Monday, January 30, 2012

The Only Thing Constant is Change

Raising Owen is like one huge lesson in learning to be flexible and adapt to change.  Little Man clearly has no intention of adapting to a routine or a schedule.  What works one day is futile the next, what failed miserably yesterday may be a stellar success tomorrow.  The only really reliable constants I've come to expect are that he wants to nurse about every two hours (often sooner) during daytime hours (though he has occasionally gone up to three hours) and he will sleep at some point in the night.  But the specifics around sleep, we have yet to figure those out.  He went through a stint of "sleeping through the night" and then shifted back to waking every three hours.  He was going to sleep between 6 and 7 for a while there, and then last night he didn't truly fall asleep until close to 9 or 10.  Some mornings he sleeps until 8, others he's up at 6.  

It's a bit crazy making for a control freak like me, to have a baby that is so defiantly opposed to routine and scheduling!

This morning we are having a rare, dare-I-say-it successful nap, and I have a moment to fold laundry, hop on the computer, breathe.  Many days he won't nap unless he's in my arms, and then he doesn't nap very well. Yesterday was one of those days, lots of piecemeal naps that added up to shoddy rest and a very cranky little guy.

And why, why, why are new parents so obsessed with sleep?  I swear, I feel like an opium junkie, chasing the dragon of a few precious hours of uninterrupted sleep.  My planning for the day and night seriously revolves around whether or not I may get some sleep in there.  I would go to bed every night at 7 if I could, but that would likely mean I haven't eaten or showered or responded to emails or gone to the bathroom or folded laundry or done dishes...and two nights each week I work until 9.  Those nights are so hard, I can barely keep my eyes open but still don't get into bed until close to 11.  Oof.

Speaking of 11.  E responded to an email link I apparently had sent him, of some dandelion wall stencils that apparently I loved.  He claims we even had a conversation about them.  I have absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of sending him the link.  Of ever seeing the stencils.  But there is an email, sent by me, with the link, and a time stamp of 11:30 pm on a Wednesday night.  No. Recollection. Whatsoever.  Sleep deprivation is a bitch, yo, and I can only wonder what else I've been sending in the wee hours of the night/morning.  Yikes.  

Owen continues to amaze and delight us with his smiles and giggles - he is a charmer, that's for certain.  When he's in a good mood, there is nothing to stop him from bringing joy to everyone that crosses his path.  Every day he surprises me with something new - a coo, a rollover, a grab for a toy, an easy transition to napping or bedtime...I love watching him grow and change - I cannot believe he's already been here with us for four months.

However, when he's upset, there is also nothing stopping breaks my heart.  He clearly has difficulty regulating and has little or no ability yet to self-soothe, it is agonizing to hear/watch him cry.  Yesterday he just did not want to be in the car seat running errands with us, and he cried and cried and screamed and cried.  He was fiercely tired, but couldn't get himself to sleep, it was agonizing and heartbreaking.  He would doze off for a second or two then awake screaming again.  

Last night I caught myself thinking that Otis wouldn't have been this challenging.  Partly because I was more flexible to begin with back then, because I wouldn't have been held back by the fear and worry around doing any and everything, and also because I have it in my mind that he would have just been an easier baby.  This line of thinking does NOTHING to serve any of us, and it makes me sad that I keep going there mentally.  But Otis lives only in my idealized memories of what was going to be, not in the reality of bringing him home.  So in that idealized memory, I am the mommy who can walk two dogs all by herself with a happy baby in the Ergo carrier while she drinks her latte (god I miss coffee and milk) and then leaves him with papa and a bottle while she goes to yoga class. (Ugh, that sounds a little obnoxious, actually...)  And I will never know if that would have been my reality with Otis or not.  My idealized memories persist, and I ache for them - because I miss Otis, because mothering Owen is so vastly different that what I expected - but it doesn't serve me to sit in the "what could have been."  

Similarly, sitting in the "this isn't what I expected, this should be different" does nothing to serve me or Owen.  I love him so incredibly completely with every cell and fiber in my body, and spending my time comparing my reality to what I thought it would be like or what I thought it should be like or even what other mamas are experiencing with their babes is detrimental on all fronts.  It's so tough to not get caught in the comparisons, but in those moments when I find I've broken free from them is when I feel the most joy, the most comfort, the most satisfaction and peace in mothering this little guy.  He is truly amazing, I can't say that enough.  


