Rockabye baby

Four-month old Ellie has thrown me for a loop.  I was pretty good at two and three-month Ellie.  We had a good rhythm and I knew how to meet her needs.  Then, wow – her four-month birthday came (actually a little before it) and she changed.  She stopped sleeping the way she had before, she started nursing differently, and she started interacting with me differently.  And to be honest, I didn’t like it for a while.  I had a pretty good thing going and I didn’t like the change.  I even resented it and cried a lot about it.

Thankfully, now, a couple weeks later, she and I have found a good rhythm again.  I primarily found that rhythm by accepting the new Ellie and not trying to get her to conform to some other acceptable baby norm.  We’re happy.  She’s thriving and I like being her mom again.

Here’s some lessons I’ve learned:

1. Those sleep books?  They don’t know my baby.  They don’t know my precious Ellie.  They say that it doesn’t matter how early you put them to bed, they’re still going to sleep in because babies need sleep.  Well, that’s not how my Ellie rolls.  She wants to sleep for 11 hours a night – just about on the dot.  Even though we’re now quite consistently putting her to bed around 7:30, she still wants to wake up at 6:30 in the morning.  (If we put her to bed at 8:00, she sleeps until 7:00, etc.) I was mad at her and myself about this for a few days because, well, that’s not what the books said would happen.  So I had to stop reading those books.  I took what I could from them (early bedtimes are good, babies need consistency, babies need regular naps) and then returned them to the library.  They weren’t helping me and so I had to get them out of my house.  (I like my friend Erin’s opinion of books.)

2. Even the experts don’t agree.  The sleep books say that in order to get nighttime sleep working great, you should make sure that they have a great napping schedule during the day so they aren’t over-tired.  Our pediatrician yesterday told us that in order for us to get her napping schedule regular during the day, we had to get her sleeping through the night (i.e. no middle of the night feeding).  Those are exact opposite opinions!  So I’m doing my best and trying not to worry about either.

3. Support from friends is crucial.  At one point last week, I was desperate and e-mailed the moms’ list that I’m on, basically asking, “Is this my fault? Did I do something wrong?  My baby is not acting the way she is ‘supposed’ to!”  And to a person, I heard love and grace and encouragement to figure out who Ellie is and then meet her needs.  Their words freed me to parent Ellie the way that I knew she needed me.

4. Yesterday, my cousin Joy posted a sweet video of her son Sully which is representative of the the 6:00 am conversations they have.  I appreciated this for many reasons (he’s so cute) but primarily because it illustrated to me how important it is to love our kids for who they are.  I realize a lot of parenting is helping our kids learn how to be happy, responsible, mature people.  But I don’t think we have to (or should)  fight to change who God made them.  God clearly created Sully to be an early riser.  And Joy has found beauty in how God has made him.  I’m sure she’d rather be sleeping at 6:00 in the morning but rather than resenting him, she has chosen to appreciate the son God gave her, early-morning-rising and all.  I’m trying to find that balance with Ellie too.  I know she’s only four months old but I can already see glimpses of the amazing person God has created her to be.

And I think that means being an early bird.

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4 Responses to Rockabye baby

  1. Joy says:

    Great post, Laura! Thank you for your thoughtful words about Sullivan and me and our early mornings 🙂
    Your entire post was encouraging to me as well, and just a continual reminder to not get discouraged when our kids don’t fit the “norm” of the books. That always got me so bent out of shape, too! Oliver’s personality in general was definitely NOT a “by the book” type, so reading and trying to implement generally left me more frustrated and with more questions than peace. It took having a second child to mellow me out a little bit and find more peace in my parenting. After having Sullivan, I realized that I missed out on so much sweetness with Oliver when he was a little guy because I was constantly worried about “doing the right thing” (which I was always searching for, because as we all know, there is no “right” thing…everyone has different opinions on what that is!) I had so many sweet times with Sullivan as a baby because I just did a lot of what felt right to me, for us, and I have been really thankful for that realization.
    I love what you said about your position on the books –

    “I took what I could from them (early bedtimes are good, babies need consistency, babies need regular naps)…”

    I think that is absolutely great. Because those truly are great points in the books. Now how you personally hash those out in your household is up to you!
    To be honest, I was NOT happy with Sullivan when we moved him to his big boy bed and he started getting up so early! I tried ways to keep him in his bed, and things just weren’t working. What I realized is this (and this is definitely advice I would give anyone): babies/kids all go through phases. Just when they get into a routine and eveyone gets comfortable, they’ll switch it up again! (Just as you found with 4 month old Ellie :)) So I just have to remind myself that Oliver went through early morning stages, and he now generally sleeps until after 7:00. So, while Sullivan may be in the early-riser-for-life category, chances are it’s a phase of some sort that will change over time. (And even if he will always be an early riser, which is a great quality, at least as he gets a little older, he’ll get better at being able to play by himself in the mornings and not come play with me!!) But I think you are right…we as mothers are more at peace when we can stop comparing and we delight in them as a unique creation. Sure there are healthy boundaries for anyone, but that can easily be stepped over into unhealthy comparison and worry. Just remember….babies especially go through so many phases!
    Love reading your thoughts and hearing about life with Ellie…what a precious girl. I’m so happy you are a Momma!

  2. Mom says:

    Such wise words from both of you mamas! I came to this same freeing realization after reading a book on children’s temperments when Eric was little. It helped me to “delight in (each of) them as unique creation(s)”.

  3. Pingback: Looking Back Before Looking Forward « Salmon and Souvlaki

  4. Pingback: The Four-Month Change – It’s Not You, It’s Your Baby’s Brain | Salmon and Souvlaki

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