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{MMB Thankful Series} :: When Turning Out the Lights Isn’t Enough

Throughout the month of November and in preparation for Thanksgiving, we are sharing the things that we are thankful for as mothers. We're calling this our "Thankful Series."

Our contributor Amanda Parks is mother to 9-month-old Madison, and has several things she just couldn't live without as a first-time mom.

When Turning Out the Lights Isn't Enough

As a new mother, I'm so thankful for the precious sleep I'm afforded. One of the things I worried most about becoming a mother was the sleeplessness I was about to experience. It's definitely not the same as before, but thanks to a few modern inventions, my baby has learned to sleep and we're better parents when we're not sleep deprived. I know not everyone is as fortunate, and I'm truly grateful for everything we have that helps provide restful nights for our entire family.

The MamaRoo
When I was pregnant, I made all sorts of inexperienced and misinformed declarations about what I was and wasn't going to do as a parent. Something I thought I was most adamant about was putting Madison in her crib to sleep from day 1. The night we arrived home from the hospital, she quickly let us know {by going full pterodactyl as soon as her body touched the mattress} that my plans were not her plans.

Enter the 4moms MamaRoo. As long as it was beside our bed, within arms reach so that I could be on constant pacifier duty, she slept. We estimate that for a solid 12 hours per night for the first 2 months of her life, this magical contraption rocked her while she slept, and coupled with 8 months of several hour-long naps per day, the MamaRoo provided well over 1,000 hours of much-appreciated rest. It shouldn't have come as a surprise when the motor started wearing out and squeaking with every motion. Luckily, 4moms was awesome and sent us a new base. You guys. We literally used the MamaRoo TO DEATH. It was the only reason we were able to sleep and maintain a semblance of sanity. From one sleep-deprived mama to another: this is the must-have baby item you can't afford to skip!

The Pacifier
Another declaration I made was that we needed to hold off giving a pacifier until breastfeeding was well established {insert laugh}. We ended up giving the Avent Soothie pacifier the very first day. She was merely hours old, and in my hormone-surged, sleep-deprived state of decision making, that's what I did. And looking back, I really don't regret it. I don't think it affected breastfeeding at all. In fact, I think it was positive overall because she sucked at my breasts for nourishment only, not for comfort.

She's gotten very efficient at grabbing her paci when she wants it, which is pretty much all the time but especially when she sleeps. After months of getting up every night to find pacifiers that had fallen through the crib slats, we discovered that if we give her two Wubbanub pacifiers that can't fall through as easily, and also 1 "regular" paci, she can usually always find one on her own. Why it took us months to figure that out, I don't even know.

I know some babies won't take pacifiers {my mother tells me I refused them} and I feel for those mamas. It may be hard to take them away in a couple years, but I'll deal with that later. Right now, I'm thankful.

The Sound Machine
At this point, I think we can all agree that I didn't have a clue before I became a mother. Especially since I was against sound machines. I don't like background noise. I always mute TV commercials, I don't like music on while I'm talking with someone, and I despise the sound of the bathroom fan. I didn't understand why listening to what sounds like static could be calming to anyone. When we pulled out a sound machine/projector that we'd received as a gift, I was instantly annoyed. I was certain we would never use it. Except...we did. And we still do! Madison fell asleep to the sound of the ocean, and stayed asleep. It was especially helpful during naps because it drowned out other noises that might otherwise wake her, such as clanking of dishes or the dogs' barks.

Since she slept in our room for the first 6 months, having an ocean beside my bed grew on me and I even found it difficult to fall asleep without it. Some afternoons in the early days, Tyler would come home from work early to take care of Madison so I could nap. Even though she wasn't with me, I still turned on the white noise. Now that she sleeps in her own room, I turn the sound up on her monitor so that I can hear her sound machine. We're hooked.

The Woombie
Most people know that swaddling babies calms and helps them sleep. When registering for our baby showers, I saw tons of different swaddling devices claiming your baby will sleep for 12 hours and all sorts of other outlandish things. I ended up with a multitude of blankets, several burrito-like wraps, and a couple Velcro sleep sacks, none of which Madison tolerated. She broke out of them all within minutes. We got online and ordered a handful of different options, desperate yet hopeful.

The Woombie was magical. It was simple and easy to use, even while half-asleep. The design made more sense to us than the others-- It was impossible to screw it up. It simply zipped up; no wrapping and tightening or Velcro required. It even has a 2-way zipper to make diaper changes a breeze without completely un-swaddling baby's body. There was no breaking out of it, and she felt comforted and secure. She was a couple weeks old when we found the Woombie, and she used it until she outgrew it at 4 months. We promptly ordered the Convertible Woombie, which has an arms-free option for an eventual smooth transition. We used that one for probably way too long, until she was about 7 months old. We were just really scared not to. One night, bedtime rolled around and her Woombie was dirty. And by dirty, I mean poop-smeared dirty. No way was she wearing it. We put her in footed pajamas and prayed real hard-- and never looked back.

It may take some trial and error to find what type of swing/bouncer your baby likes or which swaddler works best, but when you do...behold the magic! Finding the right combination of all these things takes time and can get expensive. We were blessed to have most of these things given to us by family and friends, and we couldn't be more thankful. The gift of sleep really is the best gift parents can receive!

I was not compensated for this post. These are just products that have worked well for my baby!

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