still paranoid about the whole thing and sleep better myself when she's in her own bed. Had we known, I guess we could have put the crib in our room from the beginning.

Baby Stuff. This was the biggest surprise. I was adamant that we not have big piles of plastic baby accoutrement around our house. That and my aversion to anything single-purpose led us to make very thoughtful, well researched purchases. We got a pack and play that came with an activity mat in tasteful, subdued colors. Travel, downstairs naps, and play--three uses! We chose a similarly subdued rocker. No bouncy seat, no swing; we thought we'd hold her or have her in a baby carrier most of the day anyway. Turns out the bean's aesthetic and mine are very different. She didn't much care for subdued and hated being in a carrier. (And not once has she been able to stay asleep when we put her in the pack and play.) Fortunately, we have some experienced friends and relatives that answered our calls for help when we couldn't manage to keep this baby entertained for more than 30 seconds at a time. We now have a living room full of brightly colored (some plastic) baby gear. She loves her hand-me-down activity mat and bouncy seat so much that I feel bad I almost deprived her of them. Lesson learned. We will continue to make thoughtful, earth-friendly purchases, but our living room decor will no longer factor into the decision.

On a different note, I was completely unprepared for how being a parent would change me. When the boy and I first got together, we spent every moment of our time getting to know one another. We stayed up all night having deep, intimate conversations and, after sleeping an hour or two, would pick up the next morning right where we left off. We would lock ourselves in the bedroom all weekend, emerging only to eat or walk the dog. We missed a lot of work in those days because nothing seemed as important as spending time together.

Being a mama to the bean is like that. Its mostly one-sided, but it has a similar intensity. I've spent every day and night with her for 2 1/2 months now--watching her learn new skills and discover new things, studying her in an attempt to predict when she'll be hungry, tired, or wanting to play. Its been such a short period of time, but its hard to remember what things were like before she arrived. I didn't think that I spent very much time thinking about myself before but, in comparison, it seems like that's all I did. Now, everything is for the bean. My needs are squished in around the edges. The poor boy is somehow piled in on top of that. In a way, I feel that its a juggling act, but in other ways its really not. The bean needs us to do absolutely everything for her, so she wins out each time. In such a short period of time, this little being has become my universe and its amazing to me how natural it feels.

The boy and the bean. My two favorite people.

4 comments: said...

Love. It!

I find that every day that I've been a parent it was me that was the student.

Look at the boy and the bean! :)

nutella said...

Yes, yes, yes and yes. You've nailed it with your last paragraph.

Oh, and I too am unable to sleep with the baby in the bed, but I even had trouble with him in the same room! I'm too attunded to every sound to get any sleep.

Val said...

Great pic!
These simple lessons are only the beginning! :)
Sounds like you're doing great though!

Anonymous said...

This was such a sweet post and an adorable picture!