Eat, Sleep, Poop: Not as easy as it sounds

You might have heard that babyhood consists of three major skills: eating, sleeping, and pooping. Before Talia was born, I was most worried about the pooping because poop is gross and I don’t like gross things. Nowadays, if I could choose one of these three things to be in charge of, I’m pretty sure poop would win. It turns out, it’s the one thing you don’t have to TEACH a baby to do, and although it IS gross, you can’t go terribly wrong in trying to manage it. Also, it’s the one skill that can’t directly affect YOUR health. So, let this be a lesson to you: choose poop.

I’ve already discussed at length how nursing drove me to the brink of insanity, but even so, nursing wins second place in this competition. That first month was depressing and painful and exhausting, but at least there was a backup. If we had to, we could feed the baby formula, and she would survive and flourish and be happy. Furthermore, you could pay people to tell you how to fix things, and those people generally agreed upon the same course of action. And, fortunately, all the hard stuff lasted only 6 weeks.

Sleep? 5.5 months in and we still haven’t figured it out, which I know is common, and I know everyone survives, but man…it’s hard! Also, it’s complicated, and no one agrees on what you should do, and everyone has an opinion, and there’s not a lot of middle ground in those opinions, and one way or another you’re ruining your baby’s life.

Also, as miserable as sleeplessness and bedtime battles might make you, you’re also supposed to figure out how to enjoy it all because everyone assures you that you’ll regret not savoring these moments in the future. I get that, and I try, but as a note to my future self, please don’t be mad at your previous self for spending some of her time feeling sad and confused instead of perpetually amazed at and appreciative of how wonderful a baby is. You can feel both, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling both. Honestly, your previous self wouldn’t feel sad and confused if she weren’t so amazed at and appreciative of her baby. If she could have spent those 5 hours it took to put the baby to bed either sleeping or washing the bottles or making a healthy dinner or exercising, then she would be 1) freer to spend time with the baby when the baby is awake or 2) in a better state of mind to enjoy the baby when the baby is awake. And the BABY would be happier because she would have gotten 5 more hours of sleep! But this gets into a rant I have about how your current self is always your smartest self, so of course my current self would tell my future self just to trust my current self, and my future self, when she becomes current, would tell my current current self to feel differently. But we’ll talk about that another time.

Anyway, even though I haven’t written anything of actual substance about sleep yet, I will go now…I see that Talia woke up from her nap an hour early. I’ll start writing another post with actual information next nap :)

About Sarah

10 years ago, I was a computer science student. 5 years ago, I taught kindergarten. 2 years ago, I trained teachers. Now, I'm a technical writer. I have thoughts about most of these things, but most likely I'll just write about neuroses and why I love Mr. Gatti's pizza. Which might be a neurosis.
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3 Responses to Eat, Sleep, Poop: Not as easy as it sounds

  1. Kirstin says:

    So sorry sleep is kicking your butt right now. We went through that with Sebastian and it was one reason why we had a hard time deciding if we were going to have anymore kids or not. It truly sucks. (Thankfully so far, only 7 weeks in, Ines is a dream in the sleep department).

    I know how you feel about the conflicting advice. The main thing I got from Sleepless in America is that ALL KIDS ARE DIFFERENT! That’s something that I wish more people (hello, in-laws!) would acknowledge when it comes to parenting and sleep in particular. We treated Lucia and Sebastian the same way when they were little and ended up with two very different sleepers. Their personality really does make a difference, and I think personality plays a bigger role in how sleep goes than what we do as parents. Lucia was able to self-soothe fairly early without much problem, and really well by 7-9 months (can’t remember exactly). Sebastian didn’t learn to self-soothe until he was over 2 years old. That combined with him being a very physical, sensitive person meant that sleep didn’t come easily nor stay easily! We can control the environment and the routine, but a lot of the rest is up to them. I just did what I could to survive with him – a lot of nursing him down to sleep in our bed for naps and then sneaking away. Or leaving him asleep in his carseat instead of transferring him to the crib if he had fallen asleep on the way home from somewhere. The stuff we did with Lucia just didn’t work with him, so we did what we had to for survival. If those things didn’t work, then I’d wear him on my back and pace back and forth in the living room while he napped. For hours. It was physically exhausting. I called Camilo in tears several times/week for a period of months there. I felt like my life revolved around getting him to sleep.

    Anyway, my point is that it’s likely all the advice you’ve gotten is “good”, even if it’s contradictory. Just not all of it will work with all kids, even though people think it should. Or want it to. And, sometimes, nothing really makes it much easier and you just have to wait it out. Those are my current thoughts on children and sleep. I’m curious to read your next post about it!

    • Sarah says:

      This all sounds very wise, especially the part about only being able to control the environment and routine. I suspect that a lot of babies do well with just those two things, and that’s why all the books and advice that focus on those things work for a lot of people. I also suspect that CIO and camping out and all those techniques work for a lot of people because they give those people a structured way to give the baby the chance to try to fall asleep on their own whereas maybe the baby hadn’t had the chance before. Talia CAN fall asleep on her own (at least that’s what I observe on the monitor in the middle of the night when she doesn’t think anyone’s watching ;) )…she just absolutely doesn’t want to. But more on that later…thank you for the encouragement :) Your situation sounded worse than ours, but I can identify with the tears, and Jonathan has thrown his back out more than once already!

  2. Kerri says:

    thank you kristin! what sage advice for the future AND for now (we babysit a seven-month-old at least once a week ;) ). and i hope it is better now, dear sarah. i’m glad breastfeeding is better, and ya, sleeping’s really hard and pooping not so much (as far as i know in my not-yet-a-mum-but-still-working-with-children knowledge goes ;) ). love you!

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