Sunday, 14 July 2013

Moving the goal posts

I don't know where the past 6 weeks have gone - it's hard to believe that Finley is already almost 7 weeks old.

The past week has been a challenging one as Finley's Fussy Switch has been flipped.  Apparently this is normal at 6 weeks.  My friend Julie calls it the "6 week terrors".  I stopped asking how long these little spells last, as I'm learning something sneaky about the dissemination of parenting advice: everyone keeps moving the goal posts!

When we were in hospital with brand-new Finley, he slept ALOT.  He cried when he was hungry and otherwise was a pretty content little guy.  The night before our departure he cried and cried and cried all night.  We tried all the tricks in our woefully understocked arsenal and eventually got the nurse to come in and help.  She was great and told us not to worry, that it was normal for babies to get really fussy on day 3-4 as the breast milk was not in yet and he was hungry.  She told us we just needed to get through the next few days and he would settle down once the milk came in.

We felt reassured and took a fussy, cluster-feeding 5-day old home the next day.  Our first few days at home were crazy!  We were struggling a bit with the breastfeeding and Finley only liked to sleep cuddled up on someone's chest.   Sleep deprivation was hitting new levels.

After we'd been home for a few days, a public health nurse by the name of Nancy came to the house to check up on us (this is a service offered to all new parents in B.C.)  She was like an angel!  She had all sorts of practical advice about breastfeeding, sleeping, and some tips for new parents.  "Until he's two weeks old, you should just be in survival mode", she warned us.  Great advice, but wait - did she say "two weeks"?  I thought we just had to survive the first few days until the milk came in.... Oh well, we could make it through two weeks!

Sure enough, those two weeks were hard, but we got through.  We got into a feeding rhythm and Finley started sleeping better.  He fussed at times, but for the most part, we felt we had a pretty easy baby.  As he got older we noticed he spent more time in the "quiet alert" state - just chilling out, looking all around him.  Yay!  We then make the mistake of marvelling in what an easy going little guy we had.

The very next day, someone flipped the switch!  Poor Finley had a wretched day - he cried all day, didn't manage a single nap (which made him even more cranky.)  Monday was the worst (I guess even babies hate Mondays!), but this week has been a fussier and crankier Finley, and subsequently, a more exhausted Mommy & Daddy.

Now I heard that crying and fussing hit their peak at 6 weeks.  Two of my good friends just had this experience with their babies and it's confirmed by two of my books and a host of online blogs (it must be true if its on the net!)  Whether it's a growth spurt, gassiness, increased alertness or just plain fussiness, it seems to be a universal truth. Wait, why didn't someone tell me this before?  I thought it was the first two weeks that we had to be in survival mode, but we are in it again!

Last week I ran into a patient of mine at the coffee shop.  She's pregnant with her second baby and I recall her telling me what a easy baby her first was.  I told her that I was having a tough week with Finley and she sympathetically told me that it would pass... "The first three months are like Baby Vietnam".  Her husband nodded his head in agreement.  Three months?  I thought it was a spell from 6 weeks to 8?

They keep moving the goal posts on us!  It's a secret conspiracy that veteran parents use to keep rookie parents in the dark! 

I've seen these tactics before in sports: you just need to get to that tree, or to that mountain, but around the corner there is always a new goal to achieve.  I guess that's the way it goes: parenthood is a ever changing playing field and we need to be ready with new tactics every time a new challenge appears.  But we are up for the task & when Finley flashes us that happy smile, all the sleeplessness is forgotten!

1 comment:

  1. Best wishes to your tired family. The good news is that by the time Finley starts school this will all be practically forgotten!