I’ve been a parent (of a this-side-of-the-womb child) for almost 15 months. The job description keeps changing, though the overall goal is still the same. I think. Was I ever really clear on it? Generally, raise a healthy happy loving giving being. As I continue the journey I thought I’d share a few recent wins and challenges.
Win. Today, for the second time, I shopped with a sleeping child. We left the house at 9 to get some groceries. Early, but not for her since she’d been up since 6. By the time we got to the store – maybe 7 minutes max from home? – she was fast asleep in her car seat. I unpacked the umbrella stroller from the trunk and got her into it, still asleep. Shopped, dragging a small wheeled cart behind me. Loaded the car. Got her back into the car seat: still asleep. Drove home, unloaded the groceries and got her inside: still asleep. Laid her down on the bed where she continued to sleep for at least another hour. Massive victory! I didn’t let sleep slow me down, and I respected her need to sleep.
Win: bedtime. Not always, but since we started trying to do earlier bedtimes in December we’ve generally managed it. She’s often asleep by 7, usually by 8, and only rarely by 9 or 10 (or 11 in one notable exception). Our strategy: put her to bed earlier! We must have been missing a sleep cycle with the later bedtimes we attempted. Now we start the bath usually by 6:30 or 7 at the latest. Then, even with play and nursing, she’s usually asleep fairly quickly.
Challenge: Even with the earlier bedtimes, she still is waking up quite a bit at night. The most extreme was maybe 8 times. That’s more than once every 2 hours. She was wearing socks so I think she might have been overheated … but who knows? Usually it’s 3 – 5 times. For the past 15 months I have had only a handful of sleep stretches of 5 hours or longer. I wouldn’t say that the exhaustion is cumulative, or even that exhaustion is the right word, but I’m definitely a bit tired fairly often and really wouldn’t mind sleeping at least half-way through the night. Shushing and jiggling only rarely keep her asleep.
Challenge: the work commute. Getting her to and from my mom’s, and the work involved with that, is probably the most tiring part of my day. Packing up everything the night before, and then in the morning. Taking care of her variable morning routines along with getting myself out the door. Then the end of hte day, when she doesn’t want to leave or nurse – in the house – so it takes a LONG time and ends with nursing her in the back seat and trying to keep her entertained on the drive home. Then making dinner if husband hasn’t. WIPED OUT! I need to figure out how to streamline the routine. Also, husband still wants to take care of her one day a week, though work hasn’t permitted it yet. That would be wonderful: dad-baby time, plus no baby commute.
Win: wonderful moments with baby. As described in this blog entry, being a parent is frequently exhausting, hair-pulling work. Sure, a lot of it may be my own issues (patience, letting go of control, mindfulness) but they’re there nonetheless. So more moments when I’m simply loving being wtih my baby, cradling her, laughing with her, communicating with her, is amazing. I’ve loved watching her emerging communication, personality, sense of humour. Nursing her, when it isn’t painful (another Challenge: her hair pulling, pinching, slapping, poking, gouging treatment of mom while nursing. Which yes, I do my best to stop but it isn’t always possible), is a complete delight. Holding her close, stroking her hair, talking with her, laughing with her when something tickles her fancy. I LOVE nursing.
Now this tired parent needs to get some sleep. Challenge and hopefully Win.