Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On Motherhood

Motherhood is hard.  In fact, being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Completing my undergrad in three years while working full-time and commuting 45 minutes to school? Easy-peasy.  Moving across country to a place I'd never been before and then having my just-married to husband go underway for a month?  A breeze.  Surviving countless duty days, underways, and a combined 12 months of deployment?  Piece of cake.  Taking care of a little tiny person who weighs less than 20lbs?  Unbelievably difficult.  But also the most amazing thing ever.

The last 6 weeks have been tough.  Hence no blog posts.  My little man has decided that night time is not for sleeping.  Just about everything else can happen at night, including playing, snuggling, and lots of crying.  But sleep? Not so much.  I'm just trying to get though without completely losing my mind, and enjoying the smiles and giggles that come between the middle of the night melt downs.

It's been hard for me to accept that my baby is not exactly like I planned.  He's adorable and sweet and very personable, but he doesn't like a schedule and he doesn't like to sleep.  I'd read many books and blog posts before baby and had lots of ideas about how this little guy would be.  I would have him on a perfect schedule, he would eat when he was supposed to eat, nap when he was supposed to nap, and be sleeping through the night by 8 weeks.  After all, I like having a schedule and routine, why wouldn't Charlie?  I have been trying for 19 weeks now to have a schedule.  We've tried the eat/play/sleep routine.  Its supposed to work: Charlie wakes up and eats, then plays, and 90 minutes after he's gotten up he goes down for a nap.  He naps for 90 minutes, wakes up refreshed and happy, ready to eat, and the cycle starts again.  But sometimes he naps for 90 minutes, and other times (most times) he only naps for 30-40 minutes.  Or he doesn't want to nap at all.  Or he wakes up in the morning to eat and then falls back asleep, throwing off the cycle before we can even start it.  We've also tried establishing a bed time routine.  Reading books, snuggling, saying prayers, and in bed by 7:30.  The last two nights he's been so upset at bed time that he's made himself hoarse from crying.  We ended up holding him, while he dozed, for two hours last night, until it was time for him to nurse again.  Then he came to bed with us.

Sometimes (ok, a lot of times) I end up in tears sometime in the early morning hours.  That 3am time when it's still dark out, but you're realizing that you've only slept 2.5hrs and that the small, angelic creature who is (finally!!) snoozing next to you will be up to eat in just a few minutes and then up for good just a little while after that.  It's at that point I end up crying into my poor husband's shoulder, wondering what I've done wrong.  Why don't my schedules work?  Why is my baby fussy?  Did I over-feed him? Under-feed him?  Is he hot? Cold? Overtired from not napping enough during the day?  Napped too much during the day?  Not stimulated enough during the day?  Over-stimulated during the day?  Does he feel neglected because I let him cry in his bed for 15 minutes?  Am I paying too much attention and not letting him soothe himself back to sleep?  Will he be unable to go away to college because he still needs me to rock him to sleep?!?!?  It's hard for me to realize that every baby is different and while schedules and sleep training may work for lots and lots of babies, it doesn't work for mine.  Not right now.  I'm a planner, and a routine person, and maybe a little bit of a control freak, and it's hard not being able to control everything about little Charlie Bear.  I'm learning to relax a little and just give him what he needs, even if it's not in the schedule for ten more minutes.

Despite all the tears and frustration and worries (lots and lots of worries!), when he looks up at me and smiles every single moment is worth it.  Even after the exhausting nights, endless diapers, spit-up and wet outfits, there are so many wonderful little moments that make my heart sing!