There are many surprising things about having a baby: how an outfit that was just right could be crazy tight two minutes later, how a face can change so much in a day, how it is no longer a huge issue to have pee, poop, spit or milk on various parts of my body/clothes, and generally how in the hell we made this thing from scratch.
What is not surprising is how clueless we are. See, babies don’t make sense. They’re like really bad telenovelas, bringing you higher highs than you’ve ever had just before slamming you with lower lows. From “It’s a miracle, my husband’s sister’s boyfriend woke up from his coma with two working arms!!!” to “Too bad he used those two working arms to murder 200 of my closest friends.”
My husband and I respond to the lows as I think any parent would (any human, really): we see a problem and we want to fix it. The obvious first step is finding out what the problem is. For us, easy, the problem is a sobbing baby. For the baby… well, that’s the question. The pediatrician told us that we should start to be able to distinguish his cries, so that we can understand what he’s trying to “tell” (read: scream at) us, but we have not yet mastered that particular skill.
Here is the list we run down when Mix starts fussing (a word that I never used before having a child and now use on an almost hourly basis):
This is my go-to answer, especially since it’s a problem I can solve with a boob, a chair, and a smile. Of course, it takes the kid about an hour to eat, so it requires a bit of prep on my end, but I’m getting good at doing things one-handed. I think I may have deciphered his hungry cry. It sounds like he’s being chased by a cheetah, Bigfoot, and Paula Abdul.
My husband doesn’t love this answer, especially when he’s alone, but I’ve been pumping so that he can solve this problem just as well as (and a lot faster than) I can.
An easy fix for both of us. We’re still using mostly disposable diapers right now, because he’s too little for the cloths we bought, so it’s extra easy. I’m ready for the eye rolls when we switch entirely to cloth, but it’ll still be pretty easy. And this kid is usually freaking adorable when he’s naked/being changed, so that’s an added bonus.
This is not a great answer, because we haven’t mastered getting him to sleep, but it makes us feel better to have an answer – any answer.
He’s got crap in his throat/nose
This is one of my husband’s favorites. We’re getting the hang of the bulb syringe for the nose problems (this comes into play when he’s boobing-it and can’t breathe through his nose), but there’s not much we can do for the zombie baby with stuff in his throat. All we can do is gently pat his back and tell him to swallow that crap down. He doesn’t listen very well.
He needs to poop, but can’t
This one was THE ANSWER for the first few weeks, but I don’t think it’s viable anymore, since this kid is a poop champion. My husband disagrees.
One of my faves. If he’s eating a lot and fussing a lot, it MUST be a growth spurt, right? Of course, if he was growing each time I suggested this answer, he would be a giant baby by now. I stand by it, though.
Aside from me sneaking my hand/lips to his forehead every now and then, this isn’t an answer either my husband or I have put forward since we thought he had diarrhea (he didn’t). We’ve been very lucky in this area.
Babies are, of course, terribly confusing, and most of the time, there is no ‘answer’. But for lost-in-the-weeds parents, it’s helpful to pretend there’s some sort of magic cure just waiting to be found. A baby cry cure. Get on it, science.
Over the weekend, I went to a Cloth Diapering 101 class, because it was free, short, and close by at this adorable bio-friendly shop called The Green Wagon.
The woman who led the class runs (surprise) the only cloth diaper service in Nashville, Smile Mommy (I’m trying overlook the name). She mentioned it at the beginning of class and didn’t push the sell too hard. The more people who cloth diaper in general, the better it is for her business. And again, the class was free.
After the initial shock of pre-folds and liners and all-in-ones and pockets and… I started to think that maybe I could do it. I think this is good, because I actually went in thinking I could do it, got discouraged by the demo, then bucked back up by the end of the class.
I know this might sound idiotic to six-months-from-now-Amanda, but it seems like there isn’t much difference between cloth diapering and disposable diapers. Yes, there are two steps to putting on the diaper (if you do the pre-fold/cover thing), but when you take it off, you put it in a pail, same as a disposable. Instead of taking the crap in the pail out to the trash along with the other 50 million plastic diapers that go out every day to decompose for as many as 500 years, it goes into the washing machine.
It’s not that simple, of course. The washing process takes longer than the disposing process, plus there’s all the water/energy that process takes, but I don’t know, I think it might be worth it.
Smile Mommy (ugh) is, of course, fuxpensive – $35/week for the infant package – but they give you all the stuff you need, plus you don’t have to worry about the wash. I figure a month of the service might be worth it to see if cloth diapering is for us. That way, we avoid buying all the cloth swag only to find out we hate every second of it. I’d be interested to see how this price compares to disposables during the first month…
And if cloth diapering is a no-go, if I come to hate the feel of cotton even against my own skin, I’m not going to let myself see it as a failure. I’ll just put it into my ever-expanding hypocrite file. I eat meat, I use paper towels as napkins, I read books made from trees, I use writing pads constantly, I can’t stand the smell of patchouli… I’m not green. I’m not even the lightest shade of green. I AM lazy. And cheap.
If I can do this one thing to avoid contributing to the third-largest source of waste in landfills (soon to be second once newspapers are extinct), I will. If I can do this thing that seems to be better for Zig (not much diaper rash, more comfortable), I will. But I’m not going to stress out about it. I will have PLENTY to stress out about.
[In my research about this stuff, I ran across the elimination communication movement (read: infant potty training). This seems like a magical dream land where babies poop in toilets and unicorns read them to sleep, but if it works, I’m all for it. Seems like you’d have to be attached to your baby all the time to make it work, though. Thoughts?]