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Things we want to remember
Doc and I have realized lately that we are starting to forget things. We are starting to forget how bad it used to be when Jamie was small, how difficult and impossible it seemed. Not that we want to dwell on the negatives about the past, but we think it’s important for us to remember how hard we worked to get where we are, and that we should be quite proud of ourselves for everything we have accomplished.
So a few things that we want to remember are:
- Jamie never used to be able to sleep lying down flat. For the first several months of his life we had to pretty much hold him upright at all times, even while he slept. At night, we put him in a co-sleeper on my side of the bed and he would wake up literally every two to five minutes and need soothing. I timed it.
- Doc spent a ton of time with Jamie downstairs while I tried to get a little sleep in the bedroom upstairs. We had the pack & play set up next to the sofa and he’d sleep in that — or try to. Doc would sit on the sofa and work or read or watch television, with Jamie right next to him so he could be available within microseconds if Jamie began to cry. Eventually we jacked one end of the pack and play up on blocks so that Jamie would be lying at an angle instead of flat. We thought that might help his tummy problems.
- We kept him wrapped a LOT of the time. He had to be swaddled while he slept or his arms and legs would jerk involuntarily and wake him up. His startle reflex was strong and lasted a long long time. He also was growing so quickly in size and strength that towards the end of his swaddling tenure, he would constantly break free of it. We called him Baby Houdini. During the day, Doc would often keep him wrapped to his body in the Moby wrap. It seemed to sometimes soothe and calm him.
- Jamie wanted to eat every 2 to 3 hours, all the way up until the time I stopped breastfeeding at 5 months and then even well beyond that. When he was going through growth spurts or just feeling particularly bad on any given day, he’d want to eat every 1-1/2 hours. Breastfeeding would take at least 30 minutes, sometimes nearly an hour. So he would finish eating and then be ready to eat again in an hour or less. It was exhausting. After I went back to work, bottlefeeding during the day didn’t take quite as long per session but it was still very tiring for Doc.
- I hated pumping. Hated, hated, hated that damned pump. But I was determined to give Jamie as much of my milk as possible so I did it anyways. Twice a day at work and then as often as I could manage at home between feedings, to build up our frozen supply. At work I pumped in an unused office on the other side of the building. The roof of the attached section of the next building was right outside the window, so I usually had a nice view of birds and squirrels messing around on the roof. Once I realized that some workmen had climbed up there to do roof repairs, literally six feet from where I was sitting with a pump strapped to my torso. Luckily I think the window screening didn’t allow them to see in. I hope so, anyways.
- At some point we bought the side-to-side swing. It was like a small bit of magic; Jamie actually could sleep in it for up to an hour at a time. The side to side motion soothed him. We swaddled him, strapped him into it as best we could, then laid a blanket over him and used art clamps to clamp it tightly to the sides of the swing.
- We spent inordinate amounts of time playing white noise at Jamie. We bought numerous apps for our iPhones that could combine ocean waves and heartbeat sounds. We played the noise fairly loud and it would often flip some sort of switch in his brain after a few minutes and calm him down and let him go to sleep. It’s the equivalent of loud shushing. It would still take a good 15 minutes of white noise to get him to fall asleep.
- When he started napping and then sleeping at night in his crib, in order to get him to sleep we would have to hold him either in cradle hold or monkey hold and bounce up and down on a giant exercise ball. These sessions usually took from 30 minutes to an hour and a half before he’d fall asleep. Gentle bouncing didn’t work most of the time; we really had to hop pretty vigorously. It was hard to hold a screaming crying wiggly baby in pain tightly enough that the bouncing wouldn’t actually jostle him. But we did it, day in, day out, 5-6 sessions per day, for more than a year.
- At 18-1/2 months, Jamieson still does not sleep through the night. He never has, not even once. The longest stretch of sleep he’s gone for was seven hours, and that happened only once. So we, his parents, don’t ever get an unbroken night’s sleep unless we have family in town who pitch in to help us overnight.
Now there are about a zillion wonderful and amazing things about Jamie and about being a parent that makes this all worth it. But I don’t ever want to forget how hard it was, and how proud I am of all of us for getting through it with our sanity intact (mostly anyway).