OK, so I guess the third option is that this part passes and then it's all worth it. But let's be honest, newborns are terrible roommates. They are amoral psychopaths, and if you are lucky they are cute enough to make up for trampling your life and sanity. It is not a good time, for anyone, except maybe the grandparents and visitors. "Oh how cute! she's sleeping! she's so sweet! ... OK, time for us to go. (back to our nice quiet house where we may sleep as long as we like)"
Here's what's working:
- Our laundry detergent. We switched to Charlies a few weeks ago to prep for cloth diapering. A lot of people think their cloth diapers aren't working, and what is really wrong is they are using the wrong detergent. Once w switched to Charlies and got our household laundry through a few times, we noticed that our dishtowels are actually absorbing water! Imagine that! Normal detergents leave all kinds of crap on your laundry that prevent this. Also, no dryer sheets-- those also ruin your clothes' natural absorbency.
- Cloth diaper wipes. So if you are doing cloth diapers, you should use cloth diaper wipes. Everything all goes in the same bin, easy as pie. (unless you are doing diaper service, which, well, lucky you, then. But actually washing our own diapers has not been all that difficult) I made these out of a flannel sheet from goodwill.
- Line drying diapers really does work to get the stains out-- if there is sun. Which is starting to fade as we get into Autumn around here, but that's OK, because the heat sucked, and I love the rain and fog.
- In short, cloth diapering is not so bad. So there, old bag. We are doing a lot of laundry, but we are glad that number of diapers is not going in the landfill.
- Pretty much everything else
- "Sleep when she sleeps!" Yeah, right! Let's see, when does she sleep? When we are out running errands, and when she is being held, and when there are people over (probably mostly because they are holding her). The propaganda you'll get before having a baby will say things like "be prepared-- your baby will probably wake every 2-3 hours" which sounds fucking awesome to me! I would kill to get sleep in 2-3 hour chunks right now. Rather, she screams every time we put her down. ESPECIALLY at night. She does nap some during the day as we are doing stuff, but if we lay down to nap, it wakes her up. And at night? no fucking way. She has this really active, agitated state from like 12-6 am every night where nothing you do will calm her down. All you can do is hold her to keep her from screaming. For several hours, while your spouse gets some sleep in the other end of the house with earplugs. Then you switch, so the other can sleep while the first sleeps for a few. Swaddling seems to make her more agitated, though we are not quite giving up on it yet. I want this 2-3 hour waking baby desperately. I obsess about sleep now. My days are OK, but as the sun goes down, my emotional state gets worse and worse. Every fucking night.
- "Make sure to eat well so you can heal and feed." Another ridiculous piece of advice. The first three days I was home I was constantly starving, but could not eat because 1. no time, and 2. I had terrible swelling and needed to get a special no-salt diet. Can you imagine that I suddenly had time to prepare special food for myself? Thankfully my mom and sister came with homemade low-salt meals for the freezer. Now the swelling is gone but I still can't put her down long enough to even toast a bagel without her getting upset. Just now I put her down for a second to zap some of my mom's soup because I'm starving. When I came back and found her sleeping, I had to choose-- skip dinner or skip sleep? It's like she knows when I will and will not be able to join her in a nap.
- "Take it easy the first few days to recover." OMG. I was not at all prepared for how shitty the physical recovery would be. I feel like this part was glossed over in the pregnancy books and junk, because I didn't have too bad of a time sucking up the pregnancy symptoms, but after birth, I am now in constant pain. I won't share all the details here. Suffice to say, it is a lot worse than people let on. Which makes me sad because I feel like I should be enjoying her, taking walks maybe, bouncing her up and down on my lap, running around doing stuff for and with her, but I can't. I've already been to the doctor twice for complications in my recovery from a complication-free delivery. Either they didn't tell me what to expect, or it's not turning out as well as it should normally.
- Maybe it's PPD. Here's a fun fact-- I cry every goddamn day. The baby cries, I cry. It's relentless. I don't think Paul is crying-- in fact, he is the only sanity in this house these days and I could not live without him. I almost can't bear to have other people over because I am so teary, especially at night. I even feel bad about feeling bad, which makes it a never ending loop of self-pity and self-loathing. Yay. And what's this about post-partum depression? Well, let's see? What would make me feel better-- some Prozac or therapy or whatever? Or, I don't know, maybe some sleep, a little less feeling like I couldn't help my baby feel better, and if I wasn't in physical pain every second of the day. I really think the insurance companies should consider nannies as treatment for "PPD" since probably most of these cases are easily explained without blaming hormones or chemical imbalances-- it's too obvious-- why *shouldn't* you be depressed if you are going through this? The worst is realizing that while other people are looking at your baby and seeing absolute joy, you are looking at your baby and seeing a mix of absolute joy blended with the horror of a bottomless pit of need. The exact ratio depends on your mood and how loudly/long she is crying.
I keep telling myself that this will be temporary but I don't really know what that means. Will she suddenly start sleeping more and not requiring constant holding? Will we finally break down and drive to Home Depot to pick up a trabajaro to hold her whilst we nap? (yes! I am voting for this one) I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing with her now-- all the crappy baby books and shit talk about babies and reading to them and playing with them and all this shit, how you can help them sleep by having patterns and activities, but they also say something about awake and sleep times as though she had separate periods of nap vs. awake. It really seems more like screaming vs. sleeping. And this active sleepy area where she is just pissed off. I suspect these crap baby books are just written rather poorly and gloss over the newborn phase. At least that's what I'm telling myself so I can have hope that this will pass. It's that, or I just got stuck with a baby that will never sleep. Or possibly, she got stuck with shitty parents who don't know how to help her sleep like the nice babies in the books. Sorry baby, you got a shit mother. We can't all win at this game.
All told, everyone is happy and healthy. Well, Molly is anyway. I'm still working on healthy for me. On Tuesday morning before feeding, she was up to 7lbs 15 oz, so I guess she's growing like a weed, and that's a good thing. Also she eats really fast, which is good because I have shit to do. Pediatrician says everything looks fantastic. She's definitely filling out a lot from her birth-- she even has jowls, particularly when we strap her into the car seat.