Before David’s arrival I had this whole parenting thing figured out.
Perhaps you can relate.
I was a really good parent before I had a baby.
I had standards for child-rearing. Especially during the early, EASY stage. I would NEVER be soft, and definitely not nervous. I didn’t even think having a baby would make me show up late to things. (Never mind that I’ve never been on time to anything, even before the baby.) Once someone made the comment, “sometimes you have to do whatever it takes just to get through the day.” I smiled politely. Who are these bad parents?
Then I gave birth to a 7 lb. 15 oz. tyrant, whose arrival set off a chain reaction of natural disasters and has cracked the foundation of three homes in our neighborhood with his screams.
Mix that with I LOVE HIM SO MUCH and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING…and guess what you get? A big reality check.
We’ve already done everything we said we’d never do, including letting him borrow our car for prom even though he broke curfew three times in a row.
In 17 short weeks the only bad habit David hasn’t picked up is smoking two packs a day. But that’s only a matter of time.
Most of his bad habits are sleep habits. Until he was about three months old he took most of his naps in his car seat or his swing, and at night he slept in our room. Babies need sleep, so I was (and still am) of the opinion that YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO to get your baby to sleep. We did what we had to do.
We finally had him sleeping in his crib for his naps, but he was still in our room at night. This isn’t necessarily a bad habit, but it was for us. David has always been a noisy sleeper. When he was brand new he’d grunt and twist for about thirty minutes before waking up to eat. That meant I was up for thirty extra minutes listening to him twist and grunt. If I got him up before he was fully awake, he wouldn’t eat. Then he would twist and grunt while he fell back asleep.
Meanwhile, I was in the thick of new-mom hormones and anxieties. I never wanted him out of my sight. I would rather rip off my arms and leave them in the other room than leave him in the other room.
When he was about two months old we tried moving him to his crib. He woke up and when I put him back down he screamed for two.and.a.half.hours. When your baby wakes up in three-hour intervals, spending 75 percent of that time begging him to go back to sleep is, well, difficult. So we raised the white flag. (Blatantly ignoring the first lesson in Parenting 101: NEVER SURRENDER!)
After that I balked, even when he was obviously ready. He was taking all his naps in his crib and waking up less frequently. I kept asking Tom what he thought, and he kept saying, “It’s your decision. You’re the one who gets up with him at night.”
I felt guilty. I felt like it was time. I felt judged by imaginary moms who never let their babies sleep in their rooms. But I also realized how much I love falling asleep to the sound of David breathing, watching the rise and fall of his chest, and pulling him into bed with me in the morning.
Is this parenting? Making decisions that are best for your child; letting go even when you’re not ready. I think I was ready for that; what I wasn’t ready for is not FEELING ready. I couldn’t really prepare for motherhood because I didn’t realize I would change so much. I’m not Amanda With a Baby, I’m a completely different person. And to say I love my child doesn’t scratch the surface. What I feel is a completely different emotion, a mix of love and care and wonder and desperate nervousness. And I have a feeling this is just the beginning.
We moved him to his crib last week. He did great. He’s decided that waking up twice a night suits his style. Sleeping through the night was so one month ago. But he goes straight back to sleep, and so do I.
The pack-n-play is packed up for real…
and the baby is in the crib.
(Real men sleep on pink.)