I would like my instruction manual, please.
August 18, 2009

The most surprising aspect of new parenthood has, for me, come in the form of a complete brain explosion.  Having a newborn, it turns out, is an exercise in total mindfuckedness.  MINDFUCKEDNESS.  That belongs in a dictionary somewhere, don’t you think?

You know what the problem is?  It’s that living with a teeny tiny baby is like playing a game.  A game that does not have instructions and that allows this 9 pound tyrant to change the rules AT ANY TIME.  WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT.  (Or your knowledge, for that matter).

So, for example, you could get used to slapping the kid on your boobies at all sorts of unholy hours in the night?  And as soon as you proclaim to your husband that BY GOLLY, you’ve got it! the baby will start to sleep in 8 or 9 hour blocks through the night.

Which is pretty cool and all, but let’s be honest.  Just because your kid sleeps through the night does not mean that you can.  You might have to get up every three hours to pump.  So you wake up, you pump for thirty minutes, you scrub and sterilize the pump parts, and go back to bed.  And all of that will take nearly an hour, so now you’re down to only sleeping in two-hour increments.


Or, as another example, you could get it in your head that you have this baby thing MASTERED, so you could tell someone that yeah, she’s a really good baby, a really easy baby.  And as soon as the words are out of your mouth, while you can still see them hovering in the air an inch off your lips, that “really easy baby”?

Yeah, she’ll start wailing.  JUST BECAUSE.  So you’ll change her diaper and feed her and swaddle her and unswaddle her and put her in warmer clothes and then strip her naked and walk her around and put her in the swing and change her diaper again.  And she’ll keep wailing.

At which point, you’ll be thinking REALLY EASY BABY, MY ASS.  Then, ten years later, when your kid has some friends over for dinner, she’ll stop in the foyer and show them the stain on the ceiling.  Yeah, she’ll say, that’s where my mother’s brain exploded.  Her skull just burst open and her brain popped out, CAN YOU IMAGINE?!  I could be wrong, there is obviously room for error when one projects a decade out, but I’m pretty damned certain that’s where I’m headed.  I’m going to be the woman whose brain wound up on the ceiling.

And if that’s not the definition of mindfuckedness, I don’t know what is.

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  1. By gretchen from lifenut on August 18, 2009

    Babies are mysterious.

    You know….I never, ever got up at night to pump if my baby slept through a feeding. If your baby is tending to sleep longer stretches, there is no need to pump as if they are still waking up, unless you are having serious supply issues.

    If you don’t need milk at 3am, then don’t pump milk at 3am or your body will think you need milk at 3am. It’s one of those cycles. Not quite vicious, but close.

  2. By on August 18, 2009

    I second what Gretchen said about pumping in the middle of the night - unless their is an issue (low supply, clogged duct, etc.)
    Babies…so cute and innocent…they have to be to get away with all their little shenanigans. This too should have been put into a book.
    Oh, did anyone mention the memory loss. I’m not talking alzheimers. I’m talking the short term memory loss that occurs after having children. You will find yourself headed places with an agenda, only to get where you were going and have no idea why you are there.

  3. By Laura on August 18, 2009

    A-FREAKIN-MEN!!!! Not knowing what in the heck my son wants while he’s wailing drives me nuts. Sometimes I think he does it just to try to see if my head will explode!

  4. By Natalie on August 18, 2009

    hahahahahah! I’m dreading the wailing for no reason…

  5. By Jen on August 18, 2009

    I have no comment, except.

  6. By Jasmine on August 18, 2009

    That is why I always laugh at moms that are like…. “I have got this shit down…“ then two weeks later they are crying and screaming, “what do you want! I don’t know….“

    It all works out- by the time they are two you just smile and nod and let them lead you to the bathroom where they mumble and explain that the toilet NNEEEEDED a box of cheerios in it!

  7. By Vicky on August 18, 2009

    Welcome to the joys of parenting a diapered dictator.

  8. By erin on August 18, 2009

    I third Gretchen and Sue.  I do not ever pump at night, only in the morning after TK eats.  On the other hand, she has been sleeping through the night for 8 weeks now and my body has still not gotten the message that we are no longer doing nighttime feedings.  I still wake up with rocks in my boobs and leaking through nursing pads, so.

