5 Months ago you came into our lives with a cute little cry. The doctor spoke about soccer games and made jokes with my husband while I awaited your sound. From the moment you were placed into my arms, I could feel the love growing for you. You were so tiny, with a button nose, the darkest of eyes and fine peach fuzz hair. You breastfed like a pro and you loved to eat. Bringing you home from the hospital, we were terrified, as most parents are, of the ride home, driving a lot slower than usual and not caring if we slowed someone else down – we were bringing YOU home!
And somewhere in those first few days I made it my mission to understand you. I simply had to figure you out, your ‘cues’, as they call them. I wanted to know what each little cry was for, why you did things the way you did – I needed to know the reasons why. But I slowly came to realize that it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. My old memories of your sister as a baby were coming back in a fuzzy haze, but she was different than you.
She craved routine, she craved her sleep – she’s still very cranky and grumpy without sleep. She slept two hours in the morning and two more in the afternoon – and she would sleep anywhere we would go and stay asleep. Not you. She would eat every 2.5 hours in the first couple of weeks, I even had to wake her up so we could be on schedule, and she slowly tapered off her feedings to about every 3 hours. Not you. She would take a bottle of expressed breast milk when I needed to go out. Not you.
I was slowly realizing that motherhood is not as textbook as I’d like it to be, and it really is more of a game than one would think. I knew that you wouldn’t be like your sister, I knew that we would compare the two of you and think of how different you are – but I thought that would be in personality, in looks, in giggles and laughs – not in the day-to-day activities of sleeping and eating.
I’ve decided to STOP trying to figure out WHY you do the things you do, and instead just observe and enjoy them. I’ll take note of them, rather than thinking that you will do things just like you did yesterday.
You sister rolled over almost from birth, she sucked her thumb very early, she was sitting at 3 months, standing assisted at 5 – you are so different from your sister. You have rolled over three times – I haven’t seen it! But you’ve done it! You don’t want a soother OR your thumb, you are slowly learning to suck on your fingers, but it’s sporadic, you want a boob for your soothing, nothing else will do.
You have been a light sleeper from birth, a cough from the other room can wake you up. You’ve hated your car seat from the beginning, and you would cry and cry in it, fighting sleep, rather than succumbing to it. And when you finally DID fall asleep, I just wanted to drive for two hours because I knew that when I stopped the car, even just at a stop light, you would wake up.
I tried putting you on a routine, and you did well with it for a few days and then you would fight it. I try to put you down for naps at the same time everyday, but yesterday you weren’t tired, and come to think of it, you weren’t that tired today either. I’ve stopped thinking that I’ll have time to do things ‘later when you’re napping’, because that time might not come. You just want to be awake, in the thick of it, hanging out with your family.
I’ve stopped trying to put you to sleep at 7pm, I tried a routine (bath, massage, pjs, story, feed, bedtime), we tried it for a whole month, and nothing worked! Sometimes you’d fall asleep, sometimes you’d cry for five minutes to sleep, and sometimes you’d fall asleep and wake up at 8 pm just to hang out with us.
You see, I tried and I tried and I tried to figure you out, I really did. I’d get upset and exhausted – why couldn’t I understand you? And I’d look at your smiling face (always smiling and cooing!) and I’d have to smile and forget all about schedules and routines.
Now I put you to sleep when you’re tried. When you start rubbing your eyes and your face, I know it’s time for bed. And guess what? I’ll put you in your crib and you won’t even cry! You just slowly close your eyes and drift off to dreamland.
You still eat every 2.5 – 3 hours, you still won’t take a bottle, you love your Jumperoo because you love to stand and jump around! You love to giggle and make loud noises. You love putting everything in your mouth (your hand, my hand, daddy’s fingers are your favourite, toys, books, blankets) but you hate food in your mouth. In fact, when I let you chew on some crusty french bread, you enjoyed it until you got a morsel of squishy bread in your mouth, you quickly spit it out and gave me a look and shrieked. You also cry when you think your sister is in danger, even though she’s just playing around.
I can’t go anywhere without a woman calling you a ‘flirt’. And you do flirt. You give pretty eyes, and squishy noses, and the biggest of toothless smiles.
You are the happiest baby I know. It’s true, everyone says so!
So for now, I’ll take your silly sleep habits (waking up every three hours to switch between my bed and yours), and your exclusive breastfeeding (your choice, not mine), and your 2 am cooing. I’ll stop trying to figure you out and adapt you to a schedule. I will observe and let you be, and enjoy you as much as I can…