Day 6 of my captivity.
Our routine, to the extent that we have one
Julian’s settling into something of a schedule. Jen nurses him once upon waking (around 5:15) and then again before leaving the house at 6:45. This tanks him up and knocks him out. He sleeps until somewhere between 9:30 and 10. Since I’m getting up between 7:00 and 7:30, this gives me time to shower, dress, make coffee, and have breakfast. I can even run a load of laundry in the morning, and the true miracle is, I can shave more than once a week!
When he wakes up and gets fussy, I stop what I’m doing and get him ready. I change his diaper, and then give him a bath, if it’s Bath Day. (He gets a sponge bath twice a week, and a full bath in the sink on weekends, when two of us are handy to collar a wet, slippery squirmer.) I dress him and then, because he hasn’t eaten since 6:45, give him his first bottle of the day.
Bottle feeding is going well. He’s still using the Lifefactory bottles, and he’s very comfortable with those. I prop him on the Boppy, face up, holding the bottle with one hand while I check the Internet on my phone or read a book with the other hand. Until midday Friday, I fed him in front of my computer, with him propped on my left leg, crossed over my right. But this was uncomfortable because my leg would fall asleep, so I needed another solution.
I’m under doctors’ orders to walk an hour a day, in an effort to lose weight and control my blood pressure. I prefer to go out twice a day for half an hour each time because it breaks up the day for us. The first walk normally happens right after the first feeding. Money’s tight right now, so we just walk around, but when things loosen up, we’ll go out for coffee or a bagel at that walk, and maybe settle in somewhere and read or write for an hour.
A couple more feedings through the course of the day, and then we settle in and wait for Mommy, who arrives home around 6:35 pm. I hand him off to her and fix myself a cocktail.
After Wednesday’s screaming fits, things calmed down on Thursday and Friday. Julian would let me put him in his sleeper/pod, and he would then enter a quiet-alert or an active-alert state. Again, I keep the pod by my computer, so I can turn and watch him if he needs active attention. Otherwise, he’s right in my peripheral vision, so I know what he’s doing at all times.
Sometimes he fusses a little and I can calm him by giving him all of my attention and singing or talking to him.
Yesterday (Tuesday), though, was hard. I mean, he had a good day overall. He was alert and happy for much of it, but when he wasn’t happy, oh boy. He screamed and screamed. I was finally able to calm him, but the only way to do so was to pick him up and hold him on my shoulder until he had screamed so much he passed out. I held him on my shoulder until my arm fell numb and put him into the Pod. I expected him to wake up again, but he slept deeply for a half hour. There’s something deeply unnerving about a screaming baby, especially when you can’t identify any immediate physical need — hunger, wet diaper, constricting clothes, etc.
I have to admit, by the third screaming jag of the day, I finally let the stress get to me. I was frazzled and my nerves were wrecked. I put him down in the co-sleeper in the bedroom, turned the monitor on, came out into the living room, and took a couple of minutes to compose myself before going back to him. If I allow my stress to become anger, that just makes it even harder for him to calm down and relax, thus perpetuating the cycle.
The thing about a baby is, you never know what to expect, and you can never guess in advance what’s going to work. Like the feedings… The first few times I fed him, before Jen’s return to work, were tricky. The bottle, it turns out, wasn’t right for him (but we couldn’t have guessed that). The way I held him wasn’t right for him. I could go on. But now, I think we’ve got it.
Today’s test is to stave off the screaming. I think what I didn’t even know to do was to try to put him down for a nap. I think being in the living room, with lights on and music playing and Daddy right here doing something possibly interesting — I think it was too much for him, he got overstimulated, and then he became upset. Right now, he’s napping in the co-sleeper in the bedroom. He’s been down for half an hour so far, and we’ll see how he does.