Well, I kept telling myself, “Just wait until the three month mark. By then it will be easier. By then you will know him better, his habits, his communication. By then the world won’t be quite so new for him and you can think about creating a rough schedule instead of just putting out fires all the time, madly googling and facebooking and trying to figure out what the hell’s going on and what the hell you’re doing. By then maybe you’ll even be getting a bit of sleep.”
And… so far, so good. I have no illusions that it’s all roses from here, but we are feeling more like competent parents, and he is certainly a more competent baby. He can amuse himself for minutes at a time, he can reach his little arms up against gravity, he can soothe himself by sucking on his fingers, and — wonder of wonders — he can put himself to sleep after I gently rock his little body in the crib, taking care to keep his kicking feet still, and giving him a pacifier for a while if he otherwise can’t be pacified. I no longer feel so helpless when he cries and can’t be consoled and won’t sleep (although yesterday was particularly difficult — more on that later). I have faith we’ll figure it out together.
It’s not as easy to amuse him on his back, though. He gets bored with his play gym quicker and quicker, even with the kick keyboard. He wants to be up — sitting up, standing up, even walking (with our help, of course). He’s so ready to go! Just needs to keep building up that strength, though tummy time bores him more easily now, too. He seems to be trying to claw his way forward more than lift himself up into the crawling position, though he can definitely get his head to 90 degrees and even use his arms to prop himself up for brief periods. Especially when the World Cup is on. (Though we are going to seriously limit his screen time once the World Cup is over.)
He’s still napping reasonably well. It’s not always as simple as five minutes in, five minutes out, five minutes in, and then he’s down. But often it is. Sometimes, of course, he still just catnaps, waking up after 20 or 30 or 40 minutes, in which case I try to rock and shush him back to sleep, with success fairly often. Otherwise I just reset the clock and try to put him down again in an hour and a half (or a little earlier if he seems tired).
This weekend, after my wild success with the new naptime regime, I got overzealous and decided to also cut out one of his night feeds. Physiologically, unless he’s going through a growth spurt or something, he doesn’t really need it (at least according to some sources — other sources, naturally, disagree), and a bigger stretch of sleep for me would make a big difference. So I fed him with his first wake, around midnight, then let Ahmed try to shush him back to sleep without food at 3:10 or so. But Ali was kind of freaked out about it. My memory of the whole thing is already hazy, but suffice to say, it was a bad night and everyone was miserable. I apologized to him and told him I’d feed him whenever he wanted for at least another month, then we can reassess if need be. And no more trying to make two big changes at the same time.
That was Saturday night, then Sunday was pretty normal, but on Monday I was way behind on sleep, and after about 2:20pm, the boy absolutely refused to nap again for the entire rest of the day. Nothing worked, not even tried-and-true things like folding him up in a pillow and rocking him back and forth in my lap. (This is Ahmed’s signature move.) He just got more and more manic and miserable, and so did I. Finally Ahmed came home and I handed Ali over, and Ahmed couldn’t get him to sleep, either, until about 9pm.
But then, to everyone’s surprise, he slept until 2:30 and then again until 6:20. (And actually fell nicely asleep again after that until my stupid doctor’s office decided to text my phone at 7:30am to remind me of my appointment, even after I asked them last time they did that not to do that anymore. I’ve never missed a doctor’s appointment in my life. Needless to say, that number is now blocked. Who knows how much sleep my son and I were robbed of. I was in the middle of a really interesting dream, too.)
So yeah, it’s definitely a new adventure every day, haha. There’s still nothing I’d rather be doing. All these World Cup games are the cherry on top, and once the final is over, we plan to start having an official bedtime routine, now that we have more than *just* enough energy to rock him to sleep and call it good. I’m looking forward to a little baby massage and reading my stash of kids’ books to him before bed every night. It’ll be a nice wind-down for me, too. Now that I’m not as frenzied trying to drain the last dregs of google for baby advice and info, trying to figure out how to wash cloth diapers, and so on, maybe I’ll be able to just relax, unplug, and enjoy the hour or three after he’s down.
Here’s my big boy at three months:
I’ve been surprised, by the way, by how little I worry about Ali. It’s as if something happening to him is so unthinkable, I literally just can’t think it. I do everything I can to keep him safe, of course, and now and then some scenario will flash through my mind of a car accident or falling down the stairs with him in my arms, etc, but it just flashes and then goes away again. I don’t dwell on these things. I’ve always known anxiety isn’t a particularly useful emotion. But with Ali, it’s like this knowledge has suddenly become embodied. There’s too much to do and enjoy (including staying present in order to keep him safe) to wallow in worries.
He’s no longer an inscrutable newborn. He’s more aware and alert and human all the time. He’s a regular old infant, now, just as he should be. That has definitely been a nice side effect of being a parent — I don’t feel any need to slow or rush time. I’m not thinking much about who Ali will be in the future or feeling (too) sad he’s no longer the same baby he was a month and two (and three) ago.
A part of me does wish I could go back in time and know how much my love for him would grow and feel that the whole time, even from conception. Especially on the day he was born, when all I could feel was exhausted, relieved, and in awe. And kind of giddy that we had really done it. That instant, all-consuming love didn’t happen for me. It built over time, as I predicted it would, and continues to build. Ah, sometimes it takes my breath away.
But in general, I’m not looking forward or back. I’m just with him right now, totally caught in the present moment. The way life should be. And I love love love how happy all this makes my husband. He takes a good chunk of the “evening shift” while I have the full day and night shifts, and of course he works full time during working hours. It takes a bit out of us, but it’s manageable and so often really enjoyable. And more so day by day.
I feel so happy, in fact, that the writer in me gets nervous sometimes. Isn’t this the part in the movie where everything’s moving along so smoothly that some awful “conflict” is just around the corner to make things “interesting”?
Ha — this is one problem with being too familiar with narrative structure. I have to remind myself that life isn’t really like that. It doesn’t flow in stories unless you look backwards and fit it into one. There aren’t well-defined “episodes” with predictable happy or tragic endings. Hell, humans write stories to try to pretend life makes sense. To draw the sense out of the chaos. It’s an adaptation, like religion, to help us feel like if we’re not in control, at least someone is. Fate, God, narrative structure.
Of course, I had to believe in a “happy ending” to our journey to our first child, but there wasn’t any narrative way to predict that. It just happened when it happened. (And odds were, it would eventually, though it was also hard to put faith in the odds sometimes!)
It’s the same now. Though there’s a kind of “narrative tension” with everything going so well (in a novel you’d need a twist pretty soon or risk losing your readers — Hi, blog readers!), it doesn’t actually mean anything in real life.
So. The gods of stories do not exist and are not waiting to mete out their wrath. Things may actually just be good for a while. Sometimes it happens! And if no one wants to read about it, that’s fine with me. 🙂