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This is my home-game entry for Week 30 of therealljidol. I invite you to read the many fine submissions and the home-game entries. This week we could choose between two topics: "Plan B" or "Return to Oz." I chose "Plan B," or rather, the topic chose me!.

I apologize for any typos or grammatical errors; I'm functioning on very little sleep and don't have time to do my usual proofreadinig.

In the hospital, it all seemed so easy. We brought our little Kung Fu Panda home yesterday morning. After two days in the hospital, where Kung Fu Panda and I both recovered from our birth experience, I confess that my husband, The Gryphon, and I thought we knew what we were doing. (Go ahead, parents, and laugh now.) When he was born, I remembered to tell him all the sweet things I had planned, calling him his name, welcoming him to the world (which my Mom once told me she'd done with me), and telling him I loved him. The first time I tried to feed him, he latched on immediately, and I even heard that little clicking sound they told us about in breastfeeding class, indicating he was swallowing. We discovered his Kung Fu action grip when he clutched the IV on the back of my hand and pulled it right out! I later discovered he can also grasp my finger with his toes.

The first night of recovery, I voluntarily took him in the room and managed to decipher three distinctive cries, indicating hunger, gas pains, and a desire for comfort. When The Gryphon returned early the next morning (Dads not being allowed to sleep at the hospital), he assisted with diaper changes and other care. Together, we followed the doctor and RN recommendations to the letter, including tracking his feedings and diapers, and our Kung Fu Panda responded like a textbook baby.

So when they discharged us tomorrow morning, we were feeling pretty secure in our parenting abilities. (Those reading us who are parents are probably already experiencing maniacal laughter.)

As we arrived home, my sister and Mom were busy stockpiling low-sodium, healthy dishes for us to stock our freezer and supply us with dinners for up to three weeks. Kung Fu Panda, who had already been used to a little music from my iPod during the hospital stay, seemed unfazed by four adults bustling around the house, bringing in items, preparing his crib, and calling across the small rowhouse to each other. Kung Fu Panda fed, spent contented time in his vibrating chair (with the vibration off, since it upset him), and even was sweetly quiet for my sister to take pictures before they returned home.

Our kitty, Luke, gradually got up the nerve to come out from behind the furniture for his first look at the baby. From a distance, his eyes grew wide and his nostrils flared as he tried to smell him long range. It didn't take long, though, before he seemed to accept him as a part of the surroundings. He no longer even flinched when Kung Fu Panda cried.

The Gryphon picked up our doggie, Una, from the pet sitter's. Kung Fu Panda and I greeted her outside, and then, inside, we traded places, and I greeted Una, who seemed beside herself with joy. She learned quickly that we were enforcing some distance between her and the baby (at least initially; we will allow her to come closer only under controlled circumstances, most likely later this week). For the rest of the night, she followed us at a distance, playing Nurse Dog, checking our vital signs, no doubt, via scent and sight, and napping on the floor while we took care of baby business.

At his bedtime, I fed him and The Gryphon spent some time with him, changed his diaper, swaddled him, and put him in the crib. He returned with the baby monitor, and we settled down to watch a show or two on the DVR before we expected him to wake. Foolish newbie parents! We should have guessed it couldn't be that easy.

We had gotten about as far as the first commercial break when Kung Fu Panda began to cry. The Gryphon went upstairs to check him and figure out the situation. After getting him comfortable again, he came back downstairs. About five minutes later, another cry; and not a little cry, either, like the little squeaks he often made in the hospital. This was full-blown wailing.

I'm no longer sure how long this continued. Despite our best guesses and efforts to make his sleeping situation more comfortable, he continued to fight the idea of sleeping in his crib. Eventually, all of us were in tears. The Gryphon and I made a series of corrections throughout the night until finally, near morning, we found a routine that allowed us at least an hour and a half of sleep in between cries (about what he'd been doing in the hospital).

On top of other care, such as feedings, burpings, holding and diaper changes, we made several changes to his sleeping arrangements. In no particular order, here they are:

Plan B - Turn off the phone that an idiotic telemarketer called at 9 p.m., waking Kung Fu Panda.

Plan C - Set the air conditioner on a baby-comfortable 76 degrees and turn off the energy saver mode that upset him every time it turned on or off.

Plan D - Turn a light on in the room (after realizing he'd never before slept in a completely dark room).

Plan E - Give up on putting him in the much-too-spacious crib and placing the vibrating chair (set to off) inside the crib, with him buckled safely inside.

Plan F - Exchange the sleep sack (apparently not swaddling him tightly enough) and returning to swaddling the way we'd learned in the hospital.

Plan G - Giving him a binky.

Plan H - Consulting the invaluable book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, recommended by the very wonderful theafaye.

Plan I - Walking around with him.

Plan J - Sitting in the room and talking softly to him until he fell asleep.

And I'm soon there were a few more that my sleep-deprived brain is forgetting.

As I said, by morning we'd managed to figure out a way to get him to sleep, swaddled, in his crib, for much longer intervals. Since I'm still having problems getting in and out of our mattress on the floor (having found it impossible to get a queen-sized box spring up our narrow stairs and never finding it worthwhile to invest in one of the box springs that splits in half), I had to sleep downstairs on the couch. The Gryphon kindly handled all non-feeding issues, and I got a little more sleep.

In the morning, we called the pediatrician and managed to arrange our first well visit for that morning, just to make sure he wasn't having any problems other than the usual, expected adjustment issues. After a similarly long ordeal, involving a longer-than-expected wait in the testing center to have his blood drawn (my son having inherited my yellowish skin undertones), and a breastfeeding and diapering session in the car, we received a call from the doctor's office to tell us everything looked good.

"Just keep doing what you're doing," she told us.

