Best laid plans

This week, I’ve finally gotten Maddi on a schedule.

You may take this to mean that we are now a well-oiled machine and have our days mapped out in five-minute increments, but only if you are thinking like someone without an unsleeping, ravenous, attention-loving eight-week-old. We here at Casa de Maddi play fast and loose with dictionary definitions. Things like “sleep,” “meal” and “basic hygeine” have taken on entirely different meanings here, and “schedule” is no different.

I am sure there are some parents who do have their babies on rigid schedules, just as there are newborns who sleep 18 hours out of 24 and moms who breastfeed their young ones for 20 minutes every three hours. Rest assured that these parents would be on my hit list if only there was time in my day to make that list. While Maddi is not a really colicky baby, she sleeps only 10 hours out of 24 (I’m including ALL periods of sleep including catnaps), has a huge appetite and is not content with amusing herself but requires constant, stimulating interaction. She also spends a good portion of the day fussing and working her legs like little pistons because of her gas. And up until a week ago, while she was (sporadically) sleeping more at night, she did NOT do schedules.

But last week, having grown tired of having to rotate my few daily breaks between basic hygeine rituals and basic housekeeping, which resulted in my having to choose whether to brush my teeth or throw Maddi’s poopy sleepers in the wash (Guess which one won? You wouldn’t have to, if you were in breathing distance!), I decided that Maddi was not going to be eating every time she indicated she was hungry. I know this sounds cruel, but bear in mind that your average newborn needs to eat every three hours, and, as time goes by, less often — and that Maddi at nearly two months was still eating every 90 minutes. When you factor in burping, changing, comforting and amusing the wee one, this leaves two or three 15-minute periods of downtime per day, during which time I had to juggle showers, bathroom trips, meals, hair and makeup (whittled from 30 minutes to 5), and the occasional bit of housework or blogging.

Tired of spending my entire day doing feeding-related tasks, I consulted my baby book during one of Maddi’s marathon feeding sessions (not an easy task with one hand) and was delighted to read that her feedings should now be four hours apart and that it was OK to delay them by distracting her with interesting things to do. Having finally convinced her that the sling was a fun mode of transportation rather than a heartless attempt to bind and smother her, I am now able to haul our tiny girl around and show her the housecats and flowers in my attempt to forestall her meals. At first, she found this torturous, but she quickly learned to compensate by eating more — and more quickly — at mealtimes.

Unfortunately, while the sling increases my mobility, in order to keep the wee one happy I have to keep moving, which rules out anything that is done in a standing position, such as dishes and blow-drying my hair, and in order to keep the wee one from tumbling out, I can’t bend over, which rules out cleaning the toilet and tidying up the room. Laundry is OK, as are vacuuming and tidying the bathroom counter. The things I can’t do with Maddi dangling in front of me vastly outnumber the things I can. Nevertheless, it’s better than being able to do nothing at all!

So far, we have gotten on a schedule in which she usually (75 percent of the time — all bets are off when she’s really gassy) falls asleep around 11 or 11:30 and sleeps anywhere from four to the occasional nine(!!!) hours. If it’s the former, which is the case most nights, she may sleep for another three after an hour of eating and burping. If it’s the latter, she’ll eat for an hour, sleep for an hour, then eat for another hour. Either way, she’s ready to face the world by noon. I give her another meal around 4, one around 8, and then at 9:30 or 10 I start topping her off for the night. In between meals, she gets tummy time (which she still hates), bouncy seat time (that’s how I stay clean!), playing-on-Mommy’s-lap time (her favorite next to eating), sling time, and being-rocked-for-hours-because-she’s-gassy-and-screaming time. One day we will introduce the concept of independent-play time — or maybe even nap time — so I can shave my legs AND do dishes all in one day, but for now any attempts to let her amuse herself in the bouncy seat or anywhere else are met with furious resistance.

So our schedule has a LOT of fine-tuning left, since there’s no point in planning out the whole day if there’s still no time to pee. (Chris thinks I could manage to use the bathroom with the sling on, but then this is from someone capable of very neatly writing his name in the snow. My thoughts on this are that I have enough laundry to do and not enough time to do it and I’m not about to make more!). However, it is a schedule, and anything is an improvement, right? Someday, Maddi will learn to accept the fact that she cannot eat every minute of the day and will find other things with which to amuse herself. Since the bouncy seat’s efficacy is fading, she will soon be getting a swing, and in a few months she’ll be old enough for a playpen. One day, she may even be predictable enough that we will be able to take her to the portrait studio during her “happy period” without her wailing uncontrollably, then gorging herself and releasing bodily functions all over her cute outfit. And at some point, I’m assuming she’ll be able to burp and pass gas without disturbing the entire Okanagan valley with her tortured screams.

In the meantime, it is nice to feel like we have a schedule, even if by calling that I am making a mockery of the day-planner industry. (Or maybe they should just make make a special day-planner for Maddi with the suffix “-ish” after every two-hour increment.)

Now if you are five minutes early everywhere (as I used to be) or have a perfect baby who plays happily on her own and has predictable hours, I don’t want to hear about it. Not until I’m getting eight hours a night and eating at the table like a normal human being. If Webster’s can add a new alternate pronunciation for the word “nuclear” for George W., they can add an alternate definition of “schedule” for my darling little girl.

And without further ado, Maddux’ 8-week picture!

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