Brooke said...

I've often heard that comparisons rob you of joy, but I understand why it would be so hard to avoid it. Parenting Otis would have been different in so many ways, and of course it's tempting to imagine that "different" is always "better." (Especially when you're sleep deprived and Owen is furiously screaming). I just don't want you to feel guilty about those quiet comparisons. If you hadn't had Otis, I think you'd still be inclined to imagine what life would be like if you got more sleep, if Owen were a little more easy-going, if parenting him were the way you had expecting parenting any baby to be.

I think as BLMs we tend to feel guilty about comparing living children to the idealized version of their brother or sister, but the truth is that ALL parents compare their kids to one another at some point (my mom is always saying things like "You were such a terrible shopper but your brother loved being in the stroller." or "You never threw tantrums like your brother because you talked so much earlier than he did.") I imagine parents of only children compare the kid they have to the kid they *thought* they'd have. No, it doesn't do you any good to go down that road, but I just don't think it's something to worry about either.

Sometimes I morbidly joke to David that if our future children ever fail to be perfect, we'll say things like, "Well, that A- is great, but I bet Eliza would have gotten an A+." (And she probably would have, dammit.)

What it comes down to is that you're loving Owen with all you've got, and that's all that really matters.

B. Wilson said...

Like Brooke mentioned, I feel like we'll all have moments of comparison of our expectations, what we anticipated, and the children we expected to have in our firstborn--that were stripped from us far too soon. It's natural to compare or to assume the life we had with our firstborn would've been different-- or dare I say at times, better.

It's how we preserve ourselves and our memory of them. Would be want the view of Otis (or Andrew, or Eliza) to be screaming children who cannot seem to handle soothing methods? No, we want to view them as perfect beings fitting into our perfect perceptions of what life would've/should've been. Lattes, Ergo, sleep-filled nights and the like.

Does it hurt our current states of NOW? Maybe. But I quite like finding the positive and perfect in our babies that are gone. It gives them new life. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Tiffany said...

i understand what you mean about comparisons. i find myself trying to pick out the similarities and differences between Julius and our little girl. i stare at her face trying to see how much like him she looks. and i lovingly recall all the moments we spent with him when she does something similar/opposite what he did.

in a way i fear getting to the point in which she is doing things that her brother never got a chance to do - first words, crawling, etc. though i desperately want to get to that point because it means that she made it to that point. idk, there are just so many emotions that go along with parenting after you've lost a child.

btw, the story of the email made me lol. these days my eyes are closing by 7pm. :)

Anonymous said...

I think there is always that sense of 'who would he have been' that roams my mind. I look at my living children and see so many aspects of his features. and I wonder what his personality would have been like because each of my child has a very distinct and very unique personality all to their own.
Sending hugs... xo

Jenn said...

First, I just wanted to tell you that I completely empathize with you on how crazy making it can be to have a baby who never wants to sleep and who always wants to nurse and who has no intention of complying to any sort of routine, let alone schedule. My first was that way as a baby and although I loved, loved, loved parenting her, it was still hard, hard, hard. I will also tell you that eventually it will get better and that my crazy-making baby has grown into a little girl who falls asleep in 5 minutes flat and sleeps all night and now, at the ripe old age of 4, thrives on routine and schedule. Go figure.

And I'm right there with you, mama, on the wonderings and musings of how things might have been different. It's hard to get out of that head space sometimes. Sending love to you and sleepy vibes to Owen. xx

Em said...

All our children are such unique blessings. Otis and Owen are both unique blessings.
As time passes from the time Eva was with me to now and living without her I imagine her as the perfect 1 year old...and then I look at the sons I am blessed to still have in this world with me and how challenging they are. Oh, Eva would never have been like that, and she may not have, but she would have different problems. She is another unique blessing. One I didn't get to hold in my arms long enough...but unique and a blessing are the sons I can hold here on earth, with all their earthly problems.
Just want you to know that of the 3 children that remain with me...they are all so differently challenging...and I know you know that Otis would be challenging too...but it's so hard to see beyond the dream. Sending love to you.