Teamwork is amazingly effective when each of you is functioning on half-empty.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)
There's so much luck involved with this as well as judgement. You are DEFINITELY doing everything right, so don't for a second beat yourselves up about this - this is what parental leave is for. We got so lucky with our first - he adjusted to the cot straightaway. No.2, on the other hand, was NOT going to sleep in her own bed, so we ended up co-sleeping for about six weeks or so and we've gradually co-slept more and more with each baby because it's the best way to ensure I get decent sleep, even if it does make for a slightly grumpy husband (but I'm the one with the boobs, so I call the shots!).

Sleep whenever he does, rest as much as you can and know that you will settle into a routine and it becomes easier all the time.
Jun. 16th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
If we hadn't made the run to the doctor this morning, I'm sure we would have each taken more daily naps. As it was, I had one this afternoon and was pleased to discover how much of a difference an hour of shut-eye can make. We are consulting the Baby Whisperer's guide to baby cries and finding out a lot about Kung Fu Panda's signals. Truly worth its weight in gold, that book. Thanks again for sending it to me!
Jun. 16th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
You are so very welcome. I know not everyone agrees with Tracey Hogg's approach, but that cry decoder alone makes the book well worth owning IMVHO.
Jun. 16th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
No maniacal laughter, just some grins and shaking of head! Yes, I remember these nights! By baby three I gave up and let her sleep in the bed with us for about six weeks as theafaye mentions above, only I'd planned for it, as I'd found with baby #2 that it was the only thing that kept him asleep - and this way I could sleep while nursing the baby. It sounds like you're doing everything wonderfully, and the baby is behaving perfectly for a few-day-old baby - turning your lives upside down and making you cry is 100% normal. Enjoy the pleasure of tiny little baby hands and feet while you have them there - my tiny baby is now 6'3" and built like a linebacker and sometimes I long for those days. Have fun and sleep when he sleeps.
Jun. 16th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
I am expecting our "little" Kung Fu Panda to outstrip his 6-foot-tall dad, as well. He will be the largest one for my side of the family, excepting a cousin of my mother's who also had a tall father. My family's males tend to be under 6' tall, closer to the average range.

You know, having read as many books and taken as many courses as we had, you would have thought we knew what was coming!
Jun. 16th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
It's still too close for me to be doing much in the way of maniacally laughing--sounds like you guys are doing it just right! Which is to say that you're doing it as thoughtfully as possible with an eye toward trying new things. I think the biggest change for me was learning to really expect the unexpected and roll with the punches. It always seems that as soon as we settle into one routine that works, something changes and we're off to the races again!

Oh, and for what it's worth: the first three months were really bad for us in the evenings. Not sure if it was colic, but there were nights where I really didn't think LittleZ would ever get to sleep. I don't wish that one on you, but if it comes? Just know that it ends eventually!
Jun. 20th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
Surprisingly, the nights are getting a lot easier already. Last night, he slept peacefully for three and a half, almost four hours. In fact, I kept waking up and checking on him, just to be sure he was OK, because he was so quiet!
Jun. 16th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
I'll never forget when blueashke and I volunteered to take baby duty for the night so my mom could have a full night's rest. My little sister was probably 6 weeks old or so (Bekah and I were 14 and 12), and she was on formula because my mom was anemic. We laid her in a bassinet in my bedroom, and took turns waking up to feed and change her. Sometime around 4:00am, she started crying yet again, and I started crying, too. I remember sobbing, "Pleeeeeease just stop crying," and then I apparently fell asleep again. I'll never know if Bek got up and took care of her, or if I failed my baby sister and made her cry herself to sleep when she was under 2 months old.

It sounds like you're doing a much better job than I did! Be good to yourself. :)
Jun. 19th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
It's really difficult! On the second night, The Gryphon was so tired he was completely zonked, so I ended up doing more just to keep us functioning. It actually went fairly well.
Jun. 16th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC)
Awww, you really do tell things so cozily, if that's the right word. This was heartwarming and fun to read -- though I guess plans B through J, and the many tears, were less fun in reality!
Jun. 18th, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
They were, and still are, but we're finding ways of rolling with the punches and learning what works.
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
The first weeks are so hard. You'll figure it out...Little Kung Fu Panda simply needs some time to adjust to this noisy world.

Jun. 18th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
We're finding a balance. Part of it came from putting aside our ideas of how things ought to be and finding ways of coping with the way they really are.
Jun. 17th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
It seems mean for biology to make parents horribly sleep deprived and then have to deal with a new person trying to figure out the world. But it sounds like you have as good a handle on it as anyone does.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree! Maybe it's a test, or a joke of the gods.
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
You describe the early days of parenting very well. It's definitely important to be able to be flexible, or at least I felt that way. I know there are people who swear by rigid routines as well but I don't know how they manage!
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
From what we're learning so far, the secret seems to be to have both structure and flexibility. We're still learning the proper balance.
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's pretty much it. And the other thing is, what's the right balance for one child isn't necessarily the right balance for the next, which is why it isn't so detailed about in books and needs to be figured out by the parents themselves. Just trust that you're doing great!
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
We're geeks, so we like to look for data and definite answers. But much like we discovered with wedding planning 2 1/2 years ago, there is a ton of information out there, much of which conflicts, The important thing seems to be to pick what works for you.
Jun. 18th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)
hahaha, couldn't have said it better myself.
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
Ain't nothing like the real thing (baby)
Reading books and taking classes about babies, breastfeeding, etc. is helpful, but you never really 'get it' until you have your baby. It's like reading books and watching movies about riding bicycles versus actually trying to ride one yourself. But anyway, congratulations! Welcome to the first days of the rest of your life and an exciting new adventure. Now go take a nap :-)

- Cathy N
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Ain't nothing like the real thing (baby)
Naps are golden!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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