JJE asked me if the “5 S’s” from the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD were working, and I thought I’d just go ahead and say what’s been good luck for us as Lucy turns 3 weeks old. For the uninitiated, HBOTB uses Dr. Harvey Karp’s method of getting newborns to shut the hell up, and they all start with S: Shushing, Swaddling, Side (laying the baby on its side or stomach), Swinging and Sucking.
Are those blog readers not having kids totally bored yet? Good.
Lucy responds to swaddling when we put her to bed for the night, but at any other time, she shadowboxes her way out of that fucker in about fourteen seconds. Her legs are so strong that she kicks herself free, and then the rest of it just pisses her off. We’ve had to resort to the Swaddle Me thing with velcro, so we can straightjacket her torso while leaving her legs free to thrash around.
If you’ve ever seen the “Happiest Baby” DVD, Dr. Karp quiets these kids in an almost miraculous fashion, and it’s true, the shit works. However, like anything, it works until it doesn’t anymore, which ranges from 45 minutes to 4.5 minutes.
We subscribe to the whole “attachment parenting” thing, because a) we’re young and foolish, and b) there’s no such thing as Lucy “crying it out.” We’ve tried that, and she works herself into such a furious lather that her body heats up like an iron skillet and she makes Chopes hide in the bathroom. After a total meltdown, however, she’s ready for her 4-5 hour sleep, which has been a GODSEND.
Here’s what we’ve figured out: almost all babies go apeshit at some point in the evening. Their nervous system, tired from a day full of input, needs to reset, so they just explode as a way of de-fragmenting their hard drive. This has nothing to do with you as a parent, it’s just the way newborns are wired. Once you come to grips with this, your empathy is contagious.
I don’t mean to say that Lucy is a fussy baby or colicky; she is a normal newborn with a few fussy periods. I still wonder how Matt McM. and Carrie survived Cogan’s three months of screaming, in fact, I’d give those guys a guest day on the blog to tell the whole story, which sounds harrowing and ultimately redemptive.
But, in brief, these are the ways we get Lucy to cool her jets:
1. Swaddling and rocking. Shushing does not work for Lucy, although we have a very engrossing white noise machine (actually an air purifier) that recreates the womb in our bedroom.
2. I tap her back lightly with two fingers, simulating Tessa’s slow heartbeat (50 bpm or so).
3. THE SLING. Works wonders, and is the way dad can earn his fucking keep for once. We like the New Native Carrier, as it is easy on the back. Tessa is wearing it here.
4. The pacifier – annoying, because you need to hold it in her mouth for her (she doesn’t have the skill set yet) but man, it works in a pinch. Unless of course, she doesn’t want it, and then your neighbors will know it.
5. Your confidence. I honestly think that 85% of first-time parenting is not freaking out when your baby does. If you keep your cool, and refuse to be daunted, the kid will eventually follow suit. Even during the loudest screams, when nothing is working, just try to maintain your sense of the absurd.
6. Marrying a superstar like my wife. God, she is so great. I get weepy just thinking about how awesome a mom she is, after only three weeks. She’s had a rough couple of days with Ol’ Ironsides, and she still soldiers through. She’s my hero and I love her like heroin.