Please stop asking how my baby is sleeping!

While pregnant it was “Do you have the nursery ready?”, now it’s “Is she sleeping through the night?”. These questions are asked by acquaintances and even strangers.

As a believer in attachment parenting and a happily cosleeping, bedsharing mom, I always stumble with how to respond to these questions. Do I give the asker a lesson on the benefits of sharing a room? Do I explain how the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parents, that it cuts the risk of SIDS in half?

Do I tell them how frustrated I am that our society is so caught up on supposedly fostering independence at an early age, that despite evidence that it can be done safely and is in fact practiced for at least part of the night in a large amount of American households, the AAP still refuses to talk about how to safely bed share with your infant? This is a disservice because it makes it harder for those who do it without having planned it to learn about how to do it safely. And it makes many feel guilty and feel that they can’t speak openly about their nighttime practices.

Do I answer curtly, with the usually true “No” or the fully honest “Sometimes, though not because I’ve been training her to”? Or perhaps just a small piece of my thinking, “No, and that’s fine with me”.

What I really wish is that instead of asking how my baby sleeps, the common questions would be about what she does while she’s awake. If you want to hear about my baby, how about asking what new things she’s been doing, or whether she likes tummy time or when we will start solids? How about giving me a chance to tell you how she loves to stick her tongue out at people and to blow raspberries, or how she has developed an adorable, genuine laugh? These things are all much more natural and important to me than whether she sleeps through the night.

This is all going too fast

My daughter is 18 weeks old. Last Friday, when she turned 4 months old, I saw her roll. She did it several times, tummy to back, and I even caught it on video.

I took out the toddler seat for the stroller last weekend as well. She really liked it because she loves to be able to see and take in the world around her.

I can’t help but feel she is growing up too fast. It’s like I could blink and when I open my eyes she’ll be crawling. And then blink again and she’s walking. Then talking.

This baby stage is so short. It is also very challenging, and for that reason we appreciate its brevity. Caring for a tiny being who cannot even sit up is a lot of work. When she first started to seem to be teething it was hard because she couldn’t even hold a teether to her mouth. Now she can, although she often does struggle to get the right part in and hold it there. But the positives are so good, I would easily sign on for this again.

I love her so much. I think we are very attached to each other. She needs me, and I need her too.

Sometimes I wish it would last just a bit longer, that I had many more months of easily carrying her in my arms, nursing her to sleep, being her source of warmth and comfort and food. It is so heartwarming and fulfilling. I feel like a more fulfilled person than ever before, full of love and happy memories with my husband and my daughter’s life so far.

I feel so happy that I don’t want it to end. I know that she will grow up and make her own way in the world and our relationship will change and mature. I know that there is plenty of time before that stage. But this part has gone by fast, so I’m sure the next parts will too.  Knowing that from here it will be a constant dance of separation is a source of sadness.

I’ve never felt the march of time so strongly as I do now, caring for my infant daughter with her frequent developments.

I can’t stop time, so I’m left trying to enjoy these moments, each of them, as much as I can.

First date night tonight

Today is my daughter’s 4 month birthday, and I’m writing this as I head downtown for our first date night without Athena. I’m meeting Husband when he gets off work, and then we’re going to have dinner before we head to a concert.

I’m looking forward to the focused time with my husband.

It feels weird, heading out without her but not being on my way to work. I bet it will feel even weirder being at dinner with Husband but not Precious!

But it will be nice to enjoy our dinner at our pace without any worries that it will get cold while tending to the needs of a baby.

On seeing, and not seeing, new developments

My daughter is 16 weeks old today.

Precious has been developing all sorts of cute things lately. At almost 4 months, she has become very aware of and engaged with the world around her.

She has started to show signs of humor, enjoying when Daddy makes funny faces at her. She sticks out her tongue, which makes us all laugh and stick out our tongues back at her. She blows bubbles with her ever present drool and squeals readily with joy.
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She now rolls to her side easily, and with all the wriggling she often turns herself around on her playmat. That works well because then she is constantly seeing different toys as she changes her angle.

