We’re counting down the final month of babyhood, and I still have to keep reminding myself to listen to my baby and myself before the advice of books and friends or relatives. For the last 11 months, every time I go against my gut and try to do what I’m told I “should,” it bites me in the butt. Or my baby’s butt, as the case may be. Like last year, when I thought I “should” pump every day of my maternity leave even though I hated it, and ended up causing overproduction and a drop in my baby’s weight gain. Don’t get me wrong, listening to guidance can be crucially helpful, but it’s important to balance the influx of “advice” with your unique needs. Every baby and every parent is different. That’s why I’m trying not to stress about our current sleeping arrangements.
We have shared a room with our son since day 1. We have another bedroom that he will move into when the time is right. When is that time? I don’t know, but it’s not now. The room is on the opposite side of the house and we just aren’t comfortable with him being so far away at this point. Until recently, he always slept in his own bassinette or crib. Co-sleeping would have made my life easier in the beginning when he woke up a lot at night, but we were fearful of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – one possible cause being suffocation). Plus, I used to fall asleep if I tried to nurse him lying down. He started sleeping through the night at 5 months and there was no longer an issue. Even if he did wake up, I would pop a binky in his mouth and he’d go back out! It was bliss. Was.
Now, not so much bliss. Not only does he wake up screaming almost every night, but he won’t be consoled without cuddles. I need to sleep. He’s growing out of the riskiest SIDS stage. So in our bed with us he goes for the rest of the night. I was always opposed to letting him cry-it-out in his crib. Before now I was never tested on this opposition. Now I think that’s the only way he would stay in his bed all night, but I still don’t have the heart for it. We started to try one night and within minutes he was screaming so hard he threw up. Everyone tells me just to get through it. If we decide to try letting him cry, he would have to move into his own room first, that’s for sure. For my family, neither one of those things are happening anytime soon. (I feel obligated to note, since I brought up cry-it-out, that letting a baby cry himself to sleep is never appropriate for very young babies – under 4 or 6 months. During this stage you’re just going to have to deal with nighttime waking.)
For now, what’s working for my family is a hybrid co-sleeping arrangement. The baby will fall asleep in his own crib if he can see Mama. So he stays up, being held by Dad while Mom gets ready, until Mom goes to bed. If I leave his sight after laying him down the screaming begins and if it does, it may not stop and we may have to co-sleep all night. Then when he wakes up crying in the middle of the night, which happens at random times, he comes to bed with us so we can all keep sleeping. Makes the early morning feeding easier too, since I can stay awake during feedings lying down now. Once in a while we hit a fluke and he doesn’t wake until morning. I’m fine with the arrangement, baby’s fine, and hubby’s fine. We recognize that we may be setting our selves up for problems later, but sometimes you just have to do what works and let things work themselves out.
A YEAR AGO TODAY
This time last year, I was finally on maternity leave. Being able to relax and sleep in alleviated much of the discomfort and fatigue I had been feeling for the last few months. I had already had my baby shower, which was fun though a bit stressful leading up to it as my family and friends are all hypersensitive manics and were trying to work together. I love them and am eternally grateful to all of them though! It was a great shower. I got so much great stuff, including all the money I needed for a set of cloth diapers. I had also already moved – yes, we had to move when I was 8 months pregnant. Our lease was up, and to our surprise the landlord wasn’t renewing because he was selling! Aggghhh! But it all worked out. I was watching TV in my new house and riding the light rail to the gym. It is possibly the most relaxing time in my life.
There was only one week I couldn’t relax. In my ninth month, the doctor became concerned about a lump that had developed under my arm. They had to do a biopsy, which they said had the risk of inducing labor, caused pain in my arm for a few days, and forced me not to move my arm around much and take it easy for several days. This was rather upsetting to me for several reasons. First, hello! What’s the lump? Do I have cancer? Am I going to orphan my new baby? Second, I already felt disabled by the pregnancy and being further in pain and inhibited from normal activity really got me down. I really freaked out when I couldn’t do my little workouts!
By the end of the week all was well, except for the ever-enlarging lump in my stomach.
(really, is it possible to BE that big?)
The lump under my arm turned out to be breast tissue that was enlarged due to the pregnancy. Everything was fine and I was back in the gym. I even worked out on my due date! The baby was 5 days late, and I was lifting light weights in the gym every other day until 2 days before he was born. I would have been in the gym that 5th day had I not been in the hospital delivering. But that’s a story for the next blog.