5 months in, and I still have no idea what I am doing. Each day is a new adventure. Monday, Baby Jedi is a complete crazy person, crying every waking moment until, quite literally, I try to pull my hair out. Tuesday, he is a sweetie, taking regular naps and smiling and laughing. Today, back to the crazies! This back and forth is almost too much for me. I know that change can be good, but let’s face it. I really and truly don’t know what I am waking up to each day. My body hurts. My head hurts. I am emotionally and mentally exhausted trying to come up with new distractions, new games, and by having someone need my attention 24/7. My son is, from everything I’ve read, high needs. Meaning, he needs me a lot. I know there are babies out there that are content to sleep alone, not be held all the time, and, by 5 months, are really interested in playing alone a little bit. And, on my son’s good days, he could meet some of those criteria. But on a bad day, he is not happy with any of these options.
And I know what a lot of moms would say. “He’s spoiled. You held him too much when he was newborn. He expects it now.” And that angers me. First, you can’t spoil a baby!! Let’s all repeat it together. YOU CAN’T SPOIL A BABY. There. I hear it over and over from everyone around me. Some say it in a cutesy way, as if they are being funny or something. But even if you think I’m spoiling him, keep it to yourself. My son is not a fruit or a jug of milk. He won’t spoil. He can become mistrusting of his caregivers if they don’t respond to his only means of communication right now. And yes, as he gets older and his needs change, he will need boundaries. He will need to learn to be a disciplined person. But that is a couple of years off.
Second, you don’t know my child the way I do. And I have made enough mistakes over the last 5 months to not add breaking my child psychologically to the mix by ignoring him. I know his cries. Most importantly, I am the one that is now hard wired to respond to him. It’s easy to say, “Awww, just let him cry” when your blood pressure doesn’t go through the roof when he cries.
So, the next time you see me, or a new mom like me, out, and she’s struggling. Does she look frazzled? Are sections of her head bald? Is she close to tears or cuss words? Promise me something. Before you bustle over and start pronouncing all the wonderful tricks that worked for your baby, stop. Take 3 big calming breaths and remember, she’s not your baby’s mom. And her baby is not your child. And your well meaning, well intentioned words will make her feel like a failure. Like she isn’t doing it your way, so she must be doing something wrong. Because you won’t tell her about that one night when your baby howled and you screamed into a pillow. You won’t tell her the dark thoughts that crossed your mind in the lonely hours when it was all you could do to stay sane. You’ll pretend every thing was peachy and if she follows your advice, it’ll be peachy for her, too. So, for the love of all things good and holy, STOP.
What that momma needs more than anything is maybe a hug. A reassuring shoulder to cry on. A kind promise that it will get better and to not give up. And that what she is doing, the best of her that she is giving, day in and day out, is good enough.