Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A cry or a cry-sis?

A friend of mine is fond of saying that babies (and kids) just figure themselves out eventually. This smart woman realized this after just one child. I, on the other hand, am a little bit denser or, perhaps, just more stubborn. I had to have three kids to learn the difference between your average, run of the mill fussing to communicate or self-soothe and full-on, do-something-dammit crying. It's taken the experience of three babies to garner the patience to let a child fuss himself gently to sleep, to not step in too soon to soothe a growling infant (yes, my son growls and so did Danny), to realize that sometimes baby noises are just that: noises.

The neediness of newborns and the constant physical contact required by my firstborn was such a complete culture shock that I just assumed I was not a baby person. Of course, three years later, I'm saying to myself, "You know, I'm just not a toddler person." So, while I was excited about having this baby, I was not looking forward to the newborn stage. But the reality is that there are challenges with every stage and experience and attitude are key to coping with the slightest modicum of dignity and grace.

My need to fix things or keep the peace got the better of me with my first two: they'd bust out of a swaddle; I gave up on swaddling. Danny would fuss in his bassinet; I automatically put him in bed with us. Fiona wouldn't sleep anywhere but her car seat; I obliged until it was too dangerous to continue (then paid for it dearly for the next sleepless six months).

This afternoon, I swaddled Owen tight (gotta get those arms down by their sides for it to be effective, I just learned), laid him down for a nap in the bassinet and waited while he murmured and growled and eventually fell fast asleep. I gave him a chance to fall asleep in the bassinet and he did. It's really hard to wait it out like that when the window for sleep between feedings is so short. I just want to go to sleep, not lie in bed wondering if I should just give in, put him in our bed and let him nibble on the buffet or wait a few more minutes. Of course, my husband warned me to not be lulled by these early days. He's just waiting for Owen to bust out into the kind of Baby Danny-style crying for no apparent reason from which we are still recovering. I guess what he's learned after three kids is that the other shoe does drop eventually.

So far, though, Owen doesn't cry much, unless he has a good reason like diaper changing (he hates it), waiting for food, and wanting to be swaddled when he's overtired. Oh, and when his monster of a sister pats him a wee bit too hard on the head or pinches his foot.

This time around I feel like I have more patience than I did with the other two. I have the patience to let him figure himself out when he can and the discernment to know when to hold him which is, admittedly, a lot lately since I do have trouble putting him down (after all, he was inside me for 42 weeks and 2 days). The other night, I read a book in bed, hands free, while he dozed on my chest. It was so sweet and relaxing that I had the craziest thought ever ... I actually do kind of like babies ... maybe this won't be my last one. (just kidding dear husband!)

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