Irregular is the New Regular

The weather can’t decide whether it wants to be overcast or sunny, and despite a cool breeze the air’s heavy with humidity. Its uncertainty has put a sharp edge on our already taut moods.

S woke up grumpy from an up-and-down night’s sleep. Not because Felix needed frequent feeding, but because he’s begun to let out loud sighs and groans and random startled yelps in the middle of the night. These sounds don’t signal any need, they’re just a result of his shifting around or digestion, but they tickle S’s maternal instincts and rouse her awake.

Though it sounds like science fiction, S’s breasts literally ache when the baby cries, so after a particularly vocal display like last night’s she ends up feeling catnapped instead of really rested in the morning. Because my emotional response isn’t tuned as highly as hers I tend to be more adept at interpreting his sounds, separating the priority “I need something” wails from his random verbalizations. It’s when Felix gets worked up into hysterics that I find it impossible not to respond in kind, as a whole range of emotions–sadness, pity, protectiveness, concern, a crushing sense of futility–pass through me. Sometimes I can’t help but laugh, hoping that if I make light of his tears he’ll forget about them. Other times I might even become angry, as if he’s crying to spite me.

The other night, I left S downstairs to entertain a dinner guest while I tried soothing our fussy, gassy son. Twenty minutes later, after a few wet burps and farts, the little guy was still tomato red and screaming his head off in pain. All I could do was keep moving and bouncing, one hand constantly patting or rubbing his back, my lips pursed lips as I exhaled shush upon shush. But nothing worked. He didn’t calm till well after the guest had left and S had cleaned up from our dinner, and then it was mostly on his own, not because of anything special I did. But I was left worn out emotionally.

S and I’ve both found him a bit draining today too, his second day in a row of wakefulness. We’ve been fortunate because most nights he sleeps pretty solidly, and for long stretches, waking up for food once sometime between one and three and again in the early morning. Not bad at all as babies go. The difficult thing is during the day. Despite what most books promise–that newborns sleep off and on around the clock, only staying awake for a few hours at a time–Felix’s been known to go seven or eight hours straight without a nap, long stretches during which he becomes fussier and fussier. He’s the opposite on other days, only alert for a couple hours total. But our tomes of baby wisdom tell us that prior to three months not much that can be done to sleep train him.

And yet we wonder. A neighbor said she instituted a schedule from day one. A friend said by six weeks she had her baby napping every one and a half hours or so, otherwise he became grouchy. We would like to institute some kind of schedule, even if a loose one, less for him and more for our own sanity.

Then again, from Saturday night to Sunday, he was up every hour and a half or so to feed, a spurt that resulted in a half-ounce increase in S’s milk production by Monday. (We know this from her pumping.) Even if we had a routine in place he would’ve blown a hole through it!

Sigh. Like the indecisive weather, the complete lack of routine in our lives has us strained. It’s not like we’re anal schedulemeisters, but an iota of predictability would be nice. The sage authors of our books say that it’s impossible to spoil a newborn by giving in to his every whim. But is it possible to mold him, to guide him, to get him to conform to some schedule?


1 Response to “Irregular is the New Regular”

  1. 1 A Shot of Zen « Daddy-to-Be Trackback on July 28, 2009 at 7:02 pm

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