Sunday, September 16, 2007

Training Each Other

Sure, we read "What to Expect the First Year", to get some idea of how of what we were facing raising a newborn. That book has become our "Baby Bible". It's packed with all sorts of useful information. Trien and I both read it, and we both agree we got a lot out of it. It's an excellent book to have if you are a first time parent. It's also the only book on parenting we could find in Taiping.

Sure, we asked others for advice, on how to prepare for Melody's arrival.

It seems like you can prepare all you want to have a baby, but it sure is a different thing when the baby actually arrives and you have to do it. Some things turn out better, and some things turn out worse.

For example, before Melody was born, the thought of actually changing a diaper was nearly enough to send me into convulsions. That's the OCD working. After she was born and I actually did it? No problem. It just seemed so natural to do it. I found out I actually enjoy changing her diaper, and making goofy faces and noises at her while I do it. It confuses the hell out of her, and keeps her quiet and still while I clean and change her. Besides, the mustardy yellow breastfeeding poop doesn't smell like some sort of biological warfare attack. I can't say the same for those kids on formula. Anyway, when it's your child who is dirty and smelly, you don't mind. If it was someone else's kid, I'd run away screaming in horror, and have to rub hand sanitizer all over my body.

It's a different thing reading about taking care of a baby, and having people give you advice, and actually doing it.

At first, we struggled. Every time she cried, we thought she was hungry. Usually, we weren't wrong. This kid can really eat. If she is hungry, she will show she is hungry by loudly sucking on her fist or the back of her hand.

At first, she would feed for two or three hours plus straight. She is a rester, and she would take little breaks during her feeding time, but still! She would empty out both breasts, and we would have to give her a formula supplement on top of it to satisfy her hunger. Mommy's nipples were getting awfully sore.

Then a few nights ago, she fed for seven hours straight. She didn't go to sleep, she just kept crying and feeding for all that time. She would feed, spit it up, we'd burp her, she'd cry for more, fill her diaper, we'd change her, she'd cry again, we'd feed her, she'd spit it up, cry for more, we'd feed her, burp her, and on and on. We didn't know what the hell was happening. I was ready to have tests done to see if she had an extra stomach. Finally, about 1 am, she fell asleep, and slept for about 8 hours.

The next day she was OK. What I figured was, that she had gas, and tummy pain. Since she is as new to all of this as we are, I think she couldn't tell the difference between gas, tummy pain, and being hungry. So she would feed, get gas, then cry for more, spit it up, we'd burp her, that would make more space, so she'd want more, we'd give it, the gas would come back, she'd be full and get tummy pain, fill her diaper, that would make more space, etc. in a never ending cycle.

It seems that after that, Melody learned the difference between hunger, gas, tummy pain, and being full. We haven't had the same problem since, and hopefully won't again. That's because we are also learning. We are learning what her feeding patterns are.

She will wake up, and be hungry. To make her comfortable during feeding time, first we check her diaper, and if need be, change her. Then Mommy feeds her. After anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, she either doze off, go to sleep, or want to look at stuff. If she dozes off, after a few minutes she'll be awake and want more. If she wants to look at stuff, then she will want to be held, and look at stuff around the room, or at a toy, for an indeterminate time. Then she'll want to be fed again. If she sleeps, then she will sleep for 2 to 3 hours before she wakes up again.

After the second feeding, if she hasn't had her "Lets look at stuff time", she will want to have it then. If she's had her "Lets look at stuff time", then she will doze for a few minutes. After she has done either, she will want a little snack, then she will fall asleep for a couple hours.

Knowing what her habits are make it easier to take care of her.

We've also realized that every time she cries, she doesn't necessarily want a nipple in her mouth. So we hold off on that until we are sure that's what she wants. If she gives her hunger sign, then that's what she gets. If not, we go through the checklist: diaper, hold me, burp me, get me out of the crib, lets look at stuff. If that doesn't work, then it's feeding time.

So you could say both Melody and Trien and I are adjusting to each other, and learning from each other. We are training each other. It looks like this won't end until, say, she grows up and moves away from home. Until then, we'll just keep learning and adjusting!