Last week I had a very hard day, when upon returning from work the nanny told me that she had rolled over. I had told her that morning that Precious had been enjoying rolling and playing on the mat a lot. I described how she was rolling from her back to her side and then leaning her head and leg forward, like she wanted to get to her tummy. When I got home from work, the nanny said “I see what you mean. She rolled over today,” and then continued on to describe other things she had done.

She said it in a matter of fact way, so I’m not sure it had dawned on her that Precious hadn’t actually rolled fully over yet with me. So I asked her to describe it. She said that she went from her tummy to her side, then paused and rolled to her back.

Later, after she left, I held back tears. How could she roll over for the first time with the nanny, when she is only with her two days a week!? It seemed cruel that I should miss such a milestone. I was so disappointed that when I then opened a piece of unexpectedly stressful mail, I broke into tears. I ended up sitting on the floor near her, crying and texting my husband about how I wished he were home with me right then.

I went and took a bath with Precious, crying into the bathwater about how I had missed that moment and wouldn’t get it back, even as I caressed her beautiful soft skin and hair and watched her smile at me.

When my husband returned home he tried valiantly to convince me that I hadn’t missed something significant. That all the little moments add up and it’s not right to look at the situation and see myself as missing something. And in my head, where the rational part of me lives, I knew he was right. I think all the time about how lucky I am, to have a great husband, two great jobs, and the flexibility to work part time while my baby is young. Most of all, I think about how lucky I am to have this little wonder of nature. But with my heart, I still felt sad.

Since then, I’m feeling better about it. It’s been a whole week and she hasn’t done it since then, so I’m starting to even doubt it was real. Even if it was though, I know that the first time I see it it will still be special.

How do you deal with knowing about the moments you’ve missed? Do you even want to know?

Heading back to work

Well, here I am 12 weeks from the birth of my daughter and heading back to the office today.

I feel nauseated.

I’m running late, though I got up when I planned to. She was in a great mood, as she usually is in the morning, all smiley and full of coos and squeals. By the time our new nanny arrived, I had nearly everything ready to go.

I just wasn’t in a hurry to leave.

I’m going to miss my baby girl. And I’ll worry about her, because already she is very attached to me and is more upsettable with others. And she has been fighting the bottle, so I worry she won’t eat much.

I cried yesterday, to think it was my last day of full focus on my baby.

At the same time, I am looking forward to returning to my work. I feel so lucky that I have a job I love. I can’t imagine how I would get through this if I were at one of my previous two jobs. I feel certain I would have decided to stay home. But not now. Now I have a place to go where I will see people I’ve missed, where I will contribute to projects I care about in ways I enjoy.

And all of that will be at a part-time workweek of 2 days in the office and 2 partial days at home. The rest of the time is hers and mine, to continue to enjoy each other as she grows.

I feel so supported to have this option. I worked hard to get here, making calculated choices with a future like this in mind. But I am also so extremely lucky to have the skills and opportunities to make it happen.

I think it will be good for me. I even think it will be good for her, to become comfortable with others too and with my absence. And as she gets older, it will be a good model for her of possible ways to mix motherhood and career.

So I know today will be hard, but I think it will be good.

On attachment

My Precious will be 2 months old on Sunday. The 2nd month really flew by! My husband went back to work after 6 weeks off, and today marks the end of our 3rd week with him gone during the day.

I think one of the biggest surprises to me is how quickly that seems to have had an impact on their relationship. Where she spent many cozy hours in his arms before and took a bottle from him pretty readily, now she often fights the bottle feeding and cries until she’s back in my arms. That’s not to say he can’t soothe her but there have been times when it became clear to me that there was something to the idea that what she wanted was to be back in my arms.

Thank goodness he was home with us for the first month to develop a strong bond with her and many lasting memories. I am sure that as time goes on, and we get through the exclusive breastfeeding stage, she will be more and more comforted by him again.

It also worries me because I plan to return to work, part-time, in 4 weeks. So far I’ve left her with a sitter just once for almost 2 hours to go to the doctor. The idea of leaving her with others, strangers at that, for full days is scary, especially seeing as how she is acting when it’s her loving father!

This weekend she will meet her Grandpa (my dad) for the first time, and then next weekend I plan to leave her with my husband while I go ice skating before the rink closes for the season. So that should be several hours and will be a good test for us both.