    I so hear you on the mindfuckedness.  The moment I mention TK is sleeping through the night, she wakes up at 4 am and refuses to go back to sleep unless nursed.  OY.  We can compare ceiling brain stains in 10 years.

  9. By on August 18, 2009

    Too funny- I swear you can read my mind. I’m so glad someone else mentioned short term memory loss b/c I thought I’ve been going nuts. Then there’s the total lack of concentration. And here I thought my brain would return to normal after pregnancy. hahaha

  10. By tracy on August 18, 2009

    deep breaths. it gets easier. I have one of those “easy babies”, too, but she still keeps me on my toes.

    you’re doing great!

  11. By tracy on August 18, 2009

    PS, I didn’t pump at night either; that way my body adjusted & only made what I needed.

  12. By Stephanie on August 18, 2009

    Whenever I blog about Jasper doing something awesome, like sleeping for 5 hours or whatever, the next night he will, without fail, wake up like every hour.

  13. By Alias Mother on August 18, 2009

    The Buddha was a ridiculously easy baby.  She’s been a bit of a handful as a toddler, though.  Didn’t see that one coming…

  14. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on August 18, 2009

    Re: the pumping.

    There are two reasons I wake up in the middle of the night to pump.  First of all, I’m an overproducer anyway.  Charlotte rarely drains me completely, she can feed to her fill and I will still leak.  During the day, she eats every 70-80 minutes or so on both boobs, so I get rock hard leaking engorged breasts after about 2 hours.  I can stretch that out to 2.5 hours at night, but after that my breasts are too hard for her to latch and it becomes very difficult to pump or express manually.

    At night, I pump less and less frequently during the night so that my body will learn - and I pump less milk per feeding (about 3.5 ounces now down from my original 5 ounces, which I think we can all agree is excessive) than I did up front.

    Last night, I accidentally slept through one pumping round to the next.  We had to wake up Charlotte, have her nurse on each side for an hour, then I pumped to finish draining.  I still pumped a good 3 ounces.  And two hours later, she fed to her fill and I pumped another 3 ounces just for kicks.

    So NOT waking up to pump isn’t really an option yet.  We’re slowly working on getting my body to produce less, but we just aren’t there quite yet.

  15. By repliderium.com on August 18, 2009

    My best friend became a new mother last year. My favorite moment was when she said “You know, I really love my husband and my son, but some days- I’d like to throw them both under a fucking bus.“
    Hang in there- it gets easier, or at least you can go back to booze after the breast feeding.

  16. By on August 18, 2009

    Congrats on the new baby!

    In your life with the first newborn, there is no normal - no patterns, no schedule, no reliability. There are ups and downs, highs and lows. Newborns completely turn your world upside down, and I don’t think anyone really and truly understands this until you experience it yourself. Then around 3 mos, things get easier and *some* normalcy returns, but it’s a new normal.

    For us, things were constantly changing and we were always learning until my son was about 2.5. Now he’s pretty predictable at 3.5. And we can start all over again with our 2nd baby in October!

  17. By on August 18, 2009

    Oh yeah, also, get yourself 3 sets of pump parts so you can leave a set dirty and wash and sterlize them in the morning/at a better time than 3 am.

  18. By Allison on August 18, 2009

    Hahaha—oh man, you crack me up. And I promise, your brain may seem like it will explode, but it won’t. You’ll get through it :) And hell, I’m jealous of the sleeping baby. REALLY jealous. Mine *still* wakes up during the night sometimes.

  19. By nin on August 18, 2009

    have you thought about not pumping in the night so that your boobs will get the message and not produce quite so much at night? if you continue to pump every 3 hrs at night, your boobs will just produce milk to suit that. yes, you’ll be uncomfortable for the first couple of mornings, but it only takes a couple of days for your boobs to sort themselves out and start producing on demand.

  20. By Spruce Hill on August 18, 2009

    Walking around really helps. Holding helps and baby gas drops help! http://www.mylicon.com/ My first baby had a gas problem and it really helped a lot!

  21. By on August 18, 2009

    Okay so I’m not a mom, definitely have never breastfed, but I would agree you’re an overachiever in the breastfeedng area!  Sounds like your boobs were meant to feed twins!

  22. By Joe @ Irrationaldad on August 19, 2009

    Our luck went like this.

    1am: Boobs FULL. Baby sleeping. Pump
    1:30am: Go to bed after pumping
    1:31am: Baby wakes up, STARVING

  23. By Veronica on August 19, 2009

    Um yeah.

    And then there is the tired saturation point. Where doing anything is just too hard and your brain doesn’t make the words come out right.

    Isaac is back to not sleeping. ugh.

  24. By Jena Simms on August 19, 2009

    You silly girl, just wait until she wets the bed and you are up washing sheets and bathing her at 3a.m. These are good times, NOT!

  25. By Rebecca on August 19, 2009

    I had to laugh at Joe’s comment re: pumping, then baby waking up starving immediately after.  That was definitely my luck (still is, to an extent!).  I never had an oversupply problem, to be sure, but I did plenty of middle-of-the-night pumpings in the early weeks to try to increase my supply.

    I hope you can drop those overnight pumpings soon, so you can enjoy those long stretches of sleep while they last. I think it’s pretty common for a “good sleeper” to start waking up more at night around 4 months. 

    You’ll appreciate having all that extra frozen milk, though.  I’m trying to build a stash for a 2 night trip we’re taking over Labor Day weekend, and it’s proving to be a challenge.

    I also agree with SZ—it’s worth the $$ to have extra pump parts.

  26. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on August 19, 2009

    Re: extra pump parts.

    That sounds brilliant!  I wish I’d thought of that BEFORE the baby was born, but I am totally hitting up the Target tomorrow to pick some up.  It’s a drag being up at 1am washing and sanitizing pump parts!  Thank you for the suggestion!

  27. By Elaine on August 19, 2009

    I never used a pump - I did it all by hand and it was soooo much easier.

  28. By Rebecca on August 19, 2009

    A couple other things I just thought about—it’s not an instruction manual, but some information we got in our Newborn Prep class REALLY helped us in the early weeks.  It was the “5 S” stuff by Dr. Harvey Karp.  He’s the one who promotes the “4th trimester” theory I mentioned in another comment.  Here’s a link with more info:


    Also, the “mindfuckedness” DOES get better eventually, but for me it was HIGHLY related to my hormones and to sleep deprviation. As I’m still nursing (so my hormones are still crazy) and Nicholas has slept crappy the last 6 weeks (although he’s now sleeping all night in his crib, albeit waking up twice to eat, YAY!), I’m really feeling your pain this week.

  29. By on August 19, 2009

    I had a dorm sized fridge in my bedroom. After I pumped at night, I put everything in the fridge and dealt with it in the morning.

  30. By on August 19, 2009

    Someone once told me CHILDREN WILL ALWAYS MAKE A LIAR OUT OF YOU. and it is SO true. Hugs. It will pass. :)

  31. By Restless Mama on August 19, 2009

    I just want you to know that you are my favorite blogger.  Seriously, and I apologize for comparing but you out favorited Dooce!

    Thanks for you candor and heart-warming posts!

  32. By Jill@ModernMommyBlog on August 19, 2009

    Yep you got it.  As soon as you figure out the rules they will change them on you and I’ve found that this will continue for the rest of their lives!  Sorry.

  33. By on August 20, 2009

    Mindfuckedness is about right. You shoudl change the title of your blog to Getting Mind Fucked. Porn surfers would have a feast.

    I think you’re doing just fine. Excellent in fact. At least that’s what it seems like from my perspective, here in my baby-less house, in my quiet living room, thousands of miles away.

  34. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on August 25, 2009

    Just three words for you:  You poor thing!  Okay, three more: hang in there!


  35. By Jinxy @ Jinxyisms on September 06, 2009

    After 8 months I’ve given up trying to figure Lily out.  Everyday the rules are different.  I’m just along for the ride.





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