I’ve been writing and unwriting this post in my head for a couple of weeks now, but haven’t decided if I want to go through with it and actually publish it. Mostly because I know that mothering is such a personal thing and I find it awkward sometimes to write on the way that I “mother”.
So please bear with me.
When Macy was born (and before Macy was born), I read lots and lots of books about babies…how to take care of them, how to feed them, and (my all-time favorite) how to get them to sleep through the night by 2 weeks old (alright, alright, I’ll try to do this without the sarcasm).
Most of these books were immensely helpful – especially the ones about nursing (a topic I knew nothing about) and just the overall “what to expect” for the first few months. I found myself consulting them quite a bit during the first year of Macy’s life.
However, some of these books were not so helpful and pretty much made me feel like I had failed as a mother. Macy did NOT sleep through the night at 6 weeks. Or 8 weeks. Or 4 months for that matter. She did NOT like going to sleep by herself in her own bed. She preferred to be walked around and rocked and have a pacifier – all of the things that are big no-no’s according to certain parenting strategies. I was STRESSED. I kept thinking, “But the book says if I follow the formula A-B-C then Macy will go to sleep by herself, she’ll sleep through the night, and all will be right with the world”. I tried. And I failed.
There were moms in my life that became my encouragers and told me that every baby is different. Every mommy is different. I just needed to do what I felt was right. And eventually, Macy would sleep through the night. She would be able to put herself to sleep. It may just take a little longer than other children.
They were right. Bless their hearts.
So when Selah was born, I did not re-read those books that made me feel like I wasn’t doing it right. I held her when she wanted to be held. I fed her when I thought she was hungry. I did what I could to comfort her. I didn’t worry about what time it was or if I was “spoiling” her; I just did.
And she did what the books said she would do if I followed the magic formula. She “accidentally” starting sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.
When I can tell Selah is tired, I wrap her up in her blanket and put her in her bed. And she goes to sleep. Just like that. She actually gets more upset if you try to rock her to sleep – it’s as if she’s thinking, “I’m tired! Put me down!” That’s just who she is.
Selah doesn’t sleep through the night every night, but she does sleep for 6-7 hour spans most nights. To me, this is a pretty big deal.
All of my friends were right – EVERY baby is different. Some babies want to be rocked to sleep, others find comfort in laying down by themselves. I think these books were written about the second half – the lower-maintenance babies. So when we moms have a “high-maintenance” baby, we can’t figure out what we are doing wrong. We try to follow the formulas, but they don’t work. I’m finally figuring out that Macy needed a different formula than Selah does. I tried to put her in a box and it didn’t fit her.
So there it is. Lessons from a mother of two. Who knows what I’ll learn if we have a third?
(Then again, maybe two is nice)