Stacy Trevino, mother of two girls (Bailey, age 3; Boston, age 15 months). This is something I wrote and shared with family and friends last March. It’s not your typical success story. It’s more of a “finding grace in a ‘failed’ babywise story” story.
I’ve written blog posts and facebook status updates about how “difficult” Boston was as an infant. In the grand scheme of things, she wasn’t even close to difficult when compared to the full range of babies facing moms these days. No colic. No digestive issues. No illnesses (until a cold, around month 10.5). No rare syndromes. No common syndromes, for that matter.
She just had the unfortunate luck to be born into the arms of a mother who equated perfectly scheduled with perfectly content. A mom who equated her own contentment with the contentment of her baby girl.
Being an experienced (read: prideful) babywise mom, there were a lot of expectations that I put upon Boston when she was born. I expected her to take full feedings – as opposed to snacks – to help regulate her metabolism from day one. I expected her to follow an eat, wake, sleep pattern through the day to help keep daytime and nighttime straight in her tiny little head. I expected her to fall asleep on her own (without nursing or another prop) so that I wouldn’t have to break bad habits later. I expected her to settle into a regular nap pattern by week two, three at the latest.
So when she didn’t fall into the babywise mold easily, I was unnerved.
When she woke up early from naps, her cries were more than just the normal twinge against my eardrums. It was like tiger-claws across the chalkboard, ripping holes in the surface. It unleashed nothing short of fury that stewed within me as I carelessly plucked her out of the bassinette and sat down to nurse her. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SLEEPING, my mind screamed into her little face. YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HUNGRY YET, as I replayed the previous nursing, wondering if I could have done something differently to coax more milk into her. TWENTY MINUTES OF CRYING IT OUT SHOULD WORK, as I (admittedly) squeezed her a smidge too tight as the rage pulsed through my veins.
And the real kicker. The thing that I was most peeved about? I HAVE THINGS ON MY TO-DO LIST STILL TO DO DURING THIS NAP. YOU’RE INTERRUPTING MY DAY. THIS WAS *NOT* ON THE DAY’S ITINERARY!
As weeks turned into months, turned into close to a year, I battled with this child. My agenda versus hers. My need to control and manage and portray the perfect little life versus her need to eat and play and sleep.
Around month six, people start asking about her personality. What’s her temperament like? Her disposition? Her character? Who is she?
I didn’t have a clue.
Of course I made something up – because what good mother doesn’t know what her baby is like – but I was just grasping at straws. The conversation usually turned toward her erratic naps and unpredictable wake-times. Something I was well aware of.
Time rolled on and I kept myself in the dark about the little person in front of me. I let my disgust about her waking early from a nap plague her wake time and rob me of any joy as she played. I continued with my to-do list of chores and let the anger swell as she “got in the way” . . . after all, if she had slept like she was supposed to, we wouldn’t have this problem.
It wasn’t until January – two months shy of her first birthday – month ten of her twelve-month life – that I was finally awakened to the fact that I had a contented baby on my hands. Despite my ignorance (and my ignoring), she was happy. She loved to crawl and cruise and throw pillows on the ground. Any song with a half-decent beat elicited a head bobble and claps. She’d talk your ear off if you’d let her.
But I hadn’t.
I’d spent too much time talking down about her as a person because she didn’t nap well. I made her out to be a monster of a child because she wanted to nurse more often than I expected. I imputed disobedience onto her because she didn’t magically sleep through the night at week eight.
Oh dear Boston, girl. Mommy is so sorry. For the hours of playtime that I missed. For the smiles and the laughs and the cuddles that I refused to give you. For the ones I refused to receive from you. For the spotless dishes and floors and clothes that took priority over you.
But I’m here now.
And I am loving getting to know you.