Wednesday, 4 July 2012

He's not sleeping, eating or crying, now what?

I'm not going to lie, there were a few weeks, especially when Oliver was 2 weeks old until he was about 6 weeks old, when I was purely in survivor mode. It seemed like I was always either feeding him or trying to soothe him. He was hardly sleeping at all during the day and was up every hour or two in the night. But for the last few weeks he has been down to one nightime feeding (woohoo!), taking some naps during the day, with some genuine happy periods in between. There are times when he's not sleeping, eating or crying. So now what?

Yesterday I was playing with my two month old in the living room of our apartment, and I thought to myself, "what am I going to do to entertain this kid until his mom gets home?" Forgetting for a second that I am his mother. I still can't believe that they let me take him home sometimes, that he's mine. I'm so grateful to have him, but how am I qualified to take care of him? Sitting around watching HBO might be a perfectly acceptable way to kill a day by myself, but I can't imagine it's appropriate for a baby.

For any other job I've ever had, I needed to apply my education and training. Before getting pregnant, I knew almost nothing about child rearing. I still don't. The most relevant education I have is a children's law course I took in my third year of law school, but that really only taught me how to be a really, really bad parent. The prenatal courses we took and the books I read focused more on the baby's basic needs. No one covered what to do during the down time.

So I've been kind of winging it. I usually try some combination of books, songs and whatever games is suggesting for his current stage of development. I've also been attempting to maintain some balance between giving him one-on-one attention and accomplishing other tasks, like laundry, lunch and snacks for myself and getting out of the house as much as possible while he chills out in the stroller or carrier. I try to remind myself that some day I hope to be able to do this with a baby and an older version of this one, so I need to accept that I can't be 100% available to him forever.

I don't have a graduate degree in early childhood development, but neither do most mothers. For now I'm just going to love him, return his smiles and involve him in my daily life. I hope that will be enough until he can start telling me what he would like to do with his day. Or he's old enough to watch HBO with me.

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