To read Part 2, CLICK HERE.
Many years ago, in one of the ‘Ask Me Anything’s someone asked me that if I could get a do-over, was there anything I’d do differently. As a (fairly) new mom back then (maybe even a little arrogant one) I was pretty sure I had done my best and had said that I wouldn’t change much. In hindsight, based on what I knew then, I did do my best.
But now, with some experience and perspective, obviously, my answer is very different My last list consisted of things I did right the first time around itself and would want to do the same way this time as well.
This list, however, is of the things that I got only partly right the last time. I either started off another way and course-corrected halfway through, or started right and lost track in between. And that’s why, here are…
10 Things I’m going to do DIFFERENTLY the second time around
1. Co-sleeping + Breastfeeding while lying down
With Laddoo, I did this almost one and a half months in (I think). We had a crib and I was terrified of squishing her if she slept next to me so I thought it’d be a good idea for her to sleep in her own space. (P.S. It is absolutely safe to have a newborn sleep next to you. There’s a risk only if the adult is intoxicated and unaware of their surroundings. In the 3.5+ years that we co-slept, never once have either of us even come close to even accidentally hurting Laddoo.)
She slept in the crib pretty well for the first 3 weeks or so. She was asleep at 11 PM, woke up for a feed at 3 AM (which I did sitting up in my bed with the nursing pillow to support my back) and went back to sleep in her crib only to wake up again at 7 AM for a feed, at which point we were all up for the day anyway.
I had a good thing going. I got to sleep for 3.5-4 hour long stretches in the night and woke up only once in the middle of the night, and wondered why other people were complaining about with newborns.
And then things changed. She started waking up every 2 hours at night, which was fine because I was told babies need to be fed every two hours and was mentally prepared. She slept through the feed in my arms/on the nursing pillow. But then putting her back in the crib woke her up. Every time. It took a minimum of 3-4 tries and only then did she stay asleep in the crib. And that meant more awake time for me.
And then I realised that it was easier to keep her on our bed, especially when I discovered that I could nurse her while lying down. This was a game-changer.
- Even if I had to feed her 4-5 times at night, I didn’t have to sit up or even wake up fully for that matter. So my body at least got to rest, especially in the early days when hadn’t yet figured day and night out yet and bed time used to be around 2 or even 3 AM sometimes.
- Since she was already lying down in bed, once she was done with her feed and had unlatched, she was asleep in the place we wanted her to sleep. Since we didn’t have to move her, she didn’t wake up.
Another major advantage was that her hunger was addressed instantly since I was right next to her. That meant lesser crying time, and that she didn’t have to fully wake up. This led to more peaceful nights for all of us. As time passed, I didn’t even realise when I woke up to nurse her.
That is, until her regression hit. But that’s a story for another time.
The point is, had I known this before, nursing her in the hospital through painful stitches would have been soooo much easier. And our nights too, would have been so much better.
So this time, no matter how I give birth, the baby’s sleeping right next to me on the bed and I’m feeding him/her while lying down. If I feel like sitting up and nursing during the day, there’s always the nursing pillow.
2. Getting Sandeep to Babywear.
With Laddoo, she was almost 4 months old when he wore her in the carrier for the first time. And while that was helpful, this time, we’re going to start much earlier. Like, from Day 1, like me, if possible. He has always been very comfortable with the SSCs (Soft Structured Carriers, also called Full Buckle), but this time I’m going to have him try on my favourite Hybrid Wrap as well. Not only will this give me a break when the baby will want to be held for naps, it will also allow him to be hands free to talk or play with or read to Laddoo while he’s holding the baby, and I might be able to take nice shower every day. Oh, he can also work if he wants, but that’s not the main goal.
Also: If you’re new to babywearing, check out the Anmol Flexy – can be used from Newborn to toddler age.
Speaking of holding for naps…
3. A routine and an early bedtime from Day 1
Once back home, these are things that are also a priority this time. With Laddoo, I was pretty much winging it. By the time I discovered that babies respond much better to a predictable routine, she was 4 months old. In fact, until she was 3 months old or so, we didn’t even have a bedtime routine.
To read more about bedtime routines CLICK HERE.
Akshaya @andhowdoyoudo managed to set her 15-month-old’s routine straight to a 6:30 PM bedtime within days of bringing her home. So it definitely should be possible with a newborn.
Also, I am now much more aware of age-appropriate sleep requirements and schedules now (how, I’ll share in another post soon) and given that I’ve pretty much seen most of the things that can go wrong with a child’s sleep schedule, I kind of know most of what to expect am better prepared to handle it (mentally, at least).
I am also aware that some babies easily adapt to changes in their routines, while others (like Laddoo) don’t. Once I figure out which category the new baby falls into, I will protect the baby’ routine as if my life depends upon it (which it kinda does, given I’m the only one producing baby’s food) if this one too ends up being like Laddoo.
We’d go to one dinner engagement and Laddoo’s sleep and routine wouldn’t just be off for that night and the following day, but for the entire week, sometimes longer. It was pretty late by the time we realised it wasn’t worth it and decided that being back home an hour before Laddoo’s bedtime was good for all parties involved. It meant missing out on a lot of events and opportunities to socialise, but that’s what we signed up for when we decided to be parents.
This also means being firm with well-meaning family and friends who want to show up at their convenience to see/meet the baby, especially if it’ll interrupt the baby’s schedule. It could range from telling them we won’t be able to entertain them at a certain time or that they’d have to be okay with just taking a look at the sleeping baby. Under no circumstances am I keeping the baby awake longer or worse, waking the baby up just because someone’s over to say hello.
The one good thing about having a baby in the middle of a pandemic might just be that this won’t be a problem (not that our house was overflowing with visitors even when we had Laddoo).
Speaking of age-appropriate things and my mental preparedness…
4. Managing MY expectations from both my children.
The last time, half of my troubles were because my expectations from what a baby is supposed to do/be like at a certain age were not right.
I thought children slept for long hours. Laddoo didn’t.
I thought children fell asleep anywhere. Laddoo didn’t.
I thought children loved sleeping. Well, Laddoo freaking didn’t.
A part of that was on me, as well. I should have understood why. I should have read up more. I should have had MORE REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS.
Babies will wake up multiple times and it will be at least a couple of years before it gets better. I know that now. And I will do well to remember that my children aren’t aware of what my plans are for when they’re asleep.
And not just for sleep, for other things too. Like food, playtime, as well as other milestones. Not all children will be okay with entertaining themselves for even a couple of minutes. Not all children adapt well to new surroundings. Not all children will be the same.
I learnt this very late with Laddoo. I’m hoping to apply this from day 1 this time, for the sake for everyone’s sanity, primarily my own.
5. Reading to the baby from the very beginning.
With Laddoo, I started around 2 months and even then I got a book with horrible fairy tales and fables. This time, I know better. In fact, the process has already started because the baby can hear when I read to Laddoo. I missed out on reading a lot of classic children’s books to Laddoo because by the time reading stories became a habit for her, she was almost 2.5 and I had my eye on other books. But I get to do all that now. In fact, even Laddoo will get to read/listen to the books I didn’t/couldn’t buy when she was younger.
That’s it for this post. Points 6-10 are in Part 2 of this post.
To read Part 2, CLICK HERE.