So my little baby turns 7 months old today. Time is flying but it’s not at the same time. There have been looooooong days my friends. The kind where it’s like you spend forty five minutes getting your baby down for a thirty minute nap and you haven’t had a chance to shower or eat in between looking after baby, home and attempting to think about what to make for dinner so that the husband comes home and everything looks just perfect.
Yup, that leads to a breakdown at some point and six months is when my nerves and body started to cry mercy. My hands started aching. My back was aching too. My muscles got sore. I got the worst case of hemorrhoids I’ve ever had. I was bloated and my stomach ached. I felt nauseous and had headaches. And I was angry and resentful. My marriage was tense. And it took a meltdown one day for me to finally admit that I was angry.
I don’t want to get into why I’ve been angry and resentful. But all moms go through it, I’m sure. And I will clarify to say it’s not towards the baby.
I reached out to people who cared enough about the baby if not me to tell me if they thought I were suffering from post partum depression. No signs they said, and they were definitely keeping an eye out for them. Just a need to socialize with likeminded people. And to get to know myself better so as to know how to deal with emotions and how to grow past this stage.
As for the physical aspects….I was perhaps fat-deprived after all these months on such a basic diet…too many carbs and sugars from starches. I’m still working through this while I also work through my built up emotions.
I’m reading books, we are going to see a counsellor, and I’m learning that it’s okay to feel a certain way but that I can control how I act on these feelings. I’m understanding that I cannot sweep myself under the rug, and I need to know that it is up to me alone to make sure that I’m taken care of.
It’s hard enough looking after someone new and so very vulnerable and demanding, but to look after myself too, when I don’t really know what I need? And when I just want someone to understand me and just say “have you been to the dentist? No? Let me book it for you and I’ll help you to look after the baby, I’ll sit in the waiting room with her while you get your teeth cleaned.” But by being a mom, either you forget about your dentist appointments or you make it happen. I’m just able to hold my head out of the water now so that I can start to make things happen.
We have been working with a sleep trainer and it’s worked wonders to get baby 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. But there remain the naps to conquer. It’s up to me, mom, to decide when I want to move onto nap training. This will mean no more holding baby for naps. And this has been a cherished event although I’m torn about it now, because I see how my desire to continue night feeds held her back from a better night’s sleep. So, am I being selfish? Or does she need this closeness as well?
The thing about the sleep training, is that although we are approaching it with a gentle sleep shuffle method, there is still some crying out that she does. Some nights she cries more than others. Last night was killer for me to hear (my husband looks after putting her down). Today she was a little grouchy. So for her first nap, I opted to hold her, but she was unsettled even at the prospect of my nice arms to rest in.
As I looked at her, struggling to give into sleep in my arms, I thought about how I have felt lately…lonely, isolated, insecure, emotional…and what I’ve needed…yes to know myself better so that I can express myself and address my needs, but I’ve also needed reassurance that I’m doing a good job with the baby. I’m not perfect and there is a lot to learn, but all the more reason for the boost of confidence and encouragement with the old “good job, honey.”
And I also thought about how this time with baby in my arms will go by faster than I know, and in 18 or 25 years from now I’ll be watching her make her own way in her life and I will long for these precious days with her and in this little, wonderful bubble we occupy, albeit the bubble I can curse sometimes. And while we may not have a lot of free time with my husband but those free days that are just filled with us three, they need to be treated like the precious gold that they are. Yes, my short term and long term need is to place a much higher value on the here and now than I ever have. Many people wonder, of course dummy, how can you think any differently? And I say yes, I’m a dummy if I don’t appreciate everything a lot more, even the parts that don’t make me happy…because everything changes, but every day has its silver lining too, and in hindsight, it’s really not all that bad.
And this is when I look down at my little baby who is still small enough to be in my arms like this but growing more independent everyday, and needing her own space to become her own person already. So I cuddle her tight, give her a big kiss on her big cheek, and say I love you, expecting her to wriggle out of my arms. But no, she stays there, smiling, and I give her a squeeze and another kiss and I say I love you, and she giggles in delight. After doing this about 10 times, she falls into a deep peaceful slumber for a long nap.
After all of this focus on sleep training her, she’s needed not just the sleep, but reassurance too, that she is so completely loved by us. Since that nap I have made more of a point of dancing with her, which I had stopped doing because she loves working on her crawling and standing up so much. But her big smile when we did the mambo around the room told me that she still needs this kind of play too.
What I learned today, after 7 months, is that we can all use some play time, some one on one interaction (throw away the cell phone for a couple of hours!), and some display of affection, private or public.
So I say to God, to my baby, to myself, to my husband, and to the world, cuddle cuddle, kiss kiss, I love you, squeeze and kiss, I love you, squeeze and kiss, I LOVE YOU!!!!!