Because there are so many mothers in the world, there’s a lot of advice out there going around. I’ve listened to/ignored/attempted/scoffed at a good lot of it. I’ve found some things that work, and some things that don’t and I refuse to be embarrassed to admit things I do with/for my child that make her comfortable and give me some sanity. Judge me if you like, but I hope you find some peace in the fact that you aren’t the only one who, sometimes, sticks your kid in the crib and closes the door so you can’t hear her scream while you’re in the shower.
Yes, Ellie’s on a schedule. She’s up at 5:30 ready to eat. Down for a nap at 8. Up at 10 to eat again. Then, tummy time and bath time. Down at 11-12. Up again at 1 to eat, to smile, to play on the floor gym and back down at 3. Up at 5-6 to eat, down again at 7-8. She goes to “bed” between 9 and 10 with one feeding at 2:30-3:30 and then we start all over again. However, sometimes she’s hungry all day, so I feed her. Sometimes she’s really sleepy, so I let her. Sometimes she’s really cranky and I give her as many baths as she wants because it’s the only thing that makes her feel better. I’d rather tend to my child first, the schedule second.
Mondays are the days where the schedule never sticks. We’re busy people on the weekends. Much busier than Ellie’s been all week. She and I both need a recovery day. So, until further notice, Mondays are pajama days. Ellie and I stay in our pj’s, and don’t come downstairs until at least 10 am- if at all. I try to nap when she naps and forget about the dirty dishes and 7 inches of dust underneath the couch. Mondays are the days we catch up. We make faces at each other, read books in bed and sleep an awful lot.
In the early mornings, particularly if she has not slept well or at all, I bring her into bed with us. I know. Some people believe this should never be done. She’ll get used to it. She won’t go back to her bed. Blah Blah Blah. She has always gone back to her own bed at nighttime. Sometimes, she is so worked up, she needs to be consoled and comforted. She feels safe with her parents and then we can all get another hour or two of sleep before the day begins. It works for us, so I do it.
I let her sleep in her swing during the day. Mainly because it’s easy and because she likes it. I can clean the first floor and watch her at the same time. The movement is soothing to her and my back can’t handle rocking her back and forth for an hour at a time on some days.
Ellie hates the car seat. She hates to stop at red lights. She hates the stroller. She hates being put in a shopping cart. And she lets everyone know how she feels at all times. Not only is it bothersome to her, it’s beyond stressful for me. So, I keep our outings to a minimum. Mainly because I’d like to be around for her high school graduation without any heart problems due to stress. Some disagree. She should get used to going places, they say. Yes, that’s true. And she has her whole life for her eyes and her ears to catch up with her body. For now, we’ll introduce the world to her a little at a time so that she can learn to enjoy things the way that her parents do.
Breastfeeding’s always been difficult with her, even at 2 and half months. It’s hard for her to latch, hard to swallow, hard to eat as much as she needs in a feeding, partly due to her premature delivery. Sometimes we still use a shield, sometimes we don’t have to. Sometimes it takes over an hour and a half for her to eat, so I make sure I have Netflix on stand-by (I finished all 5 seasons of Bones, by the way, now what do I do?). Sometimes, because of swallowing issues, she gets too much air and thus a tummy ache and hiccups ensue, prolonging the feeding. (See why outings are difficult?:) I am committed to feeding her in the best way that fits us and her needs, which is to breastfeed. This was my decision. Though it impedes plans, sometimes takes all day and can be incredibly frustrating, I’ll stick with it because I’ve seen how it has helped her. Since birth she’s gained over 5 and a half pounds and has grown 3 and 1/4 inches. Sore nipples and an inability to go to the Gap seem to be small consolations in comparison.
I hold her. A lot. In my arms, in a carrier, in a sling. I am determined to not regret a single second that God gave me to be with her. To cherish every heartbeat, every sigh, every smile. I refuse to miss anything. Some mothers don’t get this opportunity to be at home for a while with their babies and I will not take it for granted. I want to be able to tell her when she’s an adult the first time she giggled, when she peed all over my favorite sweater, and farted so loud in her sleep that she woke herself up. I know some believe that it’s best not to hold an infant, and that might be true for you. It’s just not for us. She won’t want me to hold her when she’s getting ready for the first day of high school. Or after she’s married. And then, no matter how often I hold her now, I’m sure it will feel like it wasn’t enough.
We’ve left her about 5 or 6 times already with her grandparents so that we could go out. I know she’s little. I know some people wouldn’t dream of leaving their little one until they were at least several months old. But, Ellie’s got great grandparents who love her and are intelligent and capable. And we need a break. To chat. To wear a shirt that doesn’t smell like spit-up. To go to a restaurant and remind each other what we love about each other and why we wanted to be parents to begin with.
I may not do everything by the book, but I did receive this one piece of advice from a good friend that I always go back to. In fact, it may be the only piece of motherly wisdom I adhere to everyday. No one knows what’s best for you and your baby but you.