A doctor told a very good friend of mine that the first three months of a baby’s life is like a fourth trimester (I guess it wouldn’t be called a trimester then but whatev). He said that some major development is far from done but we wouldn’t be able to give birth to their giant heads if they stayed in the womb any longer (I wouldn’t say that they fit really well at 40 weeks either but I’m not going to argue with nature.)
My friend told me this when my first son was about a month old and I was trying to implement all the “well intended” (code for “shit”) advice that is often bestowed on a new mother. It was like an Oprah A-Ha moment and it made perfect sense. If I just let him live his life like he’s still in the womb my life will become way less complicated. Here’s what I did:
I stopped trying to give him a bath every night. Someone told me a bath was essential to establishing a bedtime schedule. She also told me that this should be followed by a massage (sadly for him, not me) and a story. He hated bath time because he was naked and freezing (for the record, he loves being both now), the massage confused him just long enough to get through it and I don’t know why I thought reading “Go Dog Go” to a two-week old was logical, but then “sane” wasn’t an adjective I’d use for me in the first three months of my child’s life. I accepted that he was a newborn and not a member of the Deadliest Catch fishing crew so he wasn’t dirty and he didn’t need a bath.
I stopped dressing him in anything other that jammies. He ate, he pooed, he slept and he cried in a one-hour, round-the-clock cycle. When you have a newborn there is no day and night. I quickly found out that newborns don’t have schedules and they are like those creepy rave kids strung out on E, they want to party at 4am AND 4pm. It was a perpetual Groundhog Day so why dress for that? Plus, you just have to undress them if they happen to fall into a blissful sleep around 8pm because IT’S BEDTIME!! (said in a high-pitched control freak shrill) and they don’t help with the undressing for a while so it’s like stripping a surly, drugged monkey. Not pretty.
I fed him when he wanted to eat. I remember crying “he can’t be hungry, I just fed him!” so I would try everything to get him to stop only to find out he did want to eat. He would promptly spit it all up but he was happy and therefore I was happy. My motto was “Pick him up. Fill his mouth. Change his bum.” If that didn’t work, I’d hand him to his father, say “I can’t take it anymore” then cry in the bathroom. It worked for us.