This post has been on my mind and in my heart for a while to write. Maybe someone out there is feeling as confused and lonely as I was when my seventh baby was born.
We waited the longest time between babies #6 and #7. I actually had three months where I was neither nursing and/or pregnant. That hadn’t happened since we were married. We were so happy to find out that we had another baby on the way. The pregnancy was a good one for me – no problems. However, the closer I got to the birth the more anxious I was. Baby #5 had been a fast, hard and extremely painful birth. I was not looking forward to going through that again. But of course all babies join us one way or another, and Ethan was no different. After a long drawn out labour I gave birth to him in a pool at home.
Having a baby never gets old. There is nothing like holding that little body, hearing their cry, checking out their toes, looking for hair. Ethan turned out to be my smallest – 8 ½ pounds. I know, I know – for some that’s big, but trust me, for me that’s small (my biggest was 10 pounds). He was also blond, but unlike most blonds who are bald he had lots of hair that was also long and very visible. We were so enchanted with his hair.
I didn’t think I’d have any problems mothering this baby. After all he was my seventh. I had lots of experience. Then the crying started. When he was just two or three days old I was pacing the floors with him for hours because he just couldn’t go to sleep and trying to nurse him to sleep just made him more upset. Even a little baby gets heavy especially when you’re still recovering from pregnancy and birth. I ended up crying with him, begging him to just enjoy the nursing and let it put him to sleep like it had with all of my other babies.
We did two things that saved my sanity. First, we took him to a chiropractor who specializes in children. She was fantastic and the relief was immediate. He slept better and was calmer so we started taking him regularly.
Secondly, we bought a wrap. Ethan wanted nothing to do with anything mechanical – no swings, baby rockers, nothing. Human arms only. I was so thankful that my two oldest were old enough to help me hold and rock him, but even they tired of it. The sling was a life saver. I could hold him close like he wanted and still get something done. It worked so well that when he got too heavy for the stretchy knit fabric I made a wrap out of woven fabric to hold him a little longer.
He was fourteen months before I could coax him into a stroller. Even then he had to be held every few minutes before he would tolerate a few more minutes in the stroller. It took many walks before he stayed in the stroller for an entire walk. Now he can walk to the library and back reminding us that he’s not a baby needing a stroller.
He couldn’t tolerate car rides. Just going to and from church was a nightmare as he cried and cried. He was 2 ½ before we were able to take a family vacation away from home. Now he does a great job even on road trips that are two or three hours. The change is unbelievable.
He was my first toddler to have serious meltdowns. My others had one or two he has days still where he has several. In those instances I’ve found the best thing to do is to pull him into my lap and hold him close. I talk to him quietly until he can tell me what’s wrong. I’m hoping someday that these will pass and lessen as he grows up more.
He was almost two before I could put him in bed and walk away from him without him crying. For a while my husband bounced him to sleep every night. It’s amazing how I marvel now – a year later – at how easy it is to put him to bed. It used to take an hour to get him to go to sleep. Now as long as we follow the formula of a hug and a kiss and a “sleeptightdon’tletthebudbugsbite…” routine we’re good.
He used to cry every service in church (I logged miles and miles walking with him during services so he wouldn’t cry when he was a baby) now he can sit mostly quietly and make it through a whole service switching between my lap and his oldest sister’s. I had despaired at times of this ever happening.
I’ve learned that he doesn’t readily accept change – even if that change is as normal as going from awake to asleep or asleep to awake. So we have developed routines and systems to help him when there is going to be a change.
I hope this encourages someone who’s going through a difficult time with their little one. Some are more challenging than others. Ethan certainly has been for us. He’s a great little guy though. Very affectionate and growing up so fast. He likes things tidy (bonus) and loves to help clean up. He and his oldest sister have a very special relationship. She was in the room with me when he was born and has logged many hours caring for him. Sometimes when I can’t settle him she can.
Hang in there, Momma. Try to enjoy your little one no matter what stage there at and what you’re going through with them. Before you know it this stage will be a memory and you’ll be moving on to something else.