Friday, November 20, 2009


Exhaustion has set in. Utter, complete, mind-numbing, soul-crushing exhaustion. I wasn't this tired during law school finals. I wasn't this tired in 2007 when I was working until all hours in the Senate on the immigration bill. The only thing that even comes close was one hellish month in private practice, but even that doesn't really compare. Any time I've been sleep-deprived before-- due to work or studying-- there were two significant differences. First, there was always a fixed end date in sight, after which I knew I was going to be able to catch up on my sleep. Second, even during those difficult times, I would get bigger chunks of sleep than I'm getting now-- and could even break down and sleep a good, full night if I really needed to.

I'm going on seven weeks now during which I've strung together three to four hours of sleep at a time at the most. I think that ONCE, MAYBE there was a five-hour stretch, but that was early on and has not been repeated.

Nate does not like to sleep at night, and I don't know what to do about it. He used to do a pretty decent four-hour stretch before his first night feeding, and a couple more hours after that. Now, I'm lucky to get three hours in a row for that first stretch, and it's only downhill from there. Last night I went to bed at 9:30, only a few minutes after Nate. He was up at 12:30, nursed, down at 1:18, up at 3:37, nursed, down at 4:21, up at 4:34 (when I begged David to get him back to sleep, because I knew he wasn't hungry), down at 4:53, and up for the day at 5:30. It's currently 11:00 a.m., and he's finally been napping for an hour.

Of course, now that he's napping, I feel like I SHOULD be trying to sleep. But yesterday morning I spent his entire morning nap frustrated on the couch, trying to doze off. I think the pressure to "sleep when the baby sleeps" can be too much. Sometimes I'm better off just doing something else-- surfing the internet, reading a magazine, calling a friend-- because I feel like I've just wasted my little free time if I try to sleep and can't. I can sometimes fall asleep during a later nap, but if I'm home alone with him, I'm invariably up after only an hour.

He used to love to take crazy-long naps during the day-- three and four hours at a time. Then I began to worry that he had his days and nights mixed up, and so I've started waking him after two to two-and-a-half hours. We've also stopped leaving the lamp on in the nursery, after reading that even a dim bulb could make him wake up more at night. He does seem to fall back to sleep easier after his first feeding now, but he still wants to be awake anytime he finishes a feeding after 4:00 or 4:30 a.m.

I'm not a nice person when I'm sleep-deprived. I've probably snapped at David more times in the past four weeks than in the previous four years. I know there's no way to put a six-week-old on anything resembling a schedule, but I'm going insane. I need help from any veteran moms out there. (Ellen, I'm looking at you!!) Am I right to wake him up if his daytime naps get too long? Should we try to get him down at a certain time each night? (Right now it varies because he gets fussy in the evening and ends up taking a nap.) Any way to get him to sleep a little bit later in the mornings? (I'm a morning person, so 6:00 or 6:30 would seriously be a fine wake-up time in my view, provided I could actually get some decent sleep before then.)

Even if there's nothing I can actually DO right now, can anyone tell me when it might start to get a little bit better??

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One Month Old!

Nate was one month old yesterday!! It's hard to believe it's already been a month. Wasn't I just responding "five days old" or "eight days old" when people asked me how old he was?

He has changed so much already. He's outgrown most of his newborn clothes, but it's been fun to start using the (far more abundant) 0-3 month sizes. It's so sad, though, to set aside the tiniest outfits, knowing that he will never wear them again. He genuinely smiles at us already, and he can focus on our faces and track a toy with his eyes. His neck control is terrific already, which makes my life a lot easier-- he makes me carry him up over my shoulder a lot, so it's important that I have a free hand to feed myself or carry his bouncy seat up and down the stairs (and up and down and up and down).

He's still completely unpredictable in so many ways, though. While I'm sure that's totally normal, it's nonetheless frustrating. He'll have one excellent day of sleep-- multi-hour naps and happiness all day-- followed by a completely cranky, sleepless day. We haven't been able to figure out what causes the good or the bad days, although it becomes clear early in the day what kind of day we're facing: A good early nap leads to a good day, while a short or absent early nap spells disaster. The question is how to induce the early nap on days when he fights and fights against it or wakes up after only a few minutes.

We're finding our feet, though, and we are both already so much more confident than we were only a few short weeks ago. I can't wait to see how we feel in another month!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Phoning it in

Of all the things that have surprised me so far about parenthood, perhaps the strangest is the extent to which I have become utterly and completely dependent on my iPhone.

I've had the phone for about 15 months, and I've always loved it.  I began to love it even more when I stopped working and rid myself of the Blackberry, slimming my purse down to one device for phone, e-mail, internet, and music.  I've watched movies on plane trips on the phone, used it countless times for directions, and it even served as our sole internet access last spring during our trip to Harbor Springs with the Moshers.  (We all passed it around to get a tiny information fix!)

Since Nate has been born, though, it's felt like my lifeline.  First of all, we downloaded an application when he was born that keeps track of all his vital information-- diaper changes (too many to count), feedings (frequent), sleep (not nearly enough), baths (not as many as I would have anticipated), tummy time (when I remember to do it), and so forth.  This means that I have the phone with me pretty much at all times, so that I can always start his feeding timer or record a diaper change.  

Second, there's the Kindle app.  David gave me a Kindle for my birthday, which is terrific.  (I'd determined that it would be far easier to read on the Kindle-- with only one hand-- while holding a baby, instead of trying to awkwardly hold a book and turn pages with Nate in the other arm.)  The iPhone syncs up with the Kindle so that you can read any of your Kindle books on the phone.  Because I already have the phone with me at all times, I've just been reading on the phone instead of on the Kindle.  

The Kindle books, along with Twitter and Google reader (on the phone's internet browser), have been my sanity during those nighttime feedings.  I'm even on the verge of renting a couple of movies through iTunes to watch at 2:00 in the morning when my eyes are too bleary to read.  I could, I suppose, come downstairs and turn on the laptop or television, but that makes it feel even more like I'm "up" than sitting in the nursery does.  So far it's much nicer to sit in the fluffy nursery glider/recliner and thumb the phone while Nate nurses.

Who knew this little gizmo would be my saving grace in these early weeks?  And what on earth did new moms do before they had technology to keep them company when the rest of the world is asleep???

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day!

It's election day in Virginia! We're pretty excited, because it looks like our candidate for governor is actually going to win this time.

Nate knows who he'd vote for (if he could vote, that is).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bottled Up

Yesterday was a big day in the Petroni household. I conquered my fear of the pump, and David got to feed Nate for the first time. It was strangely bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I was thrilled-- this development means the prospect of girls' night with friends, a dinner out with David, and the hair appointment that I already pushed back once to November 18th. On the other hand, it was pretty strange to see Nate getting his nutritional needs met by someone other than me. (Although I did still supply the nutrition. But you know what I mean.)

David has not been putting any pressure on me at all to pump so that he could feed Nate, thankfully. I've heard horror stories of husbands and grandparents pressuring a mom to pump so that they could "participate in feedings." Forget that, I say. I'll pump when it's needed and helpful, not so that anyone else gets the joy of giving my child a bottle.

Problem is, even after he sucked down 3.8 ounces from a bottle, Nate still wanted to comfort nurse. I guess that cold, hard plastic just isn't as nice as soft, warm mom flesh. We're still trying to figure out how we'll deal with that issue. Perhaps he'll just get used to having a bottle here and there? Could he have been dissatisfied because he knew I was in the room, and if I'm truly unavailable he won't fuss for me? Anyone with experience in this area?