Babies Don’t Keep

Last night I fell asleep thinking about my singular goal for today:  figure out how to clean the house (at minimum I wanted to get done two bathrooms, the dusting, and mopping.  I really cannot vacuum with Levi here because he startles so badly, it breaks my heart).  I am not sure this is really a “singular goal,” but at five months, I still have not found a way to clean the house while home alone with baby, and I am still determined to do so.

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

My strategy was to “practice” all three naps in the nursery, getting him into the crib.  My aim was to leave him there awake or not as long as he wasn’t crying while I cleaned the bathrooms.  I figured I could mop while wearing him.  And I would put him on the floor on a blanket while I dusted.  I continued to strategize this plan through night wakings and night feedings.  I hoped I would get enough sleep to have enough energy.

Nap #1:  He doesn’t fall asleep.  I put him in the crib.  He has a meltdown.

Nap #2:  He falls asleep.  I transfer him to the crib.  He stays asleep!  In excitement and disbelief I send Dawn pictures of the monitor.  We rejoice.  I clean the toilet.  I turn toward the shower, spray bottle aimed and….  He’s awake.  I leave him there while I finish cleaning the shower.

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?

I decide I will squeeze my foray to the grocery store in before his next nap.  Nap #3:  Dairy aisle, in the carrier.  I traverse the store carefully, heart melting into a puddle on the Price Chopper floor.

I arrive home and realize that the grocery store nap means I’ve missed one of my bathroom cleaning opportunities.  I guesstimate his next nap time will be around 4 or 4:30pm.

3pm he wants to nurse.  I don’t bother heading to the nursery, it’s not time for a nap.  He doesn’t seem tired.  We sit down on the couch — I have no water or snacks.  No boppy.  This will be brief.

Nap #4:

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The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

I truly want to take this poem to heart.  I do love it.  I remember my mother reciting it when I was young.  And I do know that it speaks the truth.  And yet, even as I had tears in my eyes while captioning this picture selfie, the poem didn’t really make me feel better about the state of household around me.  So for as long as he lay on me, I just didn’t look.  I read the poem to myself and closed my eyes and kissed the top of his head.  IMG_0425

And then as soon as I was able, I strapped him to back and started putting the house back into some semblance of order.

Since it is perfection I am chasing, I have decided it might be wise to start taking stock of what I have achieved in a day.  By doing so I might trick myself (or others) into believing that I am able to somehow “do it all.”

Today I:

  1. Cleaned one toilet and one shower
  2. Did the grocery shopping and unpacked the groceries
  3. Did baby and me yoga with Levi pulling my hair.  Hard.
  4. “Made” dinner (not sure frozen veggie burgers count, but I’m going with it).
  5. Cleaned three poopy cloth diapers.
  6. Wrote this blog post.
  7. Loved up my boy.
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Patience with breastfeeding Part II

In addition to the problematic latch, Levi wanted to nurse (like many newborns) all the time — every hour on the hour day and night.  He needed to feed so often, I was told, because he wasn’t at all efficient.  Levi was a sleepy little thing.  He took forty hours to enter the world and then slept pretty solidly for the next 36 (I laugh now that we took this as a sign of how he would actually sleep as a baby).  He had his lip and tongue ties revised at one day old.  We visited our first lactation expert before he hit the two week mark.  He never stayed awake through feedings.  You must wake him, I was told.  You must keep the flow going faster.  You need to essentially force him to eat by creating high flow feeds.  I cried in the lactation consultant’s office.  She looked at me like I was crazy.

This approach to nursing involved breast compressions (LOTS of breast compressions), waking up baby, doing different holds (mostly football and modified cradle).  I hated football hold.  And keeping him awake involved constant strategizing:  okay, between breasts I will change his diaper, this time I will dab him with a wet cloth, another time I will do his lip and tongue stretches.

And then one day…magically…Levi “grew up.”  He stopped sleeping so much (a different kind of challenge).  He started eating fast and hungrily, emptying each breast quickly.  Now I never do football hold.  I never do breast compressions.  This all happened without me even realizing it.

Without me even being aware, he stopped falling asleep on me during every feeding.  One evening recently he dozed off and feel into a deep sleep while nursing.  I suddenly became aware of what I had been missing — the thing that I fought so hard in the beginning to avoid — my baby fast asleep at my breast.

What I wish I had known then that I know now is that while Levi continues to feed close to every hour — especially in the evenings — his feedings are so MUCH shorter.  They now average about ten minutes, while they used to average twenty minutes, and often he would nurse for upwards of 45 minutes.  He stays awake, actively sucking.  His latch is still terrible, but he gets what he needs.  This means that I have more time (not a lot of time, of course, but more time than I had…) in between feedings, even while nursing all the freakin’ time!

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The things that make you feel “normal”

For me these things include having clean sheets and a tidily made bed. For the dishes to be done (clean kitchen).  I also love stuffing pocket diapers and then distributing them into baskets throughout the house (we double everything on first floor and second — might not be the most simple, but really convenient).  Overall, a perfectly organized house, but we are trying to shoot within range here. My neighbor says that for her the one thing was showering and shaving her legs every day. I get way more done on the days when I don’t shower, and certainly not shaving my legs saves me even more time, so I would rather change/make the bed.

Now at five months, the one single attainable thing for me is getting the bed neatly made.  It makes me happy throughout the day to look at it, and it makes it inviting at night to crawl into (although by the time I make it to bed, I’m sure I don’t need an invitation).  Granted it looks nothing like the beds in stare at longingly in The Company Store, Garnet Hill, and Sundance, but it is orderly, and that is what matters most.  I’ve developed a routine of putting him in his bumpo with a few toys and making the bed while we chat and he plays.  I often use this time to throw on some clothes as well.

We all have our “thing.” What is yours?