"Problem Child" or the Perfect Child?
I have wanted to write this post for a long time. This has been bottled up for 4 months so here we go....
"You're feeding him too often."
"His cloth diaper is bothering him."
"He sleeps too much/little."
"Why can't he just follow YOUR schedule."
"Just let him cry."
"Just come over and you can put him to sleep in the other room."
"Let's go eat dinner. The noise usually puts babies to sleep."
"Just let him cry."
"His teething necklace is bothering him."
I haven't written much about it because I did not want to seem ungrateful, but the first 3 months of our son's life were VERY difficult. VERY. DIFFICULT. I have taken care of babies my entire life, so I never thought I would have a problem. I thought "colic" was just a fussy baby and there was usually a reason why babies cried and that it could be fixed. I. Was. Wrong. For 3 months I did not leave the house, our living room was a perpetual womb environment, Asher screamed every night for hours straight, we went to countless different doctors to "figure out what was wrong", we tried every kind of colic ease/calm/relief tincture and gadget out there, and I literally had an emotional breakdown every day. I couldn't stand to watch my baby scream red-faced until exhaustion took over. We were so thankful to have great support both from family and friends, as well as chiropractic adjustments that really made a difference and helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through and I only did by the grace of God.
One of the most difficult parts was that some people just did not understand. If you have never had a "high-needs" baby, you will NEVER know how unbelievably stressful it is. We would constantly get comments like the ones above; if you would just do THIS, why don't you just try THIS. It was as if they thought I was trying to make things difficult, as if I didn't want things to be easy. If you are a mom you can relate to this: When someone makes comments about your baby and/or their behavior/habits, it is as if they are directly criticizing your parenting and motherly instincts. So to be frank, I have never felt so criticized and inadequate.
One bright morning (Easter morning actually), Asher woke up a new baby. No more nightly freak outs due to over-stimulation, life as we knew it changed dramatically! He has blossomed into the happiest and sweetest baby boy in the world. According to some, we still have "problems"....but do we?
One regret I have in parenting is that I read too much. I do think it is SO important to be educated, but there is also a point where you just need to trust in God that He will provide you with the proper instincts for your specific child. I also think that in my crazy hormonal postpartum haze, the devil took that knowledge and ran with it. For instance, I read that when your baby cries, the cortisol levels in his brain spike and cause developmental issues and the inability to handle stress later in life. While this is likely true if he is left alone crying for hours, I took it to the extreme and had deep fear every time he made a peep. Not good and not from God. I had to quickly realize that books do not hold the answers; my child is a unique gift that no one has mothered before.
SO here we are, Asher is almost 4 months old. It has without a doubt been the most trying, INCREDIBLE 4 months of my life. I can say that I never knew it would be this hard, and I never knew it would be this blissful. I never knew how much fun I could have with a baby or how much my heart could overflow from a little smile or just when I watch him sleep. He still doesn't sleep great- naps for 40 minutes at a time and then I can sometimes nurse him back to sleep (and then have to lay with him throughout his whole nap to keep him asleep), but recently I have discovered that.....I'm okay with it. I was beating myself up about it because "everyone" says that you shouldn't nurse to sleep and that he should be on a better schedule and sleeping in his crib yaddayaddayadda. So in THEIR minds, we have problems....he is a problem child. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to not make something into a problem that isn't a problem for you, just because other people say it is. Because we are HAPPY! I am happy to lay down with him, snooze a little myself, and watch my sweet angel sleep. He is happy to have mommy close. Sometimes he will open his eyes in the middle of his nap, see me there, smile the biggest smile, and drift back to sleep- it is the most precious moment. This is a sweet stage where he WANTS me near. All too soon he will be a teenager and never want to cuddle! I also got great advice that God is the perfect parent and to ask Him for advice! Sounds simple, but it's true. I vowed to not open another book and to first seek God for answers.....and I have FINALLY found sweet peace in my decisions.
So, all that to say, Asher is not a "problem child"- He is a perfect child. The perfect child for me and I am the perfect mom for him. Not A perfect mom (by ANY means), but THE perfect mom for him. How good is God to never leave us to figure things out on our own? Even silly little things like baby's sleep schedules and whether or not to give a pacifier- He cares and He is near.
Praise the Lord that we're not on this crazy ride alone!