Yesterday Darius and I left the house for the first time, aside from picking up my oldest from school one day but not getting out of the car.
We had our 2-week appointments at the birth center where he was born. He’s gained over a pound which is pretty cool, and I’m doing fine too. The drive is over an hour away and I was nervous about it.
I’ve been content to just Babymoon,since it’s my third time doing this and I’m at a place in my life as a mother where I can just enjoy the baby stuff and not really want to rush it, even though feeding and holding a baby 24/7 can still be overwhelming at times.
But being nervous about the drive is part of the reason I haven’t gone anywhere. Ada had such a hard start in life and a difficult time in cars even up to 18 months or 2 years old, though it got a lot better after she turned a year.
I told the midwife yesterday that in some ways it’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I doubt I’m the only parent that has had a colicky– difficult– high needs– food allergic/in pain– whatever phrase you want to use– I doubt I’m the only parent that is holding their breath waiting for the next baby to get fussy and cry all the time too.
But Darius nurses well, and sleeps well (in my arms mostly, at this point) and is mostly content, most of the time.
I’d say that this time I feel like a ‘seasoned’ mother. I’ve had the lack of sleep, the nursing all the time, the holding all the time. And I’m okay with it.
When you have a child in first grade, sleeping on their own, able to get their own snacks, able to ask you abstract questions about the world— holding a baby all day for three months or so and feeding him 12 times a day really *doesn’t* seem like such a big deal.
Yesterday when we drove home, it took two hours. We had to stop twice because he was crying. But eventually he nursed twice and wore himself out (and filled a few diapers!) and slept and we got home.
With my first kid I would have thought this was just totally exhausting. But with him my husband and I both are simply just willing to stop, take care of him, and be patient as we make our way home.
The little rascal nursed for two solid hours when we got home and protested if he thought I was setting him down for a second. I would have found that overwhelming with my oldest, but now it doesn’t bother me. And I plan on holding him all day today too, to make up for his upset yesterday.
At a group I run for nursing and working mothers, I see a lot of new moms.
Many come in with the common concerns, the worries about the things they’ve been told.
“If I don’t put him down now he’ll never want to be put down.”
“My mom says I’m spoiling him.”
“I *can’t* nurse him this many times in a day!”
“I HAVE to put him down while he sleeps but he just wakes up!”
It’s true that I found those things hard the first time. And it’s true that when people told me holding my first and nursing her and letting her co-sleep will not make her need me more I wasn’t sure I believed them, but I followed my heart on how I wanted to mother her.
It’s true that when people told me children are young for such a short time and to try to cherish it, it didn’t help me at all. It didn’t help me not feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
And now I know that’s very true, and yet when I say it to new moms I meet, I can tell they feel like I did back then. So I’m not sure what the perfect thing to say to the new mom is, but I know now as an experienced mother none of this baby stuff bothers me at all. He can need me all he wants and I won’t care. With my first her needs were very very overwhelming.
At the same time, I knew where I stood in my attitude about how I wanted to mother without needing to read any books or anything. When people told me *not* to hold her so much, or co-sleep, or that if I nurse past a year she’ll “never” stop (which is a ridiculous exaggeration seeing as humans live for, oh, 70 years or so) I knew that wasn’t how I saw it, whether or not having a baby for the first time was tough.
In two weeks my husband is going back to work and Darius will have to get in the car on his older sister’s school schedule, I’ll have to start working at my business and deliver cupcakes a few times a week again soon and he will have to adjust. Fortunately he’ll naturally want to be put down more as he gets more involved in the world, but either way, life is going to keep moving along.
I do wish those first-time moms I see that don’t want to hold or nurse their babies as much as their babies want it could see it–how fast the time will go– but I couldn’t either.
And you can certainly read all the reasons why caring for a baby this way is beneficial to both mom and baby, and that helped me some when I was a younger mom.
The research about how stress hormones are released when a baby is left to cry that makes the baby react poorly to stress even as an adult, or how a baby left to cry cries much more often than a baby whose needs are met (so basically, leaving the baby to cry for long periods is like making the cycle worse and shooting yourself in the foot).
Understanding the mechanics of breastfeeding helped me too– that babies will nurse more during growth spurts and milestones and regulate the mother’s supply for all kinds of beneficial reasons, so feeding on demand and not on a schedule is also good for both.
Now I just don’t need any of the knowledge to be happy just holding him and feeding him.
As far as waiting for the other shoe to drop– waiting for an awful night of crying and pacing the halls until 3 a.m. or something, I figure if that happens it happens and I can’t change it now!
You never know what curveballs babies (and life) will throw you. I certainly didn’t know anything about gluten or colicky babies before my middle child. Or over-active milk ducts before my first. So I’m sure that whatever little Darius throws at me to make the next year or two tough is something I can’t even predict anyway!