Dr. Harvey Karp, My Sanity Thanks You

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and assume you’ve all heard of the book The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Yes, I know you have.  Considering I’ve been hearing about it pretty much non-stop since it came out years ago.  Yes, my not pregnant, not married, hell…not even engaged yet self, had heard about it.

It sounded like a lofty goal, some doctor writing a book about being sure he could turn your baby, any baby, a colicky baby, into The Happiest Baby on the Block.  I scoffed every single time I heard about it, but secretly was storing this information in the back of my head should I ever need it.

Sure enough, I needed it, and I ate my scoffing attitude ten fold in the last few days.

Aria has been a pretty awesome baby.  Our first week home, everyone asked how the sleeping was going.  My response was always, “Great!”  It was great.  I mean, we were having to wake her up every 2-3 hours to make sure she was feeding and stimulating my milk production, but the mere fact that we had to WAKE her up was a good sign to me.  I admit (and feel hugely guilty about) to the fact that we missed a few middle of the night feedings that first week from utter exhaustion (exhaustion + turning off alarms = no wakey wakey) meaning that our one week old slept a few 6 hours stretches.  Awesome, eh?

Don’t worry, we paid for it.

As soon as the pediatrician cleared us to let her sleep as long as she liked at night, we hit the frustration part of parenting.  She refused to go to bed at night.  Outright refused.  Evening feedings went from taking 15 minutes to 3-4 hours because of cluster feeding.  She would fall asleep at the boob, I would let her lay there til she was fully zonked, and then transfer her to her cosleeper only to have her wake the moment her back touched the mattress.  If we were lucky and got her to fall asleep and stay asleep in her cosleeper, she would wake the instant we shut off the light (that’s when we started using the Seahorse.)

It got to the point that we were up until 1 or 2am every night just trying to get her to sleep (her last nap before bed was usually just after dinner.)  Since  getting up at 5:30am to go running was part of my new routine, starting sleep time at 1 or 2am just wasn’t going to work.

The only saving grace we had was her noise toys.  These helped immensly as prior to those, she was hardly sleeping at night at all, not even at the 1/2am timeslot…and they made daytime naps much longer too.  Bedtime was still frustrating though.  She hated being swaddled, hated the pacifier, hated not sleeping in our bed, hated the dark.  It was still hell in our bedroom.

A few nights ago, after having a full day of almost no naps, and hours upon hours of cluster feeding, I just couldn’t take it.  With The Hubs sleeping soundly next to me, and a crying baby laying in my arms, I lost it (a bit.)  I nudged The Hubs (read: loudly yelled at him to wake up) and practically threw him the baby, saying “I just can’t take it.  You need to take her.  Walk with her.  She’s going to scream and I really don’t care right now.”  This is newborn parenthood, and it’s normal, I promise.  I’m not a psycho beast.

I laid in bed, in the dark, frustrated with myself, while I heard my poor darling baby girl crying and screaming out in the hall as her Daddy walked with her.  Half an hour in to my “alone time” I caved, went to my girl and shoved her on the boob.  Not only was I frustrated, but The Hubs was too.  He was upset that he couldn’t calm her down, and felt bad that the only thing that made her stop fussing was to nurse – something he couldn’t provide.  Poor Hubs felt like the only time he saw his daughter was when she was crying 😦  We had to fix this!

Enter Dr. Harvey Karp and his magical book.  I’d heard from numerous resources that the book was a good read, but if you were in a pinch to just watch the DVD, since it containted the most important information and was quick to watch.   So l sent The Hubs to the library, and we sat down for a romantic evening, learning how to calm our baby.

We laughed a bit, watching him calm all those babies in seconds, both of us exclaiming “Ours isn’t going to be that easy!”  With the Five S’s in mind (Swaddling, Side, Sooshing, Swinging/Jiggling, Sucking) we set out that night to see how smart this doctor really was.

After feeding Aria, we swaddled her nice and tight just like the doctor showed, and The Hubs set off with her Giraffe (for white noise) to try to put her to sleep.  His last words before leaving me to go to bed myself were “Don’t come running at the first cries you hear.”

I wasn’t even asleep yet (and I fall asleep FAST now) when he walked back in, holding Aria in the side football hold, swaddled, and sleeping.  His eyes were wide as he said “That guy is a genius.” Genius indeed.  Aria went straight down to her cosleeper, with her white noise next to her, and slept soundly with the LIGHTS OFF.  When she woke to eat, I fed her, passed her off to The Hubs, and again, within mere moments, she was out like a light until morning.

I feel nervous writing about this.  Maybe I’m jinxing it (dear lord, no!) but I think we’re on the mend.  I am so ridiculously proud of our little girl and her awesomeness calming down and sleeping.

Here’s to hoping that our new calming tools (in case you’re wondering, our Aria needs all of the first 4 S’s to hit that magic relaxation button) continue to work.

Dr. Harvey Karp, I love you.

Now we’re moving on to tackling getting her (and us) into a routine!


One thought on “Dr. Harvey Karp, My Sanity Thanks You

  1. The side laying, jiggling, and Shh-ing helped for us. I still use some of those tools. The swaddling did not. She HATED to be swaddled, and then when Brian watched that video and started swaddling her with her arms down like that she was officially DONE with being swaddled. haha! I can’t say it turned my colicky baby into a happy baby though. ( during those months there was literally nothing we could do to stop the crying. I do not miss those days! Good luck. Sounds like it’s working well for you/.

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