Monday, December 14, 2009

New Parent Obsessions and Fixations, Part 2

Ok, I am sure your first question is, if this is part 2, then where is part 1? Good question (though the only person who currently knows about this blog is my husband. So, good question, honey.)--

Part 1 was actually an email I sent to some friends last week in which I spent an inordinate and unplanned amount of time on the topic of the obsessions and fixations that only new parents have.
Some examples that were mentioned:

1. Keeping Opal's extremeties warm. This often results in the poor child being overdressed and residing in a state of mild perspiration.

2. Calling the "nurse on call" too often (the word "excessively" may also fit here, if this were a madlibs-type situation. But I will go with "often.")

3. Going to extremes to get the baby to sleep. Hours are clocked in on a daily basis trying to help Baby Opal get to sleep. By the point this help is needed, she is sleepy and irritated but unable to cross the threshold on her own. Shushing, swaddling, slinging, rocking, bopping, swaying, gliding, singing, nursing (or any combination) are the techniques used and then repeated when she inevitably wakes up upon touching any surface.

4. Going to extremes to keep the baby asleep. I have personally held my bladder, ignored hunger and thirst, neglected phone calls and overlooked cramped and numb muscles to avoid waking the baby when she's has fallen asleep on me while nursing. I have also driven aimlessly and wandered grocery isles long passed mission-completion when she has zonked out in her car seat. Sleep seems like such a precious and fragile situation.

This leads me to the current New Parent Obsession/Fixation that has something, but not everything, to do with sleep:
Getting the bedroom to the perfect temperature at night to sleep and contiuing to fail misterably.

As I stated before, keeping the wee one warm during these cold winter months is something I take very seriously. I believe that a baby who is too warm is better than a baby who is too cold. Because of this, the temperature of our bedroom during the night has been a virtual science project. How to line up the thermostat with the space heater with the warm-air humidifier to result in a comfortable (erring toward warm) sleeping environment has continuously baffled both my husband and myself. We have achieved the lukewarm temperature we long for only a handful of nights in the 7.5 weeks since Opal was born.

Yes, our house is indeed equipt with all the luxuries of a furnace and thermostat, which may be the simple route most other parents would take. But we want to avoid having the thermostat set too warm because all that blowing makes us both feel crusty and hungover the next morning. Also, it seems silly to heat an entire house when we are only using one room for a solid 8+ hours.

Once the door is closed, three sleeping, breathing, human beings (don't be fooled by the little one's size-- she is a pocket sized furnace with the heat she puts off.) and a dog throw off the numbers in a way that is impossible to compute. So, as we are still working it out (presumably we will have it nailed by the time spring rolls around), we are surviving a bedroom that is steaming by midnight and (because one of us inevitable wakes up cursing the heat and unplugs something if not everything) freezing by mid-morning.

And that has felt OK enough, never seeming like much more than a nuisance. Shedding clothes, re-applying them and then complaining about the enigma of it all the next morning has become a bit of an established practice.

But then I read something yesterday that turned simple inconvenience/annoyance to big worry. In an article on S.I.D.S. in the current issue of Parents magazine, it says "cases (of S.I.D.S) in the U.S. peak in winter when infants are likely to be overdressed," and that "scientists believe that overheating may affect babies' arousal mechanisms."
This statement greatly impacts my ability to carry out the aforementioned obsession/fixation with keeping little Opal's extremities warm. Especially at night.

And last night, I barely slept a wink. If not for the bedroom temperature conundrum and the resulting perspiration, then for the concern that either Opal would become dangerously overheated or freeze to death.

Let's just say I checked her breathing more than once and am greatly looking forward to summer. The article also said blowing fans are supposed to prevent S.I.D.S. Hallelujah.

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