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End of an Era

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We’re coming to the end of an era. I have only 2 more evenings of nursing Mason. Thursday night will be my last night with this sweet little bedtime ritual we’ve had for the past 15 1/2 months. It’s so bittersweet. On one hand, I’m excited to have the range of foods returned to me, since I won’t have to alter my eating for Mason’s allergies… But I’m definitely sad for this chapter to end. I don’t know how often I’ll get to cradle him in my arm like that again, squirming, wiggling, energetic little boy that he is. I never really thought I’d be sad to see nursing end, but it’s just such a sweet, simple way of nourishing your baby. Of giving and being needed.
Little steps of independence, they come so soon! No one told me! I thought he’d be my little baby till at least junior high years, you know? Teenagers… I expect steps of independence from… but my little almost 16 month old? It’s one more thing he’s learned to do on his own, that he doesn’t need me for.
It’s so strange, isn’t it? We grow these little babies, our whole lives change, shift, rearrange so that they’re at the center of them because they need us for absolutely everything. They can’t eat without us, they can’t move without us. They can’t learn without us. So we nurture and feed and pick them up and carry them with us wherever we go, so that they can, little by little, step by step, no longer need us for any of it. So much single minded focus on these little baby bundles with the singular purpose of teaching them how to do all those things without us. It’s mind boggling. We grow so attached, and in some ways, the rest of their growing is learning how to release.
Not everything of course. Strings will always be tied to our hearts. And arms will always be open and welcoming, aching to encircle. Laughs will be had, and eventually, phone calls and visits will be made.

Such a trip. This parenting thing, hmm?

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In other, slightly belated Christmas news, we took down the last of our Christmas decorations this past weekend. Except for a garland and some white lights above our window that I’ve decided are winter decorations. I love Christmas, it’s always sad for me to see it pass (wow, what a sentimental lump I am in this post, huh?). BUT it does feel like the official signal of the new year.
Here’s a glimpse of our Christmas home that is no longer.

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Last Night Wasn’t Perfect…

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But it was better.  And in the trial and error life of parenting… those are pretty good results!

Mark told you a little about how Mason’s first night in his crib was in his last post.

Let me tell you a little bit more…

So.  I’ll start this by making a confession.  Why this has become a “confession”… I’ll never fully understand.

They say that there’s pressure on parents, especially new parents, to act like everything about raising a child is sunshine and roses.  That the feelings and the know-how just flow seemlessly and any potentially negative event is just a drop in the pond.  I hear some new (and not so new) parents rant their frustrations with the inauthenticity of it all.  I’ve ranted about the inauthenticity of it all and revelled in times when a parent, new or seasoned, has been raw and honest about their difficulties.

But one thing I never realized before this past month or so was that the opposite pressure is there too.  Strangely… the pressure to complain, to wax on about the exhaustion and the lack of time to oneself, the sleepless nights, and the list of baby ailments.  It’s like being part of the club means you have to tout your war stories.  Show you know what it means to “rough it” with the best of them.

This is one of the reasons… that I never really wrote on this blog about how Mason has been sleeping 9, 10, sometimes 11 hours a night since my birthday.  It’s one of the reasons that I feel more comfortable telling people about it now… because he’s had a week of NOT sleeping such luxuriously long hours at night.  I’m in the club now, I can admit to previous good luck right?  There was  a rare occasion, before, when we would sheepishly mention our fabulous little sleeper, and would get a congratulatory response, and there always followed our sigh of relief, at telling our dirty little secret and getting a positive response.  But a great deal of the time, another parent’s response is something like… “Oh, well, you know that will change.”  or “Well we’ll see how long that lasts.”  Or I hear of parents who are consoling each other by saying things like, “Don’t worry, they’ll get their’s too.”

Instead of having to defend your good fortune, or dare I say, express pride in your parenting skills, rather than attribute it all to luck… it’s sometimes just easier to smile knowingly when a parent makes a reference like, “Some day we’ll sleep again, right?”

To wrap up this little tangent… Parenting is hard.  Parenting is also amazing.  Parenting is not the same for everyone.  There are a great many similarities, because we’re all humans raising baby humans.  But as many as there are different people in the world, there are different parenting styles, different temperaments of babes, different phases and patterns, and different moods for each hour, month or year of your child’s life (and yours)!  We would benefit far more from each other’s support, rather than each other’s watchful expectations.  We would also benefit far more from giving ourselves permission to simply be proud when we’re proud, and to struggle when we’re struggling.  Life, as well as parenting is a series of ebbs and flows.  Forcing a smile when we’d rather bawl, or pretending to gripe when we’re really feeling rather satisfied is just that desire to belong surfacing in a twisted way.  If we all excused ourselves from the pressure to fit in, we just might be able to fully enjoy and learn from all the amazing, beautiful, different palettes of life and beliefs and parenting examples there really are out there.

I lavished in the nights where Mason slept from 8pm till 7am.  They were glorious and they were frequent.  Right now… they are sorely missed.  I have a strong gut feeling (accompanied by the prayers that I’m correct) despite my lack of experience in this area, that this shift in sleeping habits is a result of teething.  Not that I think he’s going to pop out a couple of teeth at the ripe old age of three and a half months.  But let’s look at the bullet points:

  • People I’ve talked to and most readable material agree that the teething process can start  a month or more before teeth actually emerge.  (Often between months 3 & 5)
  • Drool abounds during this time, and now, more often than not, an outfit change is spurred on by a drool soaked collar rather than a diaper mishap.
  • I know babies like to stick things in their mouths in general… but Mason’s hands are constantly in his mouth, as are blankets and burp cloths and plush toys, our fingers and hands.  And he’s starting to chomp a little bit more rather than just suck on things.
  • He has been SUCH a consistently good sleeper since the beginning, and for the past week has been getting progressively more agitated in the night.  A couple nights of waking up once, a couple nights of waking up twice, and then two nights ago he was waking up EVERY HOUR between 11pm and 3am.
  • Most nights this past week there’s been at least one time in the night that he’s gotten so upset that he needed to nurse in order to calm down.  But most of the time when he’s woken up at night,he isn’t wet, he isn’t hungry, he isn’t even fully awake.  His eyes are closed tight and he just cries and cries, flailing arms, kicking legs, tossing his head.  The poor baby just seems SO uncomfortable and calms with some soothing, but there have been times when it’s taken both Mark and me holding his limbs still and a pacifier in his mouth for him to be able to fall back asleep.

Granted… we did just move him into his crib, so the fact that instead of just rolling over and reaching into the bassinet to replace a fallen pacifier has now turned into getting up to walk down the hall and replace a fallen pacifier is something to be noted.  But we expected a couple of those each night for a while.

Last night, we finally got our hands on some essential oils I’ve been wanting to try.  My friend Jenna (whose blog I will link to once she writes her first post 😉 ) has just started using essential oils as alternative medicine for her 1 year old in the past month, and has been blown away by them.  We used some on him last night before he went to bed… and while we didn’t get our nine or ten hours of sleep back… it was FAR better than it was the previous couple of nights.  We did have to jointly pin him down once, but he didn’t have to nurse the whole night for the first time in a week, because he didn’t fully wake up the whole night.  There were a couple other times he started to rustle and fuss and I had to go put the pacifier back in his mouth.  But I’m super excited to keep trying this oil, and hopeful that one day in the not too far future, we will be a household who is once again, blissfully asleep during the hours when the sky is dark.

Now off to collect my babe.  He’s become fascinated by his mobile.  Which makes his mama, who made it, very happy!

staring up at the mobile