It was much easier to make decisions about how to care for an infant when I was reading books with the baby still in my belly. Now I see that the decisions we make actually have consequences, and it is pretty easy to worry if we are doing the right thing.
After much reading and consideration, Jon and I decided to go with the “flexible routine” philosophy found in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. So far it has been going really well: we try to feed Lucy every 2.5 to 3 hours, then change her diaper and give her a bit of awake time, and then she usually falls asleep. She appears to be quite content. She rarely seems to be crying from hunger, and most of the other times that she is crying we can figure it out.
The hardest part is waking her up to eat, and trying to keep her awake through a meal. Every baby book says that newborns can be pretty sleepy but that it’s good to wake them so they’ll get the nourishment they need. But I sometimes can’t help but feel like we are doing sleep torture on her. But of course my fears are not based in reality, as a) she doesn’t cry when we wake her up, and b) she always seems glad to eat. Even so, today during a nursing session I kept imagining her feeling irritated with me when she is a teenager because I never let her sleep enough. (I have always had an active imagination.)
The great thing about the routine is that she seems to be getting used to sleeping for a longer stretch at night. She slept for four hours straight for the past two nights, and Jon and I have been ecstatic to get those hours of sleep in one chunk. I don’t think either of us ever would have imagined how happy we would be to sleep for a four-hour stretch.
Here is the truth: we are rookies, and we can only do our best. Probably, in ten years there will be a new study about how you should never wake a baby and we’ll have to shake our heads at our ignorance. But in the meantime, Lucy is just going to have to be okay with two parents who love her like crazy and who happen to benefit from structure.