I admit it, I am one of those moms that reads everything there is to know about raising a baby. Magazines, books, websites--I read it all. Part of it is because I have a lot of time when I am nursing--there's not much else to do at 3 a.m. The other part is that somewhere inside me I harbor the hope that there are "tricks" or methods to getting through things like sleep deprivation. You know it--when your eyelids are lead weights and thoughts swim round in your head like half-dead fish circling the drain.
Some moms tell you their child is 45 and still needs to nurse twice a night. These mothers depress you as you pray your child won't be like that. Other mothers tell you their children were sleeping through the night after a couple of weeks. These babies are such good sleepers that they actually gently caress their mothers to sleep each night. These reports are equally depressing as you wonder what you are doing wrong.
The hot topic these days is teaching your baby to self-soothe. This almost always involves putting your baby to sleep awake and allowing them to cry for some period of time. This weekend we tried some of these techniques. We failed. The best evidence being the fact that Scarlett is in my lap asleep right now. Its not our fault, really. She fell asleep nursing. So what am I supposed to do, wake her up to put her to bed? Also, I am weak. I am unable to listen to 10 minutes of her crying.
I think the articles should just be honest--your baby is going to deprive you of sleep for a long time. Don't get your hopes up. Appreciate the times when you sleep for 4 hours in a row and muddle through the times when 2 straight hours are all you are going to get. I know a lot of adults who still can't self-soothe, so how is my little baby?!?
As a new mom, one of the most frightening things is your precious baby getting hurt or sick in any way. When my little Scarlett got her first shots, I had to fight not to cry. I told everyone that I was switching doctors. Of course I now see that she was just keeping my baby healthy, but at the time I couldn't believe that someone would make my baby cry like that.
This morning, I saw that Scarlett had given herself a little scratch on her nose, so I decided to cut her nails. She was sleeping and I trimmed them all. Then I decided that the pointer finger was not short enough. I was wrong. This time I clipped the tinniest little bit of skin off, and my poor baby awoke with a mighty strong wail that lasted and lasted. She had real tears springing out of her eyes and looked at me as if she would never get over this hurt.
I cleaned off the blood and soothed her and put on a band-aid that looks out of place on her perfect, delicate little finger. I cried and tried to tell myself that I am not the worst mom ever and that Scarlett could forgive me. But that big band-aid is a reminder.
Scarlett will probably get hurt many more times in her life, and I may even be the unintentional cause of more little boo-boos. SHe may not have a perfect mommy, but she does have one who will always be there to kiss her and tell her that it will be okay.