Enjoy EVERY moment?
I’m having one of those moments. You know the ones. The moments that completely and utterly highlight your new life as a parent. Those moments that make you step back and say: “Ah yes, so this is what being a mom is all about.”
It’s times like these when I can’t help but have the slightest bit of disdain for all those more-seasoned parents who look at me wistfully and say, “It’s the time of your life. But it goes so fast. Enjoy every moment.”
Admittedly, I understand the sentiment and do agree that having a child means entering into an alternate reality of accelerated time. Yet, I can’t help but occasionally think that this isn’t actually the most fun I’ve had in my life thus far.
Which brings me to the present. Three am, in the midst of one of the worst sleepless nights since the little man was born 3 months ago, listening to the mechanical drone of the swing that he is currently sleeping in. Yes, all you Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child zealots. You heard me correctly: the swing. And don’t think I’m not tormented by the fact that we had to resort to plan G after the rocking-bouncing-shushing-swaddling-unswaddling-reswaddling-pacifiering failed. But after sleeping less than 45 minutes total thus far this evening/morning, I gave in to the seduction of the swing. And it actually seems to be working. For now.
I, of course, am finding it impossible to be lulled to sleep by the metronome-like swing and instead feel like it is merely punctuating my lost minutes of sleep. If I could make a soundtrack to new motherhood, the tick-tock of the swing would be prominent. That, and the hum (or groan?) of the breast pump.
It’s been an eventful week for the little man, though. Perhaps this is why he isn’t having the best night’s sleep. This week we started the ease-in-to daycare project with two half-days. Let me preface this by saying he did fine (it was of course much harder on me than him) and he is getting excellent care at said daycare. There were, however, some kinks in the operation.
- Day 1: Accidentally given 2 oz of formula (his teachers forgot he had fresh and frozen breast milk available and when the fresh ran out, they gave him formula. Fast forward to me crying about this and feeling as though I failed as a mother because he ingested something other than breast milk).
- Day 2: Consumed only breast milk (mine, thankfully. Wouldn’t want a breast milk mix up, right?) but seemed to contract a diarrheal illness. He’s spent the past 24 hours making a green mess of many, many diapers. I’ve been alternating between being sick with worry about him and reminding myself what I would tell a parent in my clinic presenting a child with this same clinical picture (“He’s eating well, making lots of wet diapers, and acting completely normally? Well, then he’s fine.”).
And this highlights another important aspect of parenting that is taking some getting used to: the multitude of variables beyond my control. And along with that, trying to come up with rational explanations for things that defy rational reasoning. For example, why did the little man sleep so well that one night only to wake 3 times the next? Was it the way he was swaddled? The time he went to bed? Something I ate? How many naps he got that day? The bath? The magical onesie he was wearing that night? The fact that we bounced for 17 minutes that night instead of 13? The questions are never-ending and increasingly more ridiculous.
Admittedly, this is likely especially hard for a type A control freak like myself. Perhaps aside from the more obvious biological reasons, this is why it might be easier to become a parent when you are much younger and more flexible.
Don’t get me wrong. I, of course, would not change this experience for anything. And, believe you me, the pain of this sleepless night will be all but erased come morning when the little man stretches his arms, shakes his little fists, and give me that wide, gummy grin he saves up for the first morning encounter.
In the meantime, though, I suppose I can revel in these rare few self-reflective hours. Because, as new moms know all too well, there certainly is no time for quiet contemplation while the little one